Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Visual disturbances: Three

There are 42 files in this selection of a total of 669 photos taken on 29 June 2008. The photos shown below were taken on that day between 2.09pm and 3pm. I had walked back southwest from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, heading through the city. On the way I dropped into a couple of shopping centres (“malls” in US parlance), snapping images as I made my way through the crowds of people.

The first photo in the series was out of focus by accident because it was taken while walking on the footpath. But, instantly, taking a liking to the result I took another photo – the second one in the series created for this post – in order to create a blurring effect. To do this blurring I moved the camera slightly with my hands as I used my finger to exert downward pressure on the shutter control.

This subsequently became a pattern I followed for the next hour or so as I went to Town Hall Station to catch the train home. On 8 May of the same year I had already taken some photos that were deliberately blurred. These were of programs I was watching on the TV. So there was some precedent for this June day’s innovation in my practice as a photographer. In an earlier post on this blog, using photos taken during the day on 29 June, I show distorted images containing cars and buses.

You have to consciously want to take this kind of photo. The automated focusing mechanism in your standard digital camera takes a few seconds to zero-in on the object you are aiming at but, once it has settled on it, the device will readily and reliably give you a crystal-clear image. If you want an out-of-focus result, you have to snap the shutter before this adjustment has finished. In other words, before the software in the camera has finished processing. But if you want a shaky image, like most of the ones shown in this post, you need to move the camera slightly just as you are pressing the shutter button. So, in either case, to reliably disturb the camera’s operation requires the use of judgement and a little practice.

In the photos that appear below, people’s faces are not clear and their bodies are often ghostly, as though they were composed of little more than air. Or else microscopic particles, empty space between them, held in formation by mysterious forces over which people have no control. Quantum bodies.

Strange forces can serve to form relationships between people as well. As I walked along the pavement, holding the silver-coloured camera in front of my chest, sometimes people would look at my face but mostly people didn’t take any notice of me. This was over a decade ago so I was younger than I am now but I was already overweight and had a habit of wearing plain clothes. After a certain age, in any case, you almost become invisible.

The shoes I was wearing on that day were probably a pair with brown leather uppers. I still keep a pair like this in the closet (don’t ask me why) and though I don’t wear them anymore I still use a belt that I bought one year around then. It is made out of suede and has blue-and-white Nylon trim sewn over its edges. Its end tip is leather.

Like the spaces between the molecules that form our bodies, life is full of empty moments or, at least, they seem so though our minds rarely rest. Even when we are unconscious, at night in our beds, we often dream. Our fallible consciousnesses are subject to irrational effects as feelings, memories, and fears operate on us in addition to more reliable sensory inputs (which, however, are themselves often imperfect or fragmentary).

I could hazard an opinion that images like the ones that follow more accurately reflect the real nature of existence than do precisely composed, in-focus, well-defined images of a more conventional sort. Art is art though, even if it links to our thoughts. Artistic convention has rules that are meant to be broken.

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