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Russel Kwan

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the story of apollo’s commute

Every morning for thousands of years, Apollo climbs out of bed, downs a cuppa of Minoan extra dark, dons his armour, grabs his lute and heads out to the garage to fire up his chariot.  Every morning, his people turn their faces skyward, searching for some sign of his mood.  Some days, his caffeine-fueled roadrage tears a jagged, fiery scar across the sky, while on more serene days he might carve a shimmering lazy arc.  Still other days find him skipping playfully from cloud to cloud and some days he doesn’t bother to go to the office at all.  During his commute, our world is bathed in the searing light of his chariot, a light so fierce it cannot be gazed upon.  This is the impossible light I photograph.

Photographing Apollo’s commute has become a bit of an obsession with me.  First, there were the years needed to invent and refine the unique chemistry and camera handling to make these 24 hour exposures possible, followed by more years to figure out the visual language needed to describe Apollo’s journey and my relationship within it. 

In these pictures, days and nights come and go in a single snap.  A sharp eye and inquisitive mind will find certain subtle signs of human and natural activity in Apollo’s otherworldly illumination.  Look for bright streetlights in the daylight, Apollo’s reflections on moving vehicles, strangely cast shadows, ghostly moving objects and people, doors and blinds simultaneously open and shut, trees and deck chairs waving in the wind, unusually persistent clouds and flashes of lightning.  Years in, and I’m still learning to interpret these pictures and finding new phenomena.

The quality and quantity of chariot light is becoming more and more important to me.  I’ve long hated the winters in Vancouver, where there is no chariot light - often for months.  Apollo's reappearance in the seemingly eternal darkness is cause for celebration, thanks and remembrance: every sunny day counts.

Russel Kwan, July 2013