These photos were shot during an artist residency in the Adirondack region in fall 2017. Some mornings I would wake up to dense fog, that would burn off only slowly, revealing the landscape bit by bit, layer by layer, and finally breaking up into wafts of clouds that would drift off and create identical reflections in the mirror-smooth lake. I was especially fascinated with lake scenes, where piers would reach out into nothingness, and colorful fall foliage would hang over a body of water that was entirely undefined in its size and dimensions. I would sleep in a boathouse sometimes, on the ground of an open boat garage – looking out over the lake. Some mornings I would open my eyes to a shiny whiteness, that seemed almost apocalyptical.
I wake up to blank. Plain Nothingness. I close my eyes and try to go back to sleep. It doesn’t work. Where am I, actually – asks my mind. The answer comes with a delay. My brain synapses are still asleep. The boathouse?
I open my eyes again – yes, the familiar grayish wooden floor – right there above my head. I’m face down, my cheek pressing against the underside of the sleeping bag – which is on top of 3 layers of yoga mats, which are on the ground. I pull out my hand from underneath my belly and reach it up alongside my body inside the narrow sleeping bag and out by my left ear. I touch the ground ahead of me – and yes, the wooden floor boards. They end in an abrupt edge, and beyond is white – just plain white, and nothing else. I jump to my knees, pulling the sleeping bag up with me. I’m facing a large square frame, kind of like looking into a stage that has nothing beyond. Or a giant white screen. Is that fog? Where has the lake gone? I can’t even hear it splash. No sounds at all, except a slight creaking of the wooden floor every time I move. I get up all the way. Stepping forward out of the sleeping bag places me right at the edge. I crank my neck out each direction, holding on to the frame of the opening. I can now depict faint outlines of a patch of water lily leaves right beyond the edge. Wow, this fog is really dense. At this point it surprises me that it had halted at the edge and hadn’t filled up the boathouse as well.
True, it had been moist last night when I got here. My camera lens had gotten all fogged-up while it was sitting on its tripod for a long-exposure night shot. In fact I had to wipe off the entire camera body when I came back into the boathouse. The stars had been clear, though, no clouds at all. That was around 1am. How come it could have taken this turn within the 6 hours I had been asleep?
I need to pee desperately. Too urgent to walk up to the house. I wonder briefly, frantically almost – if there might be a way that I could pee out into the lake without falling in. Nobody would see me through the thick fog for sure – not that there’d be anyone out there in these conditions anyways. However, it seems impractical, and I end up running out the back door and behind a tree.
Then I grab my camera and walk over to the pier. It’s jetting out into the velvety whiteness – entirely bizarre. Like it was suspended in mid air – or rather in mid-nothingness. It seems distant and removed. The colors of the deck chairs faint, their edges blurred. Otherworldly. Apocalyptic almost. Like a remnant from a gone-by world. Descriptions of Czernobyl come to mind – 30 years later. Fukushima in 10 or 20 years from now.
Now a diffuse yellow light. The sun is trying to penetrate the fog. Like a lamp behind a white frosted screen or a dense white curtain. It makes it even more eerie. Sunlight on a different planet maybe? Peeking through a dense kind of gassy atmosphere?
The fog starts thinning out slowly, and reveals silhouettes of the original landscape. Very vague at first, barely visible – then becoming more defined.
A loon pops up close and shakes water off its head. Then utters its familiar cry and disappears – before I get a chance to adjust the camera lens for it. I wait for it to return, staring into the foggy water, intensely. I don’t even dare to blink my eyes, so I can spot it instantly when it comes back up. But it doesn’t. I wait 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 – still no loon. How long can they stay underwater, I wonder? And how far could it have gone underneath the water’s surface? Are they faster diving than swimming on top? I give up and continue shooting the foggy landscape – or rather just those elements of it that have become visible.
I notice a blue area up on the top of the sky. Yet it takes another 45 minutes for the fog to move out completely. I wonder where it actually goes. Or does the sun simply evaporate it?