Untitled (RSM) copyright 2007 Douglas Stockdale
Okay, I started to write about abstract photography as it might relate to my image above, then I realize that all I was writing was bull dung. So I deleted it. All photographs are abstract. period.
This is an image that I made to investigate memory and probably appears “more” abstract than some of the others, in that it is more challenging for the viewer to read. Now my question is how does it fit within my project “Flow of Light Brush the Shadow”?
Perhaps a little more ambiguous than some of the other photographs for this project but at the early stage of my investigation, I think pushing the boundaries is fine.
Untitled (PingHu) copyright 2008 Douglas Stockdale
As a photographer, I sometimes wonder that if in the process of capturing images, I sear these images into my cranium, creating a memory and subsequent dreams?
The photograph above, although I can’t associate it with any specific dream, is an image that I can easily recall. This was a city sculpture that announced that you had arrived at PingHu (China), which was in the late stages of construction. When we earlier drove past this location late in the morning, there would be a fascinating array of workers climbing this structure, reminding me of an image that Hiroshi Watanabe had published in his book “Findings”. Nevertheless, the following morning it was early enough that the workers were not yet crawling on the scaffolds and we passed close enough for me to create this relatively distorted and ambigious composition.
Now I am unsure of which project to associate it with, but I do feel confident that it will find a nice home.
Untitled (PingHu) copyright 2008 Douglas Stockdale
I have not deviled very much into the other aspect of memories, that memories, good or bad, can lead to dreams. Dreams are experiences that I have with those that are the most troubling and unpleasant a nightmare.
Untitled (Hongqaio) Instant Nomad 2008 copyright Douglas Stockdale
A shadow, much like a memory, does not leave any physical trace of its presence.
Instant Nomad (Italy) copyright 2010 Douglas Stockdale
While working on the Ciociaria project, this composition was interesting to me as the empty bench created a sense of anticipation. This bench under the cover was meant to be used by someone. The broken path through the fallen leaves on the sidewalk indicates that someone has alredy been by here before. It was also a late Fall morning, thus the slight overcast sky provided an additional sense of moodiness and very different feeling for me than when there was bright sunshine.
What I did not anticipate was the appearance of the car, as I was rather “focused” on this composition and did not hear the car coming up the street behind me as I making my exposure. My first reaction: bummer! So I patiently waited until all of the cars were no longer in sight and made what I wanted for my pre-visualized composition. Before moving the camera set-up, I made a quick check of my exposures, including this one, and found that this photograph, above, was more interesting to me than the one devoid of any humanity. hmmm.
So I patiently waited for more cars to pass, attempting to capture them at various points as they moved through the frame. Interestingly, the serendipitous accident is the photograph that I keep returning to. Although this photograph is not as elegant a fit for my book, it is now taking on more life for my project Instant Nomad.
Instant Nomad (Italy) 2010 copyright Douglas Stockdale
As an itinerant and transit worker (as I am an Instant Nomad), I end up frequently eating alone in distant restaurants. The downside: one is a very lonely number. The upside: eating in little family owned restaurants can be delightful and interesting. This small Italian pizzeria off the plaza in Fiuggi Citta was another lonely evening but did not provide a delightful meal nor a memorable glass of Chianti (which I guess is also another side of “interesting”), as they did not carry any of my favorites wines. I ate here only this one time, as in Italy, there are a ton of alternative pizzerias and small family diners.
Nevertheless, this evening did offer me some opportunities to explore the concept of being a transient, as I did not sense that this would be a place or an eventual photograph for my book. In this case, my model was the unknown owner, who I do not remember other than the few photographs I made. Likewise, I know he has no memory of my presence and I was a blur in the sea of regular customers. At the time, I even felt like a ghost, as he hardly acknowledged my presence, a quick hesitation to accept my order of pasta and Chianti and then gone, only to momentarily return with the glass of wine and the plate of pasta. As I know a minimum of Italian, there was not much of an opportunity for him to discuss what was in progress on the two televisions. I don’t even remember what specifically I ordered that evening, the meal a blur of uneventful food that was fuel to keep me going. My only impression was that I would not be back, as there were other and better opportunities in the local area.
I did reposition myself to another table to set this composition up. The supporting post divides the interior between the dinning area and its larger television) and the view into the kitchen and wine holder and smaller television. Essentially representing the two worlds within the restaurant: customers and cooks.
Copyright 2010 Douglas Stockdale
Still thinking about the concept of memory. In one way, all photographs are about memory, as they reveal something that no longer is. As soon as the exposure is made, it is instantly a photograph of history and of things past. Nevertheless, when investigating memory, some photographs are better metaphors than others. When a ton of ambiguity is mixed into the photograph, the initial reaction may be what the f*** is that suppose to be? Some will reject it and quickly move on, a few others will pause to ask; what is about this photograph that bugs/bothers/upsets/? me?
Perhaps that is what has drawn me back to this photograph (above) and a few others like it that I created while investigating Ciociaria, a region in Italy. In addition to the large quantity of images I made during the day light, I also spent a considerable time wondering the streets and pathways at night. What drew me to the situation above, was the quality of light, and a composition that I had worked on and off over a period of six months. Rather than opening the shadows on the right side (e.g. Photoshop), I determined that what is indistinctly lurking in those shadows adds something to this photograph and what I think about concept of memory, that it is murky and frequently incomplete.
Instant Nomad (France) copyright Douglas Stockdale
While in France, I continued to develop my concept of the traveling business man as an extension of my earlier project Hotel Noir. My goal with Hotel Noir was to investigate a specific place that was a transitional site, a city that I was working at over an extended period of time and staying at the same hotel for three nights a week for weeks on end. Shortly after finishing this project I started another in China. I then made the decision to expand the Hotel Noir project while in China and during that time I experimented with longer exposures in conjunction with the movement of the subject. I was intrigued by the results.
Usually the results were unpredictable and I enjoyed that aspect of the process. It was fun. Who says that to be creative, you have to be serious while working it? I think creativity also needs a curious and at times, playful attitude.
Instant Nomad (England) 2012 Copyright Douglas Stockdale
I am experimenting with another way to create a narrative exploring what I do for work. Last year it seemed that I was working on two if not three alternaives, but now I am thinking that there may not be any issue with mashing these together. Moving away from a safe harbour. The risk is that by introducing more complexity I may increase the probability that the project will have a muddled concept, but as an artist, I need to take this risk. I just need to maintain clarity as to what I am attempting to accomplish.
In this series, I was exploring the concept that my presence in any one location created only a momentary and fleeting memory. In this case, a memory that nobody was attempting to preserve, which runs counter to my other projects in which the preservation of a memory was essential.
photograph copyright 2012 Douglas Stockdale
For the last four or five months, I have been quietly working on a project about work and identity. No too much ado, but just posting an occasional singular image and a brief reference to what it might be about. For me, there is an interesting interplay between the photographs, the intent of my artistic investigation and the title of the project, with sometimes the latter taking on more significance for me than perhaps is warranted. Then again, it can be the cover of the book that attracts one’s interest enough to desire to know more, eh?
So for this project I have been banging around with a number of potential titles related to the subject for my concept; the constant global traveler who bounces from business meeting to business meeting. It is a subject that I know intimately, as this is what I do for work over the past twenty plus years.
One of the potential titles that had been lingering for the past month is “Business Nomad”, an individual who wanders the terrain in pursuit of business endeavors. I was really becoming attached to the word “Nomad”, but the word “Business” was a little too cut and dried and did not create enough ambiguity. The “Business” aspect seemed to focus in on the “work” as a noun and did not allow much space for “work” as a verb. This was regrettable, as I wanted to explore both aspects of work, how it defined a profession but it is also a process that required unique efforts. I did not want to become too boxed in for what I was exploring, although it did open another alternative pathway to investigate at a later date.
So while very briefly passing through Paris last week, I had one of those serendipity eureka moments. I was waiting for my taxi and decided to photograph an adjacent building interior. I found a subject of interest and I was framing it very tight. When I stepped back to observe the larger context I then caught sight of the sign on the wall: L’Instant Nomade. My French is steadily improving, but the translation to English is not that challenging: The Instant Nomad. In order to suit my taste, I truncated it to “Instant Nomad”. Nice.
The highlighting and underscoring of the word L’Instant is wonderful, creating separation and visual emphasis on the first word. Part noun, part verb; I think I have the title to my project and perhaps the cover of the book, a very nice two-fer one.
Best regards, Doug