Yesterday after running, the Mister and I went to the first annual Lowbrow Con in Milwaukie, Oregon. We got there really late in the day, about a half an hour before they closed the doors. They let us in free! Which was great because we had more money to give to the artists there. I bought a bunch of cools stickers, a screen print, and an awesome comic zine. It was great fun and I can’t wait to go again next year.
We went hiking with our pinhole cameras up at the Salmon River on Memorial Day weekend and the trail was a little more crowded than usual, thus, more people curious about the cameras we were using. Someone had left a baby’s bright pink shoe sitting on a rock at the trailhead and I instinctively decided to photograph it with my pinhole camera. As I was exposing the shot, a couple wandered up the trail and the woman asked me, “Why are you photographing the shoe?” The question took me by surprise because I didn’t have an answer. I don’t know why I did it. I just did it. My answer to her was completely idiotic. I think I said, “Oh we are just messing around.” And she said, “you are in a beautiful place for photography” and I said, “Yes it really is.” Weirdly, I felt like I was defending myself. I kind of had this weird nudge of anger.
As I hiked along and ranted to my husband obsessively about it for a few minutes I realized why her question bothered me. I think it bothered me because she asked “Why.” When people ask me about my camera I am very happy to obliged them. But the “why” question as it relates to creativity is odd. Why does anyone do anything? When you do something creative it is not done from that place in us where we are thinking intellectually. Creativity is more intuitive and instinctual. And I think the creative person inside of me resents having to defend her creative impulses.
Now that I have thought about it I know why I chose the shot: I liked the color contrast. I was using Ektar film (known for its saturation) and I liked the bright pink against the greens of the forest. I also liked the juxtaposition of the shoe in the natural environment. But saying all of this kind of takes the magic out of it, doesn’t it?
Yesterday I was in the photo collection at the Portland Art Museum looking at some pieces and I heard some noise. I wondered what in the world the sound was and deduced that it might be protestors outside yelling. I looked out the window in the hallway and didn’t see anything so I made my way up to the next level.
I saw that this is where Richard Mosse’s The Enclave was installed. That is what I was hearing from the floor below.
As I wandered around the museum I saw posters for The Enclave. The posters piqued my interest and I wanted to be sure to take a peek before I left for the day (I had no idea what it was, except that it was photography of some sort). When I finally made my way up to the top of the museum I found myself in a dark hallway. I literally had to feel and fumble my way inside. I walked in and was greeted with a screen that was flashing light. I saw that there were several screens and they were each showing different things, but they all had this very surreal coloring, lots of pink, red, and purples.
I walked in and sat down on the floor and my mind was blown for the next 40 minutes.
I was mesmerized. The art installation is a documentary of sorts. Here is the description from P.A.M’s website:
The Enclave was produced using a recently discontinued military film technology originally designed in World War II to reveal camouflaged installations hidden in the landscape. This film registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, rendering the green landscape in vivid hues of lavender, crimson, and hot pink. On the threshold of the medium’s extinction, Mosse employed this film to document an ongoing conflict situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
He used the now discontinued film, Aerochrome, which rendered the landscape in hot pink. So you are watching horrific things on the screen but it is also very surreal because of the color. This is just one aspect of the piece that made it so mesmerizing. It was very powerful. It affected me on a gut level. It is hard to intellectualize it or describe it.
I love art that affects me in that way. I will be thinking about this for a very long time.
At one point two women walked in with two little girls. They were chatting loudly and unaware that there where stunned people lining the walls of the room watching what was happening on the screens. The girls skipped to the center of the room where there were three screens. They stood in front of the screens while mom snapped pictures with her iphone of them. I thought, “I just saw a dead body on the screen. What is going to happen when a dead body shows up on the screen? What are these women going to do?!?” These people and their utter disregard for what they walked into added to the surreal effect of the experience for me. It almost felt like they were a part of the art installation.
The Enclave will be at the Portland Art Museum until February 15th 2015.
You should go see it.
You can see some of Mosse’s still photography from The Congo here.
Since I am doing my 1 second everyday project, and I wanted this to be my 1 second of yesterday, here are some snippets of what I saw. It really doesn’t do it any justice at all. You have to go experience for yourself.
Film Swap with Nick. His was shot in Spokane, WA and mine in Oregon. We used film that was expired 20 years.
If I had to blame my obsession with film phtography on a person it would be my friend Nick from Spokane. Back in the days when we used to go on “Photorolls” with the Spokane Flickr Group (years and years ago) he was dabbling in film photography. And doing interesting things with it! Like double exposures and pinhole photography. I remember seeing his stuff and saying in my head (in all caps) “I WANT TO DO THAT.”
Six years later and I am doing that. And I am having a blast.
Inspired by the filmswap I did with Brendan, Nick suggest that we do an Oregon/Washington film swap. I sent some film his way and he sent some film my way. You can see the results of the film I sent him on his Flickr. Here are a few of my favorites from the film he sent me. The film he sent was 20 years expired so that is why it is a bit grainy and has a blue-ish cast.
Lilac and Doug Fir. (sounds like the names of the main characters of a hipster romance).
If you want to swap film with me let me know in the comments! It’s fun!
I mentioned awhile ago that I am participating in Aware Of The Void’s international film swap project. I finally sent some film his way a couple of weeks ago, he shot a couple of rolls and developed them this past weekend and the results are AMAZING. Honestly. The serendipity of the way some of the images are super-imposed is nothing less than, well, what is the word? Metaphysical? I don’t know. This is what I love about art. I love how things just happen. Art is experienced, rather than explained. And there is no way to explain this with words, so why don’t I just show you.
My part of it was shot here in Oregon, some of it on a walk to Wahclella Falls on the Columbia River Gorge. Some of it shot at McMenamin’s Edgefield in Troutdale. Brendan’s side was shot in Dublin, Ireland. If you are interested in participating check out his really great blog, Aware of the Void! You can also find more of his excellent photography on his Flickr stream.