18 April 2010

Beating the bounds

One of my students recently told me that everything I choose to do (photographically, mathematically, physically...) “is driven by a fascination with the nature of boundaries”. I don't know whether or not that's true. I do know that it has at least enough superficial evidence in its favour to provide hours of exploratory fun.

As I was first turning the idea over in my mind, Julie Heyward of Unreal Nature commented on a Today image that “the brick pattern forces you to be aware of the over/under in the puddle”. This almost certainly connects with Julie's own visual and philosophical interest in inside/outside, and (dis)unified perspectives, but to me on that particular day, primed as I was, it drew my attention to the puddle surface as a boundary surface. A boundary surface between air and water, of course; between over and under, too; but also between real and imagined, an Alice's looking glass. Then again, even in two dimensional terms the image is divided into five regions (asphalt, water, three types of paving material) and those are held apart by linear boundaries. In network terms (which are in my mind for reasons which don't matter here), the visible plane contains five regions, four arcs (ignoring the image frame) but only one node.

Which led me to call up and riffle through other recent Today pages and interrogate them in similar terms. T100404 has two obvious visible boundary surfaces, two more implied, all four separated by a single boundary line where water meets reeds. Others, either side, can be analysed in similar ways.

A red brick alley wall has recently been calling me back again and again (see, for example, T100406, T100412, T100417) to share in its love affair with the low angled spring sun. I've visited it in previous years, too, from time to time, but now it seems inclined to take me fully into its confidence. All of those clearly fit the boundaries view of things.

When it comes to images of people, though, the model seems to break down. The conversation at T100407, for instance: I struggle to find any boundaries interpretation there, beyond weak and general ideas that would fit any image at all.

Whether there is anything in it or not, I've found it invigorating to be given a novel external framework against which to reinvestigate my own vision. I recommend it to everyone as an exercise well worth trying.


Julie Heyward said...

I think this one has some conceptual/mathematical/material boundary kind of things going on in it (I seem to really like that pavement).

Ray Girvan said...

By coincidence Clare and I were talking about this kind of thing on the beach on Sunday - how the boundary between land and sea is so dynamic (erosion, deposition, colonies of living things on the tidal margin) - and trying to remember who'd made this observation about boundaries a while back. It was probably Felix.

Dr. C said...

I, on the other hand, like that endless bright red hose.

Ray Girvan said...

A hose ourubberos?