11/26/10

Faint Photographs


The Faint Photographs  



       Departing Death Valley, Two Figures    18x26”



These lite-toned images, with their faint luminosity, perhaps containing something of the celestial and requiring of us a straining to see, reveal a fragile world on the edge of perception--at once there . . . and not there . . .   

How do we see and understand such apparitional, dream-like images?  Below, I offer a few of my own contemplations on this body of work and some texts I’ve discovered that may shed some light on these images:

     1)  Fading Photographs:    The faint images, full of longing and close to melancholy, remind me of the way photographs fade when overexposed to light--their images progressively leaving us until they burn or bleed nearly into pure paper base white.  

     2)  Luminous Transcendent Transformation:    The late paintings and writings of Charles Burchfield have been an important influence on this work.  His landscape images have been characterized by writers as “transcendent” and  “luminous - ecstatic.”   Perhaps some of the faint photographs share in the spirit of Burchfield’s late work.  The images, turning to light, are not unlike the way autumn leaves transform into firey self-luminous colors; or how the dissolving sounds of Feldman’s music gracefully leave our hearing -- after being momentarily suspended in space -- decaying, de-composing back into silence . . .  
    This world is always in a state of transition and transformation, circling endlessly in cycles of dissolution and recreation.  Transcendence, finally  -- whatever form it needs to take for each of us individually -- may be the only true event horizon remaining as we now find ourselves living in the departing landscape.


The rose
was not searching for the rose.
Motionless in the sky
it was searching for something else.

                              Fredrico Garcia Lorca


    3)   The Fog of Creation:     A few summers ago,  when my wife and I visited some National Parks out west, there was a forest wildfire that enveloped the entire surrounding area in white smoke.  The landscape was only faintly visible, often merely a sensed presence in a mysterious, luminous fog-like atmosphere.    
I was reminded of this experience as I read in Joseph Koerner’s book Caspar David Freidrich and the Subject of  Landscape his reference to the “biblical fog of Creation” (Genesis 2:6), and the idea that fog was somehow God’s assistant at the primal moment (p.225).   Koerner makes the analogy between the divine origination of the world, through fog, and an artist’s creation of a world through his or her chosen medium.

4)     The Burning of the Objects of Perception:   In a contemporary commentary on one of India’s most ancient yogic texts, Swami Shantananda writes in his book The Splendor of Recognition:  “As the yogi gets closer to his or her goal, the flames of Consciousness grow higher and glows with greater intensity forming a circle of luminosity that envelopes the triad of perception--knower, knowledge, and known.  The yogi then perceives the entire universe as that luminosity.”  
This is known, says the writer, as “the burning of the objects of perception in the great fire of Consciousness.”   The great fire is “the light of Shiva, the light of God, the light of one’s own Self.”  And this light, this burning leads to the yogic realization: “...all that one perceives is, in totality, one’s own being.” (p.276-278, 284)




  The Departing Landscape, Burned mountain, smoke, two figures   18x26”






     Departing Ox   18x18”



 

  Departing Pompeii Head  18x18”





   
      Four Departing Men in Suits   18x18"






      The Departing Landscape  (Glacier National Park)  18x26”





   
     Waving Goodbye   18x18”





 
      The Departing Eagle  18x26”





  
     The Departing Bather  18x18”



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Additional 
Faint Photographs

Click on the images below  to enlarge




Faint Photograph,  Man Walking 





Faint Photograph,  Cloud Forest Form




Faint Photograph,  The Hudson River





Faint Photograph,  A Woman's Presence




Faint Photograph,  Pompeii 




Faint Photograph,  Yosemite Half Dome




Faint Photograph,  Birds flying




Faint Photograph,  Portrait with fingers around face




Faint Photograph,  Grasshopper




Faint Photograph,  Two Geckos




Faint Photograph,  Fading photograph



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