Thanks to accident, illness and a new website it has taken a while for the good folks at SPARK to get the most recent SPARK incarnation up on the web, but finally it’s here.
There is some fantastic work. Check it out!
It’s been well over a month since I made these images, but I didn’t want to pre-empt the official site.
I participated in two pairings this round (round 7) – the first with writer D. Quentin Paquette and the second with poet Amy Moffitt. If you have been following this blog you will remember that in SPARK, each participant first sends a piece of work to the other, who creates new work in their own medium using their partners’ piece as inspiration. This is a little difficult for photographers, of course, as we have to go out and find our pictures, rather than create them from scratch. Having said that, I did break my own rule and set something up for my response piece for Quentin:
Quentin’s inspiration piece for me was a story called “At The Still Point” which you can read on the SPARK website here. This is my response:
The ideas of physics, gravity, falling and an “endless moment” in the story speak of the apogee of an object’s trajectory when, between rising and falling, it is momentarily still.
I also wanted something ephemeral, something that would look out of place suspended in mid-air, and also something that spoke to the idea of love and relationships.
My initial idea was a single red rose, but as you see, I found a slightly more unusual specimen (it’s a red sunflower!).
As you can imagine, I got some interesting looks as I stood in the park throwing flowers into the air!
Quentin shared one of his inspirations with me, which also fits this picture to a “T” – a passage from Burnt Norton by TS Eliott:
“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.”
Quentin wrote a response piece to my picture, “No Place Like Home”. You can read his story, “Bedford, Take Two” here.
My second collaboration was with writer and poet Amy Moffitt. Here’s my response to her poem “Para-D”:
The SPARK page with Amy’s poem is here.
Amy tells me the man in the picture actually looks like the subject of her poem and the title of the photograph “No Certain Place” perfectly describes his itinerant nature.
She finished her email to me with the phrase “Your picture is so spot on, Nick. I am sitting here with my mouth open and I have chills.”!
The picture itself is one of those lucky accidents. I had a very clear image in my mind after I read Amy’s poem, and set out to find it. It needed to be dark and brooding and have a figure silhouetted against the light from a door. I started driving around the neighborhood at night with a telephoto lens …very suspicious! But it was soon clear that the only places that I could reasonably expect to find people coming and going were hotels or apartment buildings.
I eventually found a suitable subject, and this image was the very first one I took that night and it captured my mental image perfectly!
Finally Amy wrote an amazing poem in response to my picture “The Mechanics of Light” (I did not share the title when I sent it to Amy, in case it influenced her ideas.) Here’s the picture:
Rather than focus on the playful qualities of the carousel lights, Amy noticed that some of them were off – possibly burned out), and her poem took an unexpected turn. You can read Amy’s Poem “Carnival” here. …and here:
Carnival (by Amy Moffitt)
There’s a promise in every set
of flashing, twinkling, colorful lights.
There’s someone saying: “Follow me”,
past the flickering shapes, through the haloed glow.
There’s another world, waiting.
You lied to me with your city’s colors,
lights, and shadows. You said
I would find my future, myself,
and fulfill my dreams. You lied to me with that
wide, sparkling river, with the allure of a foreign land.
The boldest lies are told
with a simple look in the eyes,
Flickering city, I didn’t see you
covered in coal dust, didn’t see the lives
and backs broken from labor in the effort
to power your high voltage allure.
I didn’t see all the broken down,
burned out light bulbs. Didn’t see
the whole glittering machine, decaying
and being destroyed, even as it destroys.
The boldest lies are those being told
through broken teeth and splitting lips,
capped, masked, covered in makeup