I'm a writer and visual artist in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

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Posts tagged “Walking” (page 2 of 3)

Unsystematic searching / scratching in glass

Finding myself far from the familiar, I am more aware of the world. Everything I read seems somehow connected, as if each book or blog post I come across is a mark on a map I am just beginning to understand. My brain is attuned; I keep making connections without trying. Living in a new place makes it easier to see things differently, to notice all the little details. Hardly knowing anyone here means my world is quieter, and I write more. I feel a fullness of purpose I haven’t felt since I lived in Montreal.

This clarity is perhaps because I have been reading a lot. Moving was an opportunity to pare down my library. Most of my books are in boxes in Newfoundland, lending a new essentiality to the ones I brought. A few days ago I chose four thin volumes to reread: John Berger’s And our faces, my heart, brief as photos, Don McKay’s Vis à Vis: Field Notes on Poetry and Wilderness, Bashō’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, and The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with W.G. Sebald. Books about channelling firsthand experience into memory and meaning.

I am writing in the university library, at a small table lit mostly by sunlight. Nothing urges me to write more than a chair beside a window. A moment ago I overheard two students at a nearby table talking about a history class. One described his visit to a distant historical site, an apartment made famous because a writer or writers had lived there: “The windows were full of writing; they scratched poems to each other in the glass.” My muddled impression is that he was talking about New England, but a little web research seems to suggest Robert Burns.

Writing in public has always felt best to me; I prefer coffeeshops, libraries and parks to the tiresome quiet of a desk at home. Used bookstores and chance conversations are my favourite ways to research. I do my best thinking while walking. These methods leave room for serendipity. I know I am on the right track when I feel slightly uncertain about the work; a little uncertainty leaves space for reinterpretation. It suits my work to feel a little unfinished, rough around the edges, liminal. Sometimes I work best when I’m not sure what I am working on.

“As you walk along, you find things. I think that’s the advantage of walking. It’s just one of the reasons why I do that a lot. You find things by the wayside or you buy a brochure written by a local historian, which is in a tiny little museum somewhere, which you would never find in London. And in that you find odd details which lead you somewhere else, and so it’s a form of unsystematic searching […] And the more I got on, the more I felt that, really, one can find something only in that way, i.e., in the same way in which, say, a dog runs through a field.”

— from The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with W.G. Sebald

Thinking through to a book.

Walking, photographing and writing are key to my art practice. I produce a series of small recorded moments, a stream of photos and writing. Walking becomes a creative act, a way of collecting images and memories.

Blogging complements this practice, providing an impetus for me to polish things until they can be published. This editing adds order and narrative, stringing a series of small moments together into something more. I make connections: two photos placed together can carry a story in the space between them. Two diptychs placed together suggest a system.

Publishing digital photos on the web allows me a spontanaeity and freedom that I’ve never experienced when presenting photographs as printed objects. The web gives the work a liveliness that I find invigorating.

Each blog begins as a sort of public sketchbook, and over time begins to synthesize into a cohesive stream of work. With indexical, I noticed myself continuously interpreting the city as a palimpsest of contrasting visual symbols. This coincides with my interest in psychogeography and walking as a creative act. Pairing photos into diptychs has become a way to express the push and pull of meaning I experience as I wander Halifax, Corner Brook, and other places I’ve lived and visited over the past three years.

It’s a matter of finding intersections between the unexpected and the everyday. How the city presents itself, divided by how the city is. I photograph the remainder of this elusive equation.

Writing has always accompanied my photography, but has often remained tucked away in notebooks. When I published my Halifax Walking Notebook on my blog, rather than retyping and editing the text, I scanned each page and displayed the work as a series of images. Presenting my handwriting with all its struggles, scribbles and spelling mistakes gives the writing an immediacy and personality that is missing from typewritten text. It also complements the way I approach photography, rarely editing my photos beyond basic cropping, contrast and colour adjustments. I make a point of writing in public places, and the writing is frequently descriptive and steeped in firsthand experience. I often write about photography and walking.

Thus I publish my photos the way one usually writes, and present my writing photographically. This book project will be a synthesis of digital photography and analog text. These contrasts form the heart of the work.

Halifax Walking Notebook (Part 5)

  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 20
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 21 and 24
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 24
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 24
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 24
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 24
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Dec. 1
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Dec. 1
Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 20

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 20

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 21 and 24

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 21 and 24

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 24

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 24

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 24

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 24

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 24

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 24

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 24

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 24

Halifax Walking Notebook, Dec. 1

Halifax Walking Notebook, Dec. 1

Halifax Walking Notebook, Dec. 1

Halifax Walking Notebook, Dec. 1

This is the end of my walking notebook; I’ve posted every page except for a few at the beginning that I skipped because the November 1 page makes a better start. I am putting together a list of addenda, links and maps that accompany some of the writing, and I’ll post that here as well. See the Walking Notebook tag if you’d like to see the whole project at once.

Halifax Walking Notebook (Part 4)

  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 15 and 16
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 17
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 19
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 20
Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 15 and 16

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 15 and 16

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 17

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 17

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 19

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 19

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 20

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 20

A smaller batch of pages this time. One more to go. For previous parts of this notebook, see the Walking Notebook tag.

Halifax Walking Notebook (Part 3)

  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 6 and 8
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 8
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 8
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 12
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 12 and 13
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 13
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 14
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 14
Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 6 and 8

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 6 and 8

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 8

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 8

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 8

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 8

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 12

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 12

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 12 and 13

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 12 and 13

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 13

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 13

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 14

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 14

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 14

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 14

A third batch of pages from my Halifax Walking notebook, written in November 2007 as part of my Interchange project. Start at the beginning, or see all posts tagged Walking Notebook.

Halifax Walking Notebook (Part 2)

  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 4
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 4
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 4 and 5
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 5
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 5
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 5 and 6
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 6
  • Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 6
Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 4

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 4

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 4

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 4

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 4 and 5

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 4 and 5

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 5

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 5

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 5

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 5

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 5 and 6

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 5 and 6

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 6

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 6

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 6

Halifax Walking Notebook, Nov. 6

Another batch of pages from my November 2007 walking notebook, written in Halifax as part of my Interchange project. See my previous post for context. I’ll post more from this notebook over the next couple of weeks.

Content ©  2019 Matthew Hollett. RSS