Photography does not lend itself to defamiliarization easily, thus making it the unlikeliest of all art forms.
— Jörg M. Colberg
On the surface, the 365 photgraphs that I’ve accumulated daily during last year exhibit a sense of repetition, familiarity, continuity (cf. 02011 , 02012 and 02013 ). As in the previous years, blur (49), light (82), leaves (40), texture (38), shadows (34) and reflections (33) are all present. Many were greyscale (170).
Below the surface there has been a change of pace as the daily practice grows more habitual. The contradictions of the digital present, the inevitable everything of ubiquitous imagery and the more hesitant, folded, reticulated images on expired film, exposure, finding light and shadow, composition, the present moment. The sympathetic magic that every photograph, no matter how disposable holds over time.
There is also a growing tension between the daily practice, one photo, one single slice of the continuum and finding time and space for a wider reflection, a placing in context or shaping of the larger whole from which each slice is taken.
Much has happened during the last year, but much is still the same, the press and monotony of habit, rather than the liberatory mindlessness/mindfulness of flow. At times this has felt constraining, and these constraints keep a persistent presence. Waking up before dawn, realising that the journey is progressing, but not knowing whether the destination or departure point is further away. repeating. repeating. repeating. yet only through this repetition can an allusive purpose appear any closer…
Repetition also highlights the tendency toward uniqueness, change, progression, to the few exceptions and the expectations of a projected audience. Still, there were more photographs that seemed to fit together, not so many people, a deepening of the abstract, the shadow prone. Most of the photographs were everyday moments, glimpses, elaborations or simplifications with no deliberate attempts to go out of my way to ‘make photographs’. So in some sense the photos could be considered documentary, yet still eccentric, erratic and never really finding any objective footholds for ‘documenting’ in a conventional sense.
In an ongoing search for deeper patterns, broader contexts and other directions I’ve spent more time this year following my curiosity about the wider practice of photography. Most of this wandering was through quite well explored territory, yet it has renewed my interest in the medium. Photography as something that can comfortably contain critically engaged perceptual machines (cf. Trevor Paglen) or fleeting sensual impressions (cf. Daido Moriyama).
In particular, by some associative gravity, I’ve been drawn (and drawn again) toward a few specific photobooks. In orbit; Takuma Nakahira, For a Language to Come (memory and amnesia); Trent Parke, Minutes to Midnight (The Great Australian Bleakness); Anton Kusters (a resonant view of the Yakuza and mono no aware); Josef Koudelka, Exiles (place and displacement). And behind all this lurks the ghost of William Burroughs and his deadpan yet persistent experiments with photomancy (and yes, they each deserve an extended digression…)
you shall know them by their metadata
The Flickr API makes it reasonably simple to extract metadata from the photographs stored (the code I used is on github) and the image tags tell their own story. Of the 694 distinct tags used there were 399 used for only a single photo, these included partially submerged, visible signs of infrastructure, sermeqkujalleq and midnight sun. There was only one image that contained both the tags robot & polar bear. Others of note include absinthe, ghost, faceless and symmetry.
The photographs were made in 15 countries; Belgium (236), Australia (61), Portugal (19), Austria (12), Singapore (7), Croatia (5), Norway (4), Russia (2), Greenland (4), Indonesia (4), UK (3), Italy (1), Denmark (1), Germany (3) and The Netherlands (2). More locally, in around 38 annotated places; Brüsel (aka Brussel, Bruxelles, Bruxxel, etc) (200), Glenelg (41), Madeira (8), Hasselt (7), Singapore (7), Sydney (7), Attersee (6), Funchal (4), Ilulissat (4), Jakarta (4), Linz (4), Adelaide (4), Kirkenes (3), Pula (3), Istria (2), Leuven (2), Marollen / Marolles (2), Amsterdam (2), Aalst (1), Galmaarden (1), Healesville (1), Jakobshavnglacier (1), Kemzeke (1), Kolosjoki / ни́кель / Nikel (1), Liernu (1), Lisbon (1), London (1), Melbourne (1), Milan (1), Norton Summit (1), Oslo (1), Sermeqkujalleq (1), Spa (1), Traunsee (1), Wolfgangsee (1) and Zaventem (1) along with the non-places of the autobahn (1) and sky (1) featuring in between (and there also must have been 35 taken ‘elsewhere’)
and a selection of images
“That reconstitutive intelligence, berserker meme-splicing, seeing in nothings first patterns, then correspondence, then causality and dissident sense” — China Mieville
“We are light, you see, all of light”