Sunday, May 21, 2006

Where does it lead?

Lindow Common
I don't know about you but I find photos like this extremely inducive to daydreaming. It's the unanswered question: where does the path lead? What's just around the bend?

That is the direct unknown, the question that, if we were walking along this path, we would answer by walking on. The perspective leads the eye just as surely as does the path towards the centre of the picture.

Then there are the indirect unknowns; to the left and right of the path. How deep is the forest? The trees that border the path, and are thus navigational aids, also hide the rest of the forest. To dramatise the point, flip the picture 90° so that the trees on the left are above and those on the right below. It is as if you were in an underground tunnel. Now how much earth is above you, pressing down? How far back up would you have to go to get out?

It is perhaps a sign of lack of emotional development that such images evoke in me the possibilities of journeys, like Frodo setting off across and out of the Shire for the first time. Yet it is 'art'. It requires a shutting off, or a resolution not to look away, or behind. When you read a book, you close off the other parts of your life. This photo doesn't allow you to see to the right and left. If you could, you would not be able to deny the existence of a fence to the right, and a vast flattened peat farm to the left. But if you agree to abide by, stay within the closed view of a picture, or a book, you are rewarded in ways that are rarely found elsewhere. Is it truth through deception or concentration?

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