When I go to an art museum now, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a contemplative moment alone with a work of art. My gaze often includes other people’s gaze and, increasingly, the photos they are taking, too. What is it that draws certain people to certain paintings and not to others as they’re walking to and fro; what makes them stop; what arrests their gaze? Are we akin, we and the painting?
Now, my gaze adjusts to a new image that often includes the painting, the viewer, and the iphone photo record. Is this becoming a new intimate moment, legitimate in itself? --Something, not to be shouldered aside or blundered through, but witnessed in and of itself, becoming its own screen, its own composed image?
Picasso Museum Paris
Mona Lisa 1 Louvre Paris
Musee d'Orsay Paris
Musee d'Orsay Paris
The Broad Museum Los Angeles
The Broad Museum Los Angeles
Mona Lisa 2 Louvre Paris
Like fiction as compared to documentary, sometimes a blurred photograph might create a more accurate, nuanced, deeper, complete, nay, clearer picture than the clarity of fstop 64 on a tripod. Like fiction, it might contain the thoughts perspective and experience of the writer, the photographer. But like fiction, too, these blurry photos may be more personal, and may mean nothing to anyone else without the story. I’ve included two stories, then, for Lille-Flandres and Laguna Huaypo.
CNCF, Lille Flandres to Paris Nord was taken from the train heading into Paris, as I was returning after visiting the grave of my great uncle at the Bedford Cemetery In Ypres, Belgium one early March. Philip Starr went to Canada in 1916, trained in England, shipped off to the front and, like so many of the finest men of his generation, was promptly shot. A chill wind blew through the cemetery and a lone gardener mowed the grass in the distance, but at his gravestone, I could see that he lay among good company, an American among the Royal Engineers and among “soldiers known only to God.” This was not the only cemetery and I was not the only relative visiting in a land still shrouded with somber grief even to this day, 100 years later. At the one bright, bustling café in Ypres one could feel the attempt of the young people trying to lift free of this pervading aura and bring liveliness to a new future. So this photograph represents speed, not just of this train speeding from the Lille Flandres Station into Paris Nord, but also, speeding from 1917 into the present of 2015.
Laguna de Huaypo, Chincheros, Peru
Many North Americans associate the Peruvian Andes with the actress Shirley MacLaine, for some reason, and have read her 1977 book, Out on a Limb, where we all learned that the Urubamba Valley Peru is regularly visited by extraterrestrials from the Pleiades. She didn’t meet them, herself, she says; but she knows people who did. Now believers travel to Peru on certain celestial occasions to wait for a visitation. I was riding in a car toward Chincheros in 2016, when someone pointed out the window toward Laguna de Huaypo, and said that this was where the UFOs from the Pleiades landed and, when the stars were aligned, UFOlogists from world-wide gathered to wait for them. So this photo was just an iphone grab shot out the window of a car laboring up the mountain grade, but the result somehow captures for me the mystery and blurriness of the reality here in a way that feels as if there might just be an aura from the Pleiades infusing it.
Coast Starlight, Los Angeles to Redding
Highway 8, Crandon to Monico, Wisconsin
Rialto Bridge, Venice
Grand Canal, Venice
Avenue President Figueroa Alcorta, Buenos Aires
Blvd. du Mono, Lome, Togo
mother's day, Huilloc School, Peru 2017
Several miles above Ollantaytambo, where tourists catch the train to Machu Picchu, is the small town of Huilloc. With a group of photographers, I visited the school in 2017. It was a Monday in May, the day after mother’s day, and the students in the 3rd grade class were writing messages. In this school, the students do their studies in the Quechua language until the 5th grade where everything changes to Spanish. These are their daily, not ceremonial, clothes. And in this town, like many others, weaving designs and colors signify to which village or perhaps weaving cooperative a person belongs. These red and black designs signify the Huilloc weaving community, the Huayruros, after the red and black fruit of the Huayaro tree from lowland Amazonian Peru. Together, I am told, the red and black create completeness, and the huayaro seeds have been used since Inca times as amulets to summon riches and luck. This is a school that welcomes visitors, and we were invited to visit classrooms and the recess games of tag and soccer. Note the safe base of the pole; the soccer goal and waiting goalie. Luck and riches indeed.