1980’s / 2003 - present
I have a strong feeling, an intuition that objects (garages, stones, hammers, electric cords... everything, really), though they are silent, are very much alive; they have a consciousness close to ours, and have important things to "say" to us. Some things seem sad, and I can’t help but wonder if it's in part because we aren’t listening to what they want to tell us.
A successful thing photograph, then, represents a kind of “listening.” In fact the image functions both as a voice for the object and as a means for us to “hear” or to know (in some subtle way) what a thing wants to say. My photographs honor things and their “silent world” by placing their images at the center of our attention, in the center of the frame, in the heart of the black space, which for me is a metaphor for silence.
Thing Centered Photograph, Basketball hoop 18x18"inkjet print
Thing Centered Photograph, Storm Cloud 18x18"inkjet print
The Thing Centered Photographs project began in the mid-1980’s after I discovered the “thing poems” or “object poems” of Rilke, Francis Ponge, Robert Bly and other poets in the wonderful book News of the Universe, an anthology of poems edited and introduced by Robert Bly. His essay that introduces the collection of poems entitled "Object Poems" was especially important to me. click here Following is one of the poems that has influenced this project.
Go inside a stone.
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.
From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill--
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.
Thing Centered Photograph, Condensation on window, cup 18x18"inkjet print
Thing Centered Photograph, Roll of toilet paper 18x18"inkjet print
Thing Centered Photograph, Man climbing ladder 18x18"inkjet print
Thing Centered Photograph, Electric Cord 18x18"inkjet print
Thing Centered Photograph, Fish 18x18"inkjet print
Thing Centered Photograph, Peach on line 18x18"inkjet print
Thing Centered Photograph, Sunflower 18x18"inkjet print
Thing Centered Photograph, Sculpture of man's head 18x18"inkjet print
Thing Centered Photograph, Fishing pole 18x18"inkjet print
Thing Centered Photograph, Boy with bat and ball 18x18"inkjet print
Thing Centered Photograph, The stairs 18x18"inkjet print
Thing Centered Photograph, Footprint in coal dust 18x18"inkjet print
Thing Centered Photograph, Garage Series (digital version) Garage Facade in Shadow 18x18"
History of the Thing Photographs
I made thing photographs throughout 1985-88 with 35mm for the Family Life project. Visit Family Life to see the beginnings of the Thing Centered Photographs project.
In 1992-93 I produced a body of work entitled Thing-centered photographs with the 2 ¼ reflex camera on a tripod. The bigger, square negative allowed a larger sharper print with finer print tonalities, and the square format lent itself toward the centering of objects in the frame.
Then in 1994 - through 2000 I made thing photographs for the Studies project. This work included thing images from earlier projects translated into the miniature 3.5x3.5" format, and it included the earliest pictures of garage facades, which eventually became a separate project in itself. Visit Garage Series.
When I transitioned into digital printing in 2003 I began making 18x18 digital print versions of the earlier thing centered and garage photographs, and continued making new thing photographs. I used many of these digitized thing images as "building blocks" to construct Repetition Triads, Chromatic Fields, Visual Poems and other thematic subgroups for the Triadic Memories: The Repetition Series Photographs project.
The Thing Centered Photographs are very dear to me, very close to my heart. As I just tried to explain it has had many incarnations within the history of my work and it’s a project that will continue indefinitely. Bly's essays in News of the Universe, Rilke’s seeing and thing poems, and Francis Ponge’s thing poems have been a major source of inspiration to me. Visit Poetry.
To go back to the Welcome Page with it's complete list of linked titles for this web site click here.