Saturday, April 30, 2011

Autumn fungi

Its been a really wet couple of weeks in Sydney- raining everyday with brief periods of bright warm sunshine. I went for a walk along the Cooks River and was amazed with the amount of different fungi that have sprouted, not only the variety but the quantity. I don't think I have ever seen this many mushrooms before.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nadege and an unhappy snake

a long time ago in Cairns... not that long ago, but feels like it this Friday afternoon with a lot of work still to be done.

Monday, April 25, 2011

conversations with monkeys

in Beppu.
On the edge of town there is a large forested hill that is a reserved for a very large colony of monkeys. I was hoping that visitors would be able to walk through the forest observe the monkeys there, with the added benefit of some birdwatching- however all the walking trails where closed and the monkeys where being feed in an open area- like an open zoo. There was a show going on which seemed to be about how monkeys can work out how to get food out of all sorts of containers that one would think was animal proof- like hanging your food in a bag from a tree. The mans narration of the monkey feats was being broadcast from speakers that were all over the clearing. His voice was around you- rather than directionally in front of you. When the the man stopped talking the monkey's starting hooting loudly as if they could finally get a word in edge ways and have a conversation with each other. It was really odd, like they were in the same space as us but trying their best to work around our irritating presence.

This demonstration started with the woman offering peanuts- the small chimp pn the rail jumped up like he was going to get it- but the Alfa male you see on the gund just below him climbed up and pushed him off. It was for him actually and the women did series of demonstrations about how far he could jump.

While she was doing this, the guy who had been doing the show about how monkeys can get into anything, walked along behind and scatter what looked like barley or wheat. The monkeys went absolutely crazy swarming to get the food. I was terrified of being in the way and knocked over by them as there was some aggressive scenes between them. I was very conscious while there of here Jane Goodall talking about feeding chimps while she was trying to study them and now this changed the chimps group dynamics.
Despite the presence of so many monkeys the place didn't stink too badly because there where uniformed attendants sweeping up the monkey shit.

Even though the monkeys where everywhere and so close to us, there wasn't really the feeling of interaction- like the visitors where obstacles to be avoided and the attendants irritating sources of food. You sort of felt invisible and yet completely responsible for their behaviour, leading to a very odd guilt at the futility of human attempts at interacting with wild animals.

Friday, April 22, 2011

thinking about horses and photographers

All my words are being taken by my thesis at the moment (although I have managed to put a few together about Fuji). I might post some parts here eventually. Above is the work I have been thinking and writing about these last two weeks. Bianca Hester's horse action in Please leave these windows open overnight to enable the fans to draw in cool air during the early hours of the morning at ACCA.

I have uploaded a little film on flickr.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Infinite thanks-Vale John Barbour

John Barbour
An amazing and inspiring artist from whom I learn how to look at small things, to enjoy jazz, to accept limitations, to grasp joy.
Gone too soon

Sunday, April 10, 2011

snow walking with animals

One year ago...
walking through mountain forests, along paths that follow river streams that flowed because of the hot springs feeding into them. The snow was quiet deep after late falls and the paths were marked by previous walkers. All the way along our human footprints mingled with animal tracks...
including lots of monkey prints..

and hare foot prints- although we saw monkeys, and two weasels bouncing through snow drifts, we didn't see any hares.
In some areas the river had large amounts of animal tracks, either as a place were it was easy to get down to drink, or get in were the springs of hot water where entering the river. We didn't see any monkeys bathing but a lot of evidence of monkey activity.

One day we walked up to try and get over mountain ridge to get to a perched swamp surrounded by higher peaks. The snow was deep close to the top and being completely unused to walking in those conditions, in a landscape we didn't know, we turned back. On the way back almost at the end of our walk, near the onsen, we had an encounter with a mysterious creature.
Just ahead of us we saw a large animal clamber up the rocks near the path. My first thought was that it was a wolf, but I remember reading that the Japanese wolf was extinct. Haico was dancing around singing "It's a bear, it's a bear!" I wasn't sure, although it was large enough to be a bear (on the Tokyo subway on our way home there was an add with bears in it that was uncomfortably close).
The animal looked at us and we at it. Luckily I had my binoculars with me and while not being able to identify what it was we could see it had small horns and was therefore was no bear. It stood its ground and we walked slowly along the path towards it. It kept its eye on us on as we passed it and went behind. Close up we could see it was like a large hairy goat, or a stocky hairy horse?

Back in the onsen Haico looked up all the possible words for goat and mountain goat and deers but there wasn't anything that seems right. We entertained a fantasy for a moment that it was a figment of our imagination, that being both Capricorns, we had conjured up a mythical mountain creature that had resisted being photographed. At dinner we showed out photos to a experienced walker who was at the onsen as well (and who had made it over the ridge that day), he was totally surprised and asked us where we saw the rare "kamoshika"- a Japanese Serow (antelope) -Capricornis crispus.

The next morning along the track we had walked in on, we saw several groups of monkeys, including a family group with alpha males and females with babies, looking for the young bamboo shoots coming through the melting snow.