EDIT (INTERLUDE)

Finally back to the edit/sequence of my project. There was some delay because my printer broke. Had to drag my sorry ass down to the store to get a new one. (P800, in case you’re interested.)

But enough about that . . . what about the edit?

I spent the last year and a half shooting this project. It began with a broad conception and I photographed all sorts of things that felt like they might work, fit. Now, seven weeks into the edit/sequence, I’m beginning to hone it, to zero in. And, as I thought, as I wanted, it seems to be about (for lack of a better word) some dark shit: the potential (maybe even the propensity) of homo sapiens to fuck things up. (Or something like that. I don’t know. In the end it’ll be up to you to decide, if you see it.)

In the meantime . . .

One of the things I’ve been thinking about, as I look at what I’ve done, study these photos and try to shape them, is, what if things get better? What if the First World isn’t as broken as it seems, what if the premise of this project is wrong?

But if you look at, study, history, if you consider the long view, it’s kind of obvious that the “prosperity” and “progress” of the last half of the 2oth Century (the era we’re familiar with and, so, think of as normal) was an aberration. Planet Earth has always been a tough place. Yes, homo sapiens have mostly progressed, but that progression always comes with, is situated within, a background of violence and repression. And often that background becomes foreground.

So I suppose I needn’t worry too much that things will get better in the short run. And, man, how perverted does that sound? Worrying that things will get better because it might fuck up my project, my projection? That’s just weird, right?

I mean, of course I hope things get better. But, to quote Robert Frank: “Look out for hope”. The beauty of that sentence being that it cuts both ways.

And, anyway, hoping ain’t worth shit. Kinda like thoughts and prayers.

So here I am, in the dark place this work is taking me. Not that I don’t find joy in the small things: walking the dog, cooking dinner, working and learning, trying. But I’ll leave changing the world, and hoping, to someone else.

Finally, here are some words I found when I was well into the shooting for this project. They seem to sum up what I’m working towards . . .

“In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.”
-Bertolt Brecht

THE END OF THE FIRST BEGINNING

As I mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, I made a few first beginnings of the edit/sequence of my current project. Then I put that on hold and painted my kitchen floor. Unlike editing and sequencing photos, when you paint a floor you know when its done. Satisfying in a nice, simple way.

I’ve known for a while that relaxing into an edit, allowing down time for the back of your brain to process, is important. After all, that’s how I approach shooting my projects: slow photography. Let the thing you are studying seep into you. Think just enough, but not too much. The time I spent painting the floor was most beneficial. Not only did I get a swell floor, it also gave me time to rethink my approach to the edit/sequence, and to wonder a bit more about what this project might actually be about.

After the floor was finished I spent about 5 days, on and off, really moving images around. Did at least 20 iterations that were between 15 and 25 images long. Just to explore possibilities. I worked on possible pagination,  flow of content and feeling, figured out possible ways of ordering the whole thing.

Then I walked away from it again, realizing that it just kept changing, that my perspective was, for now, shot.

But I learned a lot, saw possibilities I didn’t know existed (except in my dreams). It’s still pretty clunky and very unresolved. There are obvious flaws in how the flow of images might be read, bad page turns and all the other stuff that happens when you’re trying to figure out a solution to a puzzle with a lot of moving parts, a puzzle that has no one correct solution. But some solutions are more correct that others, right?

Then what I did was, I showed a PDF of this, the end of the first beginning,  to a few random, non-photography people who just happened to be visiting (like my niece, and a couple of droppers-by). Listened to what they had to say.

And I sent it off to Colin Pantall and Timothy Archibald, two photographers who, in the past, have provided me with shrewd insight into what I’m doing. Their comments and perspective on some of my previous work changed how that work was presented.

Their initial comments really got my brain going. They agreed on certain directions and images but had opposite opinions on others. (One referenced Robert Frank, the other David Cronenberg!! If this project could even approach a marriage between those two sensibilities I’ll be a very happy camper.)

I’m fine with, and expect, varying opinions. One of the aims of this project is to create a book where the actual subject isn’t too nailed-down. On the other hand, varying opinions from trusted sources add to my confusion. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m prepared to be (and to remain) confused. And I will continue to embrace contradiction.

So for now I’m just going to chill, do some thinking on my own and then get back to it again. And that will be the beginning of the second beginning.

 

THE FIRST BEGINNING

After a year and a half of shooting for my new project I thought it might be time to have a hard look at what I’d done.

I went to Staples and made 300 small laser prints, the selects from all those thousands of pictures I’d been stacking up on my hard drive.

Let’s get physical . . .

Went up to my studio and laid them on the table. My first thought was, Tony, you’re gonna need a bigger table.

My second thought was, Tony, get a grip. Get ’em from the table to the wall and there’ll be room on the table for more.

Easier said than done. I hemmed and hawed, choosing the first image seems so important. Then I thought, Tony, this is only the first beginning, there will be dozens, if not hundreds more beginnings to this thing before you’re done.

So I just picked one and stuck it to the wall, followed it with another and another. Tried some permutations, explored a few options.

Then I took the dogs for a walk.

There, I had begun, that was the main thing. The other important thing, I told myself was, Tony, don’t let this thing you’re doing climb on top of you like bad drugs, just go for the ride, enjoy it.

A while later I went back, added, subtracted, wondered, tried to feel.

Then I did the dishes, made dinner, ate it, decided to paint the kitchen floor red. After all . . . life goes on.

The next day I realized that when I began this edit/sequence, began to mine this data, began my search for just enough meaning in that stack of pictures, I had been falling back on old, familiar patterns. That’s not going to work here. Unlike my previous projects this new work isn’t about any specific location, demographic or fact. In fact it’s fiction. I’m going to have to figure out a new way of relating to my photos, and of having them relate to each other.

So far my only conclusion is that this will be the most difficult edit/sequence I have ever attempted. There are so many threads to weave here, so many layers, so little is defined.

I’m nervous and excited.


drool.SEEKS RECENT PHOTO PROGRAM GRADS 

drool. would like to get together with 3 or 4 (or 5) recent graduates of local photo programs. I’m talking Algonquin, Ottawa School of Art, UOttawa, SPAO, and any other ones I’ve missed.

The aim is to initiate a conversation (for publication on the blog) about the trials and tribulations of, well . . . recent photo-school grads.

There is no agenda other than to bring forward your thoughts on how it’s going for you, what you think of the local photo-scene, how your expectations were met and not met, and any other issues that may arise.

If you are interested in participating please PM me. Or, if you know someone who fits the bill, please share this with them. (You will find my email address on my website, which you will find by clicking on the tonyfoto link at the top of this page.)