Monday, October 29

Beneath The Surface, What?

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In the papal tombs under St. Peter’s you walk through corridors, tunnels actually, which open onto rooms. Some are behind glass, others behind ropes. Each is a display. And you see a surface like this where tiled arches hide caskets behind tiled frescoes of a number of papal bodies and perhaps in the center of a room is a sarcophagus like this displaying a grandly carved marble of a pope in death’s repose.

Is it grisly? Is it reverent? No, and no. At least not for me. What it was was a surface. But the speed of the people-line gave me no time to interpret or intuit what the reality must be if it looked like this. I’d hoped that if I made a photograph that captured that surface that later, like now, I’d find the time to penetrate this presentation. To work out what this Vatican culture’s message was.

But as I processed this image of Ambrosius on the wall overlooking one of the Piuses in marble there was too much information hidden away. Too much history between these two men that had vanished like a bridge gone into the mists. I have no idea why they lie so near to one another. What grouping this represents. I sense no pattern , only pomp and astonishing wealth. And again, I wonder if there is something here which will take me to the meaning of piety: or if this surface acts more as a curtain than a window to understanding what piety means?


NOTE: You will often find in-depth descriptions of this Italian visit among the comments-section below both as I add onto them and as you prompt my memory. I'll try to restrict my thoughts exclusively to today's image here on the home page and enlarge upon them in the comments attachments to a day’s posting as the discussions unravel. Those comments begin here. To follow the thread chronologically start at October 7th.


Chad Oneil Myers said...

Great image, Ted.

Brian Bastinelli said...

Ted this is one of my favorite images so far. I am not completely sure why however.

I love the composition. The exposure seems to be "dead" on. But I think it is the contrast in color between the two subects that is most arresting to me.

I enjoy looking at this image so maybe the more I look the clearer it will become as to why I am so strongly drawn to it.

Ted Byrne said...

Thanks fellas,

This was a cool project. See, they bathed this room in warm tungsten lights. Everything really was orange, it wasn't a light balance thing. But, I knew I could recover the marble tones in PP, so I didn't try to white balance at the scene. The thing is, when I recovered the marble, I realized that the wall art was astonishing in orange/gold as the designers had decided. So I found it necessary to restore the tiled frescos to their warmth while holding onto the shimmering coolness in the marble. The contrast seems to reeeeeely pop. Perhaps that's what you're sensing Brian?

It's unnatural, but you can't quite tell why... Or at least that was my final intent. It seemed as if there should be some unnatural feeling in the world's most lavish underground graveyard, eh?