Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Prepared Eye

A beloved professor, Edward Pramuk used to say to his students that it was the artist’s job to live with uncertainty. Apart from existing in an artistic and economic landscape that seems to have a mind of its own, I seem to be forever adding new quandaries.

Experience has taught me that what is the burning question today, will be tomorrow’s “been there, done that” and I will move on to more thorny issues. I’ve also learned these puzzles are unanswerable, paradoxical-- all is speculation. The work becomes the casting of my opinions and what I think one day may be diametrically different the next.

Years in the studio have made clear what the methodology needs to be: I make drawings/prints; I revise, make new iterations and move on. How one applies oneself is almost self-guiding. But if, as of late, one is simply taking to the hard city streets with a camera and trying to assay a vision from an ever-dissolving-ever-becoming human phantasmagoria, how does one feed the muse, sensitive oneself and prepare? Oddly, I have found both drawing and making invented photographic images is not a bad way to start and temper one’s vision.

A few months ago, on the heels of spending countless hours digitally manipulating the pinhole images from the Stand in the Light Project, I turned my attentions to making new photographic realities using urban landscapes taken outside and figures shot in the studio. All but the most fantastical of these collages, are believable as having just been taken as single, straight-on photographs. The image made in Photoshop that I cook up in the studio today is likely to inform a vision I capture on the street at some future point. I have already seen this happen.

Are these constructed images any less real than the instantaneous fleeting captures? How are the two types of photographic images in dialogue with each other? Which is more meaningful especially in age where photographs are now routinely faked? How do I interpret and present them in context?