Here’s where I try to describe a potential project that came to mind on the first day of our community’s coronavirus lockdown on March 13, 2020. I arose that heavily overcast, very gray morning with the sense of foreboding that many of us perhaps shared as the awareness of the pandemic started to descend upon us.
I stepped outside onto my quiet, empty street, wondering what our future was going to be like. As is my daily custom when first addressing the outer world, I looked into the sky, but it was gray and featureless. Then I heard sounds of an small airplane (the local airport is only a mile or two to the northeast, so we often see flights shortly after takeoff). Juxtaposed with the diagonal of an overhead cable, I photographed it at an angle that — combined with fast shutter to freeze the action of the propellor — suggested that the plane was falling to earth. In my mind, I immediately saw this as the opening scene from an imagined film in which the viewer sees a plane crashing, somehow portending the pandemic and its ensuing crisis.
So I published that photograph as one of my regular blog posts, where I often tentatively place images so that I can review them repeatedly and decide whether to take them to a further level, such as incorporating them into a staging area or collection in an attempt to derive further meaning or whatever the process unfolds. Here is that original image (also here):
In this case the photograph drew little attention, at least on its own, and certainly didn’t seem to convey the emerging sense of dread that I felt when I captured it and imagined it as a still from some sort of disaster film.
As is my custom, I have to look at many of my images again and again to decide whether they are worthy of further consideration (a primary purpose of the blog portion of this website). While a case could easily be made for the “Flight Over Maple Street” image as simply bland and meaningless, something kept nagging me to do more with it, besides just throwing it into an embryonic “Pandemic Grey Series” with a few other non-notables.
A bit later — two or three months on — I was having a discussion with my wife, one of those discussions which quickly tire her and other family members, about how photographs are just photographs, not to be confused with the things or subjects themselves. It occurred to me to literally describe my photograph, and I ended up overlaying a textual description on the image, seen here and below:
I also have thought of possibly doing a voice-over, particularly when I envision this as part of a video or film piece.
Somewhat troubling, this. I have always been taught the religion that a photograph must stand on its own.
See this variation (one of a dozen or more) with the ANSI character set representation of a hex dump of the above image.