Photo Exploration: Cabin Wall with Guitar Strings, June 2014.

July 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Since I first started play­ing gui­tar I had wound my strings into a lit­tle round object as they came off for new strings. It was really more a func­tion of keep­ing the strings in place as they came off the instru­ment and not lay­ing around haphazardly.

But over time I started to really love the cir­cu­lar shape and I tried to put a lit­tle inten­tion in how I wrapped the strings. I cer­tainly am not the first (or ten thou­sandth) to do so, but I did really like the way they looked. Espe­cially the older strings when I was lax on chang­ing them. Their worn down feel was beau­ti­ful when woven together — all the dif­fer­ent thick­nesses and mate­r­ial in and out, with enough nat­ural flex and resis­tance to man­ual posi­tion­ing that each set of strings was a lit­tle unique.

At Kanuga this past June, the time came to change strings on site. I’d been delib­er­at­ing on tak­ing a photo of the cabin wall by itself, but I real­ized that what I really needed was to make a photo of the strings on the wall. The con­trast of the organic wall with the two nails (which have been there since who knows when) and the metal cir­cles all came together very well in a late after­noon long expo­sure (I believe it was 2 sec­onds at f/11).

Cabin Wall with Guitar Strings. June 2014. FP4+ 120 film.

Cabin Wall with Gui­tar Strings. June 2014. FP4+ 120 film.

I am grate­ful of my his­tory at Kanuga. I’ve been going there twenty years this sum­mer, and it con­tin­ues to be as for­ma­tive then as it was that first year. I’ve almost always stayed in the #30–36 cab­ins and the tex­tured green walls are as famil­iar as my own skin. I’m pleased with this image, as a remem­brance of a quiet time and place in the midst of a hec­tic life.

Using the cam­era as a tool to record a staged event is of mixed regards, and the ten­sion of still life vs more “street” or “organic” com­po­si­tions still goes back and forth in my own aes­thetic. How­ever, I do believe that it is pos­si­ble to cre­ate a clearer state­ment of place and/or time by lay­er­ing objects delib­er­ately and then record­ing that con­tent than by wait­ing and hop­ing to chance upon arrange­ments that speak the same. If we are to have clar­ity of our mem­o­ries and our rec­ol­lec­tions, we must be able to express those same through what­ever tools we have available.

Now, an inter­est­ing step fur­ther is that I left the strings there on the wall. If another pho­tog­ra­pher was to come onto the porch and see those strings and make an image, they would have the oppo­site rea­son­ing for doing so — their record­ing of a found for­ma­tion as opposed to my inten­tional cre­ation. Would they feel any con­nec­tion to my work? Would their prints be at all related to mine of the same scene? Maybe next time I visit Kanuga they will still be there and I can inves­ti­gate, at least con­trast­ing my own estab­lish­ing vs find­ing work.