Anyone who’s known me awhile will not be surprised by the photo above. It is an artifact from a recent vacation to Arizona, but it is also the most recent episode in a series I’ve come to think of as “Subverting the Postcard Picture.” The formula is this: famous place and/or landmark + a cartwheel = a souvenir that in no way resembles a postcard and is quite a bit nuttier than smiling in front of that place or landmark. I’ve been doing this in some fashion or another since 2004.
I like postcards. They’re dispatches from across the road between you and home, or the home of a friend. I wish I took the time to send more of them. It’s the notion of taking pictures that look like postcard pictures that I find a little strange. When I return from a trip, I share or frame the ‘populated pictures,’ and the pictures of person-less landscapes–spectacular and memorable as they may be–usually end up in the bottom of the shoebox.
Smiling in front of things can get tiresome after awhile, too. Just standing for a picture, even, can displace me from the feeling of “being there.”
It was this thought–along with my penchant for pretending to be a lot more energetic than I really am–that led me to cartwheel in front of some famous nouns.
So here I am cartwheeling along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, somewhere west of Mather Point. I’ve elsewhere noted that the Canyon is so vast that it defies human perception and description, and that thought hasn’t changed. You can almost hear the place chuckle at you for trying to capture it with a lens. You stand at it and find that you can see so far that the distant landscape turns to fog and gray–that anything Leonardo observed about atmospheric perspective is true.
If my cartwheel appears lopsided or otherwise ill-executed, I’m sorry–I’m afraid they’re all that way. It’s a matter of weight distribution in my case, I think–I’m a skinny guy and my legs want to flip to the ground as soon as I get them in the air. That or I’m just really, really terrible at gymnastics.
As for the moment itself, passersby gasped at my antics, probably because there’s a Wile E. Coyote category plunge a few feet beyond my hands … but I was safe. The spot I chose was large enough to accomodate my pseudo-acrobatics and flat enough to ensure that I didn’t otherwise injure myself. I think. I mean, if it was really dangerous, my wife, who took this photo, wouldn’t have let me do it. Right, honey? =)
More to come, I hope.