Definition #08: squall

squall

It is not always weather that storms. It is not always the beating, crashing, cataclysmic battering of the sea which causes the swells to drum their irregular chorus against the shore. The gulls had been quiet when it happened, when the spark descended and the Orarian was irresistibly coaxed by firm ground and cityscapes but they felt it. They felt the ripple of it. And they did not want her to leave. The colony looks after its own and she is owned by the sea. It rises in squall and calls her back, grasps the tenuous hooks of civilisation and pulls. They release with a faint click and are lost. Her dress feathers in the wind and she is the storm.


This image took two weeks. I shouldn’t choose favourites but I do and so far this is it. So much love and work went into this image. There is power there. I challenged myself and the challenge was a success. The Orarian has returned and will return again. Perhaps one of my favourite shoots, I will never get enough of it.

I decided to be playful with the word here. And I am in love.

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Definition #07: vainglory

vainglory

As the remnants of the spark skitter to a stop, the world sits on a precipice. It is suspended (and yet in perpetual motion) between the realms of winter and the temporary spell of Saint Valentine, who sits ponderously atop the largest wall in the sky, eyeing the trinkets and glittery tat passed between hands and mouths, and wonders what he ever did to deserve it. His eyes, then caught, fall on a shock of blonde and a flash of red not trading gifts with sometimes lovers but instead sat quietly, bathed in glowing warmth, staring at her own reflection. The mirror, he notes, is split eight ways with eight angles and eight softly smirking images gaze back. She does not blink. She looks at herself as an artist might look at his favourite painting, or a mother might look at her most beautiful child. Her hands brush her skin in silent reverence and her lips purse in worship. Saint Valentine watches her devotion and cannot help but feel responsible. He cradles her soul in his outstretched hand, worried for her pride and yet proud of her spirit. She continues, oblivious but sure.


This did not turn out as planned. It was to be a diptych, with the second uploaded next week but the photographic gods were not smiling upon me. They instead gave me this. I am pleased regardless. Though my eyes are disappointed that so much work went into them but they are not visible. My left eye resents the fact that I stabbed it with a liquid eyeliner brush and I may never be able to convince it to appear in photos again.

Happy Valentine’s for tomorrow, merry readerlings.

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Definition #06: maumet

maumet

Deep in the bowels of the odditorium, where little antiquarians scarcely travel and where the thrummings and shakings are more resonant, there sits an old thing—waiting in the dark beneath webs of spiders who have long since decided that such dark and unfavourable places are not for inhabiting. The head, which has sat on the same tilt for much too long, straightens and cracks branch across a slender neck and down. Her varnish is chipping. She remembers, with some small flicker of spite, a time when antiquities—those inclined to walk, live, talk, feel, follow—would flock to the deep places and lay dust motes at her feet. Perhaps, with the shuddering mass of the odditorium moving beneath them, they would come again.


This was going to contain a different face but then, looking through my archives, I found this. Never released. Never edited. But perfect. As if it had been waiting for me to catch up, complete the idea and release it into the wild. This photo was taken a few years ago, on holiday with my favourite team. Dress.Simple worked her magic (and will be releasing more from this shoot shortly) and there, in front of us, stood something not quite real. Almost perfect but with something off.

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Definition #05: odditorium

odditorium

It is said that those who live in glass cases are more attuned to the turning of the world, so fine are their walls that almost everything that can crawls in. When the Alpha stirs the glass stirs with her. The panes shudder and fissures spiderweb their surface, the assorted paraphernalia jumps in response. A scattering of tarot shifts underfoot as she—a small thing, a trinket of a being, a denizen of small antiquities—moves to sit, to wait away the small shiverings and stammerings of the odditorium. The Moon slips forward, trembling in its way, and the others follow suit. Death. The Star. The Wheel of Fortune. Justice. She will try to puzzle it out—the meaning and the movements of the cards, there not by chance but by sheer force of will—but for now she watches the clefts travel through the glass unhindered as water on sand.


 

This is a little contraction. A new photo, created using one old photo and several new photos containing lots of old things, most older than me. The little Ava has been waiting since 2012 to find a home in a photograph, moving from folder to folder, idea to idea. She has finally settled into Definition and has found a home among the oddments and the old things.

It was a challenge but a pleasant one. Some of the items tucked away on this shelf are favourites of mine. Some are things which barely ever come out. This image was part play, part story, part remembrance.

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Definition #04: thalassophilous

t

She feels it too. The spark. It courses through the waves and tickles the sand beneath her toes. The Orarian is often found gazing across the sea, watching it tap Morse code on the shore, responding only with the pads of her feet and the touch of her fingertips. The water fragments her image, rippling her out and in and out and in. The beach is deserted save for the gulls. She has not seen another human for weeks, keeping counsel with the birds and the fish and the crabs which scuttle between rock and sea. But then there is the spark and she feels a small tug of civilisation, faint but insistent. Like a fishing line. Like a hook.


It was cold, overcast, perfectly British. The clouds were in full force. You will have seen a similar image before, a small tease to this one. The image came first. Sort of. I’d seen the word in passing, not thinking to note it down but it attached itself to the back of my mind anyway. This shoot was a favour. Sort of. The partner in crime wanted to be in this dress, on this beach. I wanted something striking, something unlike most of my body of work so far. We both obliged each other. I knew the sea wanted to be in Definition, I just had to work out how.

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Definition #03: afflatus

afflatus

The rain is a message passed from country to city, stopping only when it has been properly delivered, accepted on the other end like an old friend. When it ends, he feels it: the spark in the pit of his stomach, which flickers like light through to his fingers. The pen quivers, spectral figures, formless, scratchy and illustrated spill out onto the air and move through it with a two dimensional certainty. As if the air were paper, it accepts them, pulls them close, lets them travel. He does not know why the air should be his canvas, nor why his creations should move, undisturbed by wind or breath or weather, but he knows that it has to happen, now, on this street and outwards. 


One cold London afternoon, I made a trade. A face for a book for a face in a single image; this one. The image came first, the word later as it sometimes does. It took all of about half an hour to shoot both author images for the (extremely talented) face in question and the face in question for Definition. Another that was only vaguely planned in my head, and fully planned later, and defiant until finally it was finished.

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Definition #02: Pluviophile

Pluviophile

A study in yellow: yellow wellington boots, yellow flowers, yellow strands in the cascades of her hair, yellow. She ambles, watching a world of opposites as it ripples in the puddles at her feet, the other She watches back. There is a quirk there, a difference in the smile of the She in the ripple world but she does not notice, enraptured as she is by the rain. She inhales, imagining the petrichor which will follow, and, swept up with the moment, begins to sway to the pluviasonant drippings and droppings as if they were music. Raising her hands, she laughs and the rain beats a little faster, a little brighter, a little more warm.


Rain. We have a love hate relationship with rain. This was love; accompanied by mist this particular morning felt magical, and so, in a small village close to the moors with the occasional passing dog-walker, we bundled ourselves out of the door and into the fresh air long before we perhaps had planned.

There was no plan, not really. Wait for rain, find something nice to wear, and enjoy it were the only things that could really be plotted out beforehand but it was perfect. It worked exactly as not-planned.

More information about this shoot, this image and the theft of this image can be found in this blog post. We would appreciate it if you could read it.

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Definition #01: Alpha

Alpha by Elou Carroll

It begins with sleep, hazy not-quite sleep, a lilting only-just sleep wherein such worlds and images and peoples are born that could not exist on waking. The Alpha rolls her head across the White and the brightest stars in her constellations wink in response, her fingers twitch and clasp at her chin, and tease at the violet strands they find there. She is a balancing act. A rocking point between sleeping and waking and, as she moves, the stars tremble, waiting as the world beneath grumbles and groans and pushes ever forward. She breathes deep and her stars sigh. The night continues.


First. It begins with me, with my mind and my notebook and my love of words and images so the first image begins with me too. A self-portrait. A challenge. At the time of writing, and when the first shots trickled through my lens—refracting, recording and reflecting my own face—the idea of a self-portrait is, was and continues to be a trial. A gut-wrenching, stomach-twisting, my-fingers-are-shaking-justpressthebutton kind of a trial. A challenge to myself to step in front of my own camera, with the image completely under my control and with artistic intent, for the first time since 2012. In the meantime, I have posed for Dress.Simple in tiny trickles of tiny unplanned shoots, the ones I liked being the ones in which I did not look like myself.

So this image? This image is a dare. I dare you to like yourself.

Second. I adore the stars. Looking up at the stars, when there is little light from towns and cities, is like stepping into a large expanse of freedom but at the same time the endlessness is oppressive, I am crushed by it. I love the stars, and I fear them.

All stories must have a beginning, and so begins the narrative. With stars, and night, and a celestial figure inspired by: Nyx, the Greek goddess of the night, who was present near the beginning of creation, the first of all things, seen only in glimpses and in the shadows of things; and Nut, Egyptian goddess of the sky, who is portrayed as a bluish woman, covered in stars, arching over the world. With her it begins, and perhaps, with some glimpse of her it shall end.

And from these two remarkable creatures is born Alpha; the first night. The beginning.

 Other definitions

noun

  1. the first letter of the Greek alphabet
  2. the vowel sound represented by this letter
  3. a code word representing the letter a in radio communication
  4. Chemistry. one of two or more isometric compounds
  5. the first in a series of related items: frequently used in chemistry and physics

adjective

  1. (of an animal) having the highest rank in a dominance hierarchy; being the most dominant, powerful, or assertive person in a particular group
  2. alphabetical
  3. Chemistry. pertaining or linked to the carbon atom closest to a particular group in an organic molecule

symbol

  1. a plane angle

Origin: Latin, Greek.

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