This text below is from a presentation on two photographs, which were printed in Sand Journal 24, “Undone”. The presenation was given at Hallesches Haus, Berlin, June 2022, hosted and fascillitated by Sand Journal.
The photographs are from a project called Existential Landscapes and focus on mist. They were taken on a three night expedition in the Alps in 2021.
I think when art touches us, one of the things it can do is create an opening in ourselves where we have a window to reconfigure in some way.
The purpose of this project is to encounter those experiences out in the world, in nature, and to create from those perspectives.
The photographs, for me, show a softening or dissolution of known realities, where the mist dissolves the world at the corners, or is suspended in space like an ethereal entity inviting an encounter. It somehow draws you in, like a portal where you don’t know what lies beyond, and to enter it in the actual space, can bring up - at least for me - relationships with trusting, when you simply don’t know, perceiving beauty, when you simply don’t know, entering wonder, when you simply don’t know, and taking a step forward, when you simply don’t know.
When the sun goes down, the mist bubbles up on the horizon, and pours over everything within minutes. The landscape can look like a living water watercolour. It can also completely eclipse, so that space reduces to only light and gravity, and a more inward guidance system moves into the foreground.
The way it enters space, what it does to it, and the blankness of its appearance, reminds me of the unknown aspect of vast and sudden change. When it conceals the environment, it is like the earth itself is reconfiguring, held in, or returned to, these levitating primordial waters, as it quietly, invisibly, builds again or simply pauses.
It compresses sound too, so if you are in a rock valley as i was in one of the photographs, the echo of a tumbling rock not only refracts and comes from multiple directions, but also sounds really close.
This aspect of the mist opened a window for me that night, when I imagined tumbling rocks were the footsteps of creatures around my tent. This kind primal, survival-based of fear of the unknown, felt so deep, archaic, and hard to undo. It has a place but in this case was unfounded, and I wondered in what other circumstances unfounded fear distorted my relationship with the unknown, or in other words, possibility, and maybe even life itself.
The next night I climbed down to a lake when I knew the mists would come. I lay down by the water between streams that were so strong they shook the ground and therefore my body too. Because my body took on the rhythm of the moving water, it was like the distinction between earth and body seemed to melt.
When the mists came, thickly and impenetrably, I tried to just let the experience fully in. Not imagining what could be lurking in there, or if i could find my way back if it stayed that way, trying not to imagine what could be, but trying my best to embrace what was. All of it, the temporary blindness, the lingering fear, awe at its beauty, overwhelm of its physical volume.
I tried to embrace experiencing it all. I tried to embrace, that I was experiencing.
I began to appreciate it. Even the bits like fear, which somehow seemed to evolve.
It felt like the magic of life opened itself up a bit more. Details and nuances revealing themselves in the glittering water, the curls of dancing mist in the light, unique currents of movement within the softness.
Maybe it was just that I had more space to notice.
Two photographs in
Sand Journal 24, “Undone”
Text presented at the journal launch, and link to the journal
Photography and Text
for Ernstalbrecht Stiebler and Tilman Kanitz’s
“Pankow Park Sessions” musical release
Two Poems published in Reliquiae Jounal 7.1