Sunday, July 05, 2009

Subject and subjective


200 S Faye Ave
Monahans, Texas


Every once in a while you get a picture that says to you, Yes, that's what I saw. But more importantly, it makes you say, Yes, that's what I felt.

This is one of those photos. I won't say it's perfect. My grandmother used to say only God did anything perfect. And I can see flaws in this one, such as I wish it had been a little bit more level. But I want to talk a bit about it -- my subjective take on it.

Foremost, I like the plainness of this photo. There is blue sky, a peculiar green building, and weeds. It is forlorn. It is forgotten, presumably empty, and yet, sits there all the same. Not budging an inch. The sky swirls above it, the grass grows around it, and the world of man has moved on. It is so long forgotten that its original purpose isn't even apparent any more. It could have been anything, but certainly even then, it wasn't a masterpiece.

The image is split nearly in half -- half sky, half building. Normally this is not a desired thing in photos; the "rule of threes" is preferred. Perhaps, though, in this case I can get away with it because of the interest each half. In the top half, the soft organically shaped clouds. In the bottom half, your eyes go straight to the windows, two small pair, black and stark. Half a second later you will register the one other window like a discovery, the cemented one. As you keep looking, the roof will begin to register too, a gray band with faded spots, curled-up shingles, its originally laid-out pattern still discernible. Flickering back and forth you then see that every where on the building are imperfections mixed in the patterns, a general state of tension not unfamiliar to human experience.

The photo begins with organic peacefulness, and ends with it, in the sliver of flowering weeds at the bottom. Some light has caught the tips as they seemingly go blowing along to the right beyond our view, where the photo ends.

I suppose you might call this, in part, my artist's statement. Perhaps it's not what I have accomplished, but it is what I strive to invoke. Is it wabi-sabi, as Kevin -- an especially clear-eyed artist photographer -- recently commented? Something like that, but a Western view: Western hemisphere, western sensibility, and the western part of a western state where landscape is the inflexible informer.

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3 comments:

Maya said...

I loved reading your take on this photo. The first thing I noticed was the sky, then the roof, then the windows. It all felt lonely to me.

The Green Stone Woman said...

The sky is what keeps drawing your eyes up away from the building, which is uninteresting to me. I bet nobody can paint a sky like that. If they did, nobody would believe it.

Bobbie said...

This building reminds me of the housing for Mexican workers during the 40's and 50's. Always long and plain like this, the other side would have doors evenly spaced where little brown babies would play with the mamma's hanging the wash on the line. I like this photo, for the dual interest of sky and building.