Having found a framework to describe the cyclical malaise and creative fury I've experienced for decades I want to try to break it down for you.
Excellent read! I am glad you found your way out of your block/struggles with photography! It can be challenging to find new photos in familiar places, but if you do it is such a great feeling. Your photos are amazing as always!
It's amazing how experimenting with an art form or medium new to us can do to the one art form we feel at home with. And it goes way beyond graphic arts! Join an acting group and you'll become a better guitar player. Take drawing classes and you'll incorporate new things to your dancing. It's almost like rewiring new paths in your brain.
Ok, I agreed more with this when I could better focus on its contents. There is a sweet spot between interpreting things and feeling them (with our own ideas) and it's easy to swing too far to one or the other side. It felt a bit like you were speaking directly to me in this post, perhaps because so much of this resembles conversations we've had.
I think that being visually uninspired by Edmonton/the Prairies is symptomatic of something much bigger, although right now I am thinking about going to a spot in the city that I like, one I've been to countless times, and sitting there, studying it, to see how that feels. My problem is more that I don't connect with or enjoy this region of the world all that much. I'm just here out of personal circumstance, which I guess you could say for yourself too, but you don't have the level of disdain and apathy towards the Prairie like I do. People have environments that better suit them, and for some that's the Prairies, or cities like Edmonton, and that's great. It just isn't for me. And lots of people that don't vibe with this area power through it because they aren't so moved by place like I am. I get a lot of feelings about places, get lost in abstractions, and am very particular about the things I like. So not feeling like taking photos here for periods is only the tip of the iceberg.
I'm also thinking about that line between abstraction and object you've brought forth in the context of my own photography. There's certain things, without giving it any thought, that I'm aesthetically drawn towards and find fascinating. I don't need to think about why that is, I can just be there, mesmerized by something. And maybe as I stretch out into a scene more, ideas will pop in, without overwhelming, and I reach that balance. The problem is that the visual fodder of this region doesn't fascinate me. I find a lot of it ugly and yes that is abstraction getting in the way but even at a fundamental, subconscious level, without thinking about it, I will feel that, and become uninspired. Sometimes a photograph can elevate the banal and the hideous, but sometimes I just want to actually be inspired by something that strokes my aesthetic preferences. Sometimes I don't want to do that mental work.
I don't know if that makes it seem like I'm not getting it. Or I'm not sure if my point is being well-articulated. But I do get what you're saying. I find Winnipeg more visually stimulating because it ticks off the right aesthetic boxes. I still can grow bored of the same old, same old, but it's easier for me to return to the same old, same old there because, even if I've seen something a million times, it's still in a visual form that I gravitate towards. That can happen in Edmonton too, but less often.
Fascinating read. I hadn’t thought about our approach to familiar places in that way before so thank you. I love the atmosphere of your photos too.