The editorial on this occasion is going to be a departure from our normal editorials, in that this is going to be a one month long dialogue in the long established format of a travel diary (dialogue because you can participate in the forums, making your comments and I will respond from the road). My on going commentary will cover observations related not only to my travels but issues related to photography itself. I hope to leave you with the clear notion that we are dealing here with a new structure in that we are using the internet to publish such work and doing all of this digitally from start to finish.
The internet offers us the immediacy of the medium vs. the historic form of making such a diary available only after a lengthy period that would finally bring such pictures to print in the form of a book. I will also attempt to produce video images where possible bringing audio to these presentations.
Frank Horvat, the esteemed French Photographer whose book "1999: a daily report", which we reviewed in the magazine section of ZoneZero spent a year preparing his work, and then a period of at least six months in post production. His pictures were also produced in the traditional manner with film, and then scanned in order to bring them to press.
Our process on the other hand is totally digital, from the very start. Our images are taken with a digital camera, offering us the benefit of being able to edit and publish them as we travel.
I want to make it clear from the outset that none of this is stated in a competitive sense, but rather as a genuine exploration of the tools and the results as far as what will allow us to take such efforts in new directions. The end result is not to find one solution being better than the other, as "better" always depends on the subjective nature of what one wants to accomplish, but rather to acknowledge and discover what the options are.
Our diary is only going to be for a period of one month, where as Frank Horvats' did his very wonderful essay for a full year spending most of his time doing only that. Our possibility for such a diary is much more limited as we are doing this at the same time as we are dealing with many other commitments, such as lectures, work shops, family reunions, etc. However we believe that exploring these matters for a one month period, will allow us to establish a sense of direction and practical results which can then be evaluated by you our readers. We really hope that you participate in this process, as this alone is already a big difference to what can be accomplished by means of the printed page, in any form of publication.
We obviously have other such diaries within ZoneZero, namely the fine work done by Joe Rodriguez and Ruben Martinez, on the "New Americans", however that body of work was the result of a different form of exploration altogether. In that instance the two authors were discovering the topic as they traveled through a specific region in the USA. That diary had a different purpose: the revelation of a certain issues with political, social and historical ramifications. Unfortunately Joe Rodriguez took ill at the time, cutting short what promised to become a very exciting process, especially as it was the first time that he had confronted the use of a digital camera and sending in their daily accounts. The camera he used was the best there was at the time, but things have moved so fast, that today it appears to be incredibly modest in comparison to what the new offerings are. The process of sending us the images was also complicated by a process that aside being unfamiliar to him then was not that easy to begin with. Compare that to a report I just read from Kodak, that their new DCS 720x camera is going to have e-mail image transmission over web-enabled cellular phones later this year. You can hardly make it more direct. Many things are changing.
"Look Right." Right!
Manuel Rocha looked right but did not look to the right, so a truck ran over him, almost killing him in the process. That happened eight years ago, he had just arrived for our wedding in London. How can I not think about that every time I cross a street in this city. At the time John Major was in power, giving such street crossings yet another dimension being as he was the leader of the Conservatives in England ( look right, get it?). Then I ask myself, and what of those who do not read English, are dyslexic, or simply blind? If you cross enough streets that tell you at one corner to look right, then at the next intersection to look left, and so back and forth street after street, you can end up, as I do, in such a state of confusion that what I always want to do most is go to the nearest café and just sit down and not move.
best story about this was when I read some years ago that England had
finally decided that they would change all their driving habits from
the left to the right side of the street, as in the rest of Europe.
The debate went on how and when that should be implemented, all sort
of crazy ideas came forward with the best one being. That on a given
week, first it was going to be the passenger cars that would be changed
over to right side driving, while all the trucks would follow suit a
few days later. Only a bureaucrat could have put together such an enlightened
Inevitably when one comes from the Americas, one also experiences Jet Lag upon reaching European shores. For all those who have been such skeptics that a digital camera can handle the nuances of light, here is a good test to prove that such concerns are not warranted. I am falling asleep at all the wrong hours.
" Sun set ".
It was seven thirty at night, and the sun had just started to settle in. This is the back court yard as can be seen from the place where we are staying. The northern light and the late hours of the day when the sun sets is a very intense experience when you have lived most of your life at a different latitude on the world map. I showed this straight picture of the last rays of the day, to my wife Trisha, she looked at it and asked me how I had done this in Photoshop. What struck me at that moment was how I felt that she had somehow assumed it had been done with the aid of the computer (which of course she was right, it could have been done that way) and thereby flattening somewhat my personal experience with such a light, as if the picture itself had been demoted by her assumption. I understood right then and there that we still have a long way to go to deal effectively with all the conceptual issues surrounding the merits that digital representations actually have.