Water Flowing to the Sea Captured at the Speed of Light, Blast Hole Pond River,
Newfoundland 2002-2003

medium: 8 chromogenic photographic prints (4 pairs).
dimensions: each print 40 inches high x 60 inches wide (102 x 152 cm).
grids of self-portraits: 16 images each 8 7/8 inches high x 13 7/8 inches wide (22 x 35 cm).
collection: National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

This project presents the conjunction of two transitory, fleeting entities—flowing water and the impermanence of our human presence.

There is a stream called the Blast Hole Pond River that runs through the property where I live. I’ve come to realize that I can’t say I ‘have’ a stream, because it’s only passing through. Within a mile, this freshwater stream meets saltwater and is dispersed into the Atlantic Ocean. The water flows irrevocably, just like time.

I’ve been thinking intently about the stream since moving to this place—the sometimes slow, sometimes forceful, constantly changing process of it, and its delicate fugitive pleasures. How could I use photographs of this stream, I kept asking myself, as a symbol for the river of life?

I started with photographing the stream as it manifests both the drama and the transience of the seasons. These photographs, taken from the same position each time, are illustrative, realistic documents of reportage. They are the result of the one-way gaze of the onlooker.

Then one day I suddenly had a thought: What if the other looks back—at the photographer? So I began to take photographs with an underwater camera that I held under the flowing stream and turned towards myself. These photographs are based on optics and positions—destabilizing the optics of conventional photography, and inverting the position of the photographer.

The water moving directly over the camera lens blurs and distorts my image, at times even obscures it completely. These serendipitous wavering effects express my sense of temporality, evanescence, and mortality.

My past work has almost always had its source in travel and it emerged from the perspective of the visitor, who pauses to observe and then moves on. This present work is the reverse: I imagine myself as the one who is being observed. And instead of moving across the land, I am staying in one place, and the living world in my immediate surroundings is flowing past me.
Marlene Creates, 2003
A live-art film including this work is available:
The Tolt, the Droke, and the Blast Hole Pond River with Marlene Creates

A bilingual publication on this work is available:
Water Flowing to the Sea Captured at the Speed of Light,
Blast Hole Pond River, Newfoundland 2002-2003