In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni
The theme for these two weeks of studies was ‘Methods & Strategies’, and the set activity consisted in partnering up with other peers and each commissioning from the other a micro project set to a short brief. I partnered up with three peers and the group settled on a brief titled ‘After Hours’, which each member of the group was free to individually explore in her/his own way.
For this micro project, I had to steer away from my comfort zone considerably. With very limited locations to shoot at night being afforded by the place where I currently reside, I had to do a lot of walking, something I was not averse to since I enjoy walking, especially at nighttime. I decided not to preset a narrative or even a concept. On the first night out shooting, I took hundreds of photos of anything I deemed vaguely interesting. Back at home, reviewing the work done so far, I took a liking to only one photo (which I retained as the first image in the series [see gallery below]), and thus for the ensuing nights I decided that I would only impose a technical limitation on the work, and that would be to keep a constant and consistent use of the colour temperature and white balance (WB) shift settings that were in harmony with the ones used for this first image which would eventually shepherd the series.
John Baldessari is quoted as saying: “I’m concerned with the formal and aesthetic qualities to the point where I try to set up situations where I can’t make any aesthetic decisions about it and that’s very hard. I realize that as you go on you get better and better at making things look good, and you have to set up stumbling blocks so that you can escape your own good taste, and even that creeps in a lot” (in TUCKER 2010: 138). These words neatly encapsulate the methodology I used to accomplish this micro project. Adhering to the preset technical limitation described above, I was free to experiment with other techniques while shooting and the finished body of work took a semantic life of its own which I attempted to decipher in this short statement I wrote to accompany my peer commissioned micro project:
‘After Hours’ – life as it presents itself to the photographer once the sun has set. In this indeterminate and liminal time period, scenes and objects are either witnessed ensconced in their objectivity or in that futile moment as they try wriggling themselves out of reality.
“vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas” – “vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
This project could be described as anti-apocalyptic, in the sense that all yearnings, longings and expectations are suspended for the night; pictured scenes and objects acquiesce and embrace their hollowed being.
Tempus fugit… Carpe diem… Time flies… Seize the day…
These are the images that make up the micro project:
TUCKER, Marcia. 2010. ‘John Baldessari: Pursuing the Unpredictable//1981’. In Margaret IVERSEN (ed.). Chance (Documents of Contemporary Art). Whitechapel Gallery, 137-9.
Street fire hydrant. March 2019 at Tigné Tunnel, Sliema. Photograph by the author.