When I'm stopped at a red light I always find it fascinating to look at what other drivers are doing, especially if I can't see their whole faces. I don't know, maybe that's kind of creepy, but I'm always curious to guess what the person looks like from their hands or elbows or ears, to know what it is they're thinking about or where they're going. There are so many stories happening all around, all the time--in my worst moments it almost feels like I'm drowning in them, but in my best it's inspiring.
On Saturday we took the kids to Liberty Station to have lunch at this bakery we like and to play at the park nearby, and along the way I got this, which is the latest candidate for my "Stochasm" series. Now, what attracts me about this picture is the same thing that attracts me about all of the other minimalist photographs I've done lately: lines, curves, colors, textures, and light. I can't help thinking about this one differently, though, because the subject is so obviously what it is, and there isn't any clear way for me to divorce the visual elements from the context implied by the subject.
It's so easy to read the image as simply patriotic, as the upward angle and the lighting and the implication of motion imply a certain majesty--but this isn't really my intention and doesn't encapsulate my feelings about patriotism in general and America in particular, which are complex. I have always loved my country and so much of its history, have been proud to be related to veterans, have had a profound respect and admiration for the idea of America, but as I've gotten older I've become uncomfortable with the idea of nationalism, especially insofar as it gets in the way of relating to others with simple humanity.
None of this complexity is in this image--it is, as I said, an image of majesty and power and awe and beauty. I'm not sure I can even imagine a single image that captures the way I actually feel, at least not in a way that's nuanced and subtle. So I have this quandary: I like this image and think it's beautiful, and insofar as it is a good example of the aesthetic I'm looking for with this new series, I think it works. But I don't think it really represents me and I'm not sure how I feel about what it says, and I'm therefore not sure how I feel about finally including it in the series.
I always hate giving up on an image I like, but I guess that's how it goes with this whole artist thing. I keep hearing that you have to be ruthless when editing your own work, so if something isn't right, don't keep it.
Still, I think I'll hang onto this one for at least a little while longer. Just to see.
Cracks and Shadows
Lately I've been really drawn to more minimalist images. Just lines, textures, shadows, curves, a pure aesthetic that doesn't really have a deeper meaning or tell a story. Except that everything tells a story. A patched crack in an asphalt road, cracked again right through the patch. A story of age and wear and, I suppose, futility. But there's no context; this could be anywhere.
Truth be told, it's cracks like that that are one of the biggest reasons we want to move out of our neighborhood. But that's a different story.
I wondered, as I was walking past the man in the bow tie, what his tickets were for. A concert, I suppose, or maybe a comedy or magic show. But I didn't stop to ask, I broke my stride only long enough to snap this picture. He noticed me, then looked away when it was clear I wasn't stopping to inquire. Then I moved on, toward the barbecue booth a short ways down where Juliette and her sister had decided we'd eat. I suppose he went on standing there.