The World is Triangular
by Vaidotas Mikšys
I found it by accident. I was looking at one of the photos that I made one sunny day in my home town and I thought, there’s something special in it that I did not see in any other image. I could not grasp it for a few days. And then I saw it. The perfect geometrical shape. It looked like the whole world was absorbed in it. The whole world was triangular in it.
I had to think, to understand what happened. After some time I did. Then I realised that it could be repeated elsewhere. In another place. In many other places. So I tried to search for such places. In some it did work, in others it did not. I had once again to think, why was it so. In some cities there were plenty of perfect triangles. In some other cities I couldn’t find even one.
Now, six years later I’m about to publish my hundredth photo of this series. But this journey has just begun. I think will go on for many more years.
For the OFFO X festival I chose some more interesting pictures of the series made in various countries. The festival is held in Poland, so a few of the selected photos were taken in Poland.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the pictures shown in the exhibition.
This is the first photo of the series. It all began here. We are at the front of the Cathedral in Vilnius, Lithuania. I tried to take a picture of the tower between the columns. I did not have a tripod, so I’ve put the camera on the ground, directed it to the tower and leaned it to the wall.
Here’s the view of the interior of the Cathedral of the city of Amiens, Northern France. To me, it’s the most beautiful of the Gothic cathedrals. All white outside and inside. I like the reflections of the columns and windows on the ground in this photo.
Once, on the way from the airport after some voyage, I stopped to visit this medieval castle in Morbach, in Rhineland, Germany. The ruins stand alone in a shallow valley, surrounded by a moat full of water. It’s a very peaceful place.
Another medieval architectural marvel – the Cathedral of Turku in Finland. I loved the light coming from the windows in this dark chapel, so I tried to capture it.
The two tourists came in when I’ve already started the exposure. They look like ghosts haunting the ruins of St. Lars church in the town of Visby in a Swedish island of Gotland. Most of the churches of this town were demolished during various old wars. These mysterious ruins are very picturesque today.
The Sun shines behind the twin towers of the Cathedral of the city of Lübeck in Northern Germany. It was a nice Summer weekend day, no bicycles were parked here, everybody was riding them along the river. Lübeck military was one of those who destroyed Visby’s churches.
We come back to Visby. When I entered these ruins of St. Catherine church, I had a strange flashback. I understood that I was in the ancient engraving that I had on the wall of my room when I was a kid. I always thought that the place depicted in it came from the imagination of artist. But no, it was here, this place in Visby. I stood there for a half an hour looking at it. It was a great feeling.
In Southern France, just where the Pyrenees mountains start to rise from the flatlands, on a big hill stands a village of Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges. The ancient cloister of its Cathedral is one of the most peaceful places I have ever visited.
Italy, Rome. Contrary to what I thought, there aren’t many suitable corners in this city. So I was surprised to find such a good triangle at the Colosseum. I went around it a few times before I saw this spot. The carabinieri were eyeing me a little bit suspiciously while I made this picture.
Now it’s probably a good moment to tell you why the carabinieri were suspicious. I used a special camera to make all these photos of the series. There were many occasions when I had to explain to the policemen what was I doing with this strange-looking device. It looks like that:
This black thing with a blue strap is a very-wide-angle pinhole camera. I made it out of some parts of different cameras and put them together. Some time ago I made a description of it, here’s a copy of it:
Pinhole camera “Arkliukas” (“Little Horse” in Lithuanian). Named it so, as when I used it for the first time I used a 120 film 6×9 Horseman back on it.
It’s just a Sinar rear standard with a lens board adapted to take different pin holes. The holes are magnetic, interchangeable, I made a whole set of them and I’m using them also in my 8×10 camera (d.i.y., called “Meoda”, but that’s another story).
Right now I prefer using the Grafmatic 45 back as it takes 6 4×5 films, because that makes less stuff to carry for a hike. Often I just go jogging with it in a hand, you never know when a good photo might come. Some of the photos that I show in were made during the jogging. In this configuration it’s a very wide-angle camera. I can reduce it using the bellows and another standard, attaching the standards together with a hexagonal rod.
To make the camera unique I use a (broken) very unique “2013 Lithuanian presidency of the Council of the European Union” key-chain belt to carry it. So that makes it a unique camera as I don’t think it’s very easy to get a used “2013 Lithuanian presidency of the Council of the European Union” key-chain belt, and then have an idea to use it for a pinhole camera.
I hope that you understood anything of that. Anyway, let’s go back to the photos.
I was very careful when I placed my camera in this place. I did not want to deteriorate the walls of the Apollo temple ruins of Pompeii. We visited it in the midst the pandemic. The site was almost empty. We were wandering alone through the silent ancient Roman streets. it was a strange and unique experience.
The marble floor is like a mirror in the Grand Trianon palace in Versailles. I look at those columns and – thinking of Pompeii – wonder, how will they look like in two thousand years.
Back to Vilnius, where this series began. I had to come to this place a few times over two years until I found the Great Court of Vilnius University empty enough to make this picture. Usually there’s plenty of students hanging around, or a stage for the Summer concerts blocking half of the view.
I’ve spent a few nice sunny days discovering Gdańsk. Here in this corner of the old town I found two triangles. This is one of two photos I made here. For the other one the camera was placed at the corner between the dark terrace and those steps under the door on the left, facing us. I did not show that other photo to anybody yet.
This is a stinky corner of a quite a drab building in Gdańsk. Nothing really remarkable, people just pass it without noticing. There’s a notary office and some kind of psychological help centre in it, I’m not sure though – I don’t speak Polish. But just look at those beautiful lines and shadows of the arches!
For my second visit to Marienburg castle in Malbork I did not forget my pinhole camera. This castle is full of triangular treasures. I was glad to be here once again. It’s still a little bit strange to peacefully wander through the capital of one of the biggest enemies of my ancestors.
In the Mont-Saint-Michel in France the monks did not attack their neighbours. Still, until today the Normans and the Britons argue, to whom does it belong. Normandy seems to be slightly on a winning side. Personally I think it’s neither and both at the same time. Actually it belongs to the crowds of tourists. That includes me.
Talking about the crowds, most of the photos seem to be devoid of people and life in general. it seems like just some ghosts from the past appear from some mysterious void here or there. It is not so, of course. In the last two photos just above there are about 200 hundred people in total. They’re moving, so they disappear from the picture. I often think about it. How the perception of the world can change depending of our movement and speed. How can we see things differently when we stop and observe the world more closely and more slowly. But then I can not say anything. I am also one of those ghosts. In fact, I’m the only ghost who is invisibly present in all these photos. It’s physically impossible to take this picture otherwise. So I flutter around in these images like an invisible butterfly. Or just a fly.
Hundreds of ghost people pass between the slender columns of the passage of Louvre Palace in Paris. That street lamp was installed in a strange location. I wondered, why is it so. Maybe the architect did not let anybody touch those historical walls, but the dark passage still needed some light in the evening.
No crowd today in Redu village in Belgium. But it’s not a simple village. In a sense, it’s probably one of the most crowded village in the world: there are 400 inhabitants and 20 bookshops. I liked the intricate shadows of the guard rail of the church stairs. I also bought a book.
There is plenty of intricate details in all the buildings of 19-th century imperial architecture of Mariánské Lázně in Czechia. I was surprised how much of that intricacy I could capture with my modest camera.
I could not decide, what was more beautiful, the cast iron grace in the previous photo or this wooden marvel in Karlovy Vary. So I printed them both for you to decide.
Finally I’ve sent more photos to the festival than I initially told I would. I am sorry. Also, I know that this series is very repetitive, and all that these photos are very similar to each other. Yes, they are. It’s the point of the whole exercise. I still hope that you had fun looking at them.
September 13, 2023