I have an unusual relationship with time. 

Joyous parts of childhood feel like yesterday.  An exciting but distant future can feel like tomorrow.  Yesterday, if uninteresting, seems eons ago. 

Rather than linear, time’s order is dictated by intensity of memory.  Interesting things are big, boring things are small.  The bigger they are, the closer they are to the present.  The smaller they are, the more remote they always were.  The biggest things are forever now. 

Apparently this is a form of time blindness, and a typical trait among those with clinical ADHD. 

Perhaps this way of experiencing the world descends from ancestors whose survival depended upon a hyper-awareness of the present.  Like primitive hunters who, if they let their guard down for even a moment, might cease to exist altogether.  Whose forever so depended on the now that their now became forever. 

This long-now capacity comes into consciousness as a generalized hyper-awareness of all things sensory.  Like an internal microphone optimized for the sound of rustling leaves in an otherwise silent wood.  Modern life, however, particularly in the sorts of places I’ve had to reside as a creative to make a living, is so saturated with noise that sensory systems routinely overload and lose signal altogether. 

In 2014 I began to seek out methods of coping with this ever-increasing sensory overwhelm and found the greatest comfort on empty high desert roads of the American West.  Though I carried cameras with me and captured countless frames of crisp, well-composed landscapes, none interested me much until I started to try to capture the landscape within the context of the meditative calm, of the skewed time perception found in moving solitude. 

Playing with focus, long shutter speeds, and camera movement initially created painterly images.  Washes of color, lines and shapes, reminiscent of color field paintings or other forms of postmodern minimalism.  Pretty, perhaps, but lacking something essential.  Lacking expression of the reason I sought this motion-based solitude to begin with. 

Then on a cross country train trip in 2017, in Eastern Colorado as the mountains became plains, one experimental capture found it.  A combination of careful camera movement and intentional blur created an image that seemed to portray past, present, and future all at the same time.  Time, as I perceive it. 

For me these photographs are a dialogue between the madness of civilization and the sanity of open spaces.  Between information landscape and natural landscape. Between memory and expectation, past and future.  They are a perspective on the natural world not through a singular perception of the present, but within the context of the infinitely subjective human experience that is the passage of time.  Traces of the past, a glimpse of the present, and expectation of the future, all collapsed into single frames of now. 

When creating these images I am searching for a “slowness indistinguishable from great speed.”  Words the writer and photographer Teju Cole once used to describe the music of Arvo Part and the poems of Tomas Transtromer.  My photographic accomplishments don’t yet belong even in the same sentence with such great and accomplished artists.  But just as I love their work, I love these images.  Illuminant sparseness, exuberance and serenity, we all seem to be drawn to.  I only hope these do to your spirit what they do to mine.


40"x60" signed and numbered editions will again be available in summer 2024.  A monograph with writings on time will be available in winter 2024.

©2024 C.M. HOWARD
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