Sunday, March 25, 2012

A (very) personal project

Every once in awhile, I get a brainwave that has nothing to do with how much money I could be making.  It doesn't happen very often anymore, since I live in a constant state of financial desperation, but once in a great while, it occurs to me that there are things that I would like to do, simply because I have a passion to do them.  This is one of those moments.

I was supervising a theater rental last night (I brought Kenneth along with me, bribed with coffee, but that's another story.), and I was remarking about how I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself, as I don't even trust myself enough to know that what I want is really what I want, or is good for me.  I've been continually frustrated by this self-mistrust lately. 

Driving home, I dropped Kenneth off at the train, and took Lakeshore Drive up north.  I rarely drive on LSD, because the traffic can be hellish, and really, it's out of my way, unless I have to drop people off at the train for any reason.  Zipping up the shoreline, I hazarded a glance out at the endless darkness that is Lake Michigan.  And I remembered how much I love the water, and how it's really been nagging at me that I wish I could get out of the city and go spend some time at my family's cottage in northern Michigan. 

And then I remembered a goal I had had when I was about 16 or so.  I had decided that I wanted to photograph all the lighthouses on the Great Lakes.  When I was 16, I decided it would be AWESOME if I could make the whole trip on foot, because then you would really be in tune with all the minutiae of the world and the water.  For the record, I think it would take about a decade to walk around the ENTIRE chain of great lakes.  Thinking about it right now, it would probably be a really cool thing to do by bike, if I wasn't planning on carrying a zillion pounds of gear, or bringing companions.  As it stands, my current hope is to be able to start in Chicago, end in Buffalo, and pass through about ten thousand towns along the way, dead, dying, post-industrial, or resort. 

I want to photograph the lighthouses, yes.  And the lakeboats, and the lake, and the water and the trees and the sky.  But I also want to record a narrative of the midwest.  The Great Lakes region.  Canada and the U.S.  The collective voice of my home, the people who live there.  The history that runs through everything like water.  The whole span of human history, crushing in front of my lens simultaneously. 

I want to take the summation of all my feelings about those woods and that water from my entire life, and I want to express them. 

My end goal is twofold.  I'd love to write a book about the experience, stuffed with shiny, full-color digital photographs of my journey. 

But I'd also like to take the absolute best of the photographs, be it ten or a hundred or seven-hundred-thirty-two, and create prints.  The platinum-palladium prints that I learned in college, that lent such a timeless antiquation to my subjects.  And I'd like to have a gallery exhibition.  I want the narrative of my lakes and my history and my boundless love to be shared, to be known. 

So... I'm going to start researching, with the goal of departing in the summer of 2013, and just being an adventurer for however long it takes.  I need to know a lot of things before I go.  How many lighthouses *are* there?  What else can I plan on visiting?  How much time can I allot in case I find something I *didn't* plan on visiting?  Hotels?  What happens to my apartment?  My cat?  Who wants to come with me, and for how long?  I imagine this journey is going to take the entire summer, at the very least. 

And I don't want to neglect the other part of me either.  I'd love to do some research into the burlesque scene of every major metropolitan area I will pass through on my journey.  I'd love to make my personal journey one where I build bridges in the present-day as well.  And it wouldn't hurt to get paid to perform every once in awhile on my way either. 

I expect this project will be coming, sooner or later, to Kickstarter, in the hopes that I can drum up support for the grandest adventure I've always ached to have. 

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