Carnival Diptychs: During and After

During homecoming week at San Jose State University, the local student body organized a carnival. Rides and games were brought onto the grounds of the campus. Attendance was sparse, due to high ride prices, and a general lack of school spirit.

This carnival, like all events, was a temporary affair. After the homecoming football game, the rides would be packed up, the attendants would leave, and the lawns of campus would return to their previously empty state, leaving a few scars of dirt from where carnival machinery had once sat.

When I saw the carnival, I watched a few students brave the mostly empty Zipper ride. They laughed and screamed, and sounded as if they were having fun. Thinking more about them, I realised that in their fun, they had created a memory for themselves in that moment. They had caught a slice of time that would stay with them for as long as they chose to remember it.

That got me thinking about the memories associated with such temporary events, be they parades, circuses, fairs or carnivals. In one's own mind, the events and moments that occured at these places are as clear as day.

But as I felt when I returned the day after the rides were packed up, when one revisits and occupies the same space as his or her memory, a disconnect appears. The rides are gone. The lively people are gone. The moment is gone.

I have tried to capture this disconnect through my juxtapositions of photographs of the campus carnival.

The primary photographs taken during the fair describe the physical location of a temporary event. The secondary photos show the empty space afterwards, and emphasize the transitory nature of time, space and memory.

It is a very buddhist principle, of which I am a casual follower of. It's a philosophy that states that all forms are impermanent, and that the only constant is suffering caused by desire. In photography, the desire is the wish for time to stand still during a moment of joy, and the suffering is when time refuses to accede.

The carnival was here. Now it is gone. It exists only in remembrance, and in these photographs.