t h i n
k i n g
May you always see a blue sky overhead, my young friend; and then, even when the time comes, as it has come for me now, when the woods are all black, when night is fast falling, you will be able to console yourself, as I do, by looking up at the sky. Marcel Proust
Tuesday Afternoon, 1 O'Clock
150cm x 117cm, 15 strips of 14 C Type photographs, 1995
Tuesday Afternoon, 1 O'Clock was made each Tuesday at one o’clock. I photographed the same sweep of the horizon from the same point above my home. Conceptually I began from research on the coastal profiles made by 19th century artist William Westall which, he executed while circumnavigating Australia aboard Matthew Flinders’ ship The Investigator. Unlike Westall, who was focussed on the continual transitory slip of unknown land wedged between the sea and sky, I was focused on the expanse of ever-changing sky above the always same horizon – the horizon circumnavigating my home. I was also on a some sort of journey of discovery.
Rehearsing the landscape
76cm x 151.5cm, Three C Type photographs, 1997
This project was drawn from time spent watching clouds as they materialised from the clear blue nothingness, growing, multiplying, stretching, roiling, sailing toward the horizon. Approaching that horizon they either coagulated in large masses or began to shrink until dissolved once more into the clear blue.
These clouds became a collection of the moments of my being.
Arranging clouds #1
140cm x 245cm, 480 C Type photographs, 1997 - 98
The number of cloud photographs grew over several months. In tandem there was written notation of where and when I photographed the clouds concurrent with my thoughts in those moments.
I began to think that each of these clouds was like a thought in my mind; it developed out of the blue, transmogrified, lived for a while, before dissipating into another thought. Each cloud 'collected' became a metaphor for a fleeting moment of my being. The transient nature of my cognitive states seemed to be perfectly represented by the clouds.
Chasing the wind
90cm x 78cm, 130 C Type photographs, 1999
Chasing the Wind developed in concert with my existential condition. A condition that was echoed by the Teacher in the book of Ecclesiastes’, as he searched for meaning in life. It became a self-portrait.
Van Dieman Sky
I began to photograph the diurnal sky every day in May 1999.
This project that became Timetable is comprised of these photographs made of the sky. Every photograph represents one day. The compilation of photographs is ordered by the full moon, the total field is an abundant lunar year. In part this work was an exploration of time. It was also driven by my ongoing interest in the way meaning is constructed by imposing systems on the natural world.
78cm x 270cm, 384 C Type photographs, 2001
The ‘blue’, for me is the sky. Clouds appear ‘in’ the sky like ‘figures’ on a blue ‘ground’ – even when they ‘conspire’ to totally occlude it.
The blue sky has a particular conceptual acutance, in that it doesn’t actually exist as a tangible measurable phenomenon – it can only be beheld optically, as it is ‘simply’ a product of the sun’s light. You can no more touch the blue sky than you can touch the referent in photographs, they are both forever at a distance - yet persistently ‘there’.
untitled ( Atmosphere )
76cm x 124cm, C Type photograph, 2003
In the above work I was investigating making a photograph that expressed something of the lightness of light. I wanted the blue of the sky to appear as a translucent lightness with an expression of depth, rather than a solid opaque, flat blue upon the paper.
150cm x 150cm x 15cm, wooden frame, plexiglass, Fujitrans, fluorescent lights, 2003
To-day is another project that culminated from photographing the sky every day. It is a combination of the act of photographing - the action of framing the sky - and the notion that the blue sky is no more than an immaterial composition of light.
By removing the referent - sky - from visual primacy, I was exploring the act of photographing, and all that that may entail.
Fluorescent strip-lights embedded in the frame project the photographs of the sky into the empty enclosed space. The blue light reflected onto the wall in the enclosed space is the essence of the sky distilled from the photograph – the sky reconstituted.
C Type photograph 127 x 127cm. 2001
Short time I endured him, yet so short ‘twas not
But that I saw him sparkle every way
Like iron from out the furnace drawn white hot
And, on a sudden, day seemed joined to day,
As though the hand that has the power had sped
A second sun to make the eyes more gay.
The above quote, from the fifteenth century trilogy The Divine Comedy by Dante, illustrates that the author did literally stare into the sun – I can validate this from my own experience. And just as Dante directed his heroine Beatrice, I too stared into the midday sun to begin this journey.
76cm x 76cm, C Type photograph, 2001
I discovered that there is a compelling allure that envelops one when staring into the sun. Something that I can only explain as a combination of terror and magnificence. I knew that staring into the sun was potentially damaging my eyes - but I just could not stop looking. Like Odysseus’ need to hear the Sirens’ song, whatever the personal cost the need was too compelling to resist. The experience of watching the sun so dazzled my senses that I became overwhelmed to the point of rapture – it was brilliant and mesmerizing, I could feel it radiating outward expanding in my head, as it also sensuously caressed my skin with its touch. Like no other subject I have photographed the sun bewitched me, and however I have tried to coolly and clinically rationalize this project, I cannot escape the haunting of that bewitching.
76cm x 76cm, C Type photograph, 2003
127cm x 127cm, C Type photograph, 2002