Photographing the 4th Dimension
Hello out there blog-readers…I’m amazed that it has taken me three weeks since joining the ranks of the MLP Crew to find a spare moment to sit down to write a blog post! There has been SO MUCH to learn: camera protocol (complex),data organization protocol (mind-melting & eye-crossing), dietary preferences of crew mates (healthy & omnivorous), who gets up earliest (Will) and who leads sport climbs the best on our days off (Stuart).
This work stimulates the imagination nearly as much as it punishes the knees; we may spend all day scrambling up a steep scree slope and along rocky ridges, not only trying to physically arrive at a location, but also trying to reach back over a century to understand the thinking of surveyors who, though photographing the very same places, were moving through the landscape with an entirely different intention. While they were capturing images of uncharted land in broad sweeps, we are charting to the minutest detail the artifacts they left behind, nudging the camera a few centimeters to the left, noting every criss-cross of every peak, every alignment of every ridgeline. We work for hours at times to find exact positions that Bridgland, McArthur, Wheeler, (and their assistants) most likely casually chose for convenience or the view they afforded. They were charting the unknown in physical terms–the shape of the landscape, its contours. We are re-enacting their work in the hopes of charting a less tangible sort of unknown–change, and how it is painted on the landscape over a century.
Ironically, it’s the change we’re charting that creates some of the trickiest parts of this exacting work of reenacting the surveyors’ steps; waters rise, glaciers melt, forests grow thick…and the places they stood with their wooden cameras in their leather boots and wool pants sometimes no longer exist. So, even when (especially when) we’re unable to find the exact place they stood, we’re charting something else: (DUH DUH DUHHHH) THE FOURTH DIMENSION!
(*nb: it has come to my attention that time is not ACTUALLY considered the fourth dimension. I just caught a youtube video of Carl Sagan, replete in bowl-cut and corduroy blazer discussing the fourth dimension as something completely different than time. But just humour me, folks. It sounds cool.)
Over the next few blogs I’ll tell you a few tales in which we have been bamboozled, puzzled, thwarted and confused by the forces of time, and the way it changes the landscape. I hope you will enjoy!
Hope all is well wherever you are,
Ryan (Romeo Hotel) Hilperts