Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Simple documentation: The moment before cake

What classifies a body of work as a documentary? How does one determine whether the negative time lapses inbetween photos are insignificant enought to constitute a sequential documentary and not just a series?
I’m not sure myself and realised that most of my photographic work constituted of fragments of time accidently within my magic box’s grasp. Each photo rested on it’s own solo flight.
Thus I thought it appropriate to tackle this task (even though the reasoning followed after, it was more play than plan).
Does documentaries necessarily have to imply action/movement? Even though baking is an action, this sequence of photos still contain a quiet, a silence. There is the absence of the baker, you have all these ingredients that with each successing photo mix with another. You see there is baking, but the baker is absent. Who is he/she? It is a documentary, not a manual with step by step instructions. And some things are left to mystery.
Still with the simple life in mind (the beauty of everyday things which the art of photography - should rather be called the art of looking - opens to you once you start hunting...) I chose the simple act of baking cake as my subject.
Firstly it challenges one to look at overtly familiar objects again as if anew - flour, water, eggs... How does one re-invent the egg? Maybe one doesn’t have to, because it can be beautiful in its simplicity.
It made me realise that our life could be a metaphor of baking. Almost everyone love cake, we want the cake, but we do not want to wait for the ingredients to mix. Unfortunately the society we live in today reward only results (results = success). The world is not to keen to stop and appreciate the ingredients - the feel of flour on your fingertips, the smell of vanilla essence, the sound of the eggshell cracking on the rim of the bowl... The world is only interested in cake. But how you make cake is just as important (and possibly adds to the enjoyment thereof).
A lifespan cannot be measured in the speed or success at reaching the finish line, because that’s when you die (and even though the world might on a slim chance marvel at your successful life, you won’t be around to enjoy it). So I say, thank goodness I don’t have all the ingredients yet. I’m still admiring the multi-coloured hundreds and thousands. How are they made? What do they really taste like?
And of course it’s part of the fun to anticipate the end result. Cake!