Saturday, December 7

Daybreak Commute • Florence, Italy

Firenze Fall 6:45am 10/09/07

That Autumn morning demanded a painting, right? I liked the way the ancient colors began to glow as they absorbed a new-day's energy.  

In a way, we're ashamed of epiphany. Instead we like to boast of a solid line of intention. Huh? Well, anyone remember Inspector Jacques  Clouseau from the Pink Panther? Probably not, that movie's from 1963! YIPES! Peter Sellers, once a comic genius, died at just 54 and his bumbling Clouseau made the otherwise bland 50s-like whodunnit flick a classic. 

"You are pro-bab-ly vundering vy ah deed dat, Eh?" he'd bark after a prat-fall or a wall-collision. And his absurd question reverberates each time I marvel at a processing opening. With my cameras, I hunt for conceptual metaphors. Sometimes there's a pre-conception that sets me stalking but during the safari there are unrelated shots which get dropped into a warehouse. Why'd they get flash-frozen into digital boxes? 

They leave me... "Vundering vy ah deed dat". And then, rooting through my boundlessly big bag O' tools, those images get poked and picked at like a boiled lobster. Did Michelangelo sense 'David' in his stone? Or was he hunting for a shapely madonna only to accidentally release Goliath's nemesis? Did he mutter, "What the hell's this?" as he chiseled away marble? 

How much of 'David' was concept, how much epiphany? Would anyone dare ask the maestro, and would he admit the amount of - found - art? When I write an article, I start with a concept, research it, then, as carefully as possible, frame the story I'm going to tell. Ordinarily that process massages the original concept so the story arc's at least minimally different from its origins. The act of writing causes yet further molding so that the final work usually surprises me. 

Was Michelangelo the genius who took an initial concept and rendered it in marble? Or did the process of rendering 'David' reveal epiphanies? Maybe bridge engineers create a final product that is indistinguishable from an architect's concept. Even in such cases, isn't it likely that construction will reveal opportunities? 

The lady-commuter in my image up there caught my attention as I attempted to find an ancient meaning in her street's structures and palettes. But instead what I found in the digital stone was a
sunrise moment quarried from a vein of glimmering jewels. 

Leaving me  muttering, "What the hell's this?" and smiling at a whispered echo... "You are pro-bab-ly vundering vy ah deed dat, Eh?"

Art asks questions... even to the artist. 

GEEK STUFF: Canon 40D, standard lens. Post in PS2019, assist with myriad tools particularly Alien Skin & Topaz, plus custom brushes and actions. 


Cedric said...

Hi Ted, apologies for this somewhat belated comment as it should not have taken me so long to tell you what a banger this picture is. As much in terms of craft and aesthetics as emotive response. "Glimmering jewels", what a nice way to describe this work. When I'm in Florence next year, I won't be taking any photos; I would only compare them to this one and be disappointed.
Anyway, I enjoyed your post, as always. I cannot speak for Michelangelo or for you, but I can speak of my son's work. He's written 20 novels, including a trilogy, an epic series comprising of 13 books, three novellas and a book of poetic short stories. He has also started working on a new series. When he sits to write, he has no idea where the story will go. He senses himself sitting in a theatre, alone but for the projectionist who projects a film onto a screen, which my son then converts to the written word. I have watched my son laugh and cry as he writes depending on what is revealed, taken along for the ride just as his readers are. We have often spoken of this process and my son has, in the early days, wondered "vy ah deed dat" but he stopped questioning it. He just accepts it as what it is, without fully understanding what is going on. He will however, refuse to take credit for the story, but at the same time, rarely tries to explain it beyond saying that he is simply grateful that it happens at all.
He recently bought his own place and moved out of home and I sorely miss watching him write.
In the past, in many blog posts and probably on numerous comments here, I have theorised that art picks its instrument that will best facilitate its need for expression. The instrument of course, being the artist, be it a painter, sculptor, photographer, writer etc. I don't know this for a fact, hence the theorising, but I base it on the biographies and interviews of artists I've admired over my life. I base it on my son's experience and my artistic friends who have discussed this with me in the past.
As always, I am rambling on. Let me just compliment this work again, it is beautiful in its rendition. I hope that my imagination can render the streets of Italy as bejewelled as what you have created here.
Thanks for all the thought provoking posts and all the wonderful work you've shared this past year. Sorry I haven't paid you back in kind.
Merry Christmas and happy New Year Ted, to you and your loved ones.

Ted said...

Whoa! Thanks for the kind words. Glad this moment resonates with you. Ever since I started using digital... the world of color opened up. Prior to that it was a photographic palette that was just too expensive to dramatically augment (or even explore) images in my darkroom. Pre and concurrent processing was my limit in color. Simultaneously post processing dominated my endless darkroom time. But only macro tools were really available... chemistry, dodge/burn, cropping, spot polychontrasting, vignetting, faux edging, glass plate overlays, toning, paper (and paper size), and decisions re condenser versus diffusion enlarger along with their variable crystals and lenses... etc...etc... etc..... etc. etc...etc... etc..... etc. etc...etc... etc..... etc. etc...etc... etc..... ETC. And to any nonrich amateurs, all of that was practical only in monochrome.

Now, after over two decades in the digital world I remain overwhelmed by the challenge of full spectrum color image processing. I recall the amazement of watching prints emerge in a tray of Dektol and the brown fingernails we sported as we used our fingers to warm faces or highlights on the emerging prints (heat speeds the process in those spots while the rest of the image leisurely emerges). But that amazement pales each time I discover each new digital technique available to us.

Which means I'm too often infatuated with process over concept. I cannot light upon a style. Each new possibility blows away what I thought was a comfortable methodology. I took the reference photo above in 2007. Twelve years later I discovered how to do what I did up above. Which means I've become (along with too many other photographic artists) a slave of color.

I lack the psychological strength to beat the saturation slider down. It's a sort of arm wrestling contest where intensity conquers subtlety. I had no idea that those colors were hidden in that image until i went on a technological safari to tease them out. And there I sat, just as amazed at the contents of that image as I once was at the emerging content of the Dektol sunken print paper.

I'm glad that you share my astonishment with what we can do. It's exactly this exploration that I bring to each new image. Novelists frequently whine over how their characters take control of the direction of a carefully planned plot and narrative. Like your son... I'm an audience to what happens on the screen. It is sort of psychographic, huh?