At St Pancras I saw a young man pushing a machine around the station. I stopped and he was mapping the place for googlemaps. I asked him if I could photograph him, he couldn’t really say no but didn’t stay in the photo, he’s the one with his back to me. The machine had cameras at the top facing in all directions except down and towards the man operating it. An interesting presentation of reality isn’t it? A typical mapping process where the observer, the maker of the map, is removed from the image which arrives to be consumed as if there were no body operator, no agent, as if the map were an objective presentation of a place rather than a construction.
How we remove ourselves from our actions is evident in this. As we looked to God or Saints, Demons or Spirits to explain and give context to what happened, so we still turn to technologies to explore ourselves, to cameras, to recording limitations, to expain ourselves to ourselves.
I travelled over on Ryanair from Stanstead to visit my father who met me at Alicante airport. The airport was brand new, my father says it is an example of corruption, there being the old airport just next door, why did they need to build it being the implication. The flight was about a couple of hours. I don’t enjoy the airports, there are a lot of shops but nothing that I want to gaze at or even buy. Also it is very expensive to eat there. I ate a portion of sushi, that appearing the more nutritious food on offer. There were no Japanese on the stand, it was managed by an Englishman, a large heavy fisted man looking like he’d arrived from a market stall, a young Bangladeshi man (perhaps) served me.
My father and Aunt meet me and we drive back in the dark, a forty minute journey. On the way I listen to them talk about the area and about people they have both seen recently. I realise my father has settled in here a lot since my last visit two years ago, knowing many more people, having found a way to live here and people with whom to share it all. My aunt too, recently widowed, although she’s lived here 8 years, is finding her place here as a woman, for now, alone. It makes me happy this and gives the place more colour for me, it makes more sense. As we approach the entrance to the estate we see two beautiful young African women flagging down cars as they come off the roundabout. As I drive through the estate towards my father’s house I am struck by how nice things look. How sweet the small houses are, the way that people have made such efforts to individualise each property, extending, raising the roof lines. As I approach my father’s terrace I realise he has planted flowers in the front, that the terrace is now richer with plants. The inside is warm and homely, seeming more spacious, welcoming. Inside I greet his partner and my aunt laughs telling me that it is a woman’s touch that I can see. It is certainly not my father I laugh in return.