I am often completely creatively satisfied and inspired by our real, literal world. As evidence, my archives contain thousands of photos of very straightforward, representational images of my observations. Something honest, heartbreakingly beautiful, sad or amusing compelled me to make all of those images. Life just as it is, is often all that I need to want to make photographs. When that is the case my aim is to make a photo that is as pure an observation of appreciation and a preserved likeness of whatever initially sparked my interest as I am able to produce.
But just as my reading life dances along some kind of invisible current bouncing me from memoir to criticism to literature to science fiction and round and back again as if guided by an unknown but explicit design – sometimes my eye or my subconscious inner eye seems to find reality lacking and looks beyond the tangible world for subject matter.
It’s not something I tend to be aware of while I’m shooting. But when I get my scans back, it becomes patently obvious that I’ve been on a visual vacation from reality and have given myself over to imagined, alternate landscapes. I do this by tesselating reality through multiple exposures or by carving a slice of figmentary world out of the triangulation between, me, my lens, and a reflective surface . . . or as below, in a combination of the two.
There’s magic at play in the way a slight shift in my position vis-à-vis a piece of plate glass allows me to create a host of momentary realities, worlds-within-worlds that exist only for me in that fine sliver of dialog between my personal lens and the larger one that’s out in the open for all to see. That these possibilities, these universes, brush right up against reality, and that I can choose any one of these myriad, ephemeral worlds to freeze and hold forever within a rectangle of film always seems to strike me as a fresh discovery. Which makes sense, I suppose, it’s never the same way twice.
That is the kind of ordinary magic that leaves me dumbstruck. And, it offers up a useful metaphor for me of the unseen worlds and layers we, and those around us, all contain. It would be, I think, overwhelming, to see this way all of the time. But sometimes I guess my camera knows I need to be reminded that while there is beauty and heartbreak and humor sitting on the surface of life in ample sufficiency to have us believe what we see is all there is, buried underneath, mostly unseen, there is so much more. There are layers and layers, worlds within worlds, magic, even, if we look deeply beyond what is tangible and what is obvious.
Keep your eyes wide open to it all!