Clearly, the purpose of this website is to begin to move my photographic work out into the world, after so long a gestation in isolation.
But it’s not clear a website can do this.
Because, in the same sense that “meaning” in abstract painting is generated as a consequence of the realization that what one is looking at in painting, is paint, not a window, it is true that “meaning” in most of my own work is likewise based on just what’s right there as marks on a particular piece of paper, and thus has little to do with most contemporary photography.
Such “meaning” is assembled uniquely each time anew from the infinite particles of meaning we have painstakingly and individually evolved over a lifetime in making sense, literally, from the optical chaos into which we each were born; it uses that evolved particulate language of making sense from what is seen, and thus of all visual meaning, to express something, however complex, not representational of anything but itself.
But of course “itself” is its physical embodiment, and any change in its physicality changes its meaning. Most photography, and some of mine, survives this translation easily enough; Cartier-Bresson, as an obvious example, placed little value on the details of his prints and his images can be seen across a variety of media and remain essentially intact.
Of most of mine, and of all my recent work, that simply isn’t true. A photograph whose meaning is embodied in the particularities of its physical presence as a pigment print on rag paper 24″ x 50″ will have that meaning always radically changed, never improved, and often lost entirely when translated to pixels on a computer screen, particularly since the change of scale is as crucial as the change of medium.
These prints are comparatively large because that is the only way they can be completely experienced. Viewed small enough to be taken in by the eye all at once, they remain stable, which is not my intention. When larger, they can be viewed closely enough to burst suddenly into a living expressiveness, with a complex of movement and interactions that is literally the life of the work, and carries the meaning of the work.
So there will always be an unbridgeable divide between the real thing and its digital (or any other) reproduction. But that’s hardly unique to my work; and something often jumps that divide, hopefully often enough to awaken an interest in seeing the real thing; and what I’m really doing here is based on that thought.
My objective is simple: I was an art dealer for 25 years, and a specialist in photographs; I’m comfortable in that world, and I’d like to move my work out into it now, so that the real thing can be seen as it really is; if this site helps accomplish that, while providing some pleasures of its own in the meanwhile, it will have done everything I could have wanted from it.
[& further to the above, a note posted in the Commonweal exhibition]
APPROACHING THE WORK
My work has the peculiarity that it is meant to be approached, which I mean altogether literally as the process of starting from a normal viewing distance, and progressively moving closer, noting attentively and in sequence the changes that occur in the image, until really quite close to it.
At some point, just when the image expands beyond the capacity of the eye to take it in all at once, it should break loose from the bounds of its borders and spring to life, suddenly a complex of movements that are the music of the work, and the sign of life itself.
When I see that in the camera, that is the photograph, that is for me the decisive moment; and so of course I hope you will see that in the images on the wall, which are the result of that moment, and hopefully convey it forward in time, right here onto these walls.