The Wide Open Spaces of Infinite Darkness

In terms of work, the first half of the year 2014 has been very stressful for me, in part because the senior management in my institution have made it quite clear how little regard they have for people like me, the ordinary employees; amongst quite a few other things, a long-running nationwide industrial dispute between the universities and the unions (mine, specifically, UCU) has had severe local consequences, that I won’t go into here. Unsurprisingly, this has impacted severely on my photography, most notably in the general lack of images, but also, when I have been out, in what I might photograph. In March, however, I went on a rather wonderful long weekend away with fellow photographer Mike Colechin, and spent some time creating this image with my large format camera:

Introductory image - The Wide Open Spaces of Infinite Darkness

Introductory image – The Wide Open Spaces of Infinite Darkness

Read from left to right, I see this as an image with motion: it moves into bleakness and darkness, with a tentacled monster coming right through the middle of the darkness to drag me away from the light – for me, this is stress and negativity, perhaps depression, captured in one image.

This led me on to thinking about other images I could create, and an idea about the darkness began to form, resulting in the series of images below, that were all photographed on a 35mm camera – these are The Wide Open Spaces of Infinite Darkness, a record of my stress and unhappiness over the last 6 months or so.  In thinking about the method for creating these images, I settled on one particular form, which also determines the title.  As I said in a blog posting about the image above:

Every other image in the series is made using the same lens (28mm) and though shutter speeds change (generally they are very slow), the aperture is kept at f2.8 (wide open…) and the focus is always set to infinity and mostly shot at night (infinite darkness…). Everything about this series is both literal and figurative…

The settings are the same because they symbolise something about the mental state: it seems that everything is the same, and nothing can change, nor is it possible to make changes.  Those changes that do occur (shutter speed, in this instance), don’t seem to help with changing circumstances.  Often there needs to be what theologians might call a ‘kairos moment’, a moment of crisis and transformation – and perhaps reaching the end of the roll of film is that moment?  The order in which the images appear is the order in which they were made, but I attach no great significance to the order – sometimes I made two or three images in one outing, sometimes just one.

Two more things: this blog posting may be of interest, and I know photographers often say this, but these really are best viewed large!