Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spring evenings

I have been rather absent from my blog, and now "the Other Reader" has shown me up once again so I'll have to get in gear and blog (and read "Ulysses".) Life has at present certain pressures and new responsibilities that have been calling me away from my studiola and it's ambiance of introspection. But I have not been idle, and so I thought I would share a recent photograph.

Now I will write a tiny bit about making pictures. This is a photograph of the very pleasant South West Corridor Park, looking toward the Hancock Tower. 

Recently I made reference to the destruction of my house, and have also referred to some of the trials I have had to endure, but my fortune has not been altogether bad, in fact it all turned out quite well. You see this is where I live, in a tiny little room in a warm and quirky house owned by a very kind man and inhabited by interesting and caring tenants. Every journey I take starts and ends here- my door is just a few steps away, and it is wonderfully beautiful. The magnolias in the last post are just a bit further along, and the hancock tower is always there, brooding or brilliant by turns.

So you think that you now know what this is a picture of, since I have described the place I took it, but in fact there is more.

I have been using a camera as my principal means of visual expression since 2004. I phrased that carefully. I was trained as a painter- landscape to amuse myself and portraits for income. There has always been a tension in me between the fine arts and the applied arts, to use very old fashioned terms. When I was painting I was playing the dilettante at design, and when involved in design I was a dilettante painter. Of the two, visual imagery is the stronger compulsion, and as difficult as my periods of illness have been they have given me the time to focus on that aspect of my creative life. Alas, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, and in this case along with some time, I was also given peripheral neuropathy and lost the ability to control my hands. The camera had always been a reference tool for my painting, and now it moved into the primary position. Digital, computers, photoshop! You will think it odd to say, but I really feel that the excitement of learning all this new stuff gave me the impetus to survive some very bleak times, and still does as a matter of fact. It has been very rewarding, and I do think I'm doing pretty well with it.

The first group of pieces I did were a big surprise: they were totally abstract! Then I became very involved with very stylized landscape, then very romantic landscape, then another little stumbling block popped up- I became almost totally housebound last year- no afternoon rambles in the Fenway victory gardens or in the Arboretum. I was lucky if it could get the six doors to the spot you see in the photograph above. That is when I fell in love with the Hancock Tower. 

It is relatively easy to go to some absolutely beautiful location and use the camera to make a record of it's beauty. Some skill is involved of course, but you're getting a lot of help from the Big Ungendered Person who created the beauty for you to record; but when you can't get there anymore the nature of the challenge changes rather a lot, and that was what I faced last year. If I was going to make pictures I had to make them right at home.

How many pictures can a person take of the Hancock Tower? Quite a lot, as it turns out- but really the tower is a kind of red herring. These pictures are actually about the day and the time I took them. They are about the passing of the season, about fragile balances of light and air. About temperature, about darkness and rain. There are days when the sun reflecting off the tower balances almost perfectly with the sun itself and we stand with shadows casting before and behind us, the light enveloping the plants and passersby in a glow that I've only before seen at the edge of death. Snow falling under the sodium vapor lamps from an orange pink sky, or rain making a mirror of the walkway- that's what all my recent photographs are about. I'll start showing them to you.

We talk in our discussion group about prayer, and I often say that I don't pray. but really I do- with my camera.

1 comment:

Carolyn Roosevelt said...

< I do think I'm dong pretty well with it.>

I do too! Thanks for the view from the other side of the world...