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Boulevard de l’Hôpital

In the past post, I put together a group of pairings of the photographs of Eugène Atget and some of my own, noting the coincidental similarities (link here). I certainly didn’t want to make too much of it. It was just some fun.

Paris

But I had a surfeit of examples and I had to leave a bunch behind. So, I figure, why not post them, too. If I am taking up too much of your time by this surplus, you can always leave the page and find something more profitable. But even if you don’t care to enjoy the joke of this unintended mimicry, you might still enjoy the travelogue. 

Jardin des Plantes, Paris

My late espouséd saint and I spent weeks at at time driving around France, and exploring Paris. We never went to the Eiffel Tower or the Moulin Rouge, but instead found rooms in less frequented quarters of the city and tried to discover what it would be like to live there. We ate in local bistros and cafes and shopped in local stores. We got to know the people in our neighborhoods and enjoyed their friendliness (the celebrated French rudeness is something we have encountered no evidence of). 

Chartres

France is often called by the French the “Hexagon,” because roughly speaking, that is the shape of the nation on the map. We have been to all the corners and came to love them all, although, to be fair, Normandy and Brittany have stood out in our affection. 

Fontenay

These photos cover most of those corners. I could easily post a hundred, two hundred photographs, each distinct, but I have narrowed it all down to a mere 30 of them. 

Confessional, Rouen

As I said, you can look at them as a kind of travelogue — a black-and-white slide show of our vacations — or as a presumptuous comment on the work of Atget. 

Paris

I don’t present them as a serious labor of art, but as a kind of game: seeing parallels in my own visual record of la belle France to the city and countryside of a hundred years ago lodged on film by a man who also claimed no great esthetic achievement in the taking those photos. 

Vezelay

Atget was proved wrong; now his work is taken as art. I have no expectation that the same will happen for mine. It is enough that I had a good time making these images in the first place, and jiggering them around to mimic that of my progenitor. 

Notre Dame de Paris, Easter

Here they be. 

Montluçon

click any image to enlarge

WWI shell craters, Verdun

 

Musée national de la Moyen Âge, Paris

 

Concarneau

 

Apples, Hambye

 

Jardin des Plantes, Paris

 

Locmariaquer

 

Notre Dame de Paris

 

Paris

 

Angoulême

 

Noyon

 

The gods, Palais Garnier, Paris

 

Rue Mouffetard, Paris

 

Paris

 

 

Musee national de la Moyen Âge, Paris

 

Tuileries, Paris

 

5th Arrondissement, Paris

 

Les Eyzies

 

Rouen

 

Paris Opera

 

Bayeux

 

Paris

 

Tuileries, Paris

 

FIN

 

I didn’t do it on purpose. 

In my previous post, I wrote about the effect on me of an exhibit of the photographs of Eugene Atget I saw nearly 50 years ago. Looking at those images at the Museum of Modern Art in New York all those years ago eventually led me to loosen up my own approach to making pictures. 

Where I had been a disciple of Modernism in photography, from Stieglitz to Strand to Weston to Adams, I realized, looking at the Frenchman’s photos, that a looser, more direct approach to the art might be more productive. 

And, in fact, I gave up attempting to make precious jewel-like prints matted in perfect ivory mattes and framed in black aluminum section frames. 

But I had no intention of mimicking Atget’s pictures. Please believe me, I didn’t do this on purpose. 

As I look through the many images I have taken in Paris and in France, I find that there are so many parallels to the pictures of Atget. 

I found myself making records of so many curious and interesting corners of the city, so many details, so many textures and lines, so many storefronts and alleyways, that I could hardly help myself. 

Because I have come to find more interest in reacting to the world around me than in creating what receives the imprimatur of art. 

Being awake and aware of my milieu is what drives me, makes me happy, gives me esthetic fulfillment. 

So, here I have taken some of my photos and edited them, making them black and white and toning them sepia. 

I do not mean for you to believe I am trying to make art here, merely to play a little game, matching up images. 

Many others have taken their cameras around the city of light and consciously mimicked Atget’s work in an exercise of “rephotography,” a Postmodern trope. I am intending no such thing. 

I merely enjoy the little joke of finding in my work these unconscious rhymes with the work of a photographer I have loved for all these years, but haven’t given a whole lot of thought to in decades. 

Such is influence, I guess. You don’t always know it’s there. And you don’t consciously attempt to counterfeit your model. 

But somehow, it has worked its way into your bones, into the way you approach the world, the way you understand it. 

So, here are a group of parallel images. Those on the left are by Eugène Atget, those on the right are mine, albeit gussied up to amplify their similarity to my progenitor. 

I hope you find a twinkle of pleasure in this game. And it is just a game. 

Click to enlarge any image 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIN

 

When she brought in the last bag of groceries, she popped open a diet drink and unbuttoned the top two buttons of her blouse.

“Hot.”

Al pulled his undershirt, nearly transparent with sweat, down over his belly, in deference to decency. The hair on his belly was black in sweatcurls. His trousers were rolled up over his bony knees.

“Yeah, hot.”

They have been married long enough that they had become furniture to each other, like a sofa or bridge table.

“Hot.”

“Yeah.”

“Matthew is visiting this week.”

“Oh yeah? I didn’t know.” He opened up the fridge and yanked back the tab on a cool one.

“Yeah.”

“It’s been what? A year?”

“Two.”

“Yeah.”

He shuffled out of the kitchen and back to the TV to catch the final three innings.

Mary was 52; Al, 59. Matthew was 25, but still in school, working on his second masters degree. The first, in Media, had proved useless.

Now, he was in engineering. “Still avoiding a job,” thought Al.

The Braves were hopeless in the ninth. Philly was leading by seven runs and Atlanta had only the bottom of the order. It was a time Al could be reflective; the game was going nowhere, so his brain wandered.

“Who’s he seeing now?”

“Seeing?”

“Yeah. Who’s he going out with?”

“He’s been living with the same girl for three years. Remember? The little Oriental girl.”

“Oh, yeah. He still with her?”

“Yeah.”

“Quiet, isn’t she?”

“I thought she talked a lot.”

“Oh, yeah. Ran her mouth on about Japan or someplace.”

“She’s from Thailand.”

“Thailand?”

“Yes.”

“He bringing her along?”

“I guess so.”

“Don’t like that.”

Pinch hitter made it to second, but a freak bounce led to a 6-4-3 double play and the post game was a pitcher. Al hated pitchers. They talked too much.

“Damn candy ass,” he yelled.

“Oh.” Mary assumed this was an opinion about the girl. She didn’t quite understand, but let it pass.

In actuality, Elizabeth, the Asian girlfriend, was a graduate student, too. In English literature. Four point Oh. She was small. She did have dark hair. And her almond eyes were brown as basketballs. She was from San Diego.

“They’re coming Saturday.”

“When?”

“Saturday.”

“No, I mean morning or afternoon?”

“Afternoon, I guess. It’s a six hour drive.”

“Wonder why.”

“Traffic mostly.”

“No, I mean why are they coming?”

“Matthew said it was a surprise.”

“I hate surprises.”

“I know. I told Matthew you hate surprises and all he said was, ‘Then, he’ll really love this one.’”

“Atlanta’s gonna play the Mets.” He put down the tube guide and wondered if it would be a good game and whether he’d have to miss it.

2

Saturday came and it rained in Georgia. TBS ran a Rory Calhoun movie and Matthew and Elizabeth didn’t show up till dinnertime.

Their silver VW bug with one orange fender had broken down in Lincoln and they had had to wait several hours for a mechanic to change a fan belt. They looked quite happy. Al was suspicious.

After settling down and having lemonades served by Mary, Al began the inquisition.

“So how’s school?”

“Fine, Dad.”

“You gonna finish this year?”

“Probably. Really all I have left is my thesis.”

“What about Kwan Lee?”

“Elizabeth? She’ll be done in December, if she stays on.”

“You still living together?”

“Yes, Dad.”

“Atlanta rained out.”

“Huh?”

“Ball game. Rained out.”

“Oh.”

“Waited for you instead.”

“Sorry, Dad. It’s an old car.”

“Why don’t you get a new one?”

“We will, when we have to.”

“Does it keep breaking down?”

“It’s been good.”

“So, how’s it go?”

“It goes fine, Dad.”

“No, I mean between you. How’s it go between you two?”

“Real good. That’s one of the things I wanted to talk about this weekend.”

“Oh. Good. Glad to hear it. Things are good between Mom and me, too.”

Mom and Elizabeth were in the kitchen getting supper ready. Pot roast; mashed potatoes; boiled carrots; a jello salad; gravy.

“Can’t afford a roast much anymore, but we thought you and Matthew coming was kind of special.”

“That’s very thoughtful.” Elizabeth and Matthew were vegetarians. A little fish now and then.

Her nose is really quite small, Mary thought.

3

“Really flat chested, isn’t she?”

“She’s just fine, Dad.”

4

“Another evening with the folks.”

“Don’t be sarcastic, Matty.”

“I can’t help it. They’re so narrow minded, you’d never believe Dad used to teach at the university.”

“Your mom was real nice.”

“Especially the pot roast.”

“At least there were plenty of carrots.”

“Warning: Bacon for breakfast.”

“It’s OK, I brought the rice bran.”

“They drive me nuts. Did you notice they never talk about anything?”

“What do you want them to talk about?”

“Anything except the damn roast or the ball game. You know, even when Dad taught history, he never talked about it at home. It was, like, just a day’s work for him.”

“Maybe it was.”

“News says the weather is clearing in Atlanta and tomorrow is a doubleheader. We won’t be able to get much explained between innings.”

“We can talk to your mom and she can tell him.”

“Probably have to do that.”

He looked long at her belly.  A faint stripe of pigment made a line just to the left of her navel and extended down about four inches.

5

Al was out buying a newspaper. Elizabeth was still asleep.

“There are several things we needed to talk about, Mom.”

“Maybe we should wait for your father…”

“The ball game. Besides, he may not take our news too well. We thought it best if you told him.”

“This sounds serious.”

“Elizabeth and I are moving to South Dakota.”

“We’ll miss you, but that doesn’t sound so awful.”

“She’s got a job at the Indian school on a reservation.”

“You mean Indians?”

“Yeah, Mom.”

“What about you?”

“I’ll be raising the kid, mostly.”

“The kid?”

“Yeah. Elizabeth is pregnant.”

“You going to get married?”

“No more than we already are.”

“What about the baby?”

“He’ll do fine.”

Al pulled into the driveway and swung out the big door on the Olds. He didn’t have a paper. He swept into the kitchen like a big drop of sweat steaming down a face.

“All gone. It’s hot out there already.”

“Matthew says he and Elizabeth are going to have a baby.”

“Oh, shit. What are you doing now, kid?”

“We decided to try an experiment, Dad.”

“Since when is having a baby an experiment?”

“I thought it always was.”

“A genetic experiment? You and Kwan Lee?”

“Well, not quite, Dad. I’m not the father; not biologically, anyway.”

“What?”

Al hated knuckleballs. Just pitch’em straight down the plate. Your best stuff. A knuckler is cheating.

“Elizabeth and I have done a lot of heavy thinking…”

“That’s thinking with rocks in your head?”

“…Thinking about the state of the world and all. We wanted to do something or try something.”

“You mean besides being a vegetarian and saving the lives of countless cows?”

“Yes, Dad. Seriously.”

“But what about the child?” Mary asked.

“I don’t understand. What do you mean?”

“What about the poor child? Why are you experimenting on a poor child?”

“It’s no more than you two did with me.”

Al scraped his fingertips over his stubble. “OK, then, who’s the father.”

“He’s a man we both know at school, a doctoral student from Lagos.”

“Lagos? Where’s that?”

A look of recognition brought a ghost of a smile to Al’s face. Then a second look of recognition brought the ghost to its knees.

“Nigeria,” he whispered.

“Nigeria?” Mary had a blank look on her face.

“Africa.”

“Africa?”

“Black.”

“Black?”

“Yeah, Mom. His name is Mbwengwe and he’s black.”

“How? … black?”

“His skin is that sort of purplish black; real deep.”

“Why?”

“All his people are like that.”

“No, I mean, why is he the… I mean… I don’t understand.”

“Elizabeth and I have been thinking, like I said, and we, well, we’re not so sure about the viability of white European culture.”

“Viability?”

“Yeah. We think logic is a dead issue and …”

“What’s that got to do with having a kid? You’re not making sense. I think I need to sit down.”

“OK, Mom. Like European culture is based, we think, on yes/no categories, you know, the basis of logic. A thing is either A or Not A. And what has this thinking led us to? Digital watches and thermonuclear bombs; acid rain and Third World starvation…”

“Third World?…”

“Yeah, you know. Ethiopia and all.”

“Look, son,” Al chimed in, “Europe did OK by itself. I wouldn’t want no juju man shaking a rattle over my pneumonia.”

“Why not? If it worked.”

“Worked? How could it?”

”Well, maybe not for you, but if you believed it, it would.”

“I don’t believe.”

“Yeah, sure. But Elizabeth and I were thinking how about combining the best of all world cultures. She’s mostly Japanese…”

“I thought she was Thai.”

“She was born in Thailand. Her folks were from Osaka. Mbwengwe is African and black. I would be the nurturing father and white and European; and we would live with the Indians where all the kid’s playmates would be Indian.”

Mary’s face never got back its expression. She was trying to take all this in and it was overflowing like a faucet forgotten over a bathtub. Mary’s floor was flooded.

Elizabeth had heard the last of this conversation standing by the kitchen door.

“But you haven’t heard the best part yet,” she said.

Mary wondered what could be better.

“When we get to the reservation, we have it all arranged so that Matty will have another baby with an Indian.”

“Yeah, Mom. We don’t know her name yet, but it’s all planned out.”

“You’ve both gone crackers,” Al chimed in. “Why are  you doing this to yourselves? Why are you doing this to your kids?”

“We’re doing it for the kids. We have it all worked out. It came to Elizabeth in a dream last year…”

“That’s right. I dreamed it on New Year’s Eve and it was so vivid, I knew it would have to come true…”

“And now it’s happening. But this is only the first part of the dream.”

“Maybe you should tell us the rest of it,” said Al. Up to now he had seen a smidgen of surreal truth in what Matthew had been saying. But this last was getting strange again. He wondered if he should tiptoe to the phone.

“According to the dream, my baby will be a boy, and Matthew’s will be a girl. They will both be beautiful.”

“We’re counting on that, with the expanded gene pool and all.”

“Yes, and the boy’s name will be Solar Wings and the girl’s name will be Hilda…”

“Hilda?”

“I know it sounds funny, but that’s what the dream said. Dreams can be funny.”

“Tell me.”

“Solar Wings and Hilda will grow up together on the reservation, learning all the ancient wisdom of the shamans.”

“And what about the wisdom of the Greeks?” asked Al. “Doesn’t he get any logic at all?”

“Yes, Matthew will tutor them in Western Philosophy.”

“Didn’t you get a ‘D’ in philosophy?” asked Mary.

“Yeah. But that was a difficult semester for me, with the drugs and all.”

“If I get the drift of your insanity,” Al said, “you will then marry off Moonbeam and Edna and their kid will be a kind of quadroon extraordinaire. Am I right?”

“Yes, Dad. Our grandchild will embody all the genetic and emotional wisdom of the planet.”

“This is quite a millennial dream you suffered.”

“But that’s not all, yet.”

“What could be next? The end of time?”

“No. The beginning of time, a new Time that will not be like the one we have now. The new one will not be able to be measured by timeclocks. There will be no more punchcards when the new Time begins.”

“And how long do we have to wait for this new Time?”

“A long time.”

“How long?”

“First Solar Wings and Hilda will grow up and get married. Then their child — the daughter of the four worlds — whose name will be Frem, will be made ready and the Star Father will arrive.”

“Star Father?” Al’s skin was beginning to get clammy.

Mary’s eyes were rolling in their orbits.

“According to my dream, an extraterrestrial being will arrive in a giant spacecraft made of a type of plastic unknown on Earth and he will be the product of genetic breeding on his planet.”

“What planet is that? Krypton?”

“I don’t know. The dream didn’t say. But it is a planet of peaceable warriors. The alien will be named Beltenamine and he will mate with Frem. The product of this union will be the new Time. Our greatgrandchild will be the new order of the universe. It’s really exciting, isn’t it?”

Mary was crying.

“No, Elizabeth. It’s nuts.” Al talked in a calm manner, not aggressively, just stating a rather obvious fact. “It’s nuts.”

“No it’s not. It’s real. I dreamed it.”

Matthew eyed his old man. “You had dreams when you were younger, didn’t you? What ever became of them? We intend to live ours out. That’s not nuts.”

6

“What were our dreams, Al?”

Al sat at the kitchen table, looking out at the trees. He cracked open a pecan, salted the meat, snapped his head and hand back and started chewing.

“Owning this house was one.”

“And now we own it.”

“Making full professor was one of mine.”

“But there’s nothing wrong with associate professor.”

“Nah, I guess not.”

“When I was 10, I wanted to be a ballerina.”

“But you’re tone deaf.”

“I said ‘ballerina,’ not ‘musician.’”

“But you gotta hear the music, don’tcha?”

“I can hear the beat just fine.”

“What happened, then?”

“Mama didn’t think it was a good idea and she refused to send me to dancing school.”

“Why?”

“She said I should get married like she did.”

“Did you?”

“I married you, silly.”

“I mean, did you get married like she did?”

“What do you mean?”

“I remember your Mama as kind of bitter. She spent her whole life serving your old man.”

“He was very old fashioned, even for then.”

“So? Has your life been better?”

“Better than Mama’s?”

“Yeah.”

“I guess so. I don’t really know how happy she was. She never said.”

“What were their dreams?”

“I don’t know. Well, I guess Dad always wanted to be a missionary to China. Mama would have none of it. She liked being a minister’s wife; she liked the social role.”

“What was her dream?”

“I guess she just wanted a bigger church, a larger congregation.”

“My folks had a dream that I would go to college and get and education and a good job. I guess I made their dream come true.”

“Some dreams come true and others just never pan out.”

Al cracked another pecan. It was rotten inside.

“Just like these nuts,” he said.

“Yeah, I worry about Matthew and Elizabeth, too.”

“No, I mean the pecans.”

“Oh.”

Selva Oscura

WHEN you are young, it is easy to be in love with art. You may love its artifice, you may love the colors or the rhymes or the great blaring sounds of the music you listen to. Art is vibrant; it seems so alive. But most of all, you are in love with the sense of importance iart brings: It seems to validate the belief we all have when we are young that our own lives matter, that we count in the larger scheme of things.

We are all Tristan, Achilles or Holden Caulfield.

Perhaps that is why the young make so much art. They are not yet unhappy with it, not yet dissatisfied at the lies that art creates, not yet disgusted with the prettiness of it all.

Most of all, the art we make when we are young imitates the art we have come to love: Art most often imitates art, not life. There is so much bad imitation T.S. Eliot written in college, so much abstract painting of no consequence, so much herd-instinct.

I have been as guilty as anyone. In my 50 years of photography, the bulk of my work has been imitation Ansel Adams or Edward Weston or Irving Penn. I was learning to make images that I could recognize as art, because it looked like the art I knew.Old photos

Big mistake.

Go to any art gallery and you see the same process unfolding. Imitation Monet here, imitation Duchamp there, imitation Robert Longo there. Whatever the current trend is in art, there are acolytes and epigones.

At some point, as you age and if you are lucky, you let all this shed off you, and you no longer care about art. What takes its place is caring about the world, caring about the experience of being alive. It isn’t going to last long, so you begin paying attention: close attention to soak in as much as you can before you die.

In a sense, when you are young, you test your life against the art you know and love, to see whether you measure up to it; when you are older, this turns around, and you test the art against your life, to see whether the art measures up.

And if you are inclined toward art, you give up caring whether you are making “great” art, or whether you are part of the great parade of art history, and you care only about what you see, hear, touch, smell and taste. The world becomes alive and art faces to pathetic simulacrum.

When you reach this point, then you can begin making art. And you make it for yourself, not for posterity. You make it to attempt to capture and hold the world you love, or to understand the world, or to transcend it, when it becomes too difficult to endure or accept.

Week's Bay Bog Alabama

2

The first garden I made was a vegetable garden in the front yard of the North Carolina house I was renting in the early 1970s. I grew the usual tomatoes and peppers, beans and spinach. I also ventured into eggplant, which turned into the most successful part of the garden, to my surprise.

But what I really learned from my garden is the difference between the neat, orderly photographs in the seed catalogs and the rampant, weedy, dirt-clod messiness of the real thing. Gardens, I discovered, were not military rows of uniform plants, but a vegetative chaos.

The stupid thing was that I should have known this going in. All around me, trees, vines, shrubs, roadside flowers and Bermuda grass were telling me one single thing, over and over: Profusion is the order of nature. Variety, profligacy, energy, expediency, growth.

Whether it is a kudzu shell over a stand of trees, or the tangle of saplings that close over an abandoned farm field, or the know of rhizomes that run under the turf, the rule of nature is clutter.Crab Apples Sullivan Maine

The walnut tree outside the front door was old, and its bark was stratified with moss, lichen, beds of sap, and a highway of ants running up and down. From a distance it was just a tree, but up close, it was a city.

When I was a boy, there was an abandoned farm beside our property. An old, unpainted barn and farmhouse stood in the center of a field of grass and weeds. When I was maybe 8 years old, those buildings burnt down one night in a glory of flame.

In the years that followed, the course of plant succession took over. I learned my lessons from Boy Scout merit badges I earned, but even there, the story of succession seemed much more orderly than what I saw out my window. Plant succession wasn’t a clear progression from annuals to perennials to shrubs and through a clearly delineated march of one kind of tree into another till we reached climax growth. It was instead a tangle of saplings through which it was nearly impossible to walk. There was not a “baby forest” that we saw, but an overpopulated struggle for sunlight, every plant elbowing its neighbor for survival. In a forest, the trees stand a certain distance apart, their crowns touching to make a roof. But this young version was more like a thick head of hair; there was no distance between the shoots.Buxton Sedge, Hatteras NC

Everything in nature told me the same thing: busy-ness, struggle and chaos. It was all exhilarating, and I loved the tangle of it all, the textures, the smells, loam and rot, the mud and dew.

And yet, that isn’t what I saw when I looked at art about nature, whether it was glossy calendar photos or Arizona Highways’ covers on the low end, or whether it was Raphael and Delacroix on the high end.

The nature I saw in most art was tame as a housecat. And the art wasn’t really about nature at all, but about order. I wasn’t made to see the world we saunter through, but to see how our minds organize and codify it.

Whether it was 18th-century paintings or Ansel Adams’ photographs, the art was all about order. In fact, you could say that the point of the art wasn’t to make us see nature, but to understand order.

I was unsatisfied with it, and with my own art. I wanted to make an art that would look at the natural world and make images that spoke to me about what I was really seeing and feeling.

3

NDP60I recognized something of what I wanted in the arts of the Gothic, Baroque and Romantic periods, eras in art that glorified the energy and visual confusion of the world. They are arts that responded to the profuse variety of the experience. They were also arts that were devalued by the mainstream art world of the 20th century. Eliot deprecated Milton; Stravinsky insulted Berlioz; Mies van der Rohe is the anti-Gothic architect.

Yet, I loved Shelley, Schumann, Chartres. And I wanted to find a way to make that over in our new century, in a new way, and reattach art to the world around me. It had been untethered too long; too long it had been its own reason for being. Art for art’s sake? Not any more.

It can be hard — it is probably impossible — to make art completely divorced from one’s time. The visual universe is too persuasive. We cannot even know how deeply we are affected by the stylistic twitches of our own age. And I am not saying my own work is sui generis. It certainly is not.friedlander montreal

The light that knocked me off my horse on my own way to Damascus was a single book of photographs — still a fairly obscure book — by Lee Friedlander, titled Flowers and Trees, from 1981. It was spiral bound, printed in a matte finish, and had virtually no text. Inside I found a mirror of the nature I knew and felt. Nothing was framed neatly, nothing was glorified by the light poured on it, nothing we reified into monumentality. Instead there was the profusion, confusion and organicism that I recognized from my own experience.

And I realized that I had been working in that same direction for years, but had buried the photographs among the more conventional mountainscapes and detail photographs. I had several series of images that were my own immediate response to nature and they were all photographs I had made in the gardens of friends. I gathered them together and looked. The conventional photographs seemed to have no value whatsoever and these others, almost random, usually confused, and always ad hoc, seemed to breathe the life I had been looking for.

Since that time, and with the advent of digital photography, I have been liberated. I take my camera with me, point it at something I want to feed it, and let it do the chewing. I never look through the viewfinder anymore, but instead look at the larger shapes, darks and lights, that showing the digital screen on the back of my camera. I see how I see and click the shutter.Back Bay, Virginia Beach, Va

Over the years, I have made many of these sets of photographs, usually 15 to 35 pictures in a group, and printed together to be seen as a “book,” that is, a print cabinet, where my audience can spend as much or as little time as they wish and shuffle to the next.book cover

And the unit of my work is the book, not the individual photo. When I visit a garden, I vacuum it all into my lens and after processing them, spread the images out in a series. You can see the results in a book preview for Gardens/Paradisi, a book I created on Blurb.com. The whole thing is there to see via “preview.” You can find it (and buy it, if you have that much excess money) at: http://www.blurb.com/b/607398-gardens-paradisi.

For the pictures in that book, selected from those loose leaves, I have had to edit them down to a manageable few. Most of these “books” have been turned into chapters of either 9 or 15 images. I hope they still give a flavor of what I have attempted. You can find more in the other books I have made and available at Blurb.com.Giverny 3

4

If I have succeeded, I have also failed.

For in the end, my attempt to wrestle with the world has turned into an art that is also about order, about how the mind engages with the things around it. I have wound up doing exactly what my predecessors have done.

It isn’t surprising. After all, when I turn on my elders and find their efforts insufficient, I am doing nothing different from what they did when they turned on their elders. It is how art grows. Wordsworth rebels against Pope, Eliot rebels against Wordsworth, Ginsburg rebels against Eliot. One generation finds its parents lacking and tries on its own to finally express the truth.

And I can only be happy when a generation after mine points its own finger backward and wiggles it in reproach at me.

It seems we never get closer to what we are all after. Value is all in the trying.Doug's Garden