Fowlers Gap: Photography

Photography has been the major creative expression in my life ever since my parents gave me my first camera when I was 10. They were the kind of parents that thought nothing of stopping the car in the middle of nowhere to get the shot that didn’t work out five years ago. Accordingly, every road trip of mine includes planned stoppages and random side adventures.

One example of this is the discovery of abandoned things rusting in the countryside. The contrast of technology and nature, destruction and regrowth, red and green makes for a fascinating aesthetic. It’s even better when there are layers of history such as police tape and graffiti on a burned out car. Sorry about that, Jamie.

Fake album covers have has been an interest of mine for several years but this is my first deliberate attempt to create one from scratch, inspired by the preponderance of op-shop chic on our last night at the Palace Hotel. My pattern recognition subroutine put Casper, Elijah, Lucy, and Toby together in a 1980s New Romantic band with a punk sensibility (clockwise from top left: drummer, keyboardist, bass and backing vocals, lead guitar and vocals). I managed to get two shots without realising that neither was useable… which lead me to cut them down the middle and paste the good halves together. Mistakes can lead to interesting solutions.

One of my extramural COVID-19 projects is “#AHundredHundreds” documenting a hundred things I see while out and about, a hundred times each (Matti, 2021). It was only when I was emotionally committed that I realised 100 x 100 does not equal 1,000 but 10,000. One subject commenced and completed was “A Hundred Tracks at Fowlers Gap”; another ongoing subject was “A Hundred Flags”. These will be digitally collaged into grids; as I have completed only 89 sets there is no forward plan.

Nature surrounds us, keeps us alive, and fills us with delight. From a flower covered in frost because Wellington nights are bloody cold in winter (Bureau of Meteorology, 2021b) to a cricket landing on a canvas drying in the sun because Fowlers Gap days are bloody hot in winter (Bureau of Meteorology, 2021a), nature produces subjects that are infinitely more subtle and complex than our most advanced technology. This trip allowed me to record new subjects from the micro to the macro, from the land to the sky, from the rocks to the kangaroos.

Sunsets are the most ephemeral yet intense display that occurs on Earth, filling the entirety of the sky for just a few minutes as the land becomes ever darker. This liminal event is neither day nor night, a dangerous time for diurnal creatures like humans but also the most sublime. The contrast between fear and beauty adds piquancy to each sunset so an image which captures both experiences is a beautiful nightmare; an image which is a technical failure is a beautiful dream.

Ultraviolet light became a photographic interest for me when my flatmate bought a UV torch to look for scorpions (Kloock, Kubli, & Reynolds, 2010) but we spent more time looking at everything else. I brought torches to Fowlers Gap with the thought that they might produce some interesting results. I learned that organic and mineral objects fluoresce to varying degrees but the artificial ones react most strongly as they include fluorescent compounds (U.S Food & Drug Administration, 2019) to make them appear brighter. Chlorophyll in a eucalyptus trunk glows softly (Johnstone, Tausz, Moore, & Nicolas, 2012) but Blake’s clown make-up and dyed hair are extremely reactive.

So what does this mean for Assessment 2?

I will include a photographic projection of a photo taken at Fowlers Gap, stony ground shining onto the floor so that anyone who approaches becomes the surface on which it is projected.

Bibliography

Bureau of Meteorology. (2021a, 21 June 2021). Fowlers Gap, New South Wales: May 2021 Daily Weather Observations. Retrieved from http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/dwo/202105/html/IDCJDW2155.202105.shtml

Bureau of Meteorology. (2021b, 13 June 2021). Wellington, New South Wales: May 2020 Daily Weather Observations. Retrieved from http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/dwo/202005/html/IDCJDW2142.202005.shtml

Johnstone, D., Tausz, M., Moore, G., & Nicolas, M. (2012). Chlorophyll fluorescence of the trunk rather than leaves indicates visual vitality in Eucalyptus saligna. Trees, 26(5), 1565-1576. doi:10.1007/s00468-012-0730-7

Kloock, C. T., Kubli, A., & Reynolds, R. (2010). Ultraviolet light detection: a function of scorpion fluorescence. The Journal of Arachnology, 38(3), 441-445. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20798577

Matti. (2021). #AHundredHundreds.  Retrieved from https://mattidoingart.com/2021/02/08/ahundredhundreds/

U.S Food & Drug Administration. (2019). Color Additives and Cosmetics: Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/industry/color-additives-specific-products/color-additives-and-cosmetics-fact-sheet

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