Thursday, 8 March 2012

A Stranger...

He is the figure in the landscape you never forget. You encountered him on long distance high level walk. The ground underfoot was uneven, eager to twist an ankle should the opportunity present itself.. He first appeared as a distant, dark smudge on the ridge skyline. He grew into focus at an exponential rate as he approached. Almost unbelievably quickly, he was passing you. He mumbled some sort of acknowledgement, but his eyes were fixed on a point in the distance beyond your shoulder. You covered a further couple of hundred metres to an outcrop, then stole a curious glance back to where the hooded figure should have reached...
… and he was nowhere to be seen. Had he already crossed the fell? That just wasn’t possible, surely? You pondered, then continued to the cairn on the horizon, your equilibrium now faintly disturbed.
That evening, with friends, you were reminded of the stranger during an unrelated conversation. You mentioned him. Someone asked what it was about him that had stayed with you. You considered for a moment; it wasn’t his face; that was covered against the wind; nor was it either his build or height. Then you isolate that detail which had made the stranger so extraordinary. He held no map or guidebook; he didn’t even carry a rucksack… and at that moment, you realised that this stranger would remain in your memory forever.

He is independent; he carries no food or possessions. He traverses the surface of a desolate landscape; foraging on the carrion, roadkill, fungi and fruits it meanly offers up.  What he does seem to have is purpose; heading towards some destination he may or may not know from a time before now.
The camera accompanies this cagouled figure on his journey. 
The black and white record of his movements is occasionally punctured by brief passages of full colour. These are the moments when we view the world through his eyes; his attention drawn to birds, fruit, paintings, the artist… This decision to allow the stranger these moments of subjectivity place him as the centre of the narrative.
One’s allegiance may finally rest with the artist, whose trust and privacy is abused by his actions, but from the first draft of the storyline, the man in black was always going to be the focus of events.

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