Visual meteorology

May 20, 2007

I was talking with my fellow artist-in-residence Matt McCormick about our strategies of preparation. Basically before we’d each come out here we’d been noodling the interwebs furiously for images of places and subjects that interested us. Matt had been into Flickr pools, I was heavy on Google image searches.  Of course we knew well enough that weird difference between the pictures and the experience of the place. Matt compared it to meteorology: you gather as much data as possible, but no matter how comprehensive or detailed that material is you still have to sort of squint, guess and wishfully forecast as to what the place actually looks like.

I covered my wall with downloaded images – tourist pictures by all kinds of internut folk – of a place I’d wanted to visit. I lived with them intimately for a couple weeks like that. When I came back from my visit to this site, it was the weirdest thing to see those pictures. Returning, having finally seen and studied the place myself in person, suddenly the pictures were totally unfamiliar; alien, as if I’d never seen them before and I was stitching together their space and meaning for the first time as the new memory of the place imposed itself, a total reorientation to images I thought I knew.

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