Monday, August 20, 2012

The Supplement: Tutorphil's 'Visitations' (Part 1)

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! :)


  1. Now there is no excuse for you not having a Blog M. Gomm.

    I can only imagine the stir these images would have caused at the dawn of photography when phantasms and ghosts flitted from the celluloid.

    These images have a certain rorschach test quality, what can you see in the vortices and wormholes. To me they bring to mind Dr Who, Stargate, Terminator etc. Connections to other worlds is Phill an inter-dimensional wanderer I wonder?

  2. These images are beautiful! Looking forward to Part 2 :)

  3. Wow these are great!
    After commuting to london everyday lately I see a lot of graffiti that makes no words, they're just pointless tags. But these- They look like 3D versions in a one time only moment, they look great, last no time at all and don't ruin the surroundings. As if you've tagged yourself in the air but in an intellectual way instead..... If I'm making any sense while I'm this tired :)

  4. I follow Nat's point. :]
    It feels like someone or something has just landed and you are about to ask , what's next? As if these images captured the turning point.
    Such pleasing images, especially the bluish ones!

  5. CGI was used! 'Cool Glowey Items'. I like the three where the night sky and stars are visible, they look like embryonic wormholes.

  6. Wowwwwww! I want to meet these visitors! :D

  7. These are awesome. They feel like brush strokes.

  8. Ethereal results. The brown and white ones look painterly while the orange one looks like fireflies. The blue ones look celestial and aquamarine. Really cool.

  9. Nice words, you lot - ta very much! :D

  10. These are like 3d paintings Phil. Having seen them being captured only adds to the mystery. Almost impossible to predict how these are going to come out. I love that you stayed on the spot and allowed the Orbs to just sit in the corner of the image for some of them. Massive success, the horsebridge needs a visitation from these asap... P