Goast River-Yosemite

This blog has been taken from “Ice Ages Tree Clocks Ghost Rivers” by “Mark Klett  Rebecca Solnit  Byron Wolfe”. Goast River – Yosemite is a world-famous destination that has attracted celebrated photographers such as Eadweard Muybridge, Edward Weston, and Ansel Adams. For more info you can resort to “Tree Service in Oakland“. Thankful to the author for the details on this topic.

Looking For 1872     

Yosemite valley is packed with superlative vertical spectacles—tall cascades, immense granite walls, monoliths, and spires—but quietly meandering all its seven-mile length, often shrouded in trees, is the Merced river, not the widest or longest or most anything, just the usual miracle of a river, transporting snow-melt from high country streams through the valley and down deep canyons to the San Joaquin river and eventually to the sea. The river enchanted the photographer Eadweard Muy-bridge, and water is the primary subject of more than half of the fifty-one gargantuan prints in his 1872 series titled ‘‘the valley of the Yosemite, sierra Navada mountains, and Mari-Posa grove of mammoth trees.’’  He photographed the great granite behemoth of EI Captain, but made a second picture that showed not the 3,300-foot –tall wall of rock but its reflection in the still water of the Merced, where the shade from trees made the water dark and the reflection strong.

Goast River - Yosemite Valley
Goast River – Yosemite Valley

In August 2001, my collaborators Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe rephotographed the same site, but this time the reflection was in what had become a sunny stretch of river, and the result was a vague, washed-out, oddly composed picture, they could have made something that looked much more like Muy bridge’s image by finding a different spot with a stronger reflection, but the point was to be in the same spot to see what had changed.  The exacting art of re-photography produces, among other things.  Random-looking photographs, since fidelity to place and fidelity to composition are different things:  trees, light. Water shift, and sometimes the former view is entirely obscured. To be in the same place and to be in the place where things look more or less the same are not the same thing.

Muybridge’s picture of EI capitan is wonderful and terrifying.  The absolute solidity of the granite formation has been supplanted by its own fluctuation, uncertain, fluid image.  Muybridge would pursue chaos and instability all through Yosemite in 1872, which made him a complicated artist to rephotograph, even aside from the way he manipulated his images. Re-photography of documentary work has often been done, but how do you rephotograph something that’s personal, emotionally invested, expressive, and even manipulated? And how do you photograph Yosemite? Muy-bridge was the door we entered by.

For most serious photographers for many decades, ansel Adams seemed to have visually sewn up the place. His pictures felt definitive, a visual last work on the subject.  Artistically, time had stood still in Yosemite; nothing much had been achieved there since Adams.  We would enter the future through the past, find out what was possible in Yosemite not by attempting to make it ours but to understand what it had been when our predecessors made it theirs. We would not approach Yosemite as wilderness, unmarked, with-out history, but let its marks and its history be our material.  At this point, Yosemite is not a place one could enter to make a wholly original artwork in the conventional sense of originality: unprecedented, different, separate. There has often been a kind of cannibal ferocity in originality, a desire to erase one’s parents or teachers, an attempt to shake off the past to reach the future.  Re-photography is instead a way to move forward through the past.  Yosemite is so far from being a wilderness that its photographic history is not also its landscape, and this double terrain is what we would explore.

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