Maybe it's the quality of the dark or the size of the spiders, but for whatever reason I find my Summer holidays in rural France fire my imagination and turn my thoughts to phantasmagoria.
The photographs that follow in this home-grown Supplement were taken in the Summer of 2011 and 2012 using 35mm film of varying speeds. Using very primitive kit - an ancient Praktica, a household torch, LED camping lights, a mosquito net, bamboo canes, plastic water bottles, vine leaves, recycling sacks, a paper lampshade, a green football, a hurricane lamp - I set about formulating some kind of creative response to the primal dark and cinematic expanses of stars that characterise this location.
There is something properly magical about long exposure photography. I am entirely absent from these images (the one visible figure is none other than 'Photoshop Phill'), and yet I am nonetheless in all of them. It was me whirling those comet trails through the night. It was me dancing in the dark like Wall-E and Eve. It was me covered head-to-toe in insect repellent spinning cheap made-in-China illuminations around my head - and yet, I've been effaced completely, the camera caring only for light and for filigree.
But you never really know what you're making - that is, what the camera is actually seeing as you spin and glimmer before it. I had an idea, of course - a notion. I wanted something otherworldly, like something a child might glimpse on a sleepless night in a fifties b-movie, or like something Industrial Light & Magic might have created back in the early 1980s. Fortunately, I wasn't disappointed. The camera saw everything - every rotation, every loop, every arc of battery-powered light.
So I'm calling this sequence of images Visitations* - for two reasons; the first, because I only make stuff like this when I visit that old house in France with its space and privacy, and not forgetting all that special dark. The second reason is more obvious, for what really delights me about these images is the way they return me to childhood scenes of cinematic escapism. What are these strange lights in the night if not visitors from beyond the stars, or alternate worlds pressing up against the walls of our own, or the pretty beginning of some terrible end for civilisation as we know it - like the meteor shower that augurs so much carnage in John Wyndham's The Day Of The Triffids.
The keen-eyed ones amongst you will have noticed this post is entitled Tutorphil's Visitations Part 1. Indeed, Part 2 will follow soon, and if part 1 of my summer japes took pre-CGI science-fiction as its muse, part 2 takes as inspiration the elaborate fibs of spirit photographer William H Mumler.
Until then, ladies and gentlemen, please, do as the man says - 'Keep watching the skies!'
* No CGI was used in the making of these images! :)