Sunday, September 27, 2009

Or otherwise...




... you can go at night. After 6 pm the car parking's free, and you can step right inside the floodlit illusion.

I'm not sure about many of these photos, and I'm not saying that to fish for compliments and reassurance. Many are just bad, the result of wanting to use neither the Canon's horribly unsubtle flash nor a tripod, and of being too ignorant of the camera's cleverer technology to be able to compensate. Some, by good luck and a steady hand - usually Tom's, he took quite a few though I'm not sure exactly which, are quite sharp. Nevertheless the upward persective and straight lines are all over the place. Straightening tools are just too lossy (I love that word!) where loss can't be sustained, and anyway, what does one use as a datum for straightness? Choose one vertical or horizontal and it seems to confound the others yet more.

There was a Flickr group I tried for a while to get in on, called 'The Aesthetics of Failure'. The idea appealed to me. I submitted all my most interestingly failed shots, as I deemed them, but evidently not one of them was a successful enough failure, and none was accepted. There were some very cerebral and post-modern discussions going on there about what should qualify, but I obviously just failed to get it. I was a failed failure. Reckoning that this was doing in my head and my self-esteem, I abandoned the attempt.

But it is true that that sometimes a failure or accident can be more effective than getting it right. I feel perhaps with these that the lack of clarity, the rather chimaeric blurriness, the somewhat giddy-making leaning nature of the floodlit shapes in the pictures, do in some manner represent the feeling that being at the Mont at night evokes. I said at one point that I rather wished I was on drugs the better to experience it (I've got to the age and stage now where saying something like that doesn't worry anyone any more, including myself); it would lend itself to the hallucenogenic. I thought about simply taking my glasses off and seeing what that was like for providing a sense of physical and visual disorientation, but was a little afraid of falling down an ill-lit stone stairway, and anyway, I didn't want to miss the detail.




This long view of the Mont was taken resting the camera - its ISO turned down to reduce the noise a bit, I do have half a clue about that - on top of the car. On 'filling with light' in Picasa, I realised that the blur in the foreground was in fact its reflection in the car roof. I liked this; it subverts the commonly represented image of the place reflected in the water and wet sands, and references the fact that if you take your car there at the wrong time of day at certain times it's likely to end up underwater.

(From now on I will stop these attempts at ironic cleverbuggery, there are plenty who can do it better and it doesn't really suit me).



The lighting enhances the theatricality of the place, the impression that on is in a film or stage set, its three-dimensionality, of being enveloped by it. You feel more involved and yet it is less familiar, each passage and stairway becomes mysterious, its ending unknown.




The stained glass of a tiny chapel ensconced somewhere in the walls, which probably in the the day you wouldn't even notice becomes a glowing lantern of gash-gold vermilion,



and you can peer voyeuristically onto the pastiche landing of a hotel, with just a little envy that you aren't staying there.







And always, as you climb, keep looking up at the looming, illuminated verticalities,






with the culminating figure of St Michel, a gilded comma, an archangelic Tinkerbell, winking in and out of view above the whole.

16 comments:

Bee said...

I can't help but wonder about a "successful failure." Was it a picture that succeeded, despite being a technical failure; or was it a failure so spectacular as to be thorough and complete?

(I did take Ecstasy -- once -- and I will vouch for the fact that some of your shots definitely had that feeling to them. Especially the stained glass one.)

I think you are clever in all ways; but ironic cleverbuggery is a phrase that just made me laugh.

Your new header is just spectacular. Very YOU, I think -- and it works on so many levels (although that comment may be venturing into cleverbuggery, or maybe something a little too pop-psych?)

marja-leena said...

My favourites are the verticalities of the stone walls. Night photography can be challenging. Isn't it odd how ideas of perfection in photography at either end of the spectrum have become so judgmental amongst some groups? In my own printmaking, I do like happy accidents that otherwise can look contrived when done 'on purpose'.

Dale said...

How wonderful!

Granny J said...

What a contrast, moving from the bright sea to the dark verticalities... One moody street scene made me think briefly that I was about to watch an Orson Welles flick.

Crafty Green Poet said...

wonderful series of photos, I like the blurred ones, yes they do have a sense of the hallucinatory about them.

I think perceived failure is often the way into interesting experimentation. Who's defining the failure anyway?

Jean said...

I like the third photo best - it looks like a painting.

Rouchswalwe said...

Very, very nice series, Lucy! I am reminded of the crackling sound made by 33 rpm LP's. It's possible now to buy CD's that still have that snapple pop sound in the songs. Young folks who have never heard that unique sound most likely would think the CD is damaged somehow. But we know better!

herhimnbryn said...

Ghostly goodness.

The Crow said...

Lucy, you can tell Joe that you have photographic proof of ET visitors, for you have captured their ship, cleverly disguised as the Mont. Only at night does it display its true form.

:)

marly said...

Catching up on your photographs and enjoying them, as always... And I liked that dash of color from "The Windhover" in the narrative.

Barrett Bonden said...

A failed failure. Sounds as if it could be expressed mathematically: two minuses multiplied, which I believe is a plus. Oh for goodness sake, you were ahead of me all the time.

Plutarch said...

I have a feeling that the sort of conversation in the flickr group which led to you describing yourself as a "failed failure", is deserving of satire. I can't help feeling that you did well to leave it. I feel too that failures often turn out to be unexpected successes, partly due to chance, and partly to what turns out to be originality.

Sheila said...

I too love the Hopkins appearance! Thanks for that!

This reminds me of conversations I've been in about a "failed suicide" or "successful suicide." Of course if we love someone, we see the "failure" as the very best possible outcome, and the "success" as anything but that.

I love your pictures. They remind me a bit of walking at night in some Italian towns, built on mountains, though none quite like this!

Meggie said...

I was caught on "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!"

Reluctant Blogger said...

Well, I have no idea about photography at all but the idea of you failing at being a failure rather tickled my fancy. It is a sad thing when even failure is too difficult to achieve.

Lucy said...

Thanks all for visiting.

I think the Flickr group started as being for phtos that were technically failures but which were aesthetically interesting, but then it became more about pictures which somehow contained an atmosphere of failure, or which seemed to tell a story of failure in their subject matter. This was therefore much more difficult evaluate, and really down to what the administrators of the groups decided was what they wanted.

I think that was what it was anyway; like I said, I didn't really get it. It was quite a highly-rated group I think and they rather fancied themselves...