Monday, January 17, 2011

Saguaro Spiral

"The Spiral: A movement down into despair, a motion up into joy, a sojourn inward and back out again." (Stu Jenks)

Saguaro Spiral (c) John AshleyTough week in old Tucson town.

This laid-back college town lost six of its own, and almost a seventh. Community heroes were lost and found, just a few seconds apart. The man and woman on the street ache for a sensible explanation of an event that can never make sense. Everyone here is coping in their own ways, trying to make their worlds right again, carrying on.

Me, I make images. Sometimes they make sense and sometimes they don't. I made my first "spiral" image in the spirit of Tucson's favorite nocturnal photographer, Stu Jenks. Stu loves his funky, desert town. He also loves to photograph spirals. And he would really, really love for this world to make sense someday.

Just over the hill from the warm glow of Tucson, there is a county park that is home to the saguaro cactus. The saguaro is a survivor, a familiar figure bearing witness over the Sonoran Desert. She may be 50 years old before she begins branching out. With any luck, she'll sojourn through the darkest of nights to survive for more than 200 years.

The spiral is a five-minute exposure of my red headlamp as I "motion up" as high as I can reach. After spiraling, I light-paint the saguaro ever so slightly to make her stand apart from the Tucson Mountains. There are streaks of seven white star trails falling across the blue night. Each trail is a single star, composed of the spiral exposure and six additional exposures -- each one slightly separated, but part of the whole.

Does it make sense?  Literally, no. But then...

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