Creative Digital Practice- Paul Gaffney

Creative Digital Practice

Gaffney gave a talk last term, which mainly consisted of his award winning book, ‘We make the path by walking’, and if I’m honest I don’t know why I haven’t looked at his work sooner, its very similar to my own thoughts. I am looking more about the talks and interviews that he has done as I don’t want the imagery to effect and change my own, so that it becomes identical.

There is one specific interview that he has given with Walter Lewis, which I find his thoughts so fascinating and inspiring to my project and me. Because he gave a talk to us, which was about his previous work, and also about our own work, he didn’t go into this much specific detail to this particular project, so this is interesting and I learnt some new things about this work.

I have been having the process, particularly from my last shoot, that this is more about a walking and personal experience rather than a photo-shoot, and Gaffney’s words are really inspiring to me, ‘over time my rate of picture taking decreased… I was also perhaps taking more time over each frame’. I think this is the point of which I am up too, I have discovered that it isn’t just about taking a load of images of you walking and what you see, its taking a minimal amount of photographs that are taken when you feel something emotionally, or when you experience something happening like you fall over or your breath is taken by a landscape e.c.t.

Gaffney also talks about the importance of what your taking physically on a walk. I have definitely learnt the hard way, and even though he goes on extensive journeys, the same applies, ‘I didn’t want to take my extra lenses and stuff’. I’ve realised that taking three different types of cameras isn’t worth it. You need one and that’s all, I have even learnt to deal without a tripod, because if I have all this photographic equipment, that I would like, it would effect my walking, which is perhaps slightly more important in terms of the concept for this project.

In the interview he shows the importance and the connection between the state of mind and walking. He has put his whole book together based on his personal experiences that he goes through, hence why some of the images that he chooses aren’t perhaps the ascetically strongest, but they are personal to him, but also he chooses to not include location names or anything to give it away. He wants us to walk our own paths but also not let the location effect the viewers experience, only, perhaps, certain elements of the image will remind them of their own walking journey, not the actual location. ‘I didn’t want to say where the individual places were cos to me it was more about the journey’.

Gaffney also mentions certain aspects that I have been thinking about too. For example he tried recording sounds to use in his installation but he felt this over complicated things. However, I definitely know I want to explore the sounds, and I recorded some in my last shoot and it takes me back to the exact location where I was, and the sounds of my tired breath, and for me that makes it personal. But we do have some similar thoughts, like how we both knew from the start of our projects we both new we wanted it to be a book, but he took images that were influenced by that and I perhaps haven’t, so maybe this is something I need to start doing in my future walks and pre-plan what my images will look like in advance for my final piece. He also says, ‘I wanted the design of the book to give the sense that your eye is wandering’, hence why he chooses different scaled images, positions and different angles. Which results in your eyes spending longer on some images than others, which is something that I need to really consider when I start to make up a mock up version of my book.

Some inspirations to his project that he mentions are:

-Jem Southam

-Ron Jude’s Lick Creek Line

-Adam Jeppessens Wake

-John Gossage

Check out his book here:

I wanted to gain further first hand research, as I have only been doing this mainly by going out and recording with my camera or sound recorder, and getting as much information from the posters and signs displayed at my walking spots. I decided to speak to Joanna Ornowaska, and I initially emailed her about her previous work, which were beautiful images of walkers she met whilst camping. However, I then went to talk to her about how she actually did it. Joanna said that she did it in the summer and didn’t do as much research as me! But she did find it interesting and it was also good to know what she carried or took and how she coped with the weather and terrain, as I haven’t had first hand research talking about how to deal with conditions and how to make you walk to easiest it can be, only through clips online and on television. Its nice to know that there’s someone to talk to if something goes wrong, and its also inspired me to think about my future projects.

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