Saturday, 2 November 2019

Visual disturbances: Four

On Saturday 5 July 2008 I walked from Central Station, having caught the train from the suburb where I lived, through Surry Hills to Paddington. I took 474 photos on my way to an art gallery to hear a presentation given about an exhibition of photographs, then more photos were taken in the gallery itself, and more as I walked to the city where I intended to catch a train for the ride home. In this post there are 61 photos taken between 12.31pm and 3.50pm, but my snapping started about 10 minutes earlier than that, when I was in the space beneath the railway viaduct over Campbell Street, near Central Station.

Oddly enough the National Gallery of Victoria had an exhibition of Petrina Hicks' photos on at the time this post was written. The show started on 27 September and would run into the following year.

In the previous post in this series I talked about how, after a certain age, you become invisible. It’s clear that I wasn’t invisible at the time the following photos were taken because there is one here that contains an image of me: my body’s reflection, as I stood on the footpath on Flinders Street, caught by the camera in the glass door of a passing bus. In that photo I am not wearing the suede-and-Nylon belt that I still use now, over a decade later.

The gallery I visited on the day no longer operates and the people who are in these photos are now somewhere else or, perhaps, they are no longer of this world except as physical remains. Even if these photos had been in focus, the people who are caught in them, if they are still alive now, would look different from how they looked then, so it is fitting that it is merely their movement through space, rather than their outward appearance, that has lasted. Only the ephemeral, spectral outlines of their shifts remain.

In any case, people change over time. We are but the ghosts of our former selves. I think I remember learning that the human body is completely renewed every seven years, every cell replaced by a new one that fulfils one of the essential functions that sustain life. As I walk down the street today, over 11 years away in time from that July day, I can wonder about who those people were and how their lives have since changed.

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