Art should somehow relate to the artist that makes it. It should tell you something about that person and their experience. The visual artist creates images for a purpose, there is a reason that they are showing you what is in the image.
Here are three images of picnic tables. These images are not just about the tables. There is always more to it. Location of the table- what is around it? Think about what you would experience if you were sitting there right now. Do these tables make you think of other picnic tables you have seen in your travels? What did you do at those tables? Who was there with you? When you think of that time do you recall the conversations? Do you recall the smells?
Does the place in the image remind you of experiences you have had or places you have been?
It is not just a table. It is a doorway to your life. To the places you have been and the people you know and the people you knew.
Reading- The Spy- James Fennimore Cooper
Picked up- The Count of Monte Cristo- Alexander Dumas
Aesthetic: a particular theory or conception of beauty or art : a particular taste for or approach to what is pleasing to the senses and especially sight.
The mind is constantly trying to organize and make sense from visual information. Analysis of the spatial relationship of visual elements, recognition of identifiable shapes, and path of eye travel when viewing a photograph all lead to a sense of visual structure.
I have been floating along trying to figure out why I am doing the things I am doing. Why am I making the kind of work that I have been making? Obviously it is a struggle for any artist from time to time; your message gets lost... you just kind of drift for a while. Speaking with a friend the other night I saw a glimmer of sense in what I was doing and I thought about it over the last 24+ hours and I think I might have come up with something a little more concrete. I might get deep here; I might not but lets see how it goes.
I grew up in a loving, idyllic household in the suburbs of Chicago. My life growing up was deeply rooted in family tradition. I had close relationships with my immediate family as well as my extended family. I was taught from an early age the importance of family and family history. I was taught to revere my elders and love all people regardless of race, creed, color or station in life. I was living sort of the Norman Rockwell existence. Sure there were issues; we were not well off and my parents had to work hard to keep us afloat; my father especially. My mom was a stay at home mom who gave us all kinds of opportunities to lead a cultured and enriched life. My grandmother would support her in this endeavor and we all had experiences and opportunities that most of the people I knew did not get. We were always going to museums, taking family vacations across the country, reading books, learning about where we came from and who we were. The older I get the more grateful I am for the opportunities to learn and grow I was given as a child. We had stability, we had a steady progression of thought and growth.
When I was in my late teens and early twenties all of that fell apart. My grandmother passed away.. as grandmothers often do. It was a little early for her to go but, not an unexpected occurrence. After she passed I started to realize who the people in my family really were. My immediate family has been and always will be a tight knit group; we have been through too much together and seen too much not to be that way. My extended family began to fall apart. We moved in with my grandfather and the rest of the family pretty much just went away after that. It took some time but they just ended up abandoning grandpa. (If you are reading this and think I owe you an explanation I will be happy to give it) That was difficult. At the same time my father became terminally ill and it was only a matter of time before he would be gone as well. After dad passed grandpa came next. While it wasn't bad for him to go it was what happened in between that did the most damage. The life that was expected was no longer possible. The people who I thought would always be there were either gone or had changed in ways that I never thought possible. What was once deemed as strong and nearly impregnable was now laying in shambles at our feet.
It was a long hard lesson on how life doesn't and won't go the way you expect it to go. After talking with my friend the other night I think the light came on and I am seeing the work for how it really is.
I am searching for something in this world that is concrete. Something that stands the test of time. The places that I photograph are much like myself in many ways. Each place in one way or another relates to different aspects of my life. Images dealing with new development or places going through a drastic change (i.e.- farmland being developed into new suburbs or industrial parks; tear downs in the suburbs; etc.) relate to drastic upheaval and change in values as well as use. Photographing farm buildings that are either run down and still in use or completely abandon offer metaphors to a way of life that is almost non existent anymore; maybe even in a state of a waking dream. Travelling and seeing these places and always wondering how they are similar and or different from my experiences. Going to the farm and small towns downstate as a young boy and seeing the places where my grandfather grew up. Going through the fields as a young boy on our way to church every Sunday and then seeing those field turned into houses and shopping centers. The images of the small town may relate to a need for simpler times, more concrete values and a need to find a way back to life at a slower pace. In this age of rapid changes in values, technology, ecology, politics, structures and ideas; I think there is something in us that looks for simplicity something that needs to get back to a time when things were a little bit more sure and the values were not questioned so much.
It is just the tip o the berg here.
Finished- The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde Oliver Twist- Charles Dickens
Reading- The Spy- James Fennimore Cooper
The aim, indeed, was to be experience itself, and not the fruits of experience, sweet or bitter as they might be.