Take care that you do not regard the photos contained in this post as photos attempting to convey a deeper meaning (art), because these photos were taken for the purpose of metering rather than to stand on their own as photographs.
It may seem like a somewhat pedantic point, and it is. I think that I have finally separated the purposes of film and digital enough that I can use my DSLR to meter without feel like I’m “ruining” the experience of shooting film. For the longest time, I was obsessed with only using analog technology when I was shooting film. I would never bring a DSLR to get the image right before I exposed film, but for this shoot (and especially because I was using flash) I decided to do my metering with my DSLR and make sure the flash was falling right before I exposed. I avoided it for the longest time also because I wanted to avoid reacting to the images as I was making them.
The shoot definitely needed flash.
I was shooting in the basement of Pollak for the first time in a while. I have shot there with studio lights before, doing a portrait in the fall of last year. I really loved the space and didn’t get much of a chance to explore it, though I’d been down there a few times without camera equipment. I was heading into the studio to do some stuff that I wasn’t exactly jazzed about, and when I saw the door into the basement cracked, I decided to leap on the opportunity to do something slightly more interesting with my time.
As I mentioned, these photos aren’t the art as much as they are preparations for the art. And even then I will probably be installing it in some way. It’s funny, my friend just mentioned that when you take a painting off the wall and lean it there, it’s no longer a painting but a sculpture. I’m interested in a move that simple, something that invites the viewer to think about the objects (whatever framed nice things I’m gonna make) more than the images.
Basically, I’m looking for some way to make some of these basic spaces and actions as interesting as they are in my head. When I was shooting down there it was super hot, muggy, and so so loud. The space was lit and laid out in anticipation of there being people moving through it, people actively working there, yet it was empty. I didn’t even have to turn the lights on. The basement has been unlocked for over a year now, and I can’t figure out why. I go down there every now and then and it’s like the belly of the beast. It spews steam and hisses and lets forth roars. It’s the machinery required for the comfort and easy access via elevator we’ve come to enjoy, to expect in a modern and comfortable society.
So in that way, I totally see this as relevant to that stick breaking, fire building, rock moving endeavor I was undertaking a few weeks ago. It’s a bit of a non-sequitur, sure, but I think I can make it work.
I’ve been so brutally stuck over the past couple weeks. Totally mired, I’ve been sputtering and being overly self conscious to the point that I haven’t been making any work, because any thoughts conjured up instantly land me in the realm of “ugh, well, that really just means…” and so on to what I think the work would mean. There’s nothing that kills creativity more (I think) than feeling like you already have what you’re about to do completely figured out.
And I could rant and rave on semiotics for a bit because it’s really been bugging me. One of my professors said today that theory will make you smarter and more cynical, and that’s not where I want my work to be. I want it to be smart and funny. I want it to gnaw at the corners of your thought and provoke a discussion about the things that I think matter. I want people to laugh (if only internally) and then scratch their heads a bit. I want to convey both seriousness and levity within one piece, because the ideas I have that spurn me on to work, they are both serious and joyful.
One of my professors was speaking yesterday about the “three readings” of good photos, or good art in general. There’s the initial subject, the thing that catches your eye and the first thing you consider, then the second layer is something that complicates the reading a bit, but is still basically prominent and available in the reading. The third reading, or third element, is something that twists the meaning of both of the first two, complicates things, and pushes it in a new direction all together, but is a minor element, and perhaps not clear, it’s not hitting you over the head, and may be missed if not carefully investigated.
I think basically I want my work (this work, these photos now) to be serious on the first two readings and then funny on the third beat. In other words, something that is serious, it seems like it’s trying to be serious, but any sustained thought breaks down the facade of seriousness.
The last little bit I want to write about before heading to the studio for the night is the question still unresolved in my head- What is the scope of these photos? What do I want to accomplish? It’s a difficult question for me as a Christian artist, especially because before I was a Christian in the true sense of the word (the difference between being raised Christian and being Christian) I heavily pursued art as the means of creating a meaning satisfying to my mind, and it was utterly ruinous to me. I think the tendency, the desire to do that, is still there.
It’s also complicated by art pertaining to identity is such a mode of contemporary art- now that I think of it, I am guessing that if I were to start to talk about Christianity, for it to be relevant/interesting as art, I would either have to dive heavily into my own biography and identity as a Christian, or create a very detached “investigation” of some aspect of Christianity, because of course that is far too broad a thing to tackle in its entirety- its associations too far flung.
Where I’m basically aiming right now is at work which portrays the truth of the Gospel as I understand it. I think every person’s work in some way springs forth from their world view, but it doesn’t always land in that territory of biography or even polemics.
Right, so, I’m going to leave this here for now. I’ve got more photos that I’m basically going to start writing about as soon as this is posted, but I’m going to pivot to a different topic and want to keep these things manageable.