Tuesday, September 27, 2011


This ancient fresco dates from around 450 bc. Recovered from central Italy, typical in its rendering reality of that time and place, from the provincial artistic backwaters, far from the art centers of Athens and Corinth. It reflects, though weakly, Greek painting. This area of Italy was colonized and influenced by Greek culture. Stylized shapes, linear outlines filled with unshaded, pure color are noticed. You aren't checking out this blog for Art history I guess, so I'll keep it brief.

The sense that is evoked on looking, is a sense of pattern. It is a ritual dance of some sort, just a small section is shown here. The exact meaning uncertain, and, for me, not as important as its visual form -it resonates beyond mere "identification" and speaks universally.This fresco inspired the light painting here.
I had seen this work when I was an art student, it has its place among the galleries in my memory.
The artists at SWPC were excited about the photographic technique of stitching together numerous photographs to form one continuous loop. You spin the looped images round and round in one dizzying whirl, its interesting. You can view some here.
Recalling this fresco, it occurred to me that the dancers poses could be exciting to try as a frieze with this photographic stitching.
I sketched out a composition, a long frieze of figures. But my own idea was to show blind people whose linked arms reflected more of a sense of mobility. We experience walking differently when seeing isn't an option, and need to be guided, So this guiding, informed by the locked arms of the dancers in the fresco, is central in my concept. I remember someone commented as I posed my models, that the correct procedure when walking is for blind people to put their hands on a persons shoulder. Sure enough, but I wasn't trying to imitate actuality, but to bring out my own "vision" of a concept. I've always been perplexed about the term"conceptual art", as if concept was ever absent from meaningful art
A figure behind is holding a lit torch, symbolising "lighting the way forward", while at the end of this trail of the unseeing a white blind cane is offered to a straggler, who's less sure of her whereabouts. Mark helped a great deal with figuring out the joins- where each separate image melded into the adjacent one. This image needed many separate exposures aligned. It took a considerable time to finish. Mark helped me light up the spaces. Part of my original idea, drawn in the sketch, were small flying figures who, like the torch bearer, assist the blind people through the dark. Left those out  though, preoccupied by the details in getting it all together. Maybe I'll retry this one at some point.
Above, Tomb fresco from Ruvo Italy, Mobility Frieze 

Saturday, September 17, 2011


"Maria is the daughter of Mark’s friend, they thought it would be a nice idea for her to come in and see disabled people actively involved. The previous week Mark told me about her serious medical condition, confining her to a small, stroller like carriage, although about 9 or so. We knew to expect her, but I suppose I was sill shaken a little when we met.
She is so small, entirely frailer than my imagination hinted at. I talked with her about doing a simple head shot and asked of she wanted to pose. I tried to smile, but that must have seemed absurd in the presence of a suffering child. Maria is more than this though.
I had a quiet feeling while lighting it, that this might be a special image. It didn’t take long. Maria’s face and torso took up only a small area.
When I peeled the print away, I was floored at how the picture retained her soulful presence and courage, but tried to control my emotions. We did another one too, with more of the floor showing her sitting on a wooden chair, while behind her, on a pillar, an odd rubber mask. Vicky also spent time with Maria, and, with Mark, photographed her lying down. This one also has that sad, but, resigned quality of spirit, so frail and yet, present in it. Years later Mark put this picture up at the show we had at the Paul Labrec Spa, but was requested to remove it, too strong for someone being manicured to see. It was eventually enlarged to a great size and exhibited in its own little alcove at our Las Palmas exhibition in Rotterdam. With dim lighting, it was almost like a sacred shrine.
Coming in later that day Stephen met Maria too, they talked quietly, almost whispering, sitting closely together, lighting up a little aluminum - foil construction. Maria’s family eventually moved to Vermont, to make things easier for them."
Excerpt from "Lifting the Blindfold; Voices of the Seeing With Photography Collective"
Above, Maria c. 2002