Sunday, December 18, 2011

Quatrain #16: Winter Solstice

The shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere occurs this week. It's one of my favorite moments on the calendar because it represents a pivot point of dark and light. What I like about the darkness is that it gives me the perfect reason to ponder goals and strategies for the upcoming year, but it also gives me the time to think about what's occurred over the previous year.

So when I began to survey the last sixteen weeks to determine the project outcome, I kept wondering further instead of feeling any distinct sense of closure, which is what I anticipated. I mean, based on what I wrote in Quatrain #1, this was to be the last of the series, but now I'm not so sure, because there is a lot of satisfaction in producing these works. So, why stop now? Well, I realized that in order to continue with these constructions I simply need time to produce another critical mass of images, before I can produce another series of quatrains. This is based mostly on statistical odds you see, because it's not often that I have a situation resembling this one. In fact, I have to say that I've never had a situation quite like this before.

The first sixteen Quatrains are constructed from over 1,500 images captured over roughly fourteen months, which were edited down to about 250, and then edited down to the final 64 of the series. That's sort of like having a .042 batting average! Not exactly something to brag about, but just the same, that's the reality of being a visual artist, and many of my teachers reinforced the idea by expressing that one can never shoot too much.

As a matter of coincidence, and a great way to bookend the series, is the fact that my fireplace mantel, included above, is actually one of the first images I can point to when the collection began to take its form. And that opens the perfect segue to the winter solstice, which for me is a celebration of light, since it is from that day until June 21st on the summer solstice, that each day gets gets just a little bit longer than the previous one. Among others, that is a great thing to look forward to.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quatrain #15: Three Hour Blues

The week ahead promises to have its fair share of excitement, and perhaps even drama, as the clock ticks the remaining precious seconds from the closing hours of the semester. In particular, I am thinking of the students I've been working with in a course called Portfolio Seminar, which asked them the question fifteen weeks ago, "what do you plan to do with the rest of your photographic life?" Finding the answer to that is not as easy as one might think or want it to be. In short, it's a course that provides the tools and techniques to create not only a final portfolio with visual continuity and integrity, but a professional identity, a brand, and a basic marketing plan that is going to enable the next step of their photographic life.

These fifteen weeks have been all about thinking, dreaming, planning, creating, construction, deconstruction, and aspiring to new levels of excellence in themselves and their works. One of my teachers, Sam Abell, used an expression while editing work that I'll never forget, and that I now use frequently; meet or exceed. It speaks to the idea of determining what the best work you've ever produced is, and then holding every image produced in the meantime up to that. If a comparison is being made to see if the new work is as at least as good, or preferably better than the best already determined, then the expression can be invoked. It's one of the most useful measuring instruments I know of that perpetuates personal and professional growth.

So what's up with the three hour blues? If I divulge that now, then I'll spoil it for my students, since word has it that they've been reading this blog, too. Sorry, but you're going to have to ask one of them what I mean by this a week from now.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Quatrain #14: Chicago Jam Session

I felt the need to crack open the stillness implied in Fluidity Interrupted with a little fun, and found this arrangement asking a couple of my favorite questions about color. The trigger being that I have heard musicians and writers talk about how certain notes, sounds, and poetry convey ideas of color, even though perceived by means of auditory, instead of visual sensory. To clarify the point, could you imagine telling a pianist that the music they play sounds like a piano? Where in fact, if the artist knows how to control the instrument, a piano is capable of playing a wide range of genre, and a listener hears the music as a song, and not as a piano. So, this compels me to ask, what is the color of a voice? And, what is the voice of a color?