On Weaver's Fields the other day ideas began to come, which, by nightfall, had proved a revelation of the new kind – one of nothing, of that quality of nothing I have set out to record. For the job I have long practice photographing something: always a shop window, either entire or in part, as an example of practice good or bad, for its backdrop, for a tableau, for the clothes displayed or for the use of props. But all this time off now seems to make it no easier to approach the new subject.
Because the Fields are in no way remarkable. Perhaps that itself lends them a special place in the lives of many. They are a place I have often passed through, where I have rarely lingered, and that I would not normally ever have thought to record, contemplate, describe. Jogging, pausing, looking into the distance, up at the sky, waiting for nothing to happen are subjects which, in my days of activity, would be, as I recall subjects rather to avoid. I say recall, I know I work still almost weekly, but when I work on this those times always feel so distant.
The first encounter was on Saturday morning, when nothing was yet happening. An inquisitive few wandered the space, traced the attractions beneath tarpaulins, tracked the potential in cables and cogs, intrigued by the sights, noises, sensations they entailed. Unsure why, I already turned the camera on one or two of these at random, compulsive but with neither understanding nor aim. Something was there, I knew, but I had no notion what, scooped eyefuls in the hope it might on my sifting them emerge. The activity was almost painful, the sensation blind.
And on Sunday, to return in the same hope, the crowds now out, to catch up image after image, unable to choose a point of focus or even entry, barely conscious of intervening between the barrage of photons and the sensors at the back of the apparatus. Perhaps it's that in the shots I've grown used to making, and which those who know it can see on my shop windows site will be accustomed to seeing, there's the clear division between the space I inhabit, where I stand, and the space of my expertise, on the other side, of the display, the window glass a surrogate lens, the shutter the shutter, opening hours for speeds, for average white balance halogen, strip or incandescent setting settings of themselves.
On Sunday in the fair the spectator, the prop, the attendant, attraction, machinery, display, the detritus, the location, the event, its borders, participants, models, images merged. Colours and smells, flavours and clothes, expressions on rides, the movements the ground made and away, looking up, how these were described on the face of a painted sign it was so clear were so purposely blurred I could just point, shoot, hope; transfixed, wander.
At some point, the image increasingly blurring as shutter speeds had to drop, gaining grain as light sensitivity had to rise, the quality of disintegration began to alter, slow down, grow quiet, attain depth, the spectacle of disintegration now, with the crowds departing, at a peak.
That was last weekend. I have returned now several times to look again, verify that the place is indeed as altered as it appears, as imperceptibly and as entirely. That in the space from which the bungee ball flew to the sky, that patch of ground, there should be no trace, that that absence of trace should be visible appears still to be just as staggering as at the time for the returning participants, whose surprise at being back, now they are no longer there, is more justified still than when they were, or of the spectators who had gasped when they were gone.