The Rabbit Hole Effect

About The Rabbit Hole Effect

The Rabbit Hole Effect is an important transitional project for me, although it was never meant to be intended as such and I didn’t know it at the time. It marks a major shift in my life from the point at which I was blind and deaf to what was calling me, to the point where everything became abundantly clear and the way forward was revealed. Sounds a bit dramatic, but it did happen that way.

It also marks a transition technically in some ways, too. I started the series with an old Sony DSLR, and an iphone 6 and later the phone and a Canon 6D. Some of the original shots were posted elsewhere more or less untouched, but over time they went through different post-treatments.

The last few shots I started compositing (and even some digital painting in the Locusts image. Some of the pieces, like the one on the tracks accompanied text which I hope to include on this site, but haven’t decided quite on how to present it. You could check out the rabbit hole effect on tumblr for some of that if you are curious. But others are just silent.

This project began initially out of a sense of play and an appreciation for the absurd. There was something attractive about the disquieting effect of a person with a rabbit head that I wanted to express. And so I set out to make a head of my own. Although it is not actually a rabbit so much as a hare. Because there is something more human about hares than rabbits, I felt. The head itself is made of chicken wire, foam, foil, masking tape, paper mache. I wasn’t quite sure how to make it. I need to smooth out some of its imperfections in the editing phase. One ear has been broken and repaired once. For me, this is part of the work. I have an intimacy with that head. I brought it into life. Whereever I put it, it seems its looking at me and I can’t quite tell what it’s thinking, but its thinking something.

Then it became a vehicle to get over the pressure of creating “fine” art. I have always been creative, and there was something driving me, but what my “thing” was, I didn’t know. I felt constrained. I had kids to look after, I lived in the suburbs, I didn’t know what to shoot, my voice was well buried, and my midday when didn’t work so well, either. I was stuck. I was trying to find it and forcing myself in different directions. I decided to shoot ugly as a way of getting free. If you want to do, do. So I had to let go of the pressure of not being able to shoot during magic hour, or not having models, or a studio, or an interesting city or beautiful landscape. or avoiding of working altogether because things weren’t “right”.

It’s a tough thing to do for a creator. Art can lie so close to the edge of folly. And it was folly that was beckoning me.

I can’t quite see through the head although I had intended to build it that way. Nor could I really hear all that well when I’m wearing it which is the effect of the foam that lines the inside of it. Whether it was day or night, shooting blind and deaf had its challenges. I couldn’t here the shutter for one. I had it on a timed release, and had to count. At night I had to stand there for 40 seconds strainig to hear the shutter click I arely heard. At night I felt exposed, during the day I felt foolish. People honked when they drove by or would even stop and ask me what I was doing (always a little nerve-wracking to have that lone car slow and the window roll down at 2 or 3 in the morning). And then this became part of it, too: the experience of it.

I might have got to the point where I am now regardless, but the lockdown accelerated the process of discovery. I was dealing with the confluence of a number of stressful situations that resulted in peak levels of anxiety for me. It forced me to look for an outlet in order to cope, to express things I was having difficulty letting go of but didn’t have an outlet for.

This is reflected in the last few shots of the series. They have a different feeling than the rest that reflects this inner turmoil; this need to talk about something I couldn’t share, this need to express feelings without having to explain them, this process of being seen in doing so. But on the surface, it just as much reflected the experience of many other people during the first set of restrictions.

I don’t always know what a thing is about until much later. I had been drawn to the disquietness of a person wearing an animal head, particularly of a rabbit. It was not meant to be evil, nor cute. Just unsettling. Amusing, perhaps.

But I look at the images here, I see the reflection of my life during that period, how out of place I was in the life I was living. While I was, in fact, conscious of that, but my subconscious was expressing something I couldn’t yet quite see. How I was in this world, but not as myself. This was a conscious choice, I had no intention of being seen. But that echoed something much deeper.

I was literally a person who had blinded and deafened themselves by wearing a mask. I was unsettled. I was out of place. I was trying, striving for something and the result was an absurdity.

I think perhaps, this phase was my “leveling up”. It was the quest I had to take. It was a search that seemed fruitless in the middle of it, but actually laid groundwork for other things. Like the hero journey, I did not find what I was looking for, because I was looking for the wrong thing. Like any good story, only conflict and adversity would push through that change and so it did. The character of my life story needed the metamorphosis which occurred toward the end of this chapter. It allowed me to move to the next phase where I questioned the how and why of what I had been going through and what that mask is about. How and why I needed to hide. And how, maybe, I wanted to be seen.

On a lighter note, this project gave me a lot of delight. I chucked at so many of these images when they came out of the camera. I have a great fondness for them.