I’m almost half-way through the residency at the Banff Centre, and one thing I’ve noticed about the town, though not the centre itself, is the sense of how it is slightly uprooted from time. Yes, there is a mall, yes a dozen skiware shops, stuffed with shiny modern goods. But on the other hand, the buildings almost all have an early 20th century alpine vibe. If you look at the picture at the bottom of the last post, you might struggle to say whether it was taken in 1993 or 2013.
It’s something to do with the quality of light too. Probably why photographers are attracted to the area – the mountains being only the most obvious aspect of the lure – look at this picture from the road to Jasper:
What a day that was, so cold and vivid. The picture itself is very simple, but I think the colours lend some inexpressible quality. A kind of nostalgia?
Other than being subsumed by scenery, I have had a chance to talk to people on other programmes here. Last night I hung out with a group from ‘The Dizziness of Correspondence’ residency. Brilliant name – and everyone is interpreting this theme in different ways. Anyway, as part of their course, they were going to watch some rare and experimental films. I tagged along, and was able to see some really interesting pieces, ranging from Side/Walk/Shuttle which silently examines a building very, very slowly from a number of different perspectives, to a film of two people dressed as a rat and a bear, climbing a mountain to make music at dawn, to a frightening ten minute piece by the same director, which flashed a camera through several positions down a gloomy corridor – this certainly had a strange effect on watchers. The main thing was the 1947 documentary of the Kon-Tiki voyage, which is available to watch on youtube and very entertaining.
After that flood of imagery, I went off to my room, only to look out to this spectacular lad:
You might not be able to get the scale of him, but his antlers probably had a breadth equal to that of my arms at their widest apart. The guess, from those who spotted him (he had quite the crowd outside, and has been seen around for a few days) was that he’s a juvenile elk. I sort of like the grainy, yellow-drenched photo. It looks a bit like a CCTV camera has just picked him up at random. Or maybe I’m just telling myself this for comfort, given it was the best I could do at the time.
It’s interesting the way a photograph can manipulate nostalgia over a moment, and how the creation, whether years ago or ten minutes is dependent on so many potentially controllable and unpredictable factors of weather and darkness.
Now it’s back to work on my story. The pages of black marks on white, and nothing else. Stripped down, a place to dig without qualifiers.