The joy of face 2 face

I have recently returned from the Vision 2020 event at Falmouth where I learned a lot. The remote learning basis of the course is invaluable to me as I live in West Sussex and have a full-time job. But meeting up at events like Vision 2020 is really important because it allows an extra depth of collaboration and communication.

This can be illustrated by the progress I was able to make on a planned picture that would be part of my FMP. I plan a tableaux piece inspired by Comerre’s The Flood of Noah and his companions.

This picture fits very closely with my theme of rising water. Comerre pictured the biblical flood, I am thinking about the effects of global warming. There seems to me to be considerable parallels between the stories.

This picture presents considerable challenges: finding participants, identifying a location, creating rain, making the rain visible, keeping people safe and so on.

Firstly, rain. I found the following YouTube video which shows how to build a rain machine cheaply.

I will be making rain on a group of about 15 people, so I would need to build a bigger version. Also, I will be on a beach, so no mains water will be available. I thought this through and will use a water pump powered by a cordless DIY drill to pump water through the rain machine. I have a drill, the pump costs about £15.

The rain needs to be backlit so that it is visible. I considered either using Speedlites or rigging up a power supply for portable studio lights. I got into a discussion about this with Becca, who suggested battery-powered Profoto lights which I could hire from the Institute of Photography.

Location is critical, as I need to recreate rising water and have enough water for people to be immersed in. A swimming pool would not be the right look. Fellow student, Ilya, kindly took me on a tour of rockpools near her home which lead to the perfect location.

The sloping ledge would accommodate a group of people, others could pose in the water below the ledge. The rain machine could stand above the rocks, out of shot. If the photograph were taken on the rising tide, the sea would lap against the rock but the water would be quite shallow.

I believe I now have an adequate understanding of the technical challenges involved in creating this picture. Now to the questions of personnel.

Normally, I would have decided on a Saturday in June, when the sea is warmer and the tide was rising in the morning. I would send out invitations to volunteers and get them to save the day. However, the Covid 19 virus is preventing the planning of any activity involving a gathering of people.

The groups I would approach for volunteers would be:

Falmouth students
Local surfers
Local open water swimmers
Local environmental activists.

If Covid 19 means that the university is closed, I still have other groups to approach. Family members have also offered to help.

This is an ambitious picture and I have never attempted anything like it before. This is a deliberate policy as I want it to be a stretch exercise to extend my abilities. There is still a way to go before all issues are ironed out, but Vision 2020 allowed me to make significant steps in making this plan a reality.

(Featured image courtesy of Ilya Fisher)