Firing Range

Zoom out, times two, times four, times eight –with half-closed eyes, I deliberateley blur the picture and, with a hard sucking feeling in my stomach, move away: upwards in space, backwards into the past, forward into the future, east to me roots, my birth, my adolescence, west to my coming of age, decline, old age.

I can only look from afar, from a distance and through the wide-angle lens, at the city which in any case I experience every day. A living mass, slow, sometimes viscous and sometimes thin, a serpentine sculpture in the course of becoming, single-celled, multi celled, vibrant in its sleep and pulsating in its wakening, it stretches, rests, swells, breaths, heads for the north and drags itself south, discloses and encloses, is wounded and heals, it groans, pants, lives its slow life but dies no slow death. We, of couse, wil have died long before the city dies.

Like a spying hawk, I fly soundlessly above it in vol plané, giving myself the time to percieve the pulsing motion of the mass, the fluctuations in tones of grey as the city –grim and balkan– is lit up whenever its skin lifts up here and there under pressure from whithin or when it goes into shadow as its strength ebbs.

The city emits. The city emits its image. It shapes itself in its own image and likeness through myriads of emissions of its own image. It emits its image –now, before, then, afterwards– as an entity, as a whole, as a part. There are infinite and infinitesimal parts. The city emits infinite little images. The city is itself, but the city is also its likeness, the city is within its likeness, the parts of the city compose it as do the likenesses of the parts. The city is and pulsates within its cells, sentient or insentient. One body, one soul.

The descent begins. Slow, careful. The city emits. The distance reduces. Firing range. The range of the images makes me vulnerable.They multiplie in number, the scale changes, one to five hundred thousand, one to two hundred, to a hundred thousand, one to ten thousand, one to a thousand, I drop and drop. Slowly, carefully.

What on earth is going on? Am I not the hawk, the bird of prey in search of its quarry, the eagle, king of the skies, powerful, swift, eclectic and invulnerable? Or am I just a vulnerable, defenceless, innocelnt dove, weak, pursued through the anti-aircraft fire, sensitive and terrified?

Reciprocal and successive transformations decide and simultaneously reverse my fate and my existence within fractions of a second. I am simply a hovering photographer, at one moment a bird of prey, an eclectic hunter of images, a creature of knowledge, art, culture – and at the next an uneducated, raw, unprocessed spirit, a vulnerable, exposed dove among the forest of shots, of images seeking their own prey, their target, their purpose and –lastly– their trajectory.

The photogarpher is his own victim. Of the infinite number of images sent out by the city, only a few fall to his lot. They are the ones which hit him, which strike him down as a dove just as she, as a hawk, has decided to choose them for his prey. This mysterious amalgamation makes those images significant for his soul, and significant too, for the soul of his city. His gaze co-operates with its history as the city co-operates wih his own. Whether indigenous or migratory, he is part of it; and whether it welcomed him or gave him birth it is part of him, too.

August 13, 1993