This spring I completed the Master’s of Fine Arts program in the Photography department at the Academy of Art University. My thesis was entitled, “Uh-kyoo-myuh-ley-shuhn”:
When thinking about time, it is common to think of a line extending from the past through the present and into the future. Historians often write their books in this manner and photographers have always battled against time. By photographing along the water at night, the intensity of the lights, coupled with the accumulation of the passing boats, cars and planes during exceptionally long exposures defines the human space which then inversely defines the boundaries of the natural space. In addition, the qualities of night photography yield vibrant colors that show the landscape as unnatural, damaged, or contaminated against the gleaming bright architecture of the modern city. All but forgotten, the natural landscape between our constructed landscapes is what defines our quality of life now and into the future.
Sitting next to the camera unblinking — if that were possible — the photographer would not have an identical memory of the space as recorded by the camera. The photographer may have individual memories of each car that passed, or each plane, or each boat, but each of these memories is in isolation, not amassed into one compiled memory. However, the frame of a photograph has the power to accumulate the changes of a space through time and record the changes as a single, viewable event; resulting in a struggle between the past-present and past future of the picture frame. However, the water – a metaphor of the constant march of time – is solid, smooth and serene.
The ocean, constantly in motion, is both literal and metaphoric for our passage through time. The march of the waves is never ceasing, but constantly changing as the gravitational influences from the geometric relationships of the Earth, un and oon move water around the planet. This constant movement is responsible for many of the conditions for survival of life, for example, the redistribution of nutrients. Over eons, the motion of the waves, and water sources in general, are also responsible for moving mountains through erosion.