From Banff National Park, Canada

I first learned of the Journey of a Photograph project from my dear friend the artist, Summer Lee. I knew little of the project, only that it was a photograph traveling around the world to various artists who would then use the photo to inspire their own work in some way. I didn’t read the blog or other’s interpretations or actions with the photograph prior to receiving the package. Which also means I didn’t read Emily’s first post with the image showing the photograph itself. On some level this was intentional, a method to respond first to the materiality of the photo rather than the aura created by its journey. I was intrigued by Emily’s concept and its potential because of the physicality of the project; I would receive something in the mail that many other people have touched, lived with, or altered in their own specific environment and I would then become part of that story.

The package arrives to me amidst my own nomadic two years. I left a job in Montreal in December 2013 and have been traveling to various artist residency programs since that time. The photograph arrived in Massachusetts for the holidays to commence the brief overlap of our journeys. My idea was for the photo to accompany me to my next artist residency located in Banff, Alberta where I would then respond with my own contribution. The day came when the packaged photo and I took a plane together from Boston via Minneapolis, finally landing in Calgary. We had an easy flight and after a night at the airport hotel, took off on a bus to the Banff National Park, home to the artist residency program. On my second day at The Banff Centre, I opened the package and posted the contents to my studio wall. I had only expected one photo, but enclosed were ferry tickets, museum passes, maps, words, and other photos. I was reluctant to reference the blog so early in the process, but how was I to decipher which photograph was “the” photograph?

The contents of the package and the photo itself all hang above my studio desk where I have now been for nearly two weeks. My window overlooks snowy mountains, treetops, and the majestic castle-like structure alone on the a mountain known as the Banff Springs Hotel. After a few days of contemplating these artifacts and potential five photos that could be “the” photo, I began reading the blog. I became enthralled with the lives of the people who previously were in possession of the photo and the life of the photo itself. I wondered about Laura and her health, I thought about Summer at the moment when the photo entered her life knowing how much has changed since then. I considered Emily’s interlude reunion with the photograph one year ago. I also wonder about the photo itself. Does it ever, like I do, get a little tired of always being on an adventure? Does it long for a singular space to rest, knowing full well that its destiny is to travel?

When I first held the photograph (yes, “the” intended photograph), I was reminded of the Marfa Lights. A phenomenon in Western Texas where sphere-shaped lights colored red, orange, yellow, and white hover and dart on the horizon line of the desert sky. The lights are thought to be either paranormal activity or reflections from a distant highway. Having viewed them first hand while spending one summer in Marfa, I can’t be sure what they are. But I like the mystery and the colors superimposed over the landscape and the continued curiosity they bring. As I look at the photograph and read about its travels, I note that many people are careful with the object itself. Yes, of course, on some level there is a responsibility to not be the person who ruins the photo or the journey. But in thinking about collaborative art, I am surprised no one has yet to intervene on the actual photograph. Many have scanned the image and then altered it or used its likeness in other mediums. But what about the materiality? I feel the inclination to respond to the object, on the object. To alter it in some way, a way that could risk everything. An intervention adding to the layers of meaning directly to the immediacy of the photo. After two years of traveling, would the photograph like a new hairstyle? (even just a trim?) Transformation can be devastating, but it can also make way for a rebirth.

I have decided to intervene on the photograph. But I will not show the image here. It will be a mystery for the next recipient of the package. So even if they are devoted to the blog and know the image by heart, it will not be what they are expecting.

As I send the photo on its way, I am including a small orange flag. The flag references my last project in which I spent six months living and developing an educational project on Fogo Island in Newfoundland, Canada. In short, not too long ago, flags were placed atop houses that were to be relocated or “launched” to another community. The flag indicated to neighbors that help was needed to get the house on its way, so community members would arrived at the sight of the flag and depending on the structure, the house would travel to its new home either by land, sea, or ice. So I add the little orange flag as a small prayer…let helpful neighbors get you to your next home little photo!

Thank you Emily for allowing me to join this journey and take a moment within my practice to consider mystery, transformation, and the power of one photo to creatively influence people around the world.

Nicole Lattuca

 

IMG_0121 IMG_0170 IMG_0173

Advertisements

Designated

jop final version for the time being

 

I followed this photograph’s journey for a while. I lost the track of it round about after summermlee posted the work that he, and other collaborators, made based on this photograph. Recently Emily Hughes posted a request for another address for a memory to be made. She felt it wasn’t time for its journey to end. Bravely, I put myself forward as a possible next participant. I don’t like journeys to end merely because there’s nowhere else to go.

In reading others’ entries I was struck by how people must’ve changed within themselves within this year (this month is a year since the journey started) it took for this photograph to travel this world.

Within myself, a year ago, I was too shy, had too little self confidence. I’ve since taken part in other collaborations which gave me the faith (thanks summermlee) in my work to forward my address so the next memory could be made based on this photograph.

One is on a journey whether one stays put or not. I’ve had times when a walk to the kitchen from my bedroom was epic. I traversed some of the mountain (a real one) on which I stay in the meantime. Work processes, spiritual growth, reaching for maturity of mind, health, finding peace, (at some cost); all are, were, will be journeys.

The image is ephemeral, transient, non-specific, unfixed in any given time or space. This journey of this photograph can be traced and is being accumulated into one specific place. One can’t help but wonder what Emily’s motive is for facilitating this? Searching to See, probably.

This may sound strange, even fickle, but ideas are a dime a dozen sometimes. I had, in fact, set aside some prints, images scanned in, photos of my own, photos of the parcel and its contents, other ephemera, to use. Which I then didn’t use. A spontaneous reaction to a post by Nannus on Asifoscope found me flying into the studio, the place that other people would call a lounge, and I started the work with whatever I could lay my hands on. So the process the artwork went through, became the journey. I recorded various stages of the work process and posted this on my site. It seems collaborating in, discussing, blogging about art is good for me at present.

Rudolf Arnheim, in Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye, said: Every memory has an address. I have the book next to me as I write. Couldn’t find the entry in order to give a chapter and page number. It may very well fall under the chapter called Light. Something cryptic, as is the photograph: this is ironic. With respect to the past.

journeyings-10 emily hughes collaboration

Lost in the mist of time

I got the photo today. It was inside an envelope covered in layers of address labels, stamps and scan labels. Layers of history, not ancient but recent history, at least within the last year. A photo too is a record of history, and this particular photo made by Emily is intriguing. Every time I saw it on the blog it seemed to say the same thing, and now I have it in my hands it still says the same thing. Emily writes that she took the photo over 10 years ago whilst on a journey, and many of the writers and artists who have received the photo have interpreted that journey as a train ride. To me too it seems it was taken from a train. It is dark, ambiguous, mysterious. Those circles of light are like lost souls waiting, watching the train passing. Lost souls from the past waiting… for what? Perhaps they are a family waiting for the return of their father from the war. Perhaps they are just waiting, because that’s what happens at train stations. Now forgotten faces, always waiting, immortalized in the photo. The two hexagon shapes in the sky one light and one dark like two suns, as if suggesting life and death, creation and destruction.

This is Emily’s photo.

Emilys-photo

I made a collage using layers of newspaper, not ancient but recent history, and over sharpened it with a photo editor.  This is  “Lost in the Mists of Time”.

Image

I normally work with mosaic and sometimes mosaic animation, but as I started out in collage and photomontage, it was a refreshing change to make a collage for this project! To see my blog visit katerattray.wordpress.com

My website is www.rattraymosaics.co.uk

Journey of a Photograph is a collaborative project invented by Emily Hughes.

If you would like to take part in this project you can sign up here

‘night train to sapa ’

IMG_5786IMG_5719

IMG_5776IMG_5537

IMG_5777

IMG_5479

IMG_5781

Good morning!

I received Emily’s photograph September 28nd 2013. Having followed her blog, from the beginning, I had often thought what would I do if I were asked to put together a piece for this collaboration.

night train 2

Emily invited me to participate and I was sent the photograph to interpret from my point of view. My first thought was, I’m looking at a full moon at night viewed from a moving train. The image reminded me of an overnight trip on a local train from Hanoi to Sapa in Northern Vietnam. I lay on a steel plank on the bottom bunk. I shared the compartment with five other people.  It was dark. Flashes of light came in through the window. Metal against metal screeched. Strange smells, sights and sounds of humans asleep came at me for what turned out to be a long nightmarish night. I kept my mind occupied by writing a poem in my head. When I returned home, I made ‘night train to sapa town’ first into a poem and then into an Artists’ Book printed on handmade paper. The poem became the basis for this project.

I started my project with a series of charcoal sketches of the night sky, which were drawn in the middle of the night.

Thinking of the train ride and Emily’s image, it’s shapes and connotations, I took some photographs.  ‘Full Moon Over the City’ and ‘Steel and Wood’ built towards my final painting,  Three paintings later, I was satisfied with ‘Good morning. Would you like a cup of tea?’ (acrylic on canvas measuring 32” x  32”) click on image to enlarge

Personal connections are happening here. Participating artists are commenting on each other’s work. One artist included a photograph; another artist added a leaf with a message written on it.  Added to this collection, was a tiny four-leaf clover from an artist in Belgium. Now, I am adding my admission ticket to Ho Chi Minh Museum in Hanoi. I carefully put back, into the original envelope, the photograph and it’s companion pieces. The photograph is ready to continue it’s journey.

If you would like to participate in the journey of this photograph take a look here.

To find out more about how this project started visit Emily’s blog.
To visit my blog go to http://carlasaunders.com/

Thank you, Emily. Your project took me to a new place in my art.  I really enjoyed the ride.

 

Be faithful Go

The Photograph greeted me as a neatly packaged risk.

Unlike the poets and artists of different times and geographies whose work could bring about imprisonment or worse, my work takes very little risk. And yet art reminds me relentlessly that faith is rudiment to creation, even at the level of imaginary stakes, the mostly self-imposed type. What is at stake?

The Photograph’s owner has released this fragile art piece into several unknown hands. One of the writers who held it before me is someone I have not met in person, but whose writings I have read for over a year now, who faithfully reads my writings and offers me resonant references to literature and theory. We have a textual connection in virtual space, but the shared physicality of the Photograph closes our geographical impossibility into a more intimate interstice. As such, the more hands the Photograph passes through, the more beauty, the more meaning it seems to accumulate. An intermediary to creation and inspiration, the Photograph is becoming ever more sanctified. Far from Walter Benjamin’s mechanical reproduction whereby a photograph loses its aura, this Photograph is gathering preciousness.

The more precious it feels in my hands, the more devastating it is to imagine its loss or destruction. And still, the more artists and writers like me who create from it, the more it is open to chance, to misfortune, and easily could slip away.

I know artists must gamble on welcome, as George Steiner says. Yes, those who arrive at the boardinghouse of life may bring loss or death — “but without a gamble on welcome, no door can be opened when freedom knocks.”

These words grow truer as I move into my middle years. I have come to know deeply the amazing array of possibility spanning all colorful forms of tragedy and fortune. At the same time, life seems to have fastened to itself more attachments (my family and friends, my nest, my belongings which need more belongings) so as to stir up an existential quandary for even the most mundane of choices. What happens to my body/career/relationships if I have another child? What if a stroke of orange ruins that entire painting? What if my idea turns out wrong, if nobody understands it? The door is getting heavier, and I find myself turning into that old, lonesome woman who cracks it open just enough to turn away the unknown.

Photography I, by Summer Lee and Karen and Adam Hathaway

Tonight in my studio in San Francisco, my collaborators, Karen and Adam Hathaway and I used the Photograph to question with a hopeful openness, to ask what-if’s along an artistic exploration: What if we do this with the Photograph? What if we do that? The more possibilities we supported each other in trying, the more we stood guard over each other’s freedom.

Here are a few of our images, and a few I made myself — all taken before I send the Photograph into the next unknown pair of hands. And from there, who knows.

Journey Photograph by Summer Lee, Karen and Adam Hathaway, 2013

journey of a photograph 2D

(The Photograph projected into the fog over the Pacific Ocean.)

The Photograph has stood guard over me and my freedom to creatively fumble or fly. It echoes the same sentiment found in Zbigniew Herbert’s poetry, a man who knew great loss was sometimes the price of great work, that one must strive for justice and beauty even when the sacred collapses. They both utter:

Be faithful Go.

Journey Photograph, by Summer Lee 2013.

(Photograph projected over a Willa Cather quotation from a page torn out of a book on happiness.)

Zbiegniew Herbert’s full poem is here:

The Envoy of Mr. Cogito
BY ZBIGNIEW HERBERT
TRANSLATED BY BOGDANA CARPENTER AND JOHN CARPENTER

Go where those others went to the dark boundary
for the golden fleece of nothingness your last prize

go upright among those who are on their knees
among those with their backs turned and those toppled in the dust

you were saved not in order to live
you have little time you must give testimony

be courageous when the mind deceives you be courageous
in the final account only this is important

and let your helpless Anger be like the sea
whenever you hear the voice of the insulted and beaten

let your sister Scorn not leave you
for the informers executioners cowards—they will win
they will go to your funeral and with relief will throw a lump of earth
the woodborer will write your smoothed-over biography

and do not forgive truly it is not in your power
to forgive in the name of those betrayed at dawn

beware however of unnecessary pride
keep looking at your clown’s face in the mirror
repeat: I was called—weren’t there better ones than I

beware of dryness of heart love the morning spring
the bird with an unknown name the winter oak

light on a wall the splendour of the sky
they don’t need your warm breath
they are there to say: no one will console you

be vigilant—when the light on the mountains gives the sign—arise and go
as long as blood turns in the breast your dark star

repeat old incantations of humanity fables and legends
because this is how you will attain the good you will not attain
repeat great words repeat them stubbornly
like those crossing the desert who perished in the sand

and they will reward you with what they have at hand
with the whip of laughter with murder on a garbage heap

go because only in this way will you be admitted to the company of cold skulls
to the company of your ancestors: Gilgamesh Hector Roland
the defenders of the kingdom without limit and the city of ashes

Be faithful Go