In sorry to say that it’s only now, 25 years into my career, that I am becoming aware of Ernst Haas. The publicly available repertoire of the man’s photography is immense. His philosophies of remaining independent and never adhering to a dedicated style are self evident.
A quote from the Ernst Haas Estate website affirms to me, now 25 years on, that my personal belief and instinct were correct all along;
“Still, I don’t want to declare there are no highways of fruitful directions. In learning there are. Follow them, use them and forget them. Don’t park. Highways will get you there, but I tell you, don’t ever try to arrive. Arrival is the death of inspiration. Beware of direct inspiration. It leads too quickly to repititions of what inspired you. Beware of too much taste as it leads to sterility. Refine your senses through the great masters of music, painting, and poetry. In short, try indirect inspirations, and everything will come by itself.”
Be aware of forward inspiration, but reverse-engineer everything, think backwards and look for the defining characteristics and recurring foundations in everything. Everything else is just dressing.
“…the act of thinking thoroughly through a scene and preempting a moment to capture it, comes with experience. The experience shows when is the right moment to take the shot. Because the shot is a legacy of that decision…”
Canacona, Goa, India. 1.30am Im staying at a low rent guesthouse at a blind corner on Chaudi-Talpona road which traces the Chaudi river at this point. It is moment away from Monsoon so the water is almost at street level on one side and an embankment on the other. Right at this blind corner there is a single track concrete rail bridge which carries both freight and passenger trails through at a regularity of about 30 minutes during the day and 45-60 minutes at night. Just beyond the blind corner is an egg-shell blue two story hastily erected building and a family home nestled beside it. The rail bridge traverses 8meters from the house and then is swallowed up in foliage on the embankment.
My room is on the ground floor front and center to the lot, it is North facing. It is off season, extremely humid (95%), and extremely hot (45c) despite being on the coast. The area is lush tropical and very quiet.
At night it is almost completely silent, with exception to distant sounds from neighbouring homes and the Hindu and Catholic places of worship (at 3’26” you can hear the chime of a gong or bell).
The trains are traveling in from the north, from Bombay, at night they are mostly freight. You can hear the sound funnel down the rail-track clearing in the dense jungle, it is amplified and you can pick out the pitch changes in the engine as it grunts its way in.
Warning: this track goes from subtle to extremely loud and then very quiet.
Recorded using a Roland R-26, Binaural microphones and a Sennheiser MKH 416 shotgun directional microphone, mixed-down and rendered using Audacity. There is some slight clipping at the high peak, as I simply set the best levels I could based on guesswork before making the recording.
Thanks and enjoy.
Its a phenomena to hear the daily rumination’s of your neighbor showering, slurping milk in his cereal bowl, listening to the radio, masturbating, showering and general other private life sounds, and yet never actually really seeing them because of a wooden fence that separates you from him. Im pretty sure he cant hear me because the sound from his side is funneled in through a small space filtered by a Mosquito grille and a cat.
I have a lot of uncertainty now, and yet I know somewhere in there I will miss these days. Perhaps this is a time of resettlement and reassurance from a relationship that I now find myself in.
I also find myself in the eye of the storm. Im doing things now that are prime and ahead of the curve. Yet Im filled with doubt and procrastination is the crutch Im leaning on. Im trying to do a lot maybe too much, but if I dont Ill feel as though Im not doing enough, like I feel that anyway regardless of the capacity Im at.
Who knows. Just remember the important things.
Bombay, not Mumbai. I prefer it, and the Bombers themselves call it Bombay anyway.
Its as hot as Goa was, but the humidity levels are off the charts. What I thought was humid in Goa was just for starters. Here its totally and completely insane. It takes 20 minutes to sweat out a liter of water. I go nowhere without a 2L bottle of Bisleri. Bisleri is the nice brand of water in India. Its an Indian company started by a French couple who came here some time ago and scoffed at the lack of good clean drinking water in bottles. Since then of course, there are others. Bailey, which is harder to find, but equally as good and the same price. 1L bottles are about 15 rupees, 2L bottles are 25 rupees, depending of course if you ask the price, because most street vendors will try and hoodwink you and make you pay more even thought he price is moderately unclearly marked on the bottles themselves. The Batch Number, date and Price “(inclusive of all taxes)”. But I still like to ask because I like to see the honesty levels of the vendors. Most outside of Goa and so far Bombay, are not honest and some, even when you show them the price will argue the price with you. Old school values; haggle. Theres no haggling in America. We are soft now, lazy, the price is the price. I still like to ask for a deal when I have to go to the Apple store just to fuck with the doe-eyed whizz-kid clerks. Who cares if Steve Jobs had $750,000,000,000 in the bank before he stepped out, he shouldn’t have had that much money anyway, he should have by virtue of the fact that he travelled India himself, known that that money would have been better off in the hands of those who know what to do with it to make their days a little brighter. Like those tribal families out there on the street in front of the hostel Im currently in. They are rolling with the rats, and their children are playing cricket and badminton amongst the traffic “OUT”! I saw that, that was out! Ballard market, haha what a fucking Joke, ‘fixed prices’ total and complete bullshit.
Oh look at that Im sweating as I’m shitting here in relative comfort of porcelain three floors above you, and the little brown children with blue string around their waists are dropping their payloads into cracks in the pavement. Their shit is cleaner then yours though -and you fucking better believe it.
I remembered there was a small guesthouse on the corner of the Chaudi-Arpora road, a place called Gods Grace. It exists on a blind elbow smothered in undergrowth at which there is a low concrete single track railway bridge, trains pass by at 60 minute intervals at night and 30 minute intervals during the day, an even split of passenger and transport trains, mostly ore and trucks in which the drivers sit in their cabs baking in the heat and smoking cigarettes with their feet out of the windows.
I am in Chapora, which is the most southern ‘county’ of Goa before Karnataka state. This road cambers gently and is well cared for with good reflective paint on the edge, at night there is zero illumination, which, if you happen you stray, you’ll end up in mangrove swamps on both sides. It ends at a dimly lit avenue going right into the Talpona River, at which there is a bus stop eluding to a once existing bridge which is now no longer there. For the unwitting, one could accidentally end up in that river with zealous use of the accelerator.
There is a distinct Hitchcockian feel to Gods Grace. It is nestled in amongst a cup of foliage the building itself a pale blue and white stark building with little or no style in of itself a concrete courtyard slopes steeply down to the bend in the road, its dry and dusty despite being in a mangrove swamp. On the back side there is a cliff and on the other side it trails off back into the mangroves.
The electro diesel locomotives, you can hear from 20 km out, it huffs, snarls, creaks and pants its way along the track in sonically crystal clear southern sky. Punching the heavy humid air with clean crisp riots of horn, against a pitch black indigo night the air heavy like premium felt. The shape of sound as its shot directly forward from the front of the hulking Cyclops steel behemoth a single eye pitched in golden warning, lights up my room as it winds it way along a shallow trajectory to the straight path of the bridge and into the cushioning undergrowth, the rip-roaring earthquake grows louder and louder heavier and heavier like a concussion, a deep low hum oscillates two per second embellished with silver brightness of bogies on track the train says this’n’that and this’n’that…this’n’that and this’n’that. Pockets of clarity open as the undergrowth subsides shifting and baffling metallic industrial with heavy chugs in a low rumble. Then suddenly the world is ripped and a the fabric of existence is torn open and with a burst of trapped air everything is consumed in a massive all encompassing sound that covers you like paint and takes precedence over everything else, no birds sing no voices heard only complex rhythm and malevolent mechanics in time, space and relativity, screaming forward fulfilling its existence. And with a fold of the envelope, the sound is all at once gone back to idyllic sweetness of quiet nature in a remote spot of land on the coast of the Arabian sea.