Friday, 20 December 2019

Visual disturbances: Seven

There are 58 files in this selection and they were taken with a digital camera between 9.08pm on 31 December 2007 and 12.26am on 1 January 2008. I took a total of 140 images that night at the Rocks and, while walking back to the train station, on some of Sydney central business district’s dark streets. Most of the people at the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks are young. Every year there is a special display of incendiary devices at 9pm for children, then a longer display at midnight for the rest of the folk.

I didn’t know at the time these photos were taken that 2008 would be a difficult year. From the middle of August until the first week of October I would suffer terribly and, to get through the troubles, on a daily basis I would go swimming. In the end, this contrivance worked a sort of magic.

In some cultures photography itself is seen as a kind of magic. In Australia, for example, the media routinely puts out a warning, in cases where a story they are about to broadcast contains the images of a dead person who had belonged to an Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander community, telling people what is going to be included in the visual material to be shown. It’s as though, for such people, the soul of the person seen in the image had been somehow captured in the process of making a photo. So it’s fitting, as in the present case and as in the photos in other posts in this series, that my images here are intentionally blurred or otherwise distorted.

Before this publication, I never thought to use these photos, judging them to be of poor quality due to the imperfections in the form of distortions – the visual disturbances I see today – that combine to create a distinct charm. We don’t always see what is valuable when something first happens, and things that might seem, like my illness, to be a disaster, can have unexpected, and positive, consequences, such as the photos I published this year.

Time works its magic and alters everything it touches. Things that transcend time also contain mystery in the way they can remind us, albeit imperfectly and obliquely (unless we are exceedingly well-informed) of that foreign place, the past.

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