The Abstract Photographs & Feldman’s Music


The Abstract Photographs
Feldman’s Music  

                                for The Departing Landscape  

                                                           * Feldman’s  “Abstract Experience” 
                                                           * My Experience of Feldman’s Music
                                                           * The Abstract Photographs:  Objects
                                                           * The Abstract Photographs:  Interiors
                                                           * Sound & The Visual World 

The late piano music of Morton Feldman (1926-1987) is remarkable for its sustained, quiet but intense beauty.  The late compositions --  Piano (1977),  Triadic Memories (1981),  For Bunita Marcus (1985) and  Palais de Mari (1986) -- have an impersonal voice or abstract energy which I have discussed at some length in my link Poetry for the Departing Landscape.  Feldman’s music insists that one listen openly, deeply, with complete attention.  Below you will find some brief writings on my experience of Feldman's music, and what Feldman terms The Abstract Experience.  Then following some of my abstract photographs there are two additional brief texts including one entitled Sound and the Visual World.


          Decaying sound …the departing landscape...
          expresses where the sound exists in our hearing--
          leaving us rather than coming toward us.

                                       Morton Feldman


Feldman’s  “Abstract Experience”  

Feldman’s music was profoundly influenced by Middle Eastern abstract patterned rugs (which he collected) and the abstract painting of the New York School painters of the 1960’s and 70’s (which he also collected).  He had close friendships with Philip Guston, Robert Rauschenberg, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.  His favorite painter was Piet Mondrian.  

Feldman loved and longed for what he called the “Abstract Experience” and he wrote and spoke extensively about it.   In one essay he states: “The Abstract Experience is only one thing—a unity that leaves one perpetually speculating… a metaphor without an answer.”

He said his music “was between categories – between Time and Space, between music and painting, between the music’s construction and its surface.”  

My Experience of Feldman’s Music

While listening (in 2004) to Louis Goldstein’s live performance of Feldman’s 1981 masterpiece for solo piano, Triadic Memories, I experienced internal, synesthetic visual images of the sounds I was hearing.  

At first I saw slowly changing shapes and forms of color suspended in black space.  Then at times I would spontaneously, imaginatively, empathetically enter into these object sound forms.  Surprisingly, I found myself experiencing these images (these sounds) from the inside!  

The experience as a whole was peaceful, luminous...  I experienced total stillness, timelessness, and for lack of a better word...silence even as the concert continued to unfold in my hearing.  

The Abstract Photographs, which are visual equivalents for my experience of Feldman’s music, mean in ways that language cannot articulate.  Indeed, some of the most important things in life and in art--necessarily--are not sayable.

There are two sets of abstract photographs:

1) “Abstract Objects” (images suspended in black space)
2) “Abstract Interiors”

    The Abstract Photographs:  Objects


The Abstract Photographs:  Interiors

I thought as I squatted on my heels
and gazed into the warm amber-colored
water with its teeming life,
that if one could but read it aright
this little watery world would hold
the whole secret of the universe.  
At least I had the feeling I was gazing into infinity.

                                    Charles Burchfield


To learn more about Morton Feldman and his music visit Clark Lunberry's essay, illustrated with my photographs:  Remembrance of Things Present: Steven Foster’s Repetition Series Photographs, Morton Feldman’s Triadic Memories.  Also visit Morton Feldman’s official website.   


Sound & The Visual World
The Creative Process

In certain philosophical and spiritual traditions of the East there is a creation theory which states the apparent world manifested out of sound.  First there was silence, nothing; then there was the primordial sound, OM, or I AM.

From the primordial sound came the letters of the alphabet, and from the letters came words.  And from the divine power or energy in words (matrika shakti) came the visual world, the entire universe.  

I am fascinated by a circularity of experience that exists in my relationship to Feldman’s music:  my photographs come out of sound and words (i.e., my love and experience of Feldman’s music and his writings);  and Feldman’s music came out of visual art (his experience and love of the NY School painting and the rugs of the Middle-East).  

Sound yields visual world / visual art yields music / music yields visual art.

Listening to Feldman’s music one experiences the way sounds emerge from silence, become suspended momentarily in space  (a space which Feldman termed the chromatic field), than naturally decay, dissolve, de-compose back into silence . . .  

This is nothing less than a metaphor for an entire life, or any creative process.

“The Abstract Experience is only one thing—a unity that leaves one                 
perpetually speculating… a metaphor without an answer.”

                                                                                       Morton Feldmn

Music and Photographs   
About An Exhibition

I envision an exhibition of The Departing Landscape photographs presented with recorded piano music of Morton Feldman, performed by Louis Goldstein, playing quietly, atmospherically in the gallery space while viewers are looking at the photographs.  (Perhaps there could be a media room with poems and images being projected along with Feldman’s music.)  

Ideally, a live piano concert by Louie Goldstein would compliment an exhibition of the photographs and provide viewers with the direct experience of Feldman’s music.
Finally, I would like to see a lecture presented by scholar/writer Clark Lunberry that would provide viewers with some deeply considered insights into Feldman's music, my photographs, and the relationships between them.  

Images, music and text... presented together, offering a holistic experience.

Faint Photographs

Portraits,  Faces & Figures


In the Woods  

The Persephone Series


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.