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Thursday, May 30, 2013

CATCHING THE FLOW OUTSIDE THE BOX

all photos by tj worthington

Yesterday some horoscope analysts and a friend who is an astrologer told me that Tuesday the 28th would be a day to do something outside the box. In the evening I went to a softball game in Wilkesboro, sat and watched two games. It was already scheduled. I didn't go to the game for the specific purpose of doing something outside the box, but felt like it fit the call of the day. Two of my friends were on one of the teams. Our team lost both games. It seemed to me like our pitcher threw a lot of good hits. It looked like he was throwing the ball so the batter could hit it easily. It was like he was throwing for practice batting. The other team's pitcher was not an easy one to hit and he didn't allow a great many really good hits. Afterward, the team felt like they didn't play a good enough game. It looked to me like the teams were equals and the pitching had a great influence on the game. I don't mean to imply it was great pitching by any means. The ball arches so when it crosses home plate it is descending to hit the plate or not far behind it, close to straight down. I sat with my friend Sheena and her boy Seth on a small aluminum bleacher with a half dozen others. Driving home after midnight I saw the rising half moon in bold orange.



The influence of this planet arrangement went over into today. I got a call from Justin in the morning wanting to know if I wanted to go fishing on the Willis Lake, the next farm up the road from my house. Fishing is not something I do. I don't care to prepare them to eat and I have no interest in catching them to throw them back. I thought: outside the box.  I took my camera to get pictures from the lake. I was thinking of landscape pictures taken from the water. On the water, the landscape became boring for photographing. I spent possibly the first half hour in the boat watching Justin catch fish, impressed by how he can throw the line so it goes to the exact spot he wants it. He likes to catch and throw them back. He gets a charge from catching fish. It's the same as hunting. Hunters know the addictive thrill of hunting. I experienced the hunting thrill once, felt like I got it why so many people like to hunt. But I don't like killing. That doesn't mean I have issues with people who do kill. That's their business if they want to hunt the same as it's my business that I don't want to. That one experience gave me an understanding of the thrill. I understand my friends who are hunters, understand what they like about it, a little bit of what they like. There is much more to hunting than just squeezing a trigger or pulling back a bow string. The hunters I know keep meat in freezers to get them through the year with meat they don't have to buy, meat that doesn't have growth hormones etc in it.

 
 
The water was perfectly clear today. I surveyed the sky, the land, the water, the boat for some idea of a theme to photograph. The landscape bored me. I thought: I have landscape pictures. Everybody takes landscape pictures. It's beautiful when all the leaves are fresh in their yellow-green of early spring. Big white clouds in the flow-lines of the gaps around. I saw a row of clouds over the gap where Hwy 18 to Wilkesboro enters the mountains. Parallel to that row of clouds was another beyond it passing over Twin Oaks gap at Hwy 21. Those clouds were flowing west to east. Flowing south to north over Roaring Gap a row of clouds moved around Bullhead over Glade Valley to join the other two flows eastward toward Mt Airy. I looked at all the land I knew intimately from walking on it over a number of years. I've worked the farm in the past and know the owners and the people living there. It's "next door," about a third of a mile from my house. I felt at home. I felt my love for the mountains and Air Bellows Mountain where my love enters the mountains. The wind was blowing just enough to make active ripples on the water. The boat was in slow motion with a trolling motor and the wind. Sometimes the boat went slowly in a circle. I watched sunlight sparkle on the waves, began seeing the range of colors on the surface. I've tended to think of the lake water as brown from the mud on the bottom, though the water is clear, and blue and white surface from the reflection of sky.
 



I started seeing the continuously changing patterns of colors on the water's surface. Tree reflections were refracted among the images of clouds and sky, their colors making patterns in constant change, fast change, no two ever repeating all over the lake's surface. I began to look more into the patterns and found the camera makes a rectangle of abstraction in it's manner of stopping the motion. I could never get an image as I saw it when I pushed the button; by the time the camera clicked, a split-second later, the patterns in the water were changed altogether. The slow turning of the boat showed me the colors in the reflections were different all the way around according the angle the sunlight struck the water in relation to my location. I pointed the camera to the water maybe three to four feet from the boat. The image in the rectangle of the camera's monitor was extraordinary every moment. I clicked over a hundred pictures, fascination increasing as I found in our movements around on the lake that light was different and reflections different all over the lake. Finally a short video of five minutes or less came to mind. I held the camera still looking at the water just a few feet from the boat and let the motion of the boat be a part of it. I felt like the sequence of photographs are among my very finest photographs. I don't mean I'm something special with a camera, but I get a picture the best I can, learning by experience.



The video holds my visual attention almost dramatically. Sometimes it goes slow, sometimes fast when the boat is turned by the wind. Colors changed, patterns changed; the patterns changed extremely fast. On the laptop monitor the colors and shapes are flying. It's a constantly changing abstraction, like something Clifford Still might paint that never stops changing and never does the same thing twice. Every pattern I caught is unique in the life of the lake. It never happened before and will never happen again. Something like an action painting by the abstract expressionists of the 1940s and 1950s. None of the pictures was composed. I just pointed the camera where the visual activity was at the place between looks like water, and at the same time does not look like water. I was getting my kicks walking that edge. It was simply a point and shoot experience, composition merely that zone between is and is not water. It was the flow I was attempting to photograph in a still image, and then a moving rectangle of constant change. I fell into a zone where the surface of the lake became for me a sparkling wonder of moving colors and shapes flowing in and out of each other. I spent a few hours in silence lost in awe by the changes of colors in a spontaneous dance of speed. I like to make photographs of nascar races from the flat-screen tv, looking for a still image that catches a sensation of speed. The images on the water moved and changed so fast, they became another challenge to fix speed in a still image. Outside the box I found what I can't help but think is the first art moment of my life.

 
 
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