Paul Gaffney’s We Make the path by Walking is a body of work that he made while walking approximately three and a half thousand kilometres over the space of one year. He was interested in the idea of long distance walking as a form of meditation and immersion in the passing landscape.
His photos do have a contemplative feel to them and one does get the sense that one is accompanying the photographer on his journey. The book can be seen here: http://www.paulgaffneyphotography.com/We-Make-the-Path-by-Walking. The actual book is presented in a beautiful wooden container, together with a individual print signed by Gaffney.
The first photo in the book sets the scene with an image of a pathway leading off a road – the start of the journey. The pathway is the visible thread that links all the images, the metaphor for the journey. All the photos in the book convey a sense of languid tranquility, of time standing still. The images are all in colour with the exception of two black and white photos towards the middle of the book. These two images struck a discord within me and one has to wonder why they weren’t rendered in colour. They just seem out of place.
The Western approach to landscape typically has been very much tied up in thinking from around the Enlightenment era, the sense of distance and separation. In comparison, around the same time, the Eastern approach was more about trying to get across the essence of space, rather than a straight representation of a place, or a particular point of view. I was particularly interested in reading about the way that Chinese landscape painters in ancient times would see themselves as more of a conduit through which the universe expresses itself.
Paul Gaffney, American Suburbx (2016)
Gaffney, P. (n.d.) We Make the Path by Walking [online] Paul Gaffney Photography.com. Available at: http://www.paulgaffneyphotography.com/We-Make-the-Path-by-Walking [Accessed 23 June, 2017]
Shinkle, E. (2016) An Interview with Paul Gaffney [online] American Suburbx. Available at: http://www.americansuburbx.com/2016/04/an-interview-with-paul-gaffney.html [Accessed 23 June, 2017]