I rise early before sunrise as I make the short drive to Loch Cill Chriosd. I drive past three of the Red Cuillin hills and park my car short of the loch by the tiny church of Kilchrist. I do this so I can enjoy the gentle stroll to the reeds, take in the glimmers of light as the sun stirs, and listen to the sounds of sheep disturbed momentarily by my footsteps. It is a familiar place I have visited hundreds of times during my PhD journey. As I move closer, I note that the reeds are moving almost imperceptibly because there is only a gentle swell in the water. On most occasions, the surface of the water is a frantic and chaotic place but not at the moment. This state might change very quickly with a variation in the strength of the wind or its direction. As I meander along the edges of the loch, I feel a sense of calm as I am enveloped in its stillness and quiet. I feel at home here and comfortable even when a howling gale blows. I have deep knowledge of this small part of north-west Scotland and understand its idiosyncrasies and nuances.
I find a spot, based on the time of day, the direction of the wind and my expectations about the light. I set up my tripod and think about the technical options that might be appropriate and fruitful, given the low light and gentle stirrings of the water’s surface. I set my camera to a slow shutter speed to allow nature to paint its pictures for me and capture the delicate fronds’ gentle movement. As I peer through the early morning light I focus on the sway and dark reflections of the reeds. I drift into a semi-conscious state as I follow the gentle movement and ever-changing shapes and patterns on the surface of the water. It is an intense feeling where my body appears to float, and I lose any sense of bodily movement as I feel at one with my camera. I enter a place where space and time are lost. In this place, the conscious activities of memory and habit disappear and withdraw as pure awareness takes hold. The technical changes and choices I make become intuitive and non-conscious. My attention turns to an awareness of the connections and entanglement between objects, and the connection between me and my camera and the object. I look for “glimmers” which are not visual but borne out of a feeling of connection where a glimpse of reality is revealed. I can feel my finger pressing the shutter but am consumed in the photographic moment. I return to my bodily self with a bump and am shaken out of the world of awareness. I feel as if I have been dreaming. I check my camera and see that I have taken over fifty shots.
The experience explained above, is based on my conscious experiences before and after I drift into this non-conscious state. While I recall certain images in my mind, the details and sequence are lost, in a period that can extend beyond an hour. When I view and process my images, some return to my veridical memory. The photographs prompt a recollection of a non-conscious state that lies below the surface.
In the Ten Signifier Onion Diagram, the output of my PhD, I describe the state of non-conscious awareness as “zonal flow”, however as I continue my photographic practice, I prefer to refer to this state as “dwelling”. For me, using this term takes account of the deep knowledge I possess about this special place and the sense of belonging and comfort I feel when I am suspended beyond conscious activity and out with space and time. It is a place I have come to know, over many years and it is a place where my creativity is exposed.
As I reflect again on David Bohm’s explicate and implicate orders, I consider when in the process described above, I drift from the explicate order, a world of sensory perception and presence, to the implicate order, the real world that Harman describes and is ordinarily withdrawn. I am in no doubt that it is when I leave the world of intention, conscious activity and space and time behind. I move into a world of revealing and concealing objects where intuitive creativity is exposed for a short while. Bohm’s implicate order is that place, outside of space and time, and not accessible to sensory perception, where the world of experience is generated. Furthermore, in my images, the implicate becomes explicate in the imagination of the viewer.