Oranbeg Press @ Across the Gutter.
What do photographs want from us? Why won’t they leave us alone? We create them, and they surround us, hold us captive, demand and extract psychic ransom. We allow ourselves to be overtaken by them and then wonder why we can’t stop taking them, or look away. Is it because photography itself is a compulsion to repeat? With photography, we try to grasp what’s ephemeral and beyond our reach, the world in all its vastness and elasticity. But why do we expect photographs to capture anything real? To yield a true reflection of what we saw, of who we were? More accurately, of what was. Because in the hazy blur of what’s lost, truth inevitably comes into greater focus in the past tense.
Animated life is already gone when we blink or click the shutter. Graven yet paper-thin, this is the mythic status of photographs: They somehow allow us to hold on to time—imprinted as an image. But if the myth itself could be fixed as an image, what might come into view? We would only have to scratch its filmy emulsion to find beneath… endless centuries of encrusted emulsion, as if at the edge of our eyelids, nearly sealed while we slept.
Maybe consciousness is a waking dream after all, and photographs are so many fragments of a map. Such a map, if pieced together—an all but impossible task—would account for every arrival and departure, a visual record of the passengers in transit. Although this may sound like science fiction, in terms of imaginative writing and its unintended predictions, we are never very far from its fraternal twin, science fact. In this respect we have to ask, if the whole world is a laboratory and life its ongoing experiment, are we so unsure of what we apprehend with our senses that we need further proof? Any examination of history involves a form of time travel, and science too demands that we go back—to run the experiments again, to compare and interpret data. The interpretation of dreams is important in this respect, not only because the unconscious is the one place where we are truly honest with ourselves but because we come to realize that the dream itself is the interpretation—of waking life. The surrealists willingly traversed these coordinates and accrued a billion frequent-flier miles on our behalf—as revealed by art today that defamiliarizes and makes strange what we know, or thought we knew. Pictorial representation that aims to examine and represent the little movies of our own making, the ones that play and loop in our heads night after night, inevitably deposits us on an ever-turning carousel, revolving simultaneously forward and back. What sort of fragments may then be added to a map whose purpose is, at the same time, to orient and disorient? There is, at present, no means to faithfully account for the overlay of routes and detours that allow us to become pleasurably lost. There are far too many of us for that.”