Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!
Yesterday I posted this photo on Facebook with an invitation to guess where it was taken and of what. There were lots of replies--most people made guesses ranging from the ordinary to the exotic, while others said they simply appreciated what they saw and preferred not to know the answer. The range of responses was intriguing to me. I had posted the photo as a kind of fun "mystery" but reading these comments led me into deeper thought. There's an interesting tension in looking at an abstract photo, at least one that is direct (unaltered digitally or in a darkroom). We know that it originates in a literal, real-world source. But it also invites us to loose that identifiable source, to let go of the need to label or figure out. It's an intriguing dichotomy of knowing/not knowing. In contrast, an abstract painting, drawing, or print is clearly an invented form. The ideas or impressions at its source are many-layered, nuanced, hard to identify. Whatever we see or don't see in the work as viewers, we do realize that the artist alone has brought the image into existence. The knowing/not knowing tension is different than with an abstract photo--even if the viewer "knows" that there is an elephant in the painting (something I was once told about one of my own) it is clearly an act of imagination to claim that.
But I think there are also similarities, due to what abstraction is about, no matter the media. While considerations of color, value, texture, shape, and line are needed to make both good realist photos and paintings, abstraction asks for another step, a shift in perception. To lose concrete labels, to enter a world where we see and respond to other factors--to pure visual experience, to expression of emotion, to unusual interpretations even when the source can be identified. Just now when I looked at my sofa, I saw this instead of a piece of furniture.
And yesterday, as I walked toward my dark blue car, spattered with road mud and salt, I saw an intricate pattern of texture reminiscent of a Japanese woodcut...the source of the photo at the top of this page.
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