Tag Archives: Inca ruins

Exhibition Invitation

The opening is near. January 21. Two more weeks.

Here’s the invitation and if you are in the area, please stop by on January 21st for the opening reception. Then check out the calendar of events and hopefully you can attend some or all of them. I’m a bit excited but still have to get the work to the gallery and up on the walls. Next week.

LAND | SEA | STONE 2017 Exhibition Invitation

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Big News

The big news is that I will be having an exhibition of the photographs I made a year ago in Antarctica at the Art Gallery on the University of New England’s Portland Campus. The doors will open January 26, 2017 and the work will be hanging until April 23, 2017. We have yet to decide on dates for an opening or closing party or gallery talks or other events. At least the dates have been locked in place.

How did this come together? In this case I edited down from the original 3,000 or so RAW frames made during the three weeks aboard Pelagic Australis to about 36 images which where then tweaked before being printed digitally.

Then curators were invited to see the work, discussions were had, negotiations were held, directors were consulted and the decision was finally made just after the new year.

Art Gallery on UNE's Portland Campus

Façade of the Art Gallery on UNE’s Portland Campus

I’m happy. I’m also amused that my mostly white photos of ice will be displayed in a white cube in the middle of a Maine winter. What could be more appropriate?

But—and this is a nice but—there’s more. The Antarctica photographs will be hung on one floor, while an older body of work I did which documented the remains of the granite quarry industry on the islands of Maine will be on another floor and a few images I made while hiking around with the Incas in Peru after the sail to Antarctica will be hung on the third, lower level. I will talk more about how these three bodies of work mesh together in a later blog post.

And I have plenty of time to make all the frames, which is going to be a big job. More about this later, also. Stay tuned, as they say….

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End

My bags are packed, so now all I have to do is wait for the plane to leave Buenos Aires for JFK late tonight. This adventure has been wonderful, starting with the sail to Antarctica aboard the well found Pelagic Australis with seven sailing colleagues and her highly professional crew of four. Could not have been a better experience that lived up to, and exceeded, my expectations.

Exploring the Inca ruins in Peru was also better than I expected, but I could have spent another week there, exploring even more sites.

To end it all in Buenos Aires was somewhat fitting, or maybe not. To go from the wilds of Antarctica to the ruins of a highly developed pre-Columbia society was, in certain respects, not that much different. Both were remote with traces of human history around every corner. Both offered me landscapes to work with that were grand, even epic, if I can make such a pronouncement, and I feel I have some good pixels to work with. We’ll see. Buenos Aires is clearly a city built from 19th-century European influences, but seems well rooted in the 21st century today. In spite of the political and economic issues plaguing Argentina, Buenos Aires seems, on the surface, to be thriving.

This will be one of the last posts entered into my blog. When I return to Portland, I plan on editing the text to correct some typos, some misspellings and add some of the photos from the sailing voyage that got lost in the ozone or the cloud or wherever. That may be the last post.

I want to thank Lori Harley, graphic designer of great talent, for guiding me through the creation of this blog and then bailing me out when stuff didn’t work the way we planned when I arrived back on dry land. If you need a great designer, check her out.

Thanks for following my adventure with me.

John

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Machu Picchu

Did it. Climbed it. Saw it.

And I’m even more in awe.

Mar3-3_Machu PicchuI’m in awe of the design and construction of these sights and how they work so well with the terrain, the climate and the conditions. I’m in awe of the labor invested in this place, as well as in the other places we’ve seen, and the hundreds more we’ll never see. I’m in awe of the social structure that made all these places and made them work, apparently, so well. I’m in awe of the visual relationship between the man-made and the natural landscape and how the Mar3-2_Machu Picchufirst humans here might have reacted when they saw the almost vertical rock walls rising from the river (a river that continues through the jungle to join the Amazon on it’s way to the Atlantic) ending in a lush green dome when not hidden in the clouds. They must have been in awe but even more so.

I made some photos, but you’ve probably seen them already. This place Mar3-1_Machu Picchuhas been photo’d out. Every corner I turned, I saw another pic that I’d seen before. I remember that John Szarkowski comment that by 1845, “…there where more photographs in the world than bricks.” Well, more photographs have been made of Machu Picchu than there are shaped granite stones in all the stone structures there, that’s for sure. Oh, well.

Mar3-4_Machu Picchu

 

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Ollantaytambo

I did my “Quarry Project” about 25 years ago, and while working on Crotch Island I paced off a block of granite 10 x 12 x 15 feet which I calculated to weigh about 720 tons. Those quarrymen had black powder, compressed air/kerosene burners, and the largest front-end loader I’ve ever seen.

The Incas and their predecessors had none of those tools but were able to quarry, transport, cut, fit and finish granite or rhyolite blocks that weighted up to 100 tons. We can only guess, and there are some well educated guesses out there, as to how they did it. There are also some really crackpot ideas involving aliens, and cast-in-place molten granite. Right.

What is known, and the experts are fairly sure of this, is that they did not quarry the stone like in Maine, but climbed high in the mountains to find stone already broken apart, rough-sized the blocks, slid them down the mountain, stacked them on one side of the river, then changed the course of the river so the stone was now on the other side, then skidded the blocks to the constriction site. Except the site was way up another mountain, so they built a ramp to get them up. The stone is fairly easy to shape with the correct-size hammer, made from a harder rock, when struck at the proper angle. What is still not known is how they lifted them in place, and lowered, then lifted, then lowered and lifted over and over to get the perfect fit. But they did.

Today we hiked about halfway up the mountain above Ollantaytambo, a small town on the river and the last stop before Machu Picchu. The ruins are both pre-Incan and Incan, but I can’t tell the difference. Some say this site is the equal of Machu Picchu, but I guess we’ll have to wait a few days to find out. Early departure allowed us to avoid the other tourists, to get great morning light and to avoid the strong winds that come up every afternoon. Perfect day.

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Hiking the Inca ruins above Pisac

Up early, checked out the locals setting up the market in the square in front of our hotel. Today should be active for them, since the general strike in Cusco prevented any and all tourists from coming up.

We got a cab to take us another 1,000 meters above town to the site of a large ruin taken in by a long hike. Both of us have acclimated fairly well to the high altitude, mostly because we’ve been popping the proper pills. We got there early enough not to encounter the hoards of tourists arriving by bus, but we could look down on them from the top. Military base, burial site, terraced crop sites, temple to the sun, a tunnel though the rock—this site had it all. We sort of got lost heading back, so Denise asked a local in traditional dress for directions. She was going to the same spot so led the way, spinning her thread as she walked along. Good day, good start to whatever comes next.

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