Other Music Inspired Projects

Other Music-Inspired Photography Projects  

Kraus  1968 ~ Wagner's Ring Cycle
The Steve Lacy Series  1977-78 ~ Steve Lacy Soprano Sax      
The Negative Print Series  1978-80 ~ Late Liszt
The Lake Series: Collage Set  1981-82 ~ Charles Ives     
The River Series  1988 ~ English Pastoral Music
Color Diptychs  1990 ~ Chopin's Nocturnes
Studies  1994-2000 ~ Miniature Piano pieces, William Bolcom and many others
Monk's Quirky Music  2011 / 1994-2000 Thelonius Monk, jazz piano

Kraus  1968
     Kraus is a hand bound book of photographs, a visual love poem inspired by the music of Richard Wagner and the writing of Marcel Proust.   It was made in fulfillment of the Senior Project requirement at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago.  
     I learned about Wagner's Ring Cycle in a wonderfully taught European Literature course I had taken at I.D.  The teacher was a Wagner fan who had traveled the world many times to hear the Ring Cycle.  He played the piano for us in class to teach us about Wagner's use of leitmotiv in the Ring Cycle and in the literature he had been having us read including Proust, Mann, Joyce, and many others.  
     I listened only to Wagner when I was working on Kraus, which is to a large extent about my longing to be with Gloria, the woman I was to eventually marry.  I repeat certain images, in slight variation form, within the book's sequence of images.   
     One can easily see in Kraus the visual influences of Friedlander, Winogrand and Giacomelli.  There is frequent use of light tones in my photographs in the book, which goes back to 1966, probably, when I first started studying Friedlander's work carefully.  To this day the light tones persist in my photography - see especially the Faint Photographs.
      Image sizes are approx 5x7" gelatin silver prints.


The Steve Lacy Series 1977-78  
    This body of work was inspired by the music of American jazz composer and performer Steve Lacy (1934-2004).   I was especially impressed by Lacy's solo soprano saxophone recordings, the way he bent notes and used silence, the structure of his pieces, the way he repeated phrases, the way he created musical portraits of animals and things, the odd titles of his compositions (The Crust, The Wane, Naked Lunch, Deadline).   
     In 1978 I had an exhibition of this work at the Renaissance Society Galleries, University of Chicago in which I arranged the prints on the wall in such a way that the images became like a graphic musical score.  Members from the Chicago based group AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Chicago) were invited to perform at the opening.  They moved through the exhibition as they improvised to the individual images and to the installation.  One musician actually put his horn right up to a photograph and blew into it!
    The original gelatin silver prints are 13x13" on 16x20" paper.  In 2011 I made a set of inkjet prints: 14x14" on 20x24" paper (see the three images below).  Visit  Steve Lacy Series  to see more images and learn more about the project,

To see and learn more about this project visit Steve Lacy Series.

The Negative Print Series, 1978-80   
     This project was inspired by an old snapshot from my childhood of white sheets hanging on a backyard cloths line.  I was also listening to the late piano music of Franz Liszt at this time.  The late music is very contemplative and religious in feeling - almost nostalgic;  I felt these light toned negative print images carried a similar feeling as the music and my memories of childhood.  I can still remember the fresh laundered smell of the white sheets hanging on the line in the sun light.
     There is one composition by Liszt entitled Grey Clouds (he wrote it in 1881, at the age of 70 - five years before he died) that was an important influence on the whole project.  Perhaps, like a cloud passing in the sky, this project has something to do with death, and about memories lost.  
     In a statement I wrote for this project back in 1980 I remember saying something like: "I love snow - the way its white magically transforms the world."  The white space within these square images often merge into the surrounding white space of the border .  This is very important; it's a probably a metaphor for something I don't know how to write about.  For this project, then I consider the entire 16x20 inch piece of paper to be the image.
    Image sizes:  16 x 20”  gelatin silver prints.
    To see more Negative Prints  click here

To see more Negative Prints  click here

The Lake Series: Collage Set 1981-82  
    In 1981 I made a set of straight photographs of Lake Michigan.  It was in part a study in the changing moods of the vast space, in part about the placement of the horizon line within the square frame and the relationship between sky space and water space. 
     I had been frustrated by the many near-miss images I was producing for the project - images with interesting events in them but somehow incomplete as total visual statements.  One day as I was listening to the music of Charles Ives I got the idea of cutting out the best parts of my unsuccessful lake photographs and collaging the horizontal strips together - in a way similar to how Ives collaged popular song melodies into his "classical" compositions.  The Collage Set constitutes a separate but integral part of the Lake Series.
    Image sizes:  10.5  x  10.5”  gelatin silver prints.

    NOTE:  To see some of the straight photographs and additional collages visit The Lake Series.

LC 1



To see some of the straight photographs and additional collages visit The Lake Series.

The River Series 1988-89
    This was my first project in Color.  I had been listening to the English Pastoral composers, such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frank Bridge, George Butterworth and Fredrick Delius, and looking at English pictorial painting.  I wanted my photographs of the Milwaukee River to have that same beauty, longing and nostalgia.
     The Milwaukee River was a secret, magical place when I was making these photographs.  Though it flowed through the heart of the city it's natural beauty went unseen by most city dwellers.  It seemed as if it the river and it's space existed in another time, in another world.
    Image size:  10 x 10” chromogenic prints  
    Digital Revision in 2011.  Visit  River Songs

Note:  To see more river pictures visit River Songs.

Color Diptychs  1990
    After the completion of 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 space between deaths - and decided to present my photographs as diptychs,  two images presented within a single window matte.  The viewer was encouraged to enter into and experience the space between the images.
     Near the completion of this project my mother died.
     Image size of each print: 10 x 10” chromogenic prints.
     To see more images click here.

Studies 1994-2000
    For six years I made miniature black and white photographs inspired by brief piano compositions.  I called them Studies because I had a sense this work was a preparation for something larger.  
    I had begun listening to miniature piano pieces by the familiar composers, such as Chopin’s Etudes and Preludes, and the Preludes and Fugues by Bach and Shostakovitch.  That inspired me to listen to more contemporary short piano pieces.  I wanted to make pithy miniature photographs that had the same direct, simple but moving and satisfying visual appeal as the music.  
   The miniature Studies were 3 ½ inches square gelatin silver prints.  At first I presented them in 10x10 and 12x12 inch frames as individual images on the wall, then later as graphic musical scores on the wall (similar to the Lacy installation).
   Of primary influence to this project was The Twelve New Etudes by William Bolcom (b. 1938) and Debussy’s amazing Etudes.  The list of wonderful, brief and to the point piano pieces I listened to just grew and grew as I kept making the photographs.    

In September 2011, as I was preparing my website for the Studies project I had something of a revelation.  I realized that a large part of my Studies project, a thematic group I called "The Quirky Pictures" probably had been influenced (if only unconsciously) by the music of jazz great Thelonius Monk.  I then created a web page that celebrates Monk and serves as a visual tribute to his music and it's  influence upon the Studies project.
    I have provided a few Studies images below, but please visit Studies where you will see more images and learn more about the evolution of this project.  And please visit Monk's Quirky Music to see the quirky pictures and learn more about Monk's influence upon the Studies project.

Image sizes:  3.5 x 3.5” silver gelatin prints.  

  Tire and Hoop   3.5x3.5"  Studies

  Puddle and drawing on road   3.5x3.5"  Studies

  Basketball hoop  3.5x3.5"  Studies

  The Bathers  3.5x3.5"   Studies

  Bent fence  3.5x3.5"   Studies

                                           *          *          *

Other Music Inspired Projects

The Garage Series  1999-2001 / 2006

The Departing Landscape  2007-2012

The Triadic Memories Project  2003-07 

Studies I   1994 - 2000

Studies II   Monk's Quirky Music   2011 / 1994-2000    

Color Diptychs  1990-92 

River Songs  1988-89 / 2011

Lake Series  1981-82

Negative Print Series  1978-80 

Steve Lacy Series  1977-78 / 2011


A Personal History of Photography  An illustrated, annotated chronology of all my photography projects 

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.