Wednesday, January 22, 2014


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  It was an outsized in-reach and all around it and in it was a claylike muck that adhered like cement. Once I had stepped into it, the damage was done and I was bound to cross the deepest section though it pulled at my hiking boot with every step. Two car tires half way up showed where a trailer had been enveloped by the machinery. I too was engulfed in industrial viscera. That was the phrase that crystalized the image, and from that point every decision: where I stood and shot in the goo, the lens I used scoop it, the exposures I set and the processing afterward were all determined by that phrase, "industrial viscera."

I received an article in my email today that suggested photography without a message is mere, empty "Aestheticism," and quotes Kant to prove it.

What is the difference between having a message and making something clear? As a photographer, I can't be too concerned with message beyond being properly respectful of others. The task is to find a place, a mountain top or a few cells of honeycomb or an old factory and select from it elements that make something clear of my experience of that place. How I transform the reflected light collected into a photograph is for me about clarifying that experience more than attending to literal appearances. How I process the image is dictated by the image and the feelings that attend it. I try more often than I succeed.

The article spoke about "ruins porn" prettifying rustbelt blight with little regard to those who live there and suffer, and it added a new term, "nature porn" to describe those eco-friendly calendars and the chain-emails that bring us steroidal nature and fill us with dreams of places secluded and wild.

In fact, isn't all art pornography teasing out feelings that we may submit to its will - to lose ourselves in a book or a symphony or a photograph.