Flowing to the Sea Captured at the Speed of Light, Blast Hole Pond
medium: 8 chromogenic photographic prints (4 pairs).
dimensions: each print 40 inches high x 60 inches wide
(102 x 152 cm).
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
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
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
A bilingual publication on this work is
Water Flowing to the Sea Captured at the Speed of Light,
Blast Hole Pond River, Newfoundland 2002-2003