The Indecisive Battle (from the series World of One)
Archival Pigment Print from 35mm Negatives
24″ x 41″ inches | edition of 5
Above is the picture I had originally envisioned when I was shooting Painful Pleasures.
This image, Internal Destruction, was shot about two weeks earlier and is a previously failed attempt at creating the snowball fight of my dreams. When I completed the collage (after 12+ hours of work), I found myself grossly disappointed. Although I do see redeeming qualities about the picture, I feel like it is lacking what I like to call a “leading man,” a central figure in the picture to pull in the viewer; also, I wanted there to be more of a mix of the two sides in the middle of the picture; more chaos, less order. Basically, I didn’t get the picture I wanted because I didn’t try hard enough.
On Monday 3/18, when I heard that we were going to get 4-12 inches of snow in Boston, I knew that this was my chance. I sent out an SOS on Facebook for volunteers to assist me with an early morning shoot the next day. I got one single volunteer, my buddy Dave (who also writes an awesome blog here), and I also got in touch with Henry, my assistant from Narcissus and Yin Yang Whisper. They agreed to wake up early and help me press buttons and chuck snowballs at me in the middle of a blizzard.
here’s Henry, probably wondering why he volunteered to come on this shoot.
The morning of the shoot 3/19, the last day of winter, I woke my ass up extra early so I could shovel myself out of my driveway and pick up my friends. I had barely slept the night before, as thoughts of different scenarios of how the shoot would go kept running through my head. After having picked up Henry, I called Dave to let him know I was almost there, to which he replied, “Okay, I’m finishing a poo. I’ll probably be out by the time you get here.” At this point, I knew this was going to be a fun shoot.
Testshot when we arrived
By the time we arrived at Lars Anderson Park in JP, the weather had changed from heavy snow to hellish hail with gusty winds — later, it would change again to freezing rain. So one of the first things Dave did when I picked out a spot to shoot was to put up a snow wall.
(Photo courtesy of Dave Shi)
But, as you can see in this picture, the snow wall behind me, while an appreciated gesture, didn’t go up very high. So the winds still felt miserable. But I didn’t give a shit. Sometimes that’s how I know when I’m onto something good — when I don’t care about how much work I have to do to achieve my goals.
What followed thereafter were the two most painful hours of my life. During our first take, as soon as I yelled “action,” Dave let out a war cry, screaming and running towards me with snowballs in hand. For a minute there, I was legitimately scared – his level of commitment to playing the character of the “attacker” was totally unexpected. I screamed back and let go a volley of snowballs. This continued for the first three rolls, until it was time for a wardrobe change. By the end of the shoot, my body felt so numb that I didn’t even feel cold – but it was worth it.
After an hour of getting my ass kicked, it was time for a wardrobe change. (Photo courtesy of Dave Shi)
While this work is similar to Painful Pleasures, I think Indecisive Battle has a very different tone to it. I see Painful Pleasures as a picture that is more about self-destruction, particularly how self-destructive behavior is often fun; on the other hand, Indecisive Battle is a picture about indecision and personal conflict. For me, it illustrates how I feel when I’m trying to make tough decisions in life.
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Henry and I checking the frame before shooting the White figures (Photo courtesy of Dave Shi)