Mount Tamalpais, which we locals call Mount Tam, is probably the single most identifiable symbol of Marin County, California. Over the years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen its peaks from numerous angles, though rarely have I been in a position to look down or around from its highest peak. I am not what you call a hiker, though I love taking to the hills in general. Nor do I get many chances to entertain out-of-town visitors with scenic drives to the top. And yet, the mountain is always present in my life.
Over the years and through many seasons, I’ve never tired looking at the way the light and fog and rain work together to edit the mountain’s features, sometimes bringing out the depth of colors with a bold brush stroke and at other times rendering the solid ridges into gossamer. I’ve taken hundreds, if not thousands of pictures of Mt. Tam, mostly at random times of the day when the mountain seems to call out suddenly, demanding that I take notice and record the way a long, thin patch of fog slips fast over its peaks, or the way the narrow ray of winter sun slices through clouds to section the slopes with light, or the way, at the height of summer the ridges burst into a blaze with every conceivable shade of green.
So here is what I propose: a picture a day of the mountain that looms over our lives in this corner of the world.
Ideally, it would be best to take that shot at the same time and from the same place, every day. Knowing the way I work, this is not a realistic option. This is not just a question of my habits, but also of the eyes — of the vision becoming inhabited by a single perspective. With that approach I would be documenting a process over time, which is a fine project in itself, but not the one I want to launch.
A picture a day from the same place and same time would capture subtle changes, as well as those larger familiar ones wrought by the seasons. A robot would be the perfect candidate for that project. My project is about how the mountain gets itself seen in a daily life, in this case, mine. In other words, instead of my going to the mountain for data, I am going to let the mountain come to me in its power to make impressions.
The daily pictures will start with the new year, on January 1, 2012.