What's this then? Zeus over Antarctica......

Well time to post a very mysterious image that I took just over nine years ago while on a NYE flight over Antarctica. The strangeness of this shot has facinated me ever since I shot it. Its the very next shot to Midnight over Antarctica and was taken possibly less than a minute after that shot… probably less.

This flight was plauged by very heavy cloud cover over the landmass and the plane had to turn swing about a bit in order to find some good viewing for the passengers. In the image you can clearly see that the plane has turning into a corona which was circling the sun, the edge of which is clearly visable as the arc in the centre of the image. To the very right is the effects of lens flare shown by the distictive hexagonal shapes within the corona. At the bottom is the tops of the dense cloud cover we were flying over and above that that the stirated bands of the atmosphere streching up to the very heavens above…… but what the hell is happening on the upper left of the image? What is that in the clear blue brightly lit sky.

Because I just can’t quite figure it out. It looks to me like an ancient crowned god in the sky holding up the very corona as we innocent revellers flew through it. It’s not lens flare and its not a reflection in the window and we are above the clouds and a very high altitude…… its a mystery to me and I can live with that….. its had a profound effect on my trajectory as an artist and I can live with that as well. Sometimes the big questions come to use from the sides of our consciousness and this was one of them.

I when on this flight by my uncle who is a jazz muso and was travelling with his band which meant I got to go cattle class with the band… And it was a fantastic experience. I’ve worked with Infrared for many years and amongst the various cameras and film I took with me was a trusty old SLR which I only use for IR film capture. Yesterday I posted the first image I shot with this camera Midnight over Antarctica
and then having shot that image I shot this one.

It was also the last one I managed to take as having taken the shot…. my camera promptly fell to bits in my hands…. I kid you not. I took the two photo’s and having taken this second one the camera literally fell apart. And I get on well with cameras… its never happened before and never happened since….. the wind on mechanizim fell of, the film jammed the whole thing just stopped dead in my hands. Froze up and failed totally. I gathered up the various bits that had fallen off it and put it back in my bag and used another camera but was cranky as all get out at the mysterious behaviour of a trusty tool.

When I got home I removed the film in a darkbag and the horror when on. The camera wouldn’t open, then the film ripped… and so and and so forth. But I don’t give up easily. I processed the bits of film and got these two shots off a whole roll. When I finally got to proof sheet stage I could see I had something special but couldn’t make out what it was…….

Anyway I made a print and just looked at it. Not long after this there was a special talk at the Sydney Observatory by a visiting Eritmitus Professor of Astro-Physics on the use of Infrared Film in Deep Space imaging… Fab oh just my sort of thing. Love that stuff. So off I went. And it was a really popular talk… hundreds of people attended it. And it was great talk. I sat there spell bound with my little 10×8 black white print in my hand waiting and waiting to talk to the prof at the end. And really I though my turn would never come. Question time seemed to go on for hours. And at the end of that was the informal question time with all the science groupies in full force out for a chat.

But I am nothing if not patient. So I waited quietly till eventually it was my turn. So finally here I was the very last person the professor would talk to . So I gave him my battered little print and engaged in strange conversation with him in regard to what it might actually be… and he was having none of my artistic imaginings ….. it was all just down to lens flare and the usual dismissive stuff terribly clever blokes like to run past the more widely thinking arty farty types. But while this was going on something else happened.

With the Professor were two doctoral students…both were mature 30ish possibly Pakistani gents… what I am sure of is that they were both Muslims. One of these men to the print from my hands and stood quietly looking at it for maybe five minutes or more…. which is a long time to look at something… mostly people look at something for around seven seconds or something like that…..anyway finally he turned to give it back to me and said…..

“it is written in the Koran that the face of God is visible in four places on the earth..”

then he salammed me… that is he bowed deeply from the hips with his hands folded in a prayerful attitude and then most respectfully gave back the print…..

Well blow me down I think my bottom jaw was on the ground by then… it was actually a moment of ephifany for me. I took the photo back and then stumbled away from them deeply confused and wondering… can this mean I have accidently captured the face of God in one of the four places were it is visible to humanity. Is that what Antarctica really is…?

I went back to my studio and fell into a period of reflection about this brief but profoundly affecting encounter. And realized that the course of my life had changed. This was what I had to do…. to give over myself to the quest I had inadvertently stumbled across. To look again to try and see if I could in fact find the face of God…

and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since… in antarctica, in the landscape and always somehow instictlively in the light…. take me to the light and show me the way home…. I have to seek and I know somehow that I will eventually find something that will post a light that will see me on my way back home …. to the land of the gods…. were I belong….

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