Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quatrain #4: A Conversation of Color & Line

One of my earliest and most formative memories of seeing the world through a viewfinder was the process of studying and composing the interaction of color and line. And I found that the ongoing conversation between these two formal properties of image construction are the most compelling as they are appear in dramatic specimens of architecture. Some of my earliest photographic works are fascinations and recognitions of a geometric order in architectural form, and this way of seeing, or I could say, "this state of being," has never ceased.

So offering a small part of a much larger whole with simple design, frame-to-frame, and then collectively, is about as deep as this quatrain goes. It's an homage to color and line with a twist.

With that said however, this sequence of four has been one of the most elusive for me to organize and settle on as it is. I wrestled with several image choices and quatrain iterations to reveal a couple visual threads that could convey an idea. Each iteration brought emphasis to specific subject matter, form, line, positive & negative space, among other things, but none of the others brought the conversation to closure like this one did. Looking into the details might reveal some intriguing surprises.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quatrain #3: Unsown Seeds

One year ago today... perhaps not exactly the date... but just the same, I clearly remember it being a late-summer, late-Sunday afternoon. I learned via eMail that one of my students had suddenly died in a car accident along with another young man. It was a moment where all one could do is exclaim in response, "no!" He was 20-something, brimming with optimism, and loaded with talent. All I need to say for now is that I really miss seeing and working with him. He was on track to graduate within the year, so his absence was very palpable.

By this time in my life, of course I knew what it was like to learn of someone passing away. Whether it's a friend, relative, or acquaintance, news like this is never easy to hear about and process. But this was the first time a tragedy of this magnitude made such a deep impression on my photographic life.

A little more than two weeks later, I learned that another student passed away because of complications from a condition he'd been battling for several years. He too was brimming with optimism, and loaded with talent, at the age of 69. I really miss him, too, and this second event made for a rather extensive time to reflect.

Two very different lives that I found who had some common ground, a passion, and a vision. I know for certain that there are some unsown seeds they had produced... their photographs, I mean... those that were made but not quite ready for release.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Quatrain #2: Red, White, & Blue

On that morning, the air was crisp, the sun was hot, the sky was bald and blue. I took my daughter to preschool, and prepared my mind for one of the first days of teaching that semester. The car radio was tuned to NPR and by the time I got home, I heard this unbelievable news. I'll never forget walking into the front door and immediately telling my wife about it. A friend of hers was there then too, and the words I heard her say in response were very callous and cold. I believe that she really didn't understand what I was talking about, and I was flummoxed.

The gravity of the news stunned my mind and body because it was many moons previous that I was there, gazing with wonder at that magnificent site. The apartment of my friend at Canal and Varick had this seventh floor, up close and personal view of them. Although appearing to be practically next door, they were really blocks and blocks away. He and his wife always gave me a futon to sleep on with a window view. When I cast my gaze from the floor up to the night time sky, there they were; humble, peaceful, and glowing with that playful randomness that interior lighting always seems to do. Regardless of the car horns, alarms, sirens, and subways passing through, falling asleep was never difficult. They would bid me goodnight, then greet me in the morning; stellar, bold, and just standing there... so cool. No matter how many times I visited, I always loved to see those friends, see that site, be in The City.

I drove to the college, and I listened to the radio on the way. I found out that it happened a second time. I sat at a red light at the intersection of Huron Parkway and Washtenaw Avenue, waiting patiently, listening helplessly. As I walked into the LA building, people were crowded around one of those TVs mounted up high on a wall, near the ceiling. That was the first time I saw what I heard. A faculty member suddenly turned around to escape the crowd, and as our eyes met he threw his hands into the air and exclaimed, "who would do this?!, ...who would do something like this?!" I was speechless. I had no idea what to say. I watched some more, and still couldn't really understand what I was seeing, and I'm not sure if anyone else standing there could either. I got to my office, closed the door, and cried.

The rest of the day was just surreal. I went to lunch with a colleague and the sky was just as clear, in fact, it appeared to be even clearer. There was not an aircraft to be seen anywhere, at any altitude, let alone the typical mess of contrails that paint the sky with diagonals. When I taught my 1:00pm class, I started with, "whoever needs to go home, can go home... no questions asked." Those who know my attendance policy are the only ones who can put any real value on that statement. When I returned home a mountain of news had accumulated... it was overwhelming. We had a TV, but we hadn't used it for any sort of broadcast reception for almost two years. No antennae, no cable. I went to a local mega-grocer-department store to buy a set of rabbit ear antennae for 12 bucks. As for the picture quality? It was so 20th Century.

Did this change my life? Yes, indeed. Does my experience attempt to compare itself to someone who had a friend or loved one that got in the way of all this? No way.

As for the quatrain? Let your mind wander, wonder, and find on its own.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Quatrain #1: The Four Seasons

This posting launches a collection of visual poems that I am releasing throughout the remainder of the year; one per week, for sixteen weeks. Each poem is composed with four images to form a quatrain, which in the literary world is a style of poetry limited to four line stanzas of any kind; rhymed, metered, or otherwise. Without a doubt, an image holds potential for poetic expression all by itself, but when held up to other images the possibilities of expanding on ideas and even storytelling become really compelling.

In October 2010, I began to consider in earnest my humble iPhone to be the iWitness of my relentless wanderings, wonderings, and the found. This gadget has revealed itself to be one of the greatest partners of my photographic life, since the work that I have produced with it absolutely defines the essence of this blog. I fell in love with the act of seeing unlike any other time of my life, and I am grateful to the forces that kindled this crucible of creativity. A physical and creative process that lends itself entirely to the immediacy of the moment, and the ability to share even the simplest of forms with someone else, who I think can value it. The process has become just like shouting down the road to a friend, "hey, look!... I wish you were here to see this with me because this event is going to disappear in just a few minutes (seconds)."

I should mention that I get out to walk my dog, Zuzu, two to three times a day, so the effort of getting out to think, wander, wonder, and find... it's just part of what I do. What I respond to in any given situation is difficult to put a finger on. There is no rule, and any one image is a response to a huge range of possibilities. An image can be triggered from what someone said, to being a visceral response of current events. In the end, what ultimately gets found are the intangibles; feelings, memories, dreams, and reflections.

The quatrains then, are larger assemblies of ideas. Each image removed from its original intent and made part of a new whole. I like to think that unconsciously, I was putting these all together from the beginning, but that is a bit of a stretch. So I'll just say that a quatrain is purely a manifestation of intuition, and what they mean to me, they most likely won't mean to you. Allow yourself to interpret a quatrain the way you see it, and how it speaks to you via your life and experience.