Open 4X5: Collection As Memory

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Collection As Memory

Still life is what I purpose to do. Although miniature, architecture, landscape and portraiture are all areas of photography I do want to explore. Still life tops my list on many levels. My first realized fascination with still life was with a volume of books that my mother would purchase piece meal at the grocery store. I must have been no older than seven or eight. The books were design for a young audience, filled with illustrations that explained everything from clouds to insects, the south-pole to the planets; in short a child’s illustrated encyclopedia. But what really stayed with me to this day were the glossy covers. On the cover of each volume was a still life, a variety of objects carefully composed, (sometimes with a landscape as backdrop, perhaps with a barn and silo), a still life that in essence shouted out the wonder of all things. In many ways the covers resembled Joseph Cornell’s box assemblages, a visual puzzle or rhyme designed to intrigue. It is unfortunate that the books disappeared when I left home, the template for my idea is gone. My fascination with all things also had me collecting from a very young age as well. To this day I have been accused of saving everything and indeed have many collections of various kind. Each collection or random box of stuff serve me much like a time machine, with each object I have a connection, a memory that is often stronger than photographs from the same period. How these memories serve me is something to ponder. Through the photographic process of locking down the objects new life as still life I will access what value the objects continue to hold for me. Association to object and place are both a blessing and curse; it is no wonder that to become a Jesuit Priest you must renounce worldly possessions as a test of your faith. Yet on the other hand the husbandry of both object and place are critical for the success of future generations.

I did some test shots today to see how the idea translates, if my images are flat I will attempt what I call the landscape of density.

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