FROM BACK HOME
After three weeks on the road, I arrived back home on the weekend. Maui has been fantastic – I met wonderful people and got to know a diversity of nature and environments completely unknown to me. That is one of the really interesting things about this project – it allows me to dive deep into a place, often far beyond what I imagined it to be. And it opens my eyes for people, places and connections between things that I may not have noticed otherwise – and that certainly has to do with the astronomy-context, as the sheer dimension of that science do not only make me think of the “bigger picture”, but seems to let me cherish the smallest and most ordinary of things, too. That said, Maui (like most places in this oh so wonderfully strange world) is so much more than white sand beaches, turquoise water and lush rainforest (although, it is definitely that, too…). There is an incredibly rich culture and history to the Hawaiian Islands, which I wasn’t fully aware of when I first got there. But, again, that is part of the beauty of this project and photography in general. Always surprised by the unpredictable. I hope you enjoyed the images and impressions from Hawaii – as always, there will be an in-depth photo-series published on the website soon and I’ll be in touch via newsletter once that is online. Let me close by giving you an outlook of what is to come in the next few months. In late June, an exhibition will be opening at Summerhall Arts Centre, Edinburgh, in cooperation with St. Andrews University; in August, there will be a show in the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Singen, Germany. I’ll keep you posted!
Charles Augustus Lindbergh, a US Air Mail-pilot, emerged to instantaneous world fame at the age of 25 as a result of his solo, non-stop flight from New York to Paris in 1927 in a single-seat, single-engine, custom-made monoplane, the „Spirit of St. Louis“. In his later years, Lindbergh became an award-winning author, an explorer and environmentalist – campaigning to protect endangered species like humpback and blue whales. Lindbergh’s writings emphasized both his love for technology and nature; as well as his belief that „all the achievements of mankind have value only to the extent that they preserve and improve the quality of life“. He spent the last years of his life here in the tiny village of Kipahulu, where he had found the seclusion he had been searching. On the graveyard behind the Palapala Ho’omau Church, next to East Maui’s rough, volcanic coastline, a simple stone reads Psalms 139:9: „… If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea … C.A.L.“
POLYNESIAN ASTRONOMY II
Since the 1970s, there has been a rebirth of interest in Polynesian navigation and the astronomy that supports it – the movement set out to learn that particular ancient art and to studying the appearance of the skies over Polynesia. Moreover, they reconstructed the traditional Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe, the Hokule`a, and its ultimate non-instrumental navigation retracing the voyages of the ancients; due to the arrival of Cook in 1778 and subsequent arrivals of foreign ships, the Hawaiians were introduced to spyglasses, sextants, compasses, clocks, and charts, and adapted to that technology. The foreign ideas and techniques soon crowded out the ancient and extensive knowledge of the sky and most of this ancient lore has been lost and forgotten.
I mentioned in my last post the utter remoteness of Hana. At Hana Bay, the use of traditional Polynesian-style canoes is still very vivid today. The early Polynesians were highly skilled sailors and navigators who sailed thousands of miles over open water between the Society Islands, the Marquesas, Easter Island in the East, the Hawaiian Islands in the North, and New Zealand in the Southwest. Scientists and historians believe that navigation was accomplished primarily by a thorough knowledge of the stars, their rising and setting points along the horizon and their meridian passage as a function of latitude. Of course, there were other indicators in nature that helped guide them: the winds, the waves, the ocean swells, cloud formations and smoke from the volcanoes (especially on the Hawaiian Islands) as well as birds and fish. On a more spiritual level, the demi-god Maui, especially, was known for such astronomical deeds as snaring the Sun to slow its passage across the sky, or of fashioning a magical fishhook (recognized in Western astronomy as the stinger in Scorpio) to fish up the Hawaiian Islands out of the deep ocean.
ROAD TO HANA
Hana, “Heavenly Hana” – the end of the world on the other side of the volcano. One week to go on Maui, of which I will spend a few days here in Hana, a very secluded small town in the Southeast of the island. The drive to Hana, the „Hana Highway“, is infamous. Rated one of the most beautiful roads on the planet by countless sources, figures about the amount of tight curves, bridges and waterfalls vary. The „Hana Highway“ starts in Kahului and makes its way along the eastern shoreline of the island to Hana – 60 miles of rainforest-lushness via approximately 600 turns and 50 single-lane bridges (and, yes, just as many waterfalls). It is said that, due to its utter remoteness on the opposite foothills of Haleakala (the road has only been properly paved in 1981, and, as of today, the drive takes almost 3 hours – without stopping at each and every waterfall, that is…), Hana has preserved a special sense of Hawaiian authenticity… I’m curious to find out!
No words yesterday after having heard and seen what had happened in Belgium, where I spent four very happy and important years of my life at art-school. As of today, I am back at it – having spent one more day at Haleakala Observatory photographing and filming (Thanks again, Mark!). Here’s the „centerpiece“ of LCOGT’s setup on Haleakala, the „Faulkes 2-meter Telescope“ – having just opened up the enclosure at sunset. This class of telescopes was manufactured by Telescope Technologies Ltd (now part of LCOGT) in Birkenhead, UK. Three of this class were made, two of which, Faulkes Telescope North (here at the Haleakala-site) and Faulkes Telescope South (at the Siding Spring-site, Australia), are part of the LCOGT network.
Mark Elphick, LCOGT’s site-manager on Haleakala, has been so very kind in taking the time to show me around and explain everything to me at the observatory. In this image, the man with what must be one of the world’s most scenic workplaces, looks at LCOGT’s „Faulke’s Telescope North“, which had just opened up it’s enclosure shortly before sunset.
The drive up the mountain is almost as incredible as the atmosphere on Haleakala itself. I mentioned the variety of eco-systems in a previous post, and the weather-conditions change in a heartbeat. While the winding road takes you up to over 10.000 feet in about an hour, conditions shift constantly – within the changing landscape. Sun, wind, rain, fog; from mighty forest to a desert-like “moonscape”…Astonishing to see and to be driving through.
A MYRIAD OF COLORS
Close to Haleakala Observatory there lies the massive crater – measuring 3.5 x 12 kilometers, running 860 meters deep. The ancient Hawaiians never actually lived here, but came up here for religious purposes and to hunt birds. Distinct artifacts have been found in the crater. In more recent times, NASA took advantage of the crater’s “moonscape” to actually train astronauts for the Apollo-mission here. In this image, taken about 1 1/2 hours before sunset, the shadow of the summit sneaks in…