11/24/10

Color Diptychs

Color Diptychs 1990-92
Chromogenic Prints.  Individual print size: 10x10”

A Visual Contemplation On Death












After finishing the River Series I continued photographing in color, but this time in the city.  I became fascinated by the way different kinds of street lights affected the color and atmosphere of the space as I looked up into leaves of trees against the night sky.  

I was absorbed in Chopin’s Nocturnes at that time, and I was studying how various cultures dealt with the question of death and dying.  

I became intrigued by the Tibetan idea of the bardo - the intermediate space between two lives on earth - after reading the book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.  I decided to present my photographs as diptychs, two images presented within a single window matte, with a space between them.  

The viewer is encouraged to enter into the bardo, the space between the images, and experience there the meaning between the two pictures.

As the project progressed I photographed into the sky space between the trees not only at night but also by day, and mixed the images in the diptychs.

This work (which for me is related in many ways to my project Images of Eden) carries not only a feeling of the timeless beauty of Eden,  but at the same time also something of the numinosity of death, and something of the sinister.

Near the completion of this project my mother died.  I have written about my experience of my mother's death:  Click here, see Story #20 



There is a stillness
On the tops of the hills.
In the tree tops
You feel
Hardly a breath of air.
The small birds fall silent in the trees.
Simply wait:  soon
You too will be silent.
                                                                                  
                                                                                                                         Goethe




The Color Diptychs project was exhibited at the Michael Lord Gallery, Milwaukee in May, 1992, to coincide with a major event that took place in Milwaukee between May 21 and May 24: Swami Chidvilasananda, or Gurumayi, my meditation teacher and the living head of the Siddha Yoga Path, visited Milwaukee at the famous, historic Pabst Theatre, to present two evening meditation programs (open to the public) and a two day meditation Intensive entitled The Turning Point.  

I dedicated the exhibition to Gurumayi and her Milwaukee Tour.  In my gallery statement I also associated the space between the images in the diptychs to a yogic teaching by Swami Muktananda, Gurumayi's guru, about the space between the in-breath and the out-breath.  The point where they are merged is the "true heart" which is synonymous with the Divine Self.  The following words are those of the great yogic saint, Swami Muktananda:  

The breath goes out and comes in, and there is a space inside where it becomes still for just a second.  The breath has merged inside, and it hasn't yet started to come out; it is still in the state of merging.  The space where it merges is the true heart.    Swami Muktananda 


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    1 Color Diptych  




   2 Color Diptych  



















    3 Color Diptych  



















    4 Color Diptych   



















    5 Color Diptych  




















    6 Color Diptych  



















    7 Color Diptych  



















    8 Color Diptych  



















    9 Color Diptych  



















    10 Color Diptych




    11 Color Diptych   





Related Projects:
The Persephone Series  1975-76
The Departing Landscape  2007-2012
Personal Stories, especially Story #20                        
Yoga and  Photography, and in particular part 11   
Celestial Gardens                                   
Images of Eden                                 
River Series    
The Meadow Series  2008-ongoing                        


Welcome Page  to The Departing Landscape website which includes the complete hyperlinked listing of my online photography projects dating back to the 1960's, my resume, contact information, and more.