After Image Series
While I worked on printing my Canyon shadow photos on Atlantic beach pebbles, I wondered what the heck I was going to do with them. I'd thought about the space and time considerations that inspired them, but not what I would do with them aesthetically.
While I was at the Canyon I considered using them as a decorative border in a larger work. Here's a rough sketch...
But then I thought that the inclusion of larger, more representational images would dissipate their impact. I didn't want the shadow pebbles to be just decorative trim. So I scratched that idea.
Then I thought about using them as 3-dimensional brushstrokes that together would create a larger image, as these post-it sketches show. The first one depicts the split-twig figurine I mentioned in Post 7; the second, a Native American pot I bought--I included a photo of the actual pot because I think it's beautiful. (I made these sketches while on the phone with a tech rep in New Delhi, who was trying to help me install a new printer that came without a software CD. He and I spent so much time on the phone together that when we finally hung up all his co-workers got on the line to say good-bye as well, and I knew his grandmother's recipe for dal.)
I had a happy week during which I thought these post-its cracked the issue, but then I decided they were hokey. Also, I'd have to make a ton of printed pebbles...
And then I began thinking about boomerangs and clocks.
I remembered the false After Image I'd had plastered on my retina back at the Canyon--whether from altitude sickness, exhaustion, or eye strain--and realized I could conjure its boomerang shape and suggestive, Native American-like geometric designs with the printed pebbles. These images could be emblematic of my whole Canyon experience.
Here's a sketch I made of what an After Image design might look like a dusk, taken against a backdrop of marsh grass (I was anticipating an upcoming vacation in Maine, where I intended to photo the petrograph pebbles along the coast), and a photo from the actual installation.
I'd written down the time of day I'd taken every shadow picture. So I began to think I could also arrange the pebbles in a row to create clocks: essentially sundials in straight lines. I imagined one as a Canyon Clock of particular shadows I'd come to know well and considered emblematic of different times of day: morning, noon, and night. In these images time, symbolized by shadows, would tick forward but location--the Grand Canyon--would remain the constant. (Sorry, no sketches for that...)
Another might be a World Clock, of shadows taken at the Canyon at different times of day, which I could use to stand in for different locations around the world: in this sundial time would remain still but locations would imaginatively roam the globe. To create this series I found shadows I'd shot at 9:30 am, 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 4:30 pm, representing, sequentially, the same moment at the Grand Canyon; La Paz, Bolivia; Tasiilaq, Greenland, and Cardiff, Wales. I thought I might write a one-page story to correspond to each pebble in the clock...
Here's how it turned out...