Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Re-shooting assignment 3

“Stone and sea are deep in life. Two unalterable symbols of the world. Permanence at rest. And permanence in motion. Participants in the power that remains.”

I’ve just re-shot assignment 3. In doing so I realise that I never wrote up a response to my tutors feedback – although I have annotated it on OneNote – which is my preferred method of catching my immediate thoughts. There is a reason for this failure – it was clear to me from Simon’s comments that yet again I had over-thought my supporting material and so confused the message I was hoping to portray in the images. And yet – I couldn’t get clear in my own mind how to say what I wanted in words. This in itself was quite distressing as I’m usually pretty good at coming up with words for my thoughts. Anyway, it was resolved by a blog post from my brother which quoted Stephen Donaldson, from The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever and which I reproduce above.

Much as I admire Sugimoto’s seascapes, and find the philosophical approach he brings to them fascinating and involving I disagree with his premise in one fundamental way – the view is not the same as it was thousands of years ago – it is different in virtually every respect. The same is true for the sea and the sky the second before and the second after I press the shutter. The problem I had was I could find no way of expressing it succinctly – until “Permanence in motion” came to the rescue. Handily, there are rocks, and distant hill in some of my images – so “Permanence at rest” comes into play as well.

Simon also raised a couple of technical issues and I did not have the images to replace the technically less effective ones. In particular the shooting conditions resulted in the “permanence at rest” being rather blurred. I could simply have re-shot those images at an appropriate time on a separate tidal cycle, but that felt to me to damage the integrity of the series. How? Well the sea has two (at least) motions – the waves and the tide – and I did want to capture both of those in the same series. What I did not want to do was introduce long and un-necessary timescales. So complete reshoot it was.

I used Simon’s idea of having a very low tripod – I actually used a gorillapod to avoid inundating my ‘proper’ tripod in salt water and sand. I suspect I didn’t really need it as this weekend – when I did the reshoot – was much brighter than my original shooting date, but I thought I’d try it anyway. I was surprised at the difference in shooting experience.  The first series – without the tripod was all dash in, grab some shots, get out before the water sloshed over the camera. The use of the tripod made it a much more contemplative experience. Move 3-4 feet back from the current tide-line, level the tripod and wait for the water and the waves to come to me. Keep shooting until inundation becomes a possibility, pick up the tripod, move back and repeat the experience. No less immersive, but much more meditative – I can see a place for both.

So, in reworking the Assignment I’ll be replacing all the images and considerably tightening the text. I’ll also be making one further change – the title. The more I think about it the more I think that simply re-using Sugimoto’s title is a cheat. I’m really questioning his idea, rather than developing it, so I’m going to go with “Permanence" as the title.

As I’ve written rather a lot I thought I’d finish with an image from the re-shoot that I wont be using in the Assignment – the stranded dogfish I rescued on the day.

Something fishy at the beach

According to some internet sources, in the mythology of the Haida people of British Columbia the dogfish symbolises persistence and strength. And so perhaps here we have, in a single image, my opening quote.

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