Land of Time 1979-1982
The title of this suite of images refers, in part, to the geologically and culturally ancient Australian land. My intention was to suggest the mythical and sacred quality of this land where the oldest continuous culture has thrived for 60,000 years or more — since the Dreamtime. Signs of recent habitation are also included with the implied understanding that we, the newly arrived are connected to those ancient arrivals by similar human urges. Land of Time #6, #8, #21 include human marks carved into the rock — petroglyphs. With #6 the carved initials are quite recent but with the other two they may have been made 30,000 years ago.
I have always appreciated the element of magic that comes from the photographic medium. Working with flash in the landscape at night, the element of chance was always a part of the process. I was never fully sure what an image would look like until I saw the contact sheets at the film processing lab.
With flash it is not the amount of light that one projects out at the subject that counts; it is the amount of light the subject reflects back through the lens to the film that is important. My results improved as I became experienced in feeling what was the right amount of light for a situation. Seeing the images for the first time was one of the most enjoyable experiences in my photographic career. They seemed to come from a visually intensified place where magic did occur. They seemed to come from a place at the edge of consciousness.
I worked in the evening and at night, usually during the full moon, usually with multiple electronic flash exposures. With the camera on a tripod I moved about the environment and drew in the chosen areas with the light of the flash. Using long exposure times that lasted for 15 minutes to an hour or more I was able to include the moonlit blue of the sky.
Effects of the long exposures include colour shifts in the film and movement of foliage, clouds, water, the moon, and the stars. One image, Land of Time #18, made along the Darling River includes mosquitoes as white dots in the scene.
Living near the beach in the Adelaide suburb of Grange, I made my first successful images there using this process (Land of Time #2 & #5). The locations involved in the Land of Time series also include: the Coorong, Kangaroo Island, Mt Remarkable and the Flinders Ranges in South Australia; Tomaree National Park near Nelson Bay and sites along the Darling River, New South Wales; the Great Ocean Road, and Mt Buffalo in Victoria.
The Land of Time photographs were originally exhibited as small ‘C-type’ prints from my 6X7cm negatives. Now with a high quality scan of the negative and digital printing a fine and sizable print can be produced. The new colour pigment prints are archival where the original ‘C-type’ prints were quite vulnerable to colour shifts and fading.