It’s the third of February and I’m camped atop a sandy cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean, about seven or eight miles south of Albany. I’m attempting to see a bit more of Western Australia while at the same time spending less money. I walked the distance out here, plus some extra as I took the wrong route, with a quite heavy pack—like really quite absurdly heavy compared to what I’m used to. This was not quite painful, but extremely uncomfortable, this walk. But I am here. To what end I do not know. However, I witnessed our sun’s magical rays splashing down upon the ocean in radiant sparkles and jangles like an eruption of fireworks across a night sky. Through gaps in the clouds they came like rockets and fizzy whizz-bangs shimmering like a floor of gold coins found at the bottom of a hidden spring in a hidden cave in a hidden island, and I guess that is something enough. Perhaps that is all I came for. That, and the pain in my shoulders and my aching ankle. It was a message and a warning. You see, I’ve had this idea for a bit, of walking Japan from its southern most point, Cape Sata, to its northern most, Cape Soya. It is a “soft” project, as most of mine are. Soft meaning it is unnecessary to finish, or the means of getting from point to point may vary. The discomfort of carrying such weight now has me rethinking things. Though, runners traveling long distances typically push strollers with their necessary supplies, so that is something I may consider. I could also simply WWOOF or do a work exchange. Those are things I might look into even if I do continue with the walking trip. But all this brings me back, once again, to the questions of “why?” and “what am I looking to get from this trip?”
Clearly I’m not just looking to throw money away on a comfortable vacation. This is certainly a bit of a vacation, but it’s also kind of a lot of work. The photography, the writing, trying to stick to some sort of budget. I realize that hostels are never the plushest digs in town, but multiple unplanned days can easily puncture holes in one’s bank account. But ignoring the budget, what is the point of the photography? Truthfully, here in Australia there is no point. I don’t have a strong interest in being here, and I’m not interested in photographing Australia (which is different than saying I am not interested in photographing in general). The only reason I am still here is because I paid for the flight, a SIM card, and a visa. It seemed silly to leave after less than two weeks. But of course staying here longer means I’m spending more money, and Australia is not cheap, regardless of the exchange rate. There IS NO PHOTO PROJECT HERE. Except for possibly the one vague one that is everything is the same everywhere—a thought that I wrote about in a previous journal, and something that is ever present in the nether regions of my mind, surfacing at unsuspecting moments while walking around town or traversing a new landscape that reminds me of home. Even having a defined project though, what’s the point? What do I wish to achieve? Obviously if I want to produce a book, get featured in a magazine, or have a show (or multiple) I’m going to have to put some work in later, so this is something that is not at all relevant to my immediate situation.
Writing is its own pursuit, and sometimes I think it is more of a joy than photography. It is certainly more therapeutic. These journals, or snippets of them, could also accompany the photographs in a publication or an exhibition. At least with going to Japan I have a sense of something. A purpose. A journal, a la Basho. Just more contemporary in style than writing haiku and journaling; although, amongst his contemporaries, Basho, having more-or-less invented the haiku form, or really given it its own recognized stature as a poetic form in itself, was more forward thinking than anyone else of the time, and so when I think of what it means to be considered a “contemporary” artist today I liken Basho as being the earliest of contemporary writers and poets of his time, while the rest of his “contemporaries” were continuing in past traditions. In other words to be contemporary is to break new ground, which is what he did, and what some contemporary artists are doing today (though I’d argue there is little ground left to break).
I’m enjoying sharing this “adventure” with friends. And I continue to understand myself better with every new foray beyond what I find is my comfort zone.