Why did this crazy thing excite me so much?
Walking through a warehouse stuffed full of objects and furnishings this horn cried out to heard, so I stopped and waited while it struck up a dialogue in me. These things happen you know? Just pay attention to that tiniest sound of its identity, and how it meets your identity, and you have the basis for making something out of it.
Just a response is all one needs, whatever it is, a fragrance on the breeze that says, ‘hey, stop here a minute and take me in,’ a glancing play of light, a change in the scale of things that suddenly wakes you up to your own human measure. Any of these, and a 1000 more intimate details of our working minds when they are at play, and you have what you need to make something entirely yours.
Out of Nothing.
There’s an expression in filmmaking called room tone which is when the sound person asks for quiet so that the quiet of the room, the tone that exists in it, can be saved to used to fill any gaps in the sound.
This room gave off a tone to me the minute I entered it. The cloth , this simple ragg-y thing, set the whole room to its presence, and a mighty thing it was.
6 Long Weeks
I have finally finished looking at more than 40,000 prints and signing over 15,000 of them for the sale of my Archive. Yesterday and today were, and are, travel days, and I am deeply tired from the intensity of the effort. So the next few days will still be quiet time for me with pictures only until I recover enough to write about the images.
But I wanted to thank all of you for your support and patience as well as the effort some of you made to keep the observations about life and photographs flowing. I’d like to thank Jose and Ece, and all the rest for the wisdom and feelings your comments contained.
Tin Tin and the Girls
Pigs and Boots
Small town in Provence. Market and street.
I had been continuing to work on some still lives with new objects that had come to me through my friend Gianni. The various weights and materials interested me, and this was a setup I had just started when I remembered that I was to open the new Leica store in Florence later that day.
I left the work as – in progress – and off we went to Florence. While waiting there for the Leica activities to begin I wandered around the nearby streets and came across this little drama on a dark side street. As soon as I saw her face I felt as if she was out of the 16th century paintings of madonnas and virgins.
Strange objects arrived on this day 2 years ago from my friend Gianni. He walked in and put them on the table and they looked like language, with glyphs, signs or symbols, and I swept them up for use in still lives to come, but here they sit as they were given. Quiet but filled with promise.
Dear Reader, My youngest brother was killed last night in a head on collision 3 hours from New York City. I am going up there to be with the family for a few days. I will add a few days of picture-a-day work to this post to carry me through.
September 10, the still life went through some changes. To paraphrase something Jasper Johns once said, ‘ …you do something to a work, and then you do it again…’
September 11, The BBC sent a camera crew down to make a video.
September 12, Silvia brought over a still oven warm cake made from her eggs and milk and flour. Then we ate it.
Pleasure in Contemplation
While I was working with these objects I picked up an old funnel that I used a year before and found inside the funnel another small clump of ‘smoke bush’ fluff which had settled into the form of the cone shape of the funnel. The color and shape seemed to relate to the conical tops of the tin objects so I put it on top of the round form just to see what would happen.
Still life seems to me to be a form of play in which the objects have a life of their own, and as I move them around the stage something comes from them, a presence, a spirit, even sometimes a sense of their potential force. I add and subtract and then sit and look, waiting for something to speak to me or suggest another move. In that sense they are always open to subtle changes as I become familiar with their character and how it projects into the space.
This is still new to me and I am finding a kind of pleasure in contemplation that I hadn’t known came with the territory of the still life.
Most of this still life work has been made in the dark or near dark of my studio, but when I saw a slice of light falling through a crack in the covered skylight – a change in the season allowed the sun to be there for 5 minutes – striking this talismanic figure ,I sensed that I should spend some time seeing where it would take me. It was only then that I saw the marking on the box behind the figure, which for some reason seemed to read as a falling figure, the kind one would see in a painting by Bosch, and then of course I couldn’t look at the box without seeing it that way.
How often does that happen? Something is right there but it remains invisible until the right combination of elements makes it visible, and then a fresh start is possible.