Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Clarity VS Mystery

Brooks Jensen posted an interesting thought on LENSWORK DAILY today, interesting to me at least. The photo at the top of his post is a puzzle in that the subject isn't readily discernible and Brooks says that it is nothing you could guess no matter how long you try. He goes on to say that if he revealed what it was that the picture would be "dis empowered" because the moment we recognize something we move on.

This idea interests me because one of the early criticisms of my photographs as art was that "it isn't esoteric enough" and since that time I've had other comments that suggest that I should introduce more "mystery" into my photos. Brooks says that if he told what the photo was, our reaction would be "Got it. Next." so he doesn't reveal the subject in order to keep the viewer pondering.

In a sense that is the same reason I sometimes alter images, as in the one above, although not usually to the point of being unrecognizable, rather I do it to reduce the distracting elements and help the viewer focus on qualities other than the 'thingness' (if that's a word), to see the shapes, forms, lines and colors involved apart from "trees with snow".

Photos that are so completely abstract the subject that they are totally unrecognizable are fun but hopefully they should also reveal something so that when we discover the actual subject we think about it in a new way. For me the world is by nature mysterious. What we see as we walk through the world is a superficial representation of pieces of a vast mystery, the mystery of life and the universe. For me photography is a discipline for trying to penetrate that mystery, first for myself and hopefully for my audience.

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