Last weekend I did somethin’ weird. With my camera. When my daughter asked me what I was doing, I said “Something weird.” She needs to get used to the fact that her dad does weird stuff. Thinking back on that now though, I think she already knows this. Anyway, now I’m calling it ‘abstract photography’.
Four things came together that led me to this particular weird activity, though I am definitely not the only one doing this sort of thing. First, reading Aaron Leaman’s awesome blog lately has given me a new-found artistic appreciation of ‘blurry photos’ if you will, or what I’m now calling abstract photography. He’s really good — you should check out his work. Second, I’ve been thinking lately about something I read years ago that some of the Dadaists — I can’t remember who or where I read this — wanted to incorporate random elements into their work. As part of the Dadaist rebellion against the limited scope of what was at that time considered art, and more to the point what was not, they wanted their work to in some ways happen by itself, or at least to some extent be created not by the artists direct control in making the work. They wanted it to be literally spontaneous — self-generated — not of their own doing. Taken with this idea, I’ve been thinking of how I might do, or should I say cause, something like that. I mean, I could pour and drip paints or washes onto canvas à la Jackson Pollock and let them run around as gravity and the terrain of canvas texture wills… but that just doesn’t interest me.
Then, third, I remembered this photo that spontaneously sprang into being on my phone about two years ago. I do not remember taking it, do not remember ‘messing up’ a photo, and have no freakin’ idea what it is… but I love it. It’s bright, blue and glowy.
Last, I remembered an idea I had when I was first messing with video cameras as a teenager. I wanted to tie the camera to the branch of a tree and suspend the camera just above the ground and swing it. This I thought would make an effect of dizzying speed as the camera flew just above the grass and spun around. Back then though, the camera I’m talking about recorded on full size VHS tapes and you had to carry it around on your shoulder it was so big. And it was borrowed. So I did not attempt this. Later in life when I bought my own 8mm camcorder, I still did not want to risk it to this half baked idea. But then last weekend! This idea fell into place with the other three and I thought heck — my digital camera is not that heavy and it’s getting old anyway. I wouldn’t be too broken up if I had to buy a new one. So I strung it up and set it spinning and swinging from the branches of various trees in my yard, using the auto-timer to attain the total Dadaist randomness of me having no idea or control over the composition of the resulting photos, beyond swinging the camera initially.
What resulted was even more awesome than I hoped, even from the first shot:
And the string did break towards the end, but the camera is ok. It landed in the grass…