Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Selfie. The process of making subject matter into a work of art.

I step out of the shower and see that the venetian blind is casting black shadows on my older, hairy, white body. Not a pretty sight you might think, and best not photographed. Besides, this stripy kind of image is common enough and usually used for younger, more attractive models. But I am what is handy and it just takes a second to hold the mini camera at arm's length and collect this image. Much later I begin the next stage of the image making process on the computer photo program ( 'Lightroom', in this case) and realize that, bonanza, I have the possibility of seeing this reversed as white stripes on a black body and set to work to paint and adjust the image to tell a different, and to me, more interesting story.

If I were simply making a figure of fun, some old aborigine decorated for a corroboree, beyond the black stump, far away in the outback of Australia, I hope that I would not make this image, but what occurred to me is that the difference between the white me and the black me here is a trick of light and shadow. The essential job of all the arts is finding and expressing meaning; and painting and decorating the body has to be the earliest form of that process in the visual arts. The point for the Aborigines (and other peoples around the world) of the decoration ( and the music, words and dance that are part of the process) is to participate in the continuing story of creation; that eternal present that must be regularly honoured and created else it fade away forever.

Surely that has always been the central function of the arts, the continual creation and re-creation of meaning - visually and in music, dance or word. My photograph simply participates in that process of making form - finding and building structures that express ideas.

No comments: