the journey

Canning Stock Route

DD — the jour­ney
Our pho­to expe­di­tion through the bush was an incom­pa­ra­ble expe­ri­ence. Day­long dri­ves on slow tracks, the scout­ing of sites mapped before, the cross­ing of the wilder­ness, learn­ing about vast diver­si­ty, expe­ri­enc­ing nat­ur­al beau­ty. Mak­ing camp late for eight, for eat­ing, for pho­tos of noc­tur­nal obscu­ri­ty. We searched for the star­ry desert nights, yet the trip went through sum­mer rain, the night’s silken out­back light obscured by the unsea­son­ably blan­ket of cloud. When the weath­er clears the noc­tur­nal space is ampli­fied by soli­tude, a sil­hou­et­ted expanse lin­ger­ing between domes­tic feel­ing dune crests and spher­i­cal hori­zons, the void seem­ing­ly untouched by man — an unerr­ing pres­ence of ancient time. The light of the cos­mos ren­ders a uni­form glob­al panora­ma. Day­light is shin­ing inwards, night­light mov­ing out­wards; lit­tle light denies colour, no light denies space.

DD — the work mode
The camera’s tech­nique sees well in day­light and in dark­ness. Long expo­sure times accu­mu­late light, nour­ished by nature and infi­nite expanse. As the shut­ter opens star trails orna­ment the Big Ves­sel on the sen­sor. It mon­i­tors the light tracks of very deep space. It reg­is­ters the small­est fea­tures of the foreground’s earth­ly beau­ty against the splen­dour of the background’s cos­mic wave. Light projects the small­est detail with­in the cos­mic vac­u­um.

DD — the pho­tos
We pro­duce twen­ty noc­tur­nal tableaux, most­ly com­pris­ing four pho­tos, align­ing to the car­di­nal direc­tions, piv­ot­ing 360º hor­i­zon­tal­ly, or 360º ver­ti­cal­ly. Dis­played, the noc­tur­nal tableaux frame the genius loci with­in the bound­less expan­sion of red dirt, of sand­corn, anthills, spinifex rings and mul­ga thick­ets. It is cap­tured in desert oak forests, gums and dunes, moun­tains and val­leys, clay­pans and plains, it becomes present washed by riv­er beds and burned organ­ic, clouds and waters, skies and plan­ets, sun­lights and satel­lites, shoot­ing-stars, in array, on dis­play — some flecked by draw­ings or writ­ings, the pho­tos show more than the human eye can see.

DD — the loco­mo­tion
We com­pact the tableaux into a book and a pic­ture trav­el­ogue emerges, illus­trat­ing the tran­si­tions between: imme­di­ate and dis­tant, here and there, dark and bright, black and white, red and organ­ic, cold and heat, wet and dry, water and thirst. Even the most fun­da­men­tal coun­ter­parts: breath­ing in and breath­ing out. Soli­tude, wilder­ness and their robust rhythms received us with mater­nal care. Ground­ed on the page, the rhythms of the bush expose their metaphor­i­cal pow­er, sug­gest­ing lat­er­al thought, cre­ative alle­go­ry, and artis­tic poten­tial. We are made aware of the micro with­in the macro, the spa­tial cer­tain­ty of the fore­ground set against the unbound­ed infin­i­ty of the back­ground. The appear­ance of Space changes with the view­point, but at night our mod­el of sta­t­ic loca­tion turns loco­mo­tion­al, adjusts to recog­nise a dual­ism of oppo­sites. Loci also per­form like a nomadic lim­bo of ves­sels, their sojourn vary­ing in rela­tion to our mod­el of obser­va­tion. Space is sta­t­ic loca­tion plus steady move­ment.

DD — space or light?
We aug­ment the trav­el­ogue with texts, with thoughts less con­clu­sive and uni­ver­sal than the time­less real­i­ty that the images por­tray. More human, more man-made, more per­son­al, we muse about dual­i­ties and rhythms for their aes­thet­ic poten­tial, rather than debate by jus­ti­fi­ca­tion or rea­son. We con­sid­er the mul­ti-con­di­tion­al appear­ance of space as we trav­el through the bush. Look­ing heav­en­wards we argue: the more vast a space is rel­a­tive to its bound­ary, the greater an agent that space will be for the beau­ty of the whole. We think of light — and sim­i­lar­ly about space — as we drop our gaze to an ant-built earth ves­sel crater. Now we think: the more pres­ence a bound­ary has rel­a­tive to its cap­tured void, the more the bound­ary will be the agent for the beau­ty of this small space. Space serves the sen­su­al rather than sat­is­fies the sci­en­tif­ic curios­i­ty. Space feels, vir­tu­al­ly, out back there, when the night’s dim coat lies light­ly upon our selves. Then we expand our thoughts to space’s per­form­ing agent, light. As the esprit d’ensemble — its unselfish means pro­vides man with warm out­landish­ness, bends thought, is two in one, is both wave and par­ti­cle.  If we did not come from space-mak­ing and light-design­ing archi­tec­ture, it is here that this con­text may become text.  Space, as the tan­dem dual­i­ties of bound­ed and unlim­it­ed, par­ti­cle and wave, presents a spir­i­tu­al kin­ship, an evoca­tive inter­ac­tion that is worth close inspec­tion.