Today’s post and read brings you deeper into the intimate space that comes to life in this passion that is my photography. We always have a chance to chat about the final digital image that you see on the screen. This little green gem goes back many years. It is near and dear to my heart and serves as a great example of why these photos are scarce and almost impossible to recapture.
We have covered the core elements Oil, Ink, Glass and Air in previous conversations. Here you see what happens when someone is left alone, at night, with a camera, and these four elements. There is no Photoshop trickery here. This is a thin ~2″ square glass vase filled with olive oil at a very shallow angle (yes olive oil). The angle of the glass vase is hinted at by the white/silver lines on the bottom right of the photograph. The green is in fact, a pale blue drop of water colored with ink. Yellow + Blue = …
The drop enters the vase top right off camera and slowly, and I mean slowly, works its way down the slope to the bottom left. What is curious to my eye is that the droplet appears to be attempting to lean in and go uphill. It begged then and still asks why are we going uphill? Do we simply experiencing life as an uphill trudge? In reality and fact, the drop is simply following gravity. Let the natural forces do the work and simply be there for the ride. What a metaphorical lesson for all of us. Does life intend for us to lean in, lean together and push hard against the forces around us? Or does life prefer that we infiltrate like water (Thank you Kurt Motamedi, PhD) as a strategy and tactical approach to managing the challenges that lie ahead. Don’t force. Don’t push. Flow in through the points of least resistance and effort.
To me, this speaks to all of our internal struggles to climb, to ascend, to be improve and be better than Sisyphus and his insanity. Climb the hill, push or lift the boulder. Have it roll down the hill and carry the same rock back up the hill. The gentle drop in the vase of olive oil in glass can represent this eternal exercise. To the right, Titian demonstrates this in more literal imagery. The rock and the burden are crushing and heavy. Demons appear to be hidden in the nooks and crannies of the rocks. In Marakata there are no demons or burdens visible. How does that reflect your personal burden and tribulation. Hidden and self contained or brightly visible? Unlike Titian’s painting, in Marakata there is no place to hide.
Our next step is to visit on the Zen-like photograph here Our live audiences are typically stunned to learn and understand how this came into existence. Imagine if you will … You are looking down upon the top down image of a glass vase partially filled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar with an air pocket. The olive oil fills the vase with a hint of the vase seen top right. The inner surface of the vase is seen as the air bubble running along the bottom then up to the top finishing in the wavy curve at the top of the vase. The balsamic vinegar fills below the oil as the dark brown undertone. So subtle. So gentle. So peaceful. Nothing is forced, the elements merely finds their way to the most appealing equilibrium by simply setting up the conditions to encourage that state of balance to exist.
There are countless subtleties in the reflections and refractions of light passing through the different interfaces between the various media. Light bends in remarkable ways. I have tried to go back and restage the set up for these two pictures and cannot get it right. The angle of the vases at the moment the elements entered. The equilibrium attained and held for however brief it was. The moment, vase, olive oil, balsamic and possibly the air were all unique.
They are over fourteen years old and represent a cornerstone moment in my artistic journey. These two represent a singular voice, perspective and the start of my unique brand of photography. So I look at them from time to time and wonder can I repeat them, only better. Therein lies a trap. I escaped a very common trap in art – emulating other people’s work. My voice and joy in the artform was crisply defined when was I was no longer attempting to repeat or emulate the brilliant work of masters. Here today I find myself trying to repeat and improve upon my own work. The reason behind that is that I want to be able to share a crisper, better photograph. IF it ready to come into existence again, it will make an appearance, otherwise I simply have to breathe and see what reveals itself under the lens.
Perhaps, I simply need to stop, pause, reflect upon and enjoy the wonderous simplicity and calm in these two photographs. Simple enjoy them as masterpieces from my earliest days. They are as good as the technology and my skills would permit. Acceptance is bliss they say. No need to push. No need to go uphill. No heavy rocks to shoulder. Rather simply, enjoy life’s ride as easily as the oil, inks, air and water enjoyed in making these fleeting moments come to life. Start walking down the hill and setting the burdens aside. Do we need to carry them? Are they important? I challenge myself to ask why would I carry that load?
I accept the photos. They are simple beauty.
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2 Replies to “Visit with Jim – Contour and Marakata”
Adriana C. S. Carmezim
‘So subtle. So gentle. So peaceful. Nothing is forced, the elements merely finds their way to the most appealing equilibrium by simply setting up the conditions to encourage that state of balance to exist.’
Well putted, every thing. Appreciated all. One can be quite powerful left with a camera by night (or day) and one’s thoughts. Going with the flow Jim, and enjoying it.
Jim McCormick III[ Post Author ]
Adriana, Thank you. This is my origin story. Where it all begins. So much energy is wasted on forcing things. So much energy is conserved by going with the flow. So much to learn in a simple pair of photographs. Be safe, be well. Jim