My long-time favorite swimming pool photographed using iPhone 3GS in August 24, 2012 at 9:34am, posted on VSCO on August 9, 2020.
This is an outdoor 50m pool I’ve swam in for a very long time, up until 2019.
Strange, that summer I had a feeling, things will be very different the next year on.
Up until that year I pretty-much kept to myself but in 2019, I shared the excitement of mid summer outdoor laps with a small group of enthusiasts. The last day there were 3 of us quietly doing laps until the closing time, but I feel, the sentiment of the summer swim days coming to an end was mutually shared, and I think I experienced the substantial side of humanity I’d call “emotional depth” that made the summer all the more memorable.
This also is the pool I photographed using throw-away waterproof cameras, that turned into a Lo-Fi abstract “Pool Series (1999-2004)”, and did, so far the only show – a group photography show exhibiting the series, in Los Angeles, CA., which was a great experience and received generous, encouraging feedbacks especially from other photographers at the show.
The why’s regarding it being the only show I have quite well-thought-out reasons for that, but I had to do it once so I know it’s not fear dictating my such unconventional “career move”.
I’d like to take time and appreciate Mr.S, now retired, who took care of the place during the time period, for making a gracious exception to the “no camera” rule – allowed only while I’m alone. He kept the water notably clear – said he learnt from zero on his own to keep it so. Pristine water no doubt was the big part of inspiration.
The first two pictures are from 15th of July at sundown. This post was published on 14th. I didn’t time travel. I edited the post on 16th. Pics on the first version didn’t click. Intuitive click, I didn’t get. Know the kind I’m talking about? The one that gets your spinal discs aligned and chi circulated like a minty breeze.
The 3rd from top is a work in progress named, by a friend of mine, “Earth Fairy Dress”. I haven’t asked her how so but I get the feeling. Cut from the pattern for my current project “Spider lily Red”, “shimmering” silver pigment paint is applied on silk that looks more like a linen-hemp-canvas rag. Ragged but luscious, don’t know whether to laugh or adore. This is the year 2 of durability testing, the paint different from the year 1’s that didn’t quite stick.
The dress will be covered with slightly excessive layers of silver, I will then have to wear it through to the end of warm months, a guinea woman I will be. If the paint continues to shimmer, by the end of the test phase I may turn into an actual fairy.
Also in the photo 3 is a snapshot of the True Contentment. Time spent by the sea with my mentor who was born 25 yrs ago around this time with the tough fate to guide this human disciple, through thick, thin and Japanese humidity.
In the photo #4 you see lots of print tests. Well there is a section in this website called “photography” that apparently never opens. I figured I’d share with you what’s been taking place behind the closed website, so you’ll know I didn’t branch out just to say “soon” forever.
Photo 5 is dedicated to Hydrangea blossoms, their season ends as the real summer arrives, and with it enters Gardenia (as seen in photo #3), the last one of the, what I call the scent season, starting with Ume (Japanese Apricot) in February.
It’s sentimental-sweet, the Gardenia scent. That’s what my nose thinks anyways. In fact, Gardenia blooming itself is sentimental-sweet, happy-sad, oh-it’s-already-the-last-one excited-dissapointment. All the photos on this post are edited accordingly, in colors that embody the sentiment to me, that also are the colors of the season’s sunsets.
The last photo is of a Tanabata bamboo grass with prayer ribbons, not exactly usually done but works regardless. Traditionally the bamboo grasses with people’s wishes tied to them, they float down the stream (not on their own) on July 7th, the Tanabata day, but nowadays it’s loosely prohibited due to “pollution” the floating bamboo-paper would cause. I burnt mine. Then let the waves engulf my heart’s desires. That’s right, you’ve got to unearth wishes from the depth of your personhood just so they’d be set free, into the Immensity nearby.
This may actually be the longest text I’ve posted here and all I talked about so far is my favorite kind of nothing. I usually do my best to keep my words minimum, short like Haiku. Evidently this is not a usual time, it is summertime.
One last thought, and it is about sunset. Nowadays I take sunset very seriously, serious, as in, of value, one of many things I learned from the mentor in photo #3. One day on our walk at, you guessed it, sunset, I asked her, how do you get so excited to walk the same street the same time with the same human. It’s never the same, human. The mentor spoke in Hunch, and glanced at me in mischief, “you’ll get it one day”.
When the one day came the mentor already resigned from the role (it was too humid) but I to this day commit hitting as many sunsets. I get it now, it is a show, a theater, a spectacle, and unless you are an Antarctica penguin, it is on everyday, throughout the year, never the same, and always pretty.
While teaching myself how to use fabric dye, I worked in a office translating mostly medical professionals’ scribbles. I’d carve out five minutes here, ten minutes there, to somehow get my art thing going, until eventually I became the only worker on self-appointed flextime.
On Mondays during lunch I’d walk past several cafes with too many tiny tables, on a cluttered Tokyo street down to a florist, and for a couple hundred yen choose just one flower to place on my desk, a beige-gray rectangle. As an ongoing art education I’d pause between each paragraph for a few moments and closely observe the blossom of the week.
Flower shop flowers always made me a little sad: straight stemmed, sterile, tagged. I eventually parted ways with the scribbles, but what I’ve seen in each flower stayed with me, it’s the remembering of the field somewhere outside their greenhouse, accumulated stories woven into their roots. Years later, they found their way into an enlarged flower petal about to be painted on a dress, on silk with the fabric dye, now my medium of choice.
Despite the art interferences, I fulfilled my responsibilities at the scribble’s. Enough so that few years later the same people invited me back, flextime and all, which was very nice of them, but I had already made other plans, to give my all to the art thing.
The choice smart or otherwise? One thing I know, it was the only one, and I blame it on those flowers with stems too straight, and all the moments I shared with them.
Belles in the bouquets, all picked in the wild, from top, Japanese name in brackets for accuracy sake:
– Bell Flower (Hotaru Bukuro) / Honeysuckle (Suikazura) / Hyacinth Orchid (Siran)
– Hydrangea / Spiderwort (Murasaki Tsuyukusa)
– Dame’s Violet (Hana Daikon) / Yarrow (Nokogiri Sou) / Oxalis (Imo Katabami – the pink in focus. They were “asleep” at the time of photographing, which was immediately after getting picked from under a shrub.) / Cherry Sage (Yakuyou Sarubia – leaves only) / Fennel (leaves)
– Polygonum (Hime Tsurusoba) / Coral Flower (Haze Ran) / Herb Robert (Hime Fuuro)
– Adenophora Gaudi Violet (Sobana) / Gooseneck Loosestrife (Tora no o) / Prunella Vulgaris (Utsubogusa) / Gymnaster Savatieri (Miyako Wasure) / Spiderwort
This early summer, we are having sunsets in vivid magenta, frequently enough to surprise, amuse, worry – an earthquake premonition? – many of us over here.
Drawings in the photos – extended, drawn, traced – are for “Spider Lily Red”, the newest series of dyed garments.
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