Of Times That Don't Exist

Grief is so strange...  Different for everyone and yet there are defined stages.  I don't know what the stage I am in is called...  It feels a lot like Regret.  I started to think about how to deal with this "stage"... How to move on to the next.  My father died in 2008. Honestly, it has felt like he passed away "A couple of years ago" for the last five years.  Regret.  Why does it feel like regret??  Perhaps it's that feeling of missed conversations, information lost... Or perhaps I'm longing to experience things with him that are now an impossibility.  Maybe my regret comes from my longing for him to know my daughter; for me to see my daughter and my father together, to hear them together.  So, how to deal with the grief, the feeling.

That led me to this project.  What if my father and I could meet, could share new experiences in the land of imagination?  What if serendipity could join our moments through our photographs?  What if I could meet him in this imaginary space and ask him all the things I have wondered about; share all the things I have longed to share with him?  So, now I take a moment here and there to honor our time together, to meditate visually and see where we end up.  To create and think of him, of what was, of what is, of what will be...  With this series I combine my time and his, my life with his...  This is where I take something he thought was a memory worth preserving and blend it with one of mine.  This is where I meet him in a place that doesn't exist.

Carrera & Kiawah, 2066.

This was the first blend I made for this series.  When I first saw my father's image I immediately thought of the image I took in Kiawah.  I thought, "Yes!  This is how we can spend some time together.  Even if it's in a space where we cant use words; I can utilize serendipity to offer me comforting surprises, I can use her to lead me to a space where I feel closer to him.  

It also makes me think about those moments when we take a photograph.  There is something magical about stopping a moment in time.  There is something magical about using an everlasting memory from one person and combining that with another...   And so I started meeting my father in places that don't exist.

 

Ghosts of Strangers, 6211

Two different worlds colliding...  My father grew up in the simple town of San Fernando, Chile.  {The place his photograph is of.}  One of the last places he lived was in this very modern, upscale city, Vina Del Mar, Chile. {Where my photograph was shot.}  Combining these two places created this image which to me feels like some sort of dream I can't remember anymore.  Funny how memories can build without ever living them.

For Ghosts of Strangers, I decided to go with a grittier feel than I first went for.  I also chose to keep some surreal elements and ambiguity.  I like the combination of the small town road made of dirt, a simple yet beautiful street line combined with the very metropolitan scene filled with life in the sky.    I like that time is confused. Is this the past? The present?  The future?  What happened here?  

Additionally, adding this pinhole type effect to combine and obscure would be something I would have discussed at length with my father.    It brought back memories of my first experiments with photography, time meditating in the darkroom...a time my father never really heard about.  I hope it would have also brought about a discussion about his beginnings, how his upbringing led him to the life he lived, the now, the future... 

Two different memories we were never able to share together and yet I feel close to this place, this Time That Doesn't Exist. 

 

Meeting in Yosemite, 1365

Before I began this project I found an image of father's, the one used in this piece.  I didn't think about combining them at the time.  I only remarked to myself how funny the travels of life can be; that people close to us have these lives before, during, and after our life together... That who we are and the experiences that make us into who we become, although separate journeys, will somehow be shared by the people we will surround ourselves with long into the future.  It made me realize how connected moments are... not just people but moments.  I like that.  That thought makes every little thing seem more important, more worthy of not being wasted or taken for granted.  It makes life feel meant to be.  I suppose, thinking upon it now, that this project has many rewards I hadn't foreseen.  Standing in this spot with him, joining our moments of unknown... well, I think that these thoughts I had while creating this would be much like the discussion we would have sitting in this spot, watching the still water, the fog roll over the clifftops...  I can hear him in my mind quoting some philosopher or statistic to emphasize this new-to-me idea.  I feel close to him because of this moment he had in the past and caught on film.  Again, I marvel with photography - allowing me to share in a moment I know nothing about and yet have probably thought more about than he did when he shot this image.  

Knowing the Truth

This piece, like all in this series, surprisingly coincided with something Family.  It wasn't until this piece that I realized that.  I suppose it is exactly what I was hoping for from this project...  

I first found a slide of my father's which all clues point to have being shot in Chile somewhere in 1976.  When I first saw the image I thought it would be interesting to combine a similar shot I remember taking of the Tennessee River or the Hiawassee River. {Amazing how similar these places look!}  I thought it could be interesting to combine them side to side.  But while searching for the image I saw some shots of water I took while in South Carolina and decided to combine those moments and see where they led.

While editing, I was on the phone with family; lost in thought about our past, our parents past, our grandparents past... putting together pieces from the familial puzzle.  We spoke about patterns people had, about re-training the brain, about family dynamics.  Even though the discussions weren't about my dad it did make me think about him. This is a topic he loved to contemplate; one that we spoke about often.  He would have had some sort of scientific data to add to the conversation I am sure or at least a joke to add some levity to family drama.   Possibly something that would have been a bit if not totally upsetting.  But thinking about that now, alone in my studio, having this imagined 2-sided dialogue with him...  It just makes sense.  I feel lucky to have known him, had him in my life as a father...  no matter how difficult it was from time to time, it's history, our history has shaped what is now. And for that, I am very grateful.