Monuments to shadows

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Monuments to shadows. Traprain Law walk.

My recent climb up Traprain Law, in East Lothian, Scotland was as much an ascent into the Scottish hills, as a journey into a mental place for recollection. Previous trips when sheep would bleat among the folds of grasses and the odour of summer spent in the air, or that trip in the rain of an overcast day, amongst the familar panting of breathing, where recalled in my mind. Situated near the house where I had spent most my childhood, such a climb that seemed to evolve in tempo of hours, passed in the brevity of minutes in the mental sensibilities of a twenty-one year old destined to seemingly speed up his own conceptions of time passing. The monuments of stones that lie at the summit of these hills, serve as a reminder to time passing and a memorial to both geological and human time. People circling these stones in their small groups, or as single travellers, make paths around these monuments marking temporality around sculptures that are both long lasting marks of human activity and also will survive them.

My parents and I would walk through the long grass of summer, that when green permeated the hills with a kind of consolation and wonder. In this constellation of enamoured green we would walk and I aged nine would run behind my mother and father, enrapt both by the air and the light. The lines we made in the grasses where fugitive scars upon the tranquility of this landscape and where there existed the possibility that I could partially own it; then it felt as if I knew this landscape and had become communal with the veracity of the sounds of the animals and the essences of their smell. Aged nine, the climb I experienced seemed to last for the same time I would equate to half a day of my present life, it was a time experienced intuitively, without presumption or analysis, but only in the process of bathing in it, of succumbing to the run up the hill and the sweet air, with colours that are more vibrant than now.

I coloured these memories with the visions of a kind of naive consciousness, enamoured with acceptance and peace exalted in the run I took up the steep side of the hill towards rocks that I could tempt to climb, past backpackers verging carefully up the slope in measured pace. Then as I would admire the progress of this ascent, I would see the mound of rocks silhouetted against the skyline of Traprain Law, and I would recognise not only that I was nearing the summit of this hill, but also I would recognise a kind of transformation to the landscape, or the landscape of my mind. Bearing witness now, not to the natural, unadulterated landscape, but to a place marked by human activity. Upon my observation of this outcrop of human endeavour at the summit, my thoughts of the limitless ascent, the free flowing consciousness of the run, and the childhood energy of it where unconsciously dismantled. As if my sculpture of freedom had suddenly been shattered into pieces.

When I glanced upon the summit, when I saw an end to the climb and a place for conclusion, the desire to reach it was lost; I would slowly and reluctantly drag myself to the top, making the last few steps with a kind of vanity and an urge to return again to the nature and the landscape that was not marked by the consummation of the land and the human hand upon it. Upon the elevation of the hill you can see the distant landscape of Scotland plough down before you, among grey clouds hanging, as if waiting for a moment to erupt in courage, and to decimate peace with the new tempting markings of rain.

Sometimes in the resting places of the circle of stones I would cower, more relieved at the strength of the wind that seemed to engulf but also wrap me in a kind of agile clothing, which would subside to the wrappings of stones shielding me from its onslaught.

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Sometimes in the resting places of the circle of stones I would cower, more relieved at the strength of the wind that seemed to engulf but also wrap me in a kind of agile clothing, which would subside to the wrappings of stones shielding me from its onslaught. The sound of the wind would die away and be consoled by arid silence that seemed to hit my ears with a peculiar percussive hush; the gentle rattle of the rocks now lower and darker in tone. When you sit inside the cocoon of the rocks, you seem guarded as if in a new kind of womb, such a place is of both comfort and entrapment; in fact it is as if the luxury of stones pressing into your body, both reminds you of living, but also of being immobile in this cocoon. It is perhaps like being under anaesthetic, you cannot move and are no longer wrenched apart, limbs sometimes flailing by the arms of the wind, which although they are wrestling you, seemed to also be pushing you out into the world, pushing you into the cry of living. In the oppressive comfort of stones, little is ignited, save for a sense of claustrophobia, a passive tranquility, a place for thought. Yet it is in this interior place for the human mind, that there seems a kind of reluctance to step out of the bed of rocks, that willingly wraps you in its geological garment; shielding you as you are protected from the onslaught of the world – in its cruelty and suffering but also its light. In the crouched position your body is a paradoxical epitome for both protection and vulnerability; the outside world cannot touch you, but your body and mind now limitless are imprisoned, interred in the fabric of the rocks surrounding your every thought, breath and emotion, where they guard you from potential, life and the dexterity of that outer world, that world which wounds but also gives.

Stepping from the cocoon of this entombed world is a relief, as you face the open wind again and hearing the bleat of lambs, like children of the world, living not in the mind’s vision, but in the vision of physicality – the senses, the feeling of grass caressing the limbs that wade through grass, as if wading through a sea, or the sting of nettles and bracken that bites you with the feeling that you are alive, that you are entrapped in this world of feeling, that is not only realised in the bite of thoughts, but the bite of the air and the taste of that summer that lingers viscerally in a veracity of vision that sometimes lies in its kindness.

Leaving behind the monuments of stones, arranged by the hands of former travellers, descendants of the Traprain ascent; where placed momentarily upon the summit in the materiality of physical rock, their passages where remembered even in the air, I encountered even in the descent. Leaving the rocks behind I thought that I could find new monuments. The light was now behind our backs, as the sun slowly sank behind the horizon, perhaps like molten lead, and we would clamber down the mountain now, ungainly but fresh and new in this moment. The sunlight cast us as shadows, and for seconds we became immaterial monuments infused with energy like monuments to shadows.

Text and images by Ad Howells.

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Find a place for weeping: A journey through Jupiter Artland

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Figure 1. The tree above the artwork “In Memory” by Nathan Coley

Me and my Dad recently visited Jupiter Artland which is a large, beautiful park area outside Edinburgh hosting a series of predominately sculptural art pieces. I last visited the park five years ago in 2009. Looking back at my photographic images captured in 2009, it was a beautiful sunny day. However, our visit on the 15th September 2013, was the last day on which Jupiter Artland was open for the autumn before it closes for the winter period from September to February, and it was a day filled with dramatic outbursts of rain and mist covering large “life mounds” these large plateaued hills create a fascinating green landscape of sculptural abstract grass.

As we made our way along the path through Jupiter Artland we came across the first piece of art consisting of a large metal cage that holds a large piece of square grass within it, and a hole into stone constructed hole that leads down into the earth. Perhaps this piece entitled Suck by Anish Kapoor (figure 2.) is suggestive of a prison which presents a locale for escape only in the form of a hole to swallow or, dissipate the prisoner to another earthly realm below the ground.

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Figure 2. Suck by Anish Kappor.

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Figure 3. Firmament (2008) by Anthony Gormley.

Wandering through the beautiful forests of the park, in the grey gloom of this overcast day, I spot the next piece slowly emerging from the thicket of trees. This Anthony Gormley sculpture entitled Firmament (2008) of a vast giant figure of a man lying down upon the grass; this piece solely constructed from metal, is a depiction both of the importance and the futility of a humans place within its kind and hostile world. Gormley’s art piece inhabits a sculptural world where gestures are yielded and broken. The figures metal construction creates a paradoxical place for a questioning between the material weight of the gesture of this reclining figure and the universe where it resides. The wire-like structure of the figure’s body leaves gaps for air and sky to seep through, both creating an abstraction and a sense of immaterial weight, a place in which the body is present but also absent. Gormley therefore entertains a questioning of the body as a site for reemergence and passage in addition to the materiality and the carnal physique of the physical body. The body therefore becomes a site for the world, in this case the sky and the clouds to look into the interior anatomy of the body itself, indicating its sculptural qualities entwined among the form of the landscape. The landscape of the world and the landscape of the post-womb body are in this way transfused as an exchangeable identity, a kind of casting of impressions of the human animal, upon the nature from which it was born. The positioned gesture of the figure is indicative of an act of looking towards the earth, thus contemplating the natural, material world, the place where it will materially end it’s life. While the sky above it transfigures, another identity, that which is incarnated in the soul of every human, the sky and the air become a transgressive, escapist realm; now which Gormley’s sculptural incarnation indicates is living inside the soul of this transfigured human body. Living through the gaps in the creature’s anatomy, are those passages for air and reflection, that however belied, are resting somewhere beneath the creature’s conscience, in a place that remains still mentally touchable for the creature, despite the creature’s seemingly despairing demeanour. (Figure 4.)

“Gaps of sky seemed poised for a site of new entry, creating a kind of emergent travesty of the human body, where the body is an immaculate material fabric for possession, obstruction, action and inaction, and the soul flies from it, gaping at its ardour of the earth, and the sordid physicality of the utterances of arms and legs upon the earth, which the material body will eventually rot into.”

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Figure 4. Firmament (2008)

Gormely remarks upon this sculptural work to the notion that it poses a thought process  “…about the endless condition of the sky and the conditioned space of architecture.” The sites of entry into the body of the sculptural, remind the viewer of Gormely’s principle ideal – that of the body and the soul, and how the sculptural place where the body is situated defines this body-soul relationship. Gormely’s sculpture indicates that the artist not only sculpts physical matter, but he also sculpts air. Gaps of sky seemed poised for a site of new entry, creating a kind of emergent travesty of the human body, where the body is an immaculate material fabric for possession, obstruction, action and inaction, and the soul flies from it, gaping at its ardour of the earth, and the sordid physicality of the utterances of arms and legs upon the earth, which the material body will eventually rot into. The soul sees them as effigies that can only travel so far, before the soul carries them to a realm that is strange and new.

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Figure 5. Firmament (2008)

The shadows upon the ground beneath the sculpture indicate this facility between physical structure and invisible presence. (Figure 5.) In the ardour of this physical structure, light is seen both through the gaping holes in the body’s structure, but also in the effect it has in creating the shadows upon the ground. Light creates this medium for transference between these two actualities, permeating the landscape with imprints of the interior and exterior of form and their realities.

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Figure 6. Weeping girls: Laura Ford

The exhibition at Jupiter Artland is not only a place for a enacting contemplation, is is also a place for weeping. After you have travelled off on a path into the forest, you eventually come to see some grey figures of weeping girls situated in relevant places in the landscape. These figures in Weeping Girls by Laura Ford are mostly depicted with their heads down and their long hair obscuring their faces, both concealing their expressions but also allowing their emotions to be read without these signs of facial expression. The girls are weeping in the landscape, but as much as they attempt to disguise their sorrow or pain, they cannot escape the enormity of the landscape that now contains and is permeated with their interior suffering. It is therefore when the viewer reflects on the landscape and watches the girls weeping within it, that the audience transforms their perceptions of this surrounding environment. The environment becomes a vessel or container, not unlike the body, upon which thoughts are felt, blamed, praised and ingrained within. The external environment becomes a repository for tears, a place where tears evoked by thoughts, emotions and memories, some derived from far of places are inflected, resonated and then shattered. The act of mourning transforms this external environment, clothing it in the invisible spaces of other times past in seconds, years, or decades.

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Figure 7. Stone House, Bonnington by Andy Goldsworthy. External source: Jupiter Artland website.

After emerging out of the landscape of the Weeping Girls, we come across a stone house (Stone House, Bonnington) by Andy Goldsworthy, when you enter the house you realise that instead of the occupants and evidence of a human dwelling, the interior is filled with a rough undulating landscape of stone, as it has become reoccupied by nature. Not only does the interior of the house startle the viewer, it suggests both the harmony and the disharmony of humans living beside nature, both questioning our identity within the landscape of the natural world.

While I indicated how Gormley’s Firmament sculpture of a single figure alone in the landscape,  showed how the merger of landscape and human form, is ascribed through the construction of gaps and spaces within the figure for nature to reengage, both as metaphors for spiritual reengagement, and as reclaim of the material world in decomposition of the body, Goldswothy’s Stone House depicts such a human-nature engagement in a different way. The contrast between Firmament and Stone House is displayed partially through the viewers differing visual-physical participation in the work; instead of observing gaps in the anatomy of the figure, the viewer observes a direct physical incision or kinetic trajectory into the landscape of the sculpture, culminating in a “meeting point” in the a physical threshold of the doorway as a place to question domesticity and the environment. Therefore, Gormley’s and Goldswothy’s works are both about the portals of incisions of gaps and doorways, but they are achieved through different invitations into the sculptural works physical and visual viewing experiences.

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Figure 8. The interior of Stone House, Bonnington by Andy Goldsworthy.

Goldsworthy’s Stone House, explicitly depicts a transfusion between the domesticity and comfort of the primarily human construction and inhabited domain of the house, with the invasion of nature, a natural world from which this human domain was sourced and constructed from. Goldswothy states, “There is something unnerving about entering a building in which nature is the occupant” and this work is sufficiently concerned with the edifice of human activity, as it is with the edifice of humans’ conception of their own identity. The sculptural and the three-dimensional nature of the artwork elegantly portray both a temporal dimension to the artwork and a temporal dimension to the viewing experience of the artwork. The nature of the expectations of the house is questioned, through the use of sculptures’ kinetic and tactile means of revelation. Upon viewing the house from outside, you immediately accept it as a means to cultivate and protect human life, both in its ability to shelter, retain warmth and provide comfort and you can also reflect on its place within the landscape of nature. However, as you step through the threshold of the doorway, you realise that these assumptions have been fundamentally questioned, namely that nature lives inside humans’ construction.

The sculpture both invites and thrives upon the human viewer’s discursive movement through it, creating a shift in the perception of the viewer as they move from the outside before the threshold towards the interior beyond. This kinetic movement is a vehicle that both demolishes and reconfigures perception of the domestic and the wild environment and it achieves this through the free will of human engagement, in a revelation of information in resting in the bedrock of time. The invitation of the doorway provokes a sense of carrying the weight of thoughts of the outside world into the interior space. The sculpture that thrives on this spatial and temporal relation, displays not only this invitation for revelatory sense of kinetic movement, but also a temporal contrast between the lasting time of the stone, and the lasting time of the wood of the house’s roof. However, the Stone House is ultimately a place of reengagement between nature and humans, as Goldsworthy states, “These houses become a forum in which the nature of the place and human nature meet.”

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Figure 9. In Memory by Nathan Coley and the surrounding landscape situating the art piece.

Following the trail through the beautiful forest to our next destination, there is a lustre in the air and the sound of wind whipping up the grasses of this September day, the sky is close to crying from the grey clouds, adorning an ashen hue to the faint, withering complexion of the trees. As you venture deeper into the forest, and follow this trail, you come to a small clearing off one side of the forest. By now the ashen hues of the sky are subdued and sunlight rakes through a skeletal tree that stands naked without its leaves, in contrast to the clothed trees surrounding the form of it. The lack of leaves and the shape of the branches, allow for an admiration of the form and structure of the tree, as it seems to touch the sky. Below the tree is a small stone structure with a narrow opening, inside there are gravestones, an art piece In Memory by Nathan Coley – this is another repository for human grieving, in continuing the theme established by the artworks Firmament and Weeping Girls. (Figures 9 and 1) It is as if the tree has been touched in some way by the connotations provoked by the place where it resides; here I find another place where the environment bends and transforms to the identity it hosts and lives. Rain builds, culminating in a torrential downpour, as a group of children and tourists cower beside the walls of this austere spectacle.

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Figure 10. The path through the art trail in Jupiter Artland (2013).

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Figure 11. Over Here by Shane Waltener.

Walking along the path and picking up the trail, I come across a gathering of trees looking onto a golden field; in the background are bales of harvest and between the trees I can discern a giant cobweb created from nylon, the work entitled Over Here, by Shane Waltener. (Figure 11) If these works have so far been about finding the self, displaying emotions of grief and weeping, but also entertaining the notion of capturing, and transfiguring our emotions through art, then this piece exemplifies this last ability to capture and transform. The giant cobweb as a work of art not only captures the insects it was designed for, but it also captures our sense of viewing the world. The web creates a place for looking. It is hard to recognise the web in the trees as you approach it, but as it catches the light, you can differentiate the whiteness of nylon from the whiteness of the sky. The illusion the web creates, of the seen and the unseen as a place of deception, creates a space for optical disguise and optical transmutability. As the web transfigures a site of optical visibility and invisibility, the work goes further in such an exploration. The transparency of the web, allows the external backdrop of the environment behind it to be viewed and in this way the web, in all of its immateriality, briefly optically transforms the landscape which it veils, as if it is capturing the landscape itself; capturing all of vision and enslaving it to the complex labyrinthine fabric of the web. The viewed world, from this position is only articulated clearly through the view of the circular hole in the centre of the web, a place both for the eye and the insect to escape. As insects might weep in the web, with the notion of capture invading their minds, the eye is caught briefly by the aesthetics of web as it lingers on its complex patterns and shapes, before traversing it like the insect, as it explores its intricate passageways and routes.

The web as art displays a conjecture of immateriality, but it also preserves the notion of its endurance as an art piece. This nylon web lasts longer than many of the insects it attempts to capture; yet the web seems unable to temporally capture the landscape it straddles, to the changing nature of seasons and time. When I looked at images captured in the summer of 2009, I saw a green field of summer in the background, but bales of the recent harvest covered the field of this 2013 visit.

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Figure 12. Cells of Life by Charles Jencks.

Passing this sculpture and wandering back into the forest, there was time to admire the grey leaden sky and follow the path to the next destination. As you emerge from the trees, there are two giant masses of plateaued grass, these hills offer a portal into the world of Charles Jencks’ landscape artwork entitled, “Cells of Life”. (Figure 12). This last piece examines the interior anatomy of the body, by externalising it in eight landforms, with a connecting causeway round four lakes with flat summits, creating multiple locales for reflection upon the paradoxically smallest and microcosmic structure of the life-form itself. The thematic concept of the work is the notion of describing the life of a cell through the principle of a single cellular division called mitosis. The concentric circles that make up these landmasses conceive a relation to the many organelles present inside the units of life and from an above view the anatomy of this landscape can be discerned as a representation of the early divisions of the cell into membranes and nuclei. (Jupiter Artland website). As much as this sculptural and architectural work “is a landform celebration of the cell as the basis of life” (Jupiter Artland website, 2013), it is also a piece that engages a place for self-reflexivity to take place. The works’ integration with the landscape, and the audience’s interaction with the work, form a two-way dialogue with the work. As people wander through this work and explore the interior anatomy from which they are part, the externalising and enlarging process confronts the schema for identity, as a locale for interior reflection. Interior reflection seems caught in the vestiges that this landscape leaves imprinted upon us both visually and viscerally as we walk through this world. I could not help but recognise the sense of curious naive exploration of the small gathering of people in the rain. There is certainly a feeling of naivety at what you are looking at, when you are unfamiliar with the structure of cells, but the landscape exudes another kind of primeval impression upon you, as you encounter something unknown yet so close inside you, as a revelatory structure that is part of your body and every living organism. The space Jencks creates is as much about contemplation as traversal; the narrow causeway that runs through the lakes, creates a sense of intimate incision into the landscape, a dimensional portal into a unknown world. A curving, spiral path that climaxes in a small summit of a hill, appears like an ammonite, one of the most primal forms of life, and a fold in the plateau presents a border in the cell wall of an organism.

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Figure 13. A view from above one of the cell resembling structures in “Cells of Life” by Charles Jencks.

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Figure 14. Cells of Life by Charles Jencks.

Unlike Kappors’ prison resembling work, Suck, Jenks Cells of Life is not a place of entrapment of stratification, Cells of life, assumes expanse, growth and immersion. The path of the narrow causeways and the spiralling forms of the life mounds themselves, entertain and engage with the encouraged notion of “taking a walk”, the sense of moving three-dimensionally through space, both physically and in the optical-haptic engagement of vision upon the visuality of the art, creates a sense of liberation provoking a thought of celebration, and evoking the concept of interior growth. (Figure 14). Three-dimensional movement both creates a kinetic sense of aesthetic pleasure but also engages fervently with the viewing experience as a mode of discovery and the recovery of ideas. These landmasses offer both climaxes of looking at their summits, where you can experience the cartography of the landscape in its whole, as a synecdoche at the cellular level, and a climatic build up to this moment of omnipresent altitude. (Figure 13). The passages formed by walking both stimulate the mind, and the desire to reach conclusions, those that may be gained from the geographical view above; however Cells of Life does not answer questions but poses them, it creates questions of form and identity, and our place within that world and identity, by engaging with these concepts both schematically and subconsciously. The organic nature of the life forms nurtures our walk, and the unique line we choose to take through it, helps to shape both the landscape and our conceptions of it. During my journey I was fascinated by the sheep that would run up the sides of these structures, seeming as enthralled by the work as humans, as the sheep explored another territory outside the prison of their enclosure. It was a moment that spoke perhaps the the universality of Jencks’ artwork, and our continued captivation and allure to it, derived from its address to the most fundamental building blocks of life. Walking across a small bridge that straddles one of Jencks’ incarnated cellular structures, I recognised the experience that the bridge represented – that notion of travelling to another unknown place beyond the mist, that the bridge hopes to symbolically depict.

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Figure 15. Cells of Life by Charles Jencks.

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Figure 16. Cells of Life by Charles Jencks.

The idea of travelling to another place, and reviewing the world with a fresh outlook are what these works by, Anish Kapoor, Anthony Gormely, Laura Ford, Nathan Coley, Shane Waltener and Charles Jenk’s, respectively, Suck, Firmament (2008), Weeping Girls, In Memory, Over Here and Cells of Life have fundamentally engaged with. The act of looking becomes a fundamental preoccupation for these artists; and following the trail through the forest and landscape of Jupiter Artland offers momentary glimpses into the artist’s notions of identity, place, space and time, as the journey describes an evolution in different themes and modes of looking and reflecting in awe. The Cells of Life is not a place for weeping, but a place for the celebratory, and the act of being induced to wonder or incredulity at the spectacle of these giant cellular building blocks of life. However, perhaps it is therefore a place for a different kind of weeping; if Jencks offers us a place to weep, both cartographically, situated in physical space and in our mental landscape, it is a place to weep in joy, crying warm tears of cathartic optimism.

Image sources

Images 1-6 and 8-16 are original photography by Ad Howells (2013).

Image 7. Stone House, Bonnington by Andy Goldsworthy. External source: Jupiter Artland website.

Watching the light

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Watching the light. Captured in Venice, Italy. Ad Howells, 2013.

In August 2013 I visited Venice, Italy for a trip to the Venice Biennale art exhibition and I captured this image looking onto the Venetian skyline. The image became a starting point for a photographic series entitled: Watching the light. In Watching the light I am interested in exploring Venice as a city of the light; initiated from the idea of a series exploring a theme of people watching and contemplating the gleaming water surface of the Venetian lagoon. As I was situated in this place all the time I was contemplating what they might have been thinking while they looked upon this otherworldly city.

The medium of light unites and disunites moments, times and places creating a trajectory of thoughts, observations and transformations both in the beholder and in the beheld. 

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I am interested in the concept of the two cities that exist in this watery metropolis, one as the reality of the real world, and the other city below that exists solely in reflections. This reflected city forms another world for contemplation. During my visit I recognised light in its many incarnations – refracted light manifested in water, light consoled upon faces, light transformed, warped and bent in mirrors, or in the effects of sunlight that erode the material of stone on ancient sculptures. As light is the primary medium of photography, its substance is of great value to this essay.

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Light consoles us and creates us; as people or the apparatus of the camera observe it, it touches us configuring our sensibilities, predispositions, feelings and emotions. I think these images could posit an idea that light forms kind of trajectory between people, places and emotions in enacted photons. When capturing the photographs I was interested in the fascination people had in this simple act of sitting beside the lagoon and using the beauty of that landscape as an exterior facade to their interior thoughts. In the place of exclusion manifested by these images, a place where thoughts, predetermined actions and substance are largely lost to the subtlety of body language and hidden faces, their language can be only imagined through the audience’s conception of them. The water and the light of the sky become synonymous with interior thoughts, in an ascribing and externalising process.

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As the light upon the water of the Venetian lagoon refracts the exterior landscape of the city’s buildings, creating a fragmentation of a predisposition of what buildings look like, the water can also become a place for a projection for our interior world, and it is in this way that I want to depict the idea of watching the light.

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When I visited the Giardini gardens in Venice, which during the Biennalle houses hundreds of exhibitions, I came across a building covered in mirrors. Like the water this mirrored surface, displays the refracted physical properties of light as a means to transform the body and the real world, transfiguring an altered depiction of reality. In images 6 and 7 children and their parents are seen walking though a transformed and transforming space that is as much visceral and subjectively interior as part of the natural real landscape. While the earlier images depict the division between the borders of habitable land and adverse sea, the following images in some way transfuse the vehicle of the body with space, creating a proximity between the two through the illusory ability of light.

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The physical illusions found in mirrored surfaces indicate and encounter between these two dialectical opposing worlds. Photons of light carry messages forming a trajectory between places and times; this is in part what this series conveys, the series of images create links between moments and concepts.

It is not only living bodies of people that are defined and embodied by the subjection of light; the statues that watch over visitors to the gardens of the Biennale in the Giardini might stand longer than the humans that surround them, but their fugitive nature is realised in the erosion subject in the statues faces and the stone cloth of their garments. The erosion of sunlight shapes skin and stone and is captured briefly in the emulsion of film negative of the digital sensor of a camera. Like the people beside the lagoon these statues continue to watch the light as it marks them. While light crafts the photographic image itself, it also crafts and shapes the world around us, as much as light marks moments it also marks the surface of things.

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When we look up at starlight or moonlight, we see delayed light observing a 1.3 second delay in the light we observe from the moon and a 8.3 second delay in sunlight. This observed time traversal is both part the process of astronomical observation and the act of photography to miraculously distill a moment in time. As statues erode and skin decomposes, the material of photography attempts to create an immortality of these finite elements. The medium of light unites and disunites moments, times and places creating a trajectory of thoughts, observations and transformations both in the beholder and in the beheld.

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Watching the light series.

Captured in Venice, Italy. Ad Howells, 2013.