a gist in the mist

I do not remember the exact moment or place of this photograph. I vaguely remember and assume that I waited for the wave to crash. Or was it a boulder that fell into the sea? Either way it looks like fate now. After the fact. Every particle suspended in a moment. But it never was suspended in actual experience. In that sense, fate seems baked into memory. An inseparable part of it that fails to grasp the immense complexity of randomness. Generalized fate simulations of memory gloss over the myriad of differences under its cover in order to produce some cohesive sense of order. A gist in the mist. A referent to nature sold as an epic experience or a reflection of an aspect of consciousness that never quite happened in the actual way the photographer experienced it nor the viewer. A simulation of a hyperreal moment. A fated memory smashed by particles flying in all directions. Through the reproduction of the image, let us fold this back in on itself. Let us rework this “moment” randomly. Let us bring the mist back into the gist.

Now we are no longer in nature or under its referential control. It is released from any semblance to a fated memory or reality. It feels light and free. Nowhere in particular. More mist than gist. The random process mirrors the random moment. The iterations reveal that there wasn’t really any reference in the first place. No actual moment experienced and relived. Rather, hovering in a space without an atmosphere that Baudrillard called the hyperreal in his book, Simulations (1983): “Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance.  It is the generalization by models of real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.” In this sense, an angle on the illusion of Being can be held through what some people call manipulation of a photograph (or when they scoff at an image being “photoshopped”) when in fact every photograph is a manipulation to begin with (though the very word is too heavy with negative connotations as if it had some evil purpose, so “construction” perhaps fits better to a neutral sense of the process).

Simulation of Sacrifice

In Death Valley, forms appear to mimic the hands that sculpted them. As Jean Baudrillard noted in America, “Death Valley is as big and mysterious as ever. Fire, heat, light: all the elements of sacrifice are here. You always have to bring something into the desert to sacrifice, and offer it to the desert as a victim.”

In this strange mirror, a mirage produces a liquid permanence. And this ancient landscape becomes a future landscape as well as a launching point to terrains on other planets, other realities, and other existences, in addition to the seemingly inevitable sacrifice of human existence which as yet does not have the capacity to transcend this landscape. In that way, whenever I go to Death Valley, it’s immensity presses on me and makes me feel like eternity is under the feet of that which it feeds and consciousness appears as some strange simulated virginal sacrifice.