A new addition for the Artesian Songlines set. Shot 80km South of William Creek on the Oodnadatta Track SA in 2011 after a couple of years of rain. This is green!
Capertee, 8x10 film.
Have just re-instated the Discontinued set. Don't know why I de-instated it really.
Portra in depleted Tetenal solution.
Would love to say this was intentional but it wasn't. A clear case of re-exposing the same sheet, I'll blame the darkness and not checking the dark slide with my finger.
The accidental nature of this shot has got me thinking though...
Portra 400 in depleted Tetenal solution.
Have been meaning to get back to this rarely visited spot for some time. Luckily it's only 3 minutes drive and then a 10 minute downhill MTB ride to get there. Coming back up though, with a 14kg pack, was pretty testing.
A hotel in Queensland. Fuji Pro400H, Mamiya 7 - 2011.
I added a search function - top of column to the right. Note: it only searches the blog section of the site.
The fields searched are the post title, category, image name and location. Still have to reconcile those fields in the database but it works well enough for the time being.
The Difference a Good Scan Makes
Kings Tableland, 6x7 Portra scanned on NikonED8000.
The last frame now scanned properly on the Nikon ready for print.
More Organic Carpet
Scrub out on Kings Tableland - 6x7 Portra in Tetenal.
I tried to get walk through this scrub one day, got about 100 metres.
The Horizon Line
Ether #16, Pacific Ocean 2011.
The horizon is a kind of temporal hinge between immediate apprehension and a constant postponement of closure...
The very fact of the horizon is what is immutable; it is an infinite dividing line between infinite entities, a place toward which the mind journeys and yet a place that appears as a continuous, productive, deferral of place.
-Susan Stewart, 'What Thought Is Like' from The Open Studio Essays on Art and Aesthetics
The Creation of Matter
Organic Matter #3.
In many ways, the Organic Matter set represents a reconnection with my own backyard. For many years I've ventured to more distant places for my photographic work; the desert and the sea mainly. The reason being that my particular interests, the messages I wanted to convey, could best be portrayed using photographs from these kinds of landscapes. The depiction of space itself has been one of the driving motivators where the photographs are used as a vehicle for the viewer to transcend the limits of their own vision in a physical sense and then, hopefully, at a higher level also. This challenge still excites me and that work will continue.
For a pleasant and equally challenging change of pace, I forced myself to look more closely at my own backyard and come up with something of visual substance that also had a level of depth. This was just as challenging as the "depiction of vast space" works. It's difficult to see your own backyard in a new way when you've been looking at it for a few decades in the same way without any considered evolution in your thinking of the place.
The other aspect that makes this a challenging prospect is that the Blue Mountains is a "beautiful" landscape which has been heavily photographed already. Most compositions and viewpoints have been done and dusted and the last thing I wanted was to produce work that mirrored what others have done.
The words of Adam Bell, reviewing the work of one of my favourite photographers Misha De Ridder said, "As an artist, De Ridder makes images that could easily become saccharine calendar art or empty exercises in sublime kitsch. Arctic sunsets, verdant dunes and dense forests have all been De Ridder's subjects, but he has always succeeded in pushing them to a new level and forced us to look again - either through inventive design in the case of Wilderness or editorial restraint and focus, as in the case of Dune. In some ways, De Ridder's works are so forcefully anachronistic that they are contemporary. It takes a brave and talented soul to tackle the sublime landscape and succeed like De Ridder." 
Some of these words rang true to me and couldn't get some of them out of my head for weeks. "Empty exercises in sublime kitsch" was the main phrase that I held onto whilst searching for compositions in the Organic Matter series.
So, out into the field with a head full of words and no visions of prospective compositions for the new series. Luckily, the weather was perfect for what I wanted to achieve, which was really all about a new view of many overly photographed Blue Mountains features. Mist swirled around all day long during early February and it was literally 15 minutes drive to the Tablelands Road at Wentworth Falls, which was the initial location I'd chosen for some experiments in "seeing".
I took the Mamiya 7 with me, which was another small step that I thought would allow me to create something different. Despite what many people say, "It's not about the type of camera you have it's how you use it", using a Mamiya 7 compared to an 8x10" or 4x5" view camera is a completely different way of working and that small shift in workflow can sometimes act as an aid in the creation of something new.
I started shooting at midday one day in the middle of the week in January. Mists enveloped the scene but provided a level of magic, that is hard to find when the sun's out. I felt lazy, strolling around with a veritable snap-shooter camera (almost like a digital shooter!) and shot 2 rolls of film off in about an hour - that's 20 photographs, about 16 more than I'd normally take in that time! After processing the film that same afternoon, two images emerged from the collection of mostly featureless images - Organic Matter #2 and #3.
Another few days of thinking and analysing what I'd actually done gave me the impetus to go and do it again. There was a theme forming somewhere, there actually was something of substance; if there hadn't been I would have abandoned the idea and tried something else.
I went out for about 4 more shoots and probably shot another 4 rolls or so of 120 film to complete the 5 photograph set that I now call Organic Matter. Importantly, I did have a connection with the images and they did tell a story when viewed together. In my opinion, they weren't "sublime kitsch"; that was paramount.
Over the few weeks it took to take the photographs, I'd been thinking what they mean to me on a personal level and so the words that accompany the series came pretty easily. Artist's statements, many hate them; for me words come naturally and flow from the inspiration and motivation I have for creating the work in the first place. Words are simply another way of expressing the message and help in the transfer of that message to the viewer. In the end, they're only words though, and the pictures (hopefully) carry the depth and the mystery. So here's the words, simply as they may be, that accompany the Organic Matter set:
The civilised world of the Blue Mountains consists of a thin strip of ridge-line running east-west. There is one main road with tentacles of smaller roads branching off to the north and south along minor ridges. The civilised world is on average only a few kilometres wide. At it's edge, one only has to make a couple of steps sideways and suddenly things are very different. A world of swirling mists and timelessness.
We humans are generally not too comfortable in this place. We can't build things in there, it's too thick with forest, too precipitous, whatever. So we stick to the one and only long ridge which dissects the Blue Mountains.
Thing is, there's a whole world out there at our very doorstep, and it's comforting to think that as clever as we think we are, we haven't really come to terms with this world of organic matter. It is this mystery, this primitive sense, this alienation, this humility; that these photographs seek to depict.
February 2013 [http://mikestacey.com/index.php/project/organic-matter/]
Note: I'm still finding it hard to reconcile and articulate to myself what these images mean to me and so the words will probably be extended some time when the mist clears :-)
- Camera: Mamiya 7 Rangefinder
- Film: Kodak Portra 160 and 400 colour negative film
- Film processing: Tetenal 3 bath kit and a Patterson tank
- Scanning: Nikon ED 8000
- Post processing: Photoshop CS5 on a Mac Book Pro and Thunderbolt cinema screen
- Printing: Pigment ink on cotton rag (Hahnemuhle german Etching paper) by Image Science in Melbourne
The Organic Matter series will be exhibited at the Blackheath Heritage Centre from the 3rd to 30th April
Govetts Leap Road
Blackheath, NSW 2785
Phone: (02) 4787 8877
Fax: (02) 4787 8514 firstname.lastname@example.org
4x5 Provia in Tetenal - cross processed.
One to go with Organic Matter #4.
Atmospheres Show Opening Yesterday
Atmospheres Flyer: design Mike Stacey.
Thanks to all who attended the opening of the Atmospheres show yesterday at the Heritage Centre in Blackheath.
A special thank you to Joan Domicelj who opened the show with both eloquent and considered words that I thought introduced the art works perfectly. Her concept of how we experience the landscape; via our feet that are planted on the earth and also via our minds at a higher level, was a thought provoking insight.
Joan's list of accomplishments is long; having been pivotal in the establishment of the Blue Mountains as a World Heritage area (and more recently the Opera House also) - she now chairs the World Heritage Advisory Committee. See here: http://www.aicomos.com/wp-content/uploads/joandomiceji.pdf
I think there were around 80 - 100 people, is that right Len Metcalf? Having made a sale on the opening day (Organic Matter #2), I'm very happy and hopefully this is a sign of things to come over the next four weeks that the show is open!
New Image for Organic Matter
Organic Matter #6, Portra 6x7.
Shot some time ago but recently added to the Organic Matter set.
Lake Eyre North, ABC Bay
4x5" Portra 400NC.
The space out there.
South of William Creek
Glasshouse Rocks at sunrise
8x10 Portra 160.