I mentioned in this Rhizomes post that my still photography that is made whilst walking with the standard poodles in the local bushland has been in the process of changing. It had been changing from photography as a way of objectifying and distancing us from the world towards an understanding that the practice of photography is similar to the practice of meditation. Similar in the sense of paying mindful attention to whatever is occurring in the moment.
This is akin to the immersive processes that Walter Benjamin and Theodore Adorno called mimesis — – a basic open comportment to the world. Adorno held that a mimetic capacity is spontaneous, pre-reflective, non-conceptual and rational and that it is the moment of the elective affinity between knower and known. We have become oblivious of our immersive mimetic capacity in modernity since in Western history, mimesis has been transformed by Enlightenment science from a dominant presence into a distorted, repressed, and hidden force. In modernity art is a refuge for mimetic comportment.
Initially mimesis as mediative seeing means that the automatic habitual view of the familiar world of an agricultural landscape that I am walking through in the early morning is replaced by being in a space with a keen sense of the unprecedented and unrepeatable configuration of each moment. In the photo below the particular moment of being in the world was a momentary one. The sun suddenly appeared in the background and the mist quickly evaporated.
This embodied clear seeing of a walking photography practice is less a form of contemplative state of mind and more of an empty one coupled to bodily awareness. It is a spontaneous intuitive seeing that is pre-conceptual. Embodied because the intuitive seeing is initially more felt and spontaneous than reflective ie., evaluating and judging the view around me for the sake of making a more considered composition.
The weather has changed in the last week. Though the gusty, coastal winds have continued, the day temperatures are lower, and the mornings and the evenings are cooler. There is now a briskness in the air in the early morning prior to sunrise, which is after 7am.
The picture below was made on an early morning walk along the Victor Harbor beach near Bridge Point and the mouth of the ephemeral Hindmarsh River. It is a popular spot for walkers.
Bridge Terrace is an older part of Victor Harbor. We were there on an early morning poodlewalk so that I could photograph the seaside architecture. Once that was done –there’s not that much to photograph — Kayla and I then wandered along the beach.
I realise that I have been walking with the standard poodles and making photos on these walks for several years now (both in the city of Adelaide and the foreshore of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula), without ever understanding that what I was doing was working within the tradition of walking art.
When I came across the walklistencreate website recently, I realized that what I was doing was a part of this artistic tradition — without being aware of it. I just walked and photographed naively, set up a blog, and occasionally thought about making a photobook from what had been produced. But I got no further.
I did understand that the poodlewalks were a means of generating photographic work, and that this shaped my minimal approach to the post processing of the picture — ie., avoiding the glossing, toning and filtering to visual enhance the digital image.
What I wasn’t doing was consciously making an art piece or work — photos, sound, writing — for others to view, read, or listen to. I hadn’t gone beyond various blog posts, such as the ones on poodlewalks, or those on the Littoral Zone , to consciously view walking as a catalyst for my photographic practice. What I was naively inching towards was a marriage of writing and imagery in a photographic culture where most photographic bodies of work contain either no text or if there is text then its role is very severely limited.
It has been a wild start to winter in South Australia. We have been experiencing a week of wet, stormy weather on the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The coast has been battered by cold and blustery south westerly and southerly winds, rain and surging seas. The sand on the small, local beaches (Petrel Cove and Deps Beach) is starting to disappear.
The balmy days of late autumn with the early morning macro photography in the gentle early morning light are a memory. The two photos in this post were the last macro photos I made before the cold winter weather set in.
I have avoided walking along the littoral zone and have started walking along the back country roads seeking protection from the wind. That means photographing trees and back country roads. The weather is easing, but we still have sporadic showers and strong, cold winds.
I came across this rope whilst on an afternoon poodlewalk with Maleko. It was lying amongst the coastal rocks just east of Kings Beach Rd. This is a more popular afternoon walk for us than the western one to, and over, Kings Head. Neither of these locations are accessible at high tide.
For both walks I park the Forester at Kings Beach Rd. For the former walk I walk east along the Heritage Trail, climb down the cliffs to the coastal rocks, and then slowly make my way east along the coastal rocks in the direction of Petrel Cove. Maleko is usually searching for golf balls hidden amongst the rocks. More often than not he finds one.
We usually walk to Deps Beach, which is approximately halfway between Kings Beach Rd and Petrel Cove. We then either retrace our steps amongst the rocks, or walk back along the Heritage Trail if there were no other walkers.
During the last days of summer I would walk along the Esplanade Beach just before dawn. I would drive along Franklin Parade past the runners and walkers and park the Subaru Forester at Kent Reserve. Kayla and I would then start walking north along the beach amongst the seagrass towards the Granite Island Causeway in the predawn light.
My hope was that I would come across some seaweed on the beach around sunrise so that I could make a macro photo. More often than not this didn’t happen–there was either no suitable seaweed, or the sunrise happened before I reached the piles seaweed on the beach.
Now and again the sunrise and a seaweed form would coincide. An example :
It’s just a moment. Then it is gone. I would quickly look around for more suitable seaweed forms before the sun became too bright and so blowing out the highlights on the seaweed. That is more or less the end of the macro photography along the beach.
Adelaide is in the middle of a week long heatwave. Its been clear blue skies, an intense heat from the sun and, a hot northwesterly wind, which means that it doesn’t cool down at night. The temperatures are in the low 40 degrees centigrade. A code red alert has been issued by the SA state government, which unlocks extra support for vulnerable people, such as the homeless, during a heatwave.
5-10 minutes latter the light is too contrasty for this kind of photography.
This is the second heatwave this year–the first one was in mid -January — with January being on the hottest January on record. The cause of this February heatwave is a “blocking high” on the Tasman Sea. With winds going anticlockwise around the highs this is helping funnel desert heat down to the southern states. Thankfully there have been no bushfires in South Australia this time, but this is not the case for Victoria.
The Xmas break is over for this summer-time. The holiday crowds have left vacationing along the coast of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula during the extended school holidays, and returned to work in Adelaide. The schools are back and the photographers have gone.
Over the Xmas break I continued to photograph in the early morning whilst walking with Kayla. I focused on low key macro photography before the light became too bright and contrasty. The photography is hand held and quick. The conditions are not suitable for slow large format photography.
Currently, the mornings start cool, the days heat up and reach their zenith around 5 pm but, unlike drought damaged inland regions, the temperature usually drops at night. With the crowds gone, the beaches along the coast are quiet during the week, and we often have them to ourselves in the early morning around dawn and sunrise. We now have the space to be in the moment and see the transient and ephemeral nature of life on the coast. Continue reading “summer-time + impermanence”