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

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.