Saturday, May 23, 2009

Soaking up the Green

Can't quite get enough greens...inside or out. Wishing that, like Jeff wall, I had a large format digital and could take about 36 small images of both scenes below and knit them together. Well not small actually, the bigger the better, but each image say, of a 12 x 12 inch space. The problem with trying to technically represent all of the nuances of green here is the inability to fix an aperture on any one area. Shooting many close ups allows Wall to control all of those various squares of light and detail. Another reason why his work has such an absorptive quality.

What if how we got to a poem was suddenly only the beginning of the poem? What if, like Wall, we looked at things for longer periods of time, and then imagined the process of writing as a series of stages? What does it mean to try and represent a moment of illumination so deeply?

Also the sense of depth. And textures, the drama of the contrast and all that is happening in and out of the frame.

More on this...


Brenda Schmidt said...

Nice! And I think something just clicked. Or is close to clicking. Yay and thank you!

R. said...

Oh, illumination. Is that what poems are about? And photographs? Or is that just another expression of the nostalgia for the absolute that seems to be built into human nature? How to subvert that nostalgia, and keep the illumination? By looking at the world in small pieces, an endless series of questions (not statements) (or statements)?

This is a fascinating idea, the process of writing (or did you mean reading?) as a series of stages. Especially if those stages are somehow made visible in the writing (reading?) itself. Particularly interesting since I've been playing with stitches of handheld images (in a sense the opposite of Jeff Wall's precision ("I was a little bit tired of the idea of photography allowing you to see everything," Olivo Barbieri said, and I agree): see though you really have to look at a print, not quite Wall-size but almost, up at the Gladstone in Toronto for another week [advt!] ) but what is the equivalent in words? I don't know.

(enjoyed your trees/banff/green/slice pix)

Chien Bâtard said...

Well, yes, illumination is certainly a nostalgic term to toss into the poetry fray. But yes, I do want illumination in art. Complillumination though, not the simplistic variety, but the kind that, as Eileen Myles said recently in a post on Harriet, throws me back into my thoughts...

But I love the idea that when Wall sees a photo that's the beginning of a process of bringing that image to life. He doesn't just snap it--as yours truly does--and be done with it. Or, as we poets sometimes do, "see" and go home and write that illuminated moment, or that idea....what if, what if that moment of noticing a poem is present is simply the beginning.

R. said...

Yes, the beginning... but how to go on from there? Maybe this is the genesis of sequences like Rachel Blau DuPlessis' Drafts?

In photography there seems to be a distinction between the "decisive moment" school and the "high concept" school of which Wall is the exemplar... though that makes me wonder if the image or the idea comes first. (I think Wall has written about this.)

And sometimes I detect too much idea and not enough art. Not so much in Wall but certainly in his imitators (of which there are (too) many, I think).

Chien Bâtard said...

RBD's work doesn't spring to mind here, but perhaps someone like Susan Howe?

Imitators, yes, many imitators. But don't most poets learn by imitating? Not necessarily by learning the tools of the trade--how to draw an image, craft a line, then string them together, or think of construct and work material in that way...this is perhaps a way of thinking about what conceptual art can offer poetry, and not just poetry that is by nature conceptual...I am just thinking out loud here.

As for the fact of too much art, or too much thinking etc, isn't art always looking for balance whatever its aesthetic or poetic source?