Thursday, March 29, 2007

How I See the World

Touch is my favorite sense for some reason. Tactile sensation seems to be the most pleasurable to me. When I was younger I couldn't stand to see an object that I wasn't allowed to touch. Museums took a while for me to tolerate, especially visiting dinosaur bones. I remember a particular instance when my 2nd grade teacher asked for volunteers to deliver an attendance paper to the office. It was laminated. I nearly had a seizure tryign to get picked to do it. At one point I was and the relief of knowing what the plastic-covered tagboard felt like was really amazing. I no longer had any need to deliver the attendace sheet again.

Despite this, images are to me the greatest expression of worldly existence. An image displays for me more about what it means to enjoy life than anything else. This of course is coming from my growing interest in photography, but I also have always been really drawn to pictures.

I recently read Bone and found it to be one of the few comics that I've read who's structure is very similar to a typical novel. The length, depth, plot elements, character development, all very similar to how a novel is often structured. The use of pictures served to embed me in the world more fully and more quickly than textual descriptions usually do in a story. I feel like I remember more of it, and have a better sense of it, because it used images and not descriptions.

Images become a world unto themselves the more you stare at them. At first they are just a representation of something that exists. But when you separate them from the rest of the world, by staring at them, by framing them, by placing them in public somewhere, the image takes on its own separate life. Then, contained within whatever boundaries have been set for it, there is so much.

Although I love to touch, I can't touch everything. But I can see just about anything. Even the invisible leaves a visible trace of itself most of the time. Every sound, feeling and thought is inexorably linked to a sight.

When I look at an image I see movement, smell, memory, temporature, sound, and most of all, shape. Sometimes all of photography seems like cheating in art, like photographing people seems like cheating in photography. The things around us, when held and studied, are so incredibly well organized and structured and ballanced, whether it's a meadow or a city, that it seems like all one has to do to create a work of beauty is to depict things as they are.

A really good image is something I can touch, too. Some of my favorite photos are ones that make me feel like I can run my hands over the things in the picture just by staring at it.

Images help me transcent states of mind like only illegal, harmful substances can. Thats not true, music can too, but images moreso. Images take me back to places I've been and things I've felt, and more importantly, take me to places others have been that I never will.

My thing about written word is this: I cannot imagine anything that I've never seen before. Nothing you describe to me can possibly be truly unique in my own mind, because my concept of all those words you're using are limited to my personal experience. You can go ahead and make really detailed, flowery descriptions, but all that's going to do is rearange my already established experiences differently. Images, on the other hand, can be totally new to me. There are textures, compositions, colors and shapes that I have never seen before that can be shown to me.

Images contain everything that I love about the world: sensory pleasure (experience is the meaning of life, btw), descriptive information, aesthetics, emotional communication, perspective, all wraped up in something that can be easily absorbed in an instant on a computer screen or blown up to the size of a building.

Don't even get me started on icons...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

On the Art of Fixing a Shadow

When you create a work of art, or anything that you would consider art, it is immediately copywrited. A legal fingerprint is left on everything that you make. The moment the shutter closes, you own that image. Once your ideas are drying ink, the order of those words is your possession, exclusive to your care and whim.

This is at once a glorious legal freedom and an ideological disaster.

Owning an idea.
To have images and sounds reduced to property. Embracing the right to hoard experience and expression like a miser.
Taking the most ethereal and self-exploratory of all human endeavors and binding it with capitalistic chains of ownership.

To commoditize and privatize art is to drain the value and dignity from philosophy.

And still I say "I want".
I want that tree.
I want those shadows.
The color, the texture. The dance of shapes and the choreography of natural chaos.

I want them! I say it in my head each time I'm about to shoot. The words come so effortlessly they must be true. I'm not sure what they mean, though.

It may be that I wish those wonderful things to be nobody else's.
I desire their splendor for myself, to be kept away from others unless I deem them worthy.

Unless they see what I see.

I will transform the chaos into what the colors and shapes have become in my mind's eye. They will no longer be part of the world, part of everyone. They will be mine, because nobody but me will ever see them in this way. My perspective is wholly unique and the expression, the representations of that uniqueness, belongs to me. It is my property.

Or it may be that that perspective is so fleeting, so untouchable, that I will never see it again. I want to hold onto it desperately because it reminds me why I live. It reminds me of every privilege. It is impossible and invisible and it is there.
Nobody will ever be able to provide me with it and I will never be able to rediscover it.

As I experience it, it is fading.
When i leave, it will be gone.
I don't want that to happen.
I want to retain it. I want to share it.
I want to remember that shape and feeling. I want to experience it again.

I want it.
If the silver nitrate is a wiling accomplice, maybe I will have it. Maybe I won't have to let it go.

I can take the shadows with me, and the feelings, the perspective, will be in my possession.