I checked the composition in the viewfinder; there were the stars, they always make me happy. I pressed the shutter and waited a few seconds for the photo to be taken. I was pleased with the result, I like seeing stars. Then it happened. I grabbed my tripod as the ground beneath my feet gave way and the camera and I came down to earth with a thud. I was seeing stars again. These ones I didn’t like so much! I misjudged the track in the dark, and found myself hanging on the side of a small embankment. Ouch! But my first thought was not about my safety,’ Oh No’ … I thought, in a slight panic, my camera, my new lens! Thankfully the trusty little beast is a tough bugger! The camera and lens that is, and we both survived with a few scratches.
I think that ultimately all art is about the self. As I am working through my backlog of photographs, I realise that all images are about me. Exploring my archive of photos allows me to find different aspects of myself. The photo of that old man is me, the image of that landscape is me, the framing of this shot is me …..
I am currently also reading ‘Soul Mountain’ by Gao Xingjian and have found my thoughts on the self reflected in his writing:
‘ I don’t know if you have ever observed this strange thing, the self. Often the more you look the more it isn’t it. It’s just like when one is lying on the grass and staring at a cloud – at first it’s just like a camel, then like a women, and when you look again it becomes an old man with a long beard, but this doesn’t last because clouds are transformed every instant. Gao p.150
Looking at my images, as a reflection of my self, they are clouds which are ever changing and it seems pointless trying to grasp them.
Gao Xingjian, 2000, Soul Mountain, Harper Collins, Sydney, Australia