Thursday, March 25, 2010
Dark star. Man`s search for meaning*.
Out in my studio on these dark rainy winter days I have been following the trail of studio lighting with myself as the ever available model. From portraits to mirror images to draped figures. There seems only one more step I can take beyond that, so one day I remove my shirt and begin to photograph my own skin. Although I have drawn and photographed human bodies before, it is another much more revealing step to photograph myself. I do seem to be on an artistic trajectory, somewhere high in the atmosphere, with no indication yet where I will eventually land.
A male in my late sixties, I do not worry about overt sexuality in these images or of finding that delicate line between sterile lighting studies and overly exploitive imagery. I`m really just a hairy old guy. So hairy, I`d never realized how furry I had become. I have a strange feeling of compassion as I view that grey hair, muscles trying to turn to flab. My body is also on a trajectory as it speeds back to earth.
With a collection of images in the camera and then into the computer files I begin to wonder how I can use them. It was a revelation for me to make these photographs but to show them to others would be very revealing indeed. I squirm at the thought of exposing myself to the obvious remarks I know will surely follow, but then I shrug it off and begin to search for meaning. If I can use these human images to communicate complicated ideas I will be advancing along my path toward expression of thoughts that transcend the possibilities of mere pretty pictures. With me as a model, I`m already halfway there!
Another day I find an image of my back, leaning forward away from the camera and ponder its possibilities. ‘Primate’ got its share of ribald comment when I posted it on a local photoclub site, just as I feared it might, and this photo has some obvious crude sexual possibilities. The more flack I get just seems to harden my resolve however and I begin to look for meaning in this image. As with the last one, I remove the natural colour and this time tint it red, crop the arms close to the torso and remove the small bit of head that remains in view. A red truncated cross blending into a black background. Now that has possibilities!
What is that black environment the torso floats within? Space? The unconscious? Why not both?
Once this picture makes the final leap into the public view its origins within my life experience will not matter much. Perhaps in the end only a few who have something gritty in their own life story will find meaning here and they will find their own meaning, not mine. A new image born into the world. The potential for new meaning.