Time lapse as a process has become a major part of the In flux project. In most cases there are two to four versions of a scene, taken months apart, without any specific interval timing. I decided early in this project that there is no reason to rigorously measure the time lapse periods. This is due to the fact that my intention is not to offer a chronology of viewing change in specific scenes, but to make shifts back and forth through the times of the images using sequencing and positioning in the presentation of the entire body of work.
This is because I wish to use this method as a way to interpret the role of memory in perception of the environment and to acknowledge that photographs also act as a stimulus to memory, often in a different way to the environment that is being depicted. A memory recall relies on encountering a stimulus, this recall is temporally random, (or radial, as Berger puts it). Photographs, like environments, act as stimuli to memories recalled by the viewer and cannot be controlled by the artist. In this way photographs do not conform to the chronology of clock time, so there is little reason to adhere to the fact that they are sequential images, in fact it is rather better to displace them temporally, thereby involving the viewer in a non-linear and perhaps cyclical reading of the works and the scenes they interpret. The temptation to seek out the chronology will always be there, at the moment it is indicated through numbering in the titles of the works. By sequencing in a non- linear way and having gaps in the numbering there will be a sense of incompleteness in the body of work, something that is deliberate, hinting at the incompleteness and differences between viewing a photograph of a scene and the actual experiences of that scene.
Moving away from these temporal considerations, I also consider the process of repetition as a form of familiarisation with the sites I visit. It is a way to understand change, a way of investigating processes of connection with environments. The changing relationships to an environment that I undertake actions within, what is a taskscape (Ingold). Time lapse is one way of visualising this repetition.
When I make a first visit, I have no prior knowledge of the specifics of the site. My movements are random as I seek out potential elements that might interest me (the scenes I make a work about, the signs of change). I go by past experience in a non-specific way. I am not way-faring, following my knowledge of where to go, or following a map (I may have already done this prior to arriving at this site, but once there the map is ignored) but exploring unknown territories, hunting for my appropriate scenes. I am following the information of my senses and feelings are pertinent to this, security of being in the space has yet to be established. I look for resonances between myself, my inner states, and equivalences in the land I am inhabiting.
On a second visit I begin to way-fare between the scenes I visited before, reaffirming them and following a remembered pathway, whilst also creating new pathways to areas I may not have had time to visit the first time. Spaces I may of looked toward on the first visit and noticed enough to recall them in the intervening period between visits, deciding they would be interesting to investigate. The process of new explorations continues alongside retracing my previous steps.
Having returned I am subject again to similar sights and sounds etc. of the space before me and memories of my last visit are triggered that without presence are unlikely to be stirred. I might recognise a familiar object like a fence post in the wood, knowing I have seen it before, but without the stimulus of seeing it again, I would not have remembered. On a second visit the intervening time since my first encounter with the site is compacted.
Returning to a scene is unlike the hunting experience of the first visit, rather, it is more like a visit to gather the next piece of work, to re-engage with a scene. As time has passed the scene cannot be the same, but then neither am I, what I bring to the experience, what state of being I occupy at that moment has been altered by the passage of time. I feel more secure in being in the space, I am more likely to have conceived of a strategy for a second visit based on the results of the first. I am not only influenced by the memory of being there before, but also the memory lingers particularly of the works I made on the first visit too.
When the lapses of time between visits is a matter of months, difference is more apparent, than at closer intervals, seasonal change tends to dominate, although this is no bad thing, I decided to make a series of works that would have a shorter gap between visits, to investigate a scene with more intensity through time.These are some of the resulting works and some thoughts about the experience of the site that I am visiting.
|Track-way #3 11.54 am - 12.51 pm (57 minutes)|
I cycle and walk to this site from my home on a monthly basis and so far I've made, or I'm in the process of making 8 works. My only rule on frequency is that I must go once in each month, when in the month is arbitrarily reached, although I would not make two visits less than a fortnight apart and usually more.
The initial response
On the first visit, I noticed a constructed wooden track-way on my way to the location of this scene and made a work there, at the crossing of a stream, but I recognised why this interested me when I got to this location, perhaps because it was here that the association became clear to me. A specific memory and following series of associations was triggered. I was reminded of another encounter with track-ways, but this time in the context of archaeological work in 1997;
| Bronze-age Hurdle photo J. Sunderland/Margaret Gowen & Co. Ltd|
This is a hurdle, a type of track-way constructed in the Bronze-age found near Lisheen, Co. Tipperary Ireland. This is one example of many track-ways excavated on this project when I was employed as a photographer and archaeologist by Margaret Gowan & Co. Ltd. The function of this and the track-way I am now photographing is the same, to cross an area of boggy ground. The anaerobic conditions of the peat bog where this was discovered facilitated the preservation of this wooden construction.
Like the Tree-fall works in In Flux (see earlier postings), the association with the archaeological experience of the past in a major stimulus to making the work. In common with the Tree-fall works, it is not only the empirical evidence gathered through the excavation process that influences the action of making the work, but the memory of the experience of working on this project and occupying the same space as the people who made this track-way in the first instance, being able to imagine their past lives, that creates a resonance between the track-way I have since encountered and myself. This kind of association provides me with the motivation to make works on this site and to investigate some ideas about perception and memory through this scene. It produces a connection between me and the environment, although in the end, this connection through my specific memories are not available to the viewers of this work in it's final form. Akin perhaps to all artworks, this is one of the gaps that the viewers of artworks will fill with their own memories and knowledge, the works should act as a stimulus to a multiplicity of readings on the basis of those encountering it, the viewer can participate in the creative process through their own associations, which will probably be different from my own for many reasons, not only because they have not had my experiences and memory to draw upon, but they also will not have encountered either track-way in actuality, but mitigated through the artwork.
Track-way #2 1.35 pm - 2.12 pm (37 minutes) Version #2
On the first visit, I made one piece, I was in the process of assessing the site and spent many hours there making works at other locations, so this was the one scene of many that I only decided to concentrate on after making the image and a period of gestation.
On the first return to the scene I made a decision to approach this time lapse work differently from the earlier pieces. There is a sense, when in an environment, of imagining what a scene would look like from another position. Part of the normal processes of perception include this kind of filling in of detail or information. When we look at a scene we might spot, for example, a tennis ball. We would only be able to see one side of the ball, but we would assume from our learnt knowledge what the other side of the tennis ball would look like and would be surprised if there was a hole in it when we turned it around. This element of surprise indicates that stored or learnt knowledge of an object or the nature of scenes means that we tend to assume what the elements of that scene that are obscured from us are. In the case of the track way, I became curious to see what would happen if I made the second time lapse piece from the other end of the track way. This is influenced by the nature of the first work, with the track way pointing centrally into the distance, it invites the viewer to consider the other end of the track, so in the next image I proceeded to make a work from the other end.
The constancy of returns
Each time I visit this site the central objective is to make two of these works, one from each end. In the first and second visit I only made one piece, but soon realised that there was no reason not to make two on each visit (except it is very time consuming).
Now on each visit I head directly to this scene, not considering the wider environment, not looking for any other potential sites of interest. This shift has happened as I have grown more familiar with the site. I pass a number of locations were I made earlier work, but do not intend to work there again. The process has shifted from the initial sense of exploration and occasionally uneasiness to one of comfortable familiarity of a space I can experiment in. In addition this has now shifted to a sense of mundaneness, I am no longer particularly surprised or inspired by the site, or even the making of the new work. It has become a rhythm, an expected, habituated monthly episode in my life. I expect to see changes, in the vegetation, or the weather. I suspect I would be greatly surprised if a drastic change has occurred on my next visit. I see this feeling of the mundane as part of the process of connection to an environment. Although I do not live in this woodland, my familiarity with it means that I know what to expect. I no longer feel the need to make any effort, but just do the task in hand, this is perhaps inhabiting the space.
“…normally photographs are used in a very unilinear way….Memory is not unilinear at all. Memory works radially, that is to say with an enormous number of associations all leading to the same event” Berger J. (1997) Ways of Remembering in Evans J. ed. The Camerawork Essays p. 48
“-few would dispute that “clock time” and subjective time are different things” Burgin V (1996) In/different spaces; place and memory in visual culture University of California Press. Los Angeles, London P. 212
 “the shape of a ball, because of it’s visual incompleteness, makes us see volume as continued….The continuation as such is indeed compelling, and it is also true that we would be surprised to see anything but the remainder of (the ball)” Arheim R.(1970) Visual Thinking Faber and Faber, London P. 87