Sunday, July 22, 2012

abstract patterns all around us

The late Jack Horkheimer used to end each of his brief "Star Gazer" episodes with the admonition to "keep looking up!" Sometimes, if one is looking for photo inspirations or ideas, it pays to look up even when one is indoors. It's easy (relatively) to be drawn into an instance of beautiful architecture, just as it would seem easy to make great photographs if one could only be always surrounded by a gorgeous landscape. In truth, although we rightly treasure images that painters and photographers have created based on wonderful scenery, there is art involved. Feeling elated by what surrounds us is natural for all of us, but to convey that feeling in an image is always a challenge.

The flip side of this idea (pardon the ancient metaphor!) is that with imagination we can make something interesting out of what may seem highly pedestrian subjects. Here's what I was getting at when I mentioned training our eyes - and our attention - in all directions, including up (and down). If you try to see what's around you in an abstract way, as the patterns of light and dark that are really all that our eyes perceive, sometimes the mind starts to see things differently from normal, ingrained interpretation. That happened to me as I stared at a ceiling for a few moments. I saw abstract shapes, not  simple shadows and textures. Even though an object recognizable as a lamp is a focus of the composition, my attention is drawn to the surrounding patterns which remind me of various kinds of living things, but none definite. I hope some of those qualities come through in this small version of the image.

One thing about an abstraction: you're not tied to a realistic representation. I think this image also has possibilities when presented upside down. Here it is, also a bit larger to make the texture a little more evident.

Jess Isaiah Levin


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