A photograph, almost by definition, represents an instance of time from a single perspective, when the shutter opens and light enters the camera. The challenge of photographing Buttertubs Pass was how to represent a subject that is in constant flux with the changing of the seasons and conditions; a “single-dimensional” photo could never fully represent this multi-faceted place.
One potential answer was to borrow an idea by the Danish–Icelandic creative artist Olafur Eliasson whose Paths Series, a grid of 24 photographs, depicts a single path from beginning to end, so, a few months ago, I began to photograph different views of The Tubs working to three constraints: (i) to focus my effort (and the image) on one part of the pass, (ii) to capture all the conditions we’ve experienced crossing the pass: sunshine, snow, wind, rain, mist, nighttime, daytime, etc., (iii) each photo should include the road.
The result became a grid of 48 photos, and with each new trip the grid evolved, becoming a “living image” if you like, which continually developed as the collection of photographs grew. At first this was an easy process, but strictly resisting the temptation to add another column or row meant that including a new image required that an existing one go. Over time accommodating a new photo has become more and more difficult as each change has a knock on effect on the rest of the grid.
I’ve used Version 1 of the Buttertubs Pass Series on the poster of a future exhibition, but that’s not until May! How the series evolves between now and then, and how many versions I’ll eventually produce I can’t predict, only that each one I print will be unique.
Does this solve the problem of representing Buttertubs Pass? Well I don’t know, but it feels like an idea worth pursuing and I guess at some point - a week, or month, a year, a decade - I might find out.