Carol Selter has taken the virtual experience to the limit with her latest work, on display though December 31, at Gallery 16 on 3rd St. at Bryant in San Francisco. The next exhibit will be at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz.
Carol took the idea of a stay-at-home wilderness experience, her love for nature and passion for capturing it on film, and added some time, to construct a new vacation concept for busy people who can’t take the time to get away themselves.
Carol chose the park based on the kind of place the hiker wanted to be in: forest, desert, or grassland. On the designated morning, while the hiker was at work, Carol called from the site to share the moment. Armed with a map and camera, Carol took off on the journey, stopping to record photographic images along the path.
After the hike Carol produced a bound book of each hike, including the best photos out of the hundreds she shot in a bound edition. When the book was ready, Carol deliverd it to the hiker, and shot a photo of the hiker reading the book.
The Personal Hiking exhibit includes photographs of the hikers reading their books, specimens, maps, and the hardcover editions on folding chairs lined up against the walls. I asked Carol some questions about how she arrived at the idea of a personal hike, and how the show was designed around the concept:
1. How did you get the idea of producing a virtual personal experience? I was looking for a way to spend a lot of time hiking while still making artwork. This was the project I came up with.
2. Was the book an early element of the project? Yes, the book was part of the original idea.
3. How do you personalize the hike? By talking to the hiker about what they like to see and experience when out in nature. I photograph things I think they would be looking at and wanting to remember based on our conversations. For instance, some people look at little details and others like the big vista. Some look at flowers, some rocks, some the trail. Some look for birds, some like the water. I focus on whatever the hiker is interested in… and whatever is happening that day (such as rain in the desert, big blooming chamise at castle rock, a gorgeous sunset, leftover burned areas, etc.).
4. What is the most satisfying part of the experience for you? Being out on the trail channeling the hiker is exciting. I like observing all that is there; I like seeing the photographs and then shooting them. It’s kind of an altered state. I also like choosing the photos for the book and making the book be what the hiker would have looked at. I really like giving the book to the hiker because usually we’re both happy and excited. The oxytocin is flowing!
5. What generally seems to appeal to the hikers, or are they all different? Oh everyone is different. The thing we all share is the desire to experience the world of the grown rather than the made, to take a break from the drudgery of everyday things.
6. Do you feel like an actor, living out someone else’s experience, or are you more of a director, guiding them through it? Oh neither really. Definitely not a director. We’re both players in a game of imagination.
7. Any idea on where your next adventure will take you? No not yet
8. Do you have any shows scheduled after this one? The hiking show will come to Cabrillo College here in Santa Cruz county next fall or spring of 2010.