I love this image. Plain and simple. The mystery, the sense of mass, the curiosity, the edgy feeling of being in an urban landscape and the experience while capturing the moment. This is at least what I feel. How about you? Does the viewer experience what I experience as the artist? Does it matter? Indeed the perpetual and timeless inquiry of an artist and critic.
I was participating in a wonderful workshop hosted by Kim Weston Photography at the San Miguel Mission in Central California. In attendance as mentors were such notables as Roman Loranc and Randy Efros (and entire AZ crew) not to mention Kim Weston. The culmination of the three-day workshop was to be a book, “San Miguel Mission”. A publication of the artist’s work from that workshop, work that documented the historic mission.
My ego fully fluffed, 4×5 at hand, I was coming up empty. Sheets of film, unexposed, remained in my film holders. Every other participant appeared to be burning through their film or storage card. So much so that our evenings were spent viewing the digital work of the day. My ego was deflating quickly…creativity receding into that unknown locale.
This is not an unfamiliar experience for me, nor for other artists (I continually hope in desperation and embarrassment). Creativity has its own time, place and space. It is not conjured nor commanded. It flows in and around…through and from within us. It fills a vacuum—empty space…a quiet mind and an uninterested ego…a receptive body. There is a circuit that is tangible when the creative connection is made. It is a glorious feeling, truly unparalleled in my experience. It can come and go equally at the flip of the switch.
My solution is often to just start clicking the shutter…literally. Set the camera, put some film in it (or not) and click the shutter. This priming begins the process. Fuel to ignite the physical sensation begins to capture my attention—mind quiets, breathing slows, sound input and peripheral vision becomes more localized. “Switch”. The switch has been thrown. A balanced current flows within me. Harmony of thought and body. Warmth.
On the final day of our workshop, still feeling lost in my non-creative drama, I separated myself from the group and walked away from the Mission proper. I spotted an racquetball or handball court further out on the property. My breath increased, I walked faster. Eye on the sun, I circled the court until the sun was at my back. “Switch”…I set up my camera, composed shadows, lines and mass, focused…then took the scene out of focus…”Click”. Done.
From the moment I saw this scene through my ground glass I knew this was my workshop image. I was excited, I was breathless…I was taken into a storyline. It was truth for me, a point of visual, audible, physical and spiritual conjunction.
Truth is a lofty word indeed. In context, I speak in terms of pure feeling, lack of thought. Tangible balance and harmony within one’s mind, body. It is a drug like effect but with the clarity of the pure light. Truth. Not yours, but mine.
So what is the point of this? The perpetual and timeless inquiry of an artist and critic—Do you like this image? Does it matter? Creativity is a multi-faceted expression. It is indeed important that during the exploration and development of our creative craft we desire and receive peer review. This however is about the craft. At its core, the act of creativity alone is as important as breath, as important as food and water. Sustenance.
When the switch is thrown eat heartily my friends and breath in the gift.