Scope of project
For unit 2, the making of a 90 second (no more, no less) movie using iMovie and arising out of a series of prescribed steps, is the goal. As I read through the steps, they are seemingly “unrelated”, so I move into a trusting demeanour, tinged with curiosity, excited to see what might happen as I work through each part of the assignment. This is ideal. I feel as if each step is meant to activate a different part of my brain, and that with each part activated and interacting with all the other activated parts, I will be in a perfect state of mind to enter into the creativity required for pulling the video together, from the choices I make about what and how much to videotape, and how to edit those elements. I see the steps as providing emotionally based experiences to draw on both concretely as in the photo of the “moment”, drawings based on the haiku, and then joining those concrete pieces together with the abstract, which is how I use my imagination to create something new, another concrete “production” drawn from this marriage of the concrete and the abstract.
Meeting with the consultation group is a good way to check in to see that I haven’t gone out into the stratosphere with my ideas and plans, and considering initially ten ideas, and narrowing those ten down to three and then down to one will ensure that I’ll have the “discarded” elements of the other nine ideas to draw on as I’m realizing “the one”.
Not What I Want, But What is There
I chose to walk a longer version of the walks that I take twice every day with my dog because I added the constraint of not having to drive anywhere (burn fossil fuels) in order to do the assignment. I interpreted the instructions as rigid constraints, and ended up photographing my feet every ten minutes (I set a timer on my phone) and looking up with the camera and taking a photograph of what was there at that ten minute point. This meant that my “favorite” spots along the route, which I have photographed over and over and over again, do not appear in this collection; instead, what I have are twelve shots of my feet and ten of the sights that I saw as I looked up, towards the water (whether visible or not, I always turned towards where I knew the water was) and took a photograph of what I saw. I somehow missed the “roaming” part of the assignment; I just walked and walked and walked and ran out of cookies after 20 minutes.
By being rigid about the timing of the shots, I was missing photographing my favorite spots, and instead photographed places I had never photographed before. I started to experience that as metaphorical, something like, what’s important is not what I want, but what I have. I started to think about how I frame shots with a camera, look for a good prospect, something of interest to capture in the camera, and present that as representative of an experience. But actually, it’s only representative of how I frame the experience, and I frame it by picking the strong, or high points and leave out the less visually interesting parts. But of course nature is neither beautiful nor visually interesting by design; rather, it is how I see and frame nature that provides it with boundaries, starts and finishes, beginnings and endings, that captures a particular vision that can be experienced as beautiful…
What do I mean? Well, photographs of the glacier, for example (what is left of it), generally frame it from the “front”, where its impact is greatest. We don’t take photographs of the side of the glacial, unless for specific purposes but generally not for their beauty, or to frame their beauty.
I also thought about the photographs I took as creating a brief narrative of my walk, and was aware of the parts of the complete narrative that would be left out of this project because a photograph would not have been taken. For example, I saw several people on my walk, most of them walking, but a few were running or on bicycles. Like the leaves floating on the Courtenay River that passed by and were not photographed, the people who passed by were not photographed. The unphotographed leaves and the unphotographed people are not part of the master narrative of the walk that I have created, but had I made different choices, they could have been the master narrative of the walk instead of not part of it.
Because I was sticking to the ten minute “rule” I took no pictures of anything outside of that ten minutes, except for a picture of a dead fish, which I include here. It’s difficult to tell from this photograph, but the fish was lying on the gravel in the Courtenay River bed and the leaves are floating on the surface of the water. I passed by this point at exactly the right time, when the tide was neither rising nor falling, and the water was still. This is the kind of shot I usually look for.
I gave this photo essay a title. It’s called “Not What I Want, But What is There”. I call it this to reflect the experience of walking past what I would normally photograph and forcing myself to photograph what was there to be seen at every ten minute mark. In this way, my usual habits were disrupted, so the constraints were the disruption to my usual roaming and seeking of photographs. This was a good experience because it provided me with an opportunity to look at the sights along the route differently.
Finally, the experience of walking and photographing with the constraints, both externally and internally imposed, led to me thinking about how life can be just that, not what I would want, but what is there. How do I make it good?