A couple of days ago I was conducting photographic experiments in the sublimely drifting city of Norwichsmouth. My timing couldn’t have been better! There seemed to be a citywide carnival with visitors from every sphere, spilling into and colourfully tainting every street and road. They dispensed all manner of fairground attractions wherever they went; strings of colourful bright lights weaving from borough to borough, Helter Skelters on street corners, Dodgems racing down the roads, the living and the dead dancing together. It was a feast of delights for the senses.
My camera and I reached new heights of harmony together, I pointed and it clicked to the hypnotic rhythm of the vividly colourful festivities around us. For a brilliant moment, it felt as if I had become a camera entity. This was photography in Satori. I wonder if other photographers ever feel this way?
During my adventure in this magnificent occasion, I found my vision drawn to the view of a graveyard with head stones bobbing up and down in the ground to the rhythm of music that filled the air. It was almost as if the cemetery had become some kind of giant graphic equaliser for the dancing deceased. As one’s attention can be prone to shifting in the presence of such spectacles, my viewpoint was drawn to the background of the scene. The tombstones faded into a pulsing blur and my focus snapped crisply onto an elderly lady. She was glaring in my direction in a semi-menacing manner. For a moment I was bothered that she’d interrupted my view of the excited graveyard, then I considered that she made an interesting addition to the composition of my frame. Click-whir.
Spoilt for choice with subject material, I wandered around the streets of the city as they snaked and wove in and out of each other. Buildings brushed against each other for brief moments, exchanging details and occupants before going their separate ways in a dance of florescent lights and architecture. Click-whir.
A stilt walking girl dressed in a metallic green outfit bent down to tap me on the shoulder and wave hello.
I think it was a girl anyway, perhaps those spindles were her legs…her head was an eyeball with green eyelids to match the outfit; she must have been around nine ft tall.Click-whir.
Somewhere near Strange Gentleman’s Walk, at the point where the brick buildings gradually turn soft and become market stalls, I saw another spindle-legged character, a nine ft punk. I asked if he would mind if I took his photograph. He sneered briefly for the camera and then took long strides away from me before I’d captured his image. It was at about this point that the rain started and the carnival atmosphere dissipated.
With the sudden rain came sudden darkness, the city immediately stripped itself of party lights and revellers; like a lolly-gagging girl on acid suddenly coming down enough to realise that she’s been dancing naked and alone in an empty street at night.
Everything now was foul, wet and cold. I felt urgency to get out of the freezing rain, protecting my camera (Which now felt completely separate from my sense of self) and getting to the railway station. The will invoked to reach this new destination simultaneously brought the building swirling around me until it reached a degree of solidity. The atmosphere however, remained dank and cold. I found Tanya waiting anxiously for me in front of a flickering information display. She quickly brought to my attention that all trains home were now cancelled due to the railway lines being submerged by a cold lashing sea. The network had arranged for an assortment of barges and tugboats to take all stranded travellers to their respective destinations. In the back of my mind, the notion of an old battered coach ride home didn’t seem so bad, if only it were an alternative option.
I think I fell asleep while we waited for our boat.
I awoke suddenly later, cold and curled up, alone by a wall in a now almost empty station. The boats had all departed; the icy black sea cruelly retained its grip on the train tracks. There was no sign of sunlight or release from the beating rain. Tanya must have been disappointed that I fell asleep and left Norwichsmouth without me. It was now down to me to find my own way back with no companion for the remainder of my journey. God! How grim.
As the last man shivering on a platform that was equally a jetty, I boarded an empty looking barge which eventually set off on a slow meandering journey into the darkness of what felt like a cold, wet and endless night…