I was thinking about how images sometimes take our minds to a place that transcends the very substance that makes up the content of the picture we are looking at. As an addendum to memory, photographs offer a priceless role in helping us to capture moments that deform our sense of time. In turn, we continually critique the space between thought and materiality, reconciling the identities and placement of what lies in view. There is value in the questions we consider.
We want to see new things, and offer our minds conundrums that stretch our thinking processes. Even when our minds are lazy, stretching our thoughts is similar to stretching our muscles at the start of the day. In a general way, the activity feels good.
Capturing “things as they lay” in the still life images seen here signifies the shuffling activities of small projects interrupting a certain order…the more permanent objects in my little domestic setting are neatly compartmentalized, tranquil and at rest. The papers, envelopes, receipts, and appliances are transitory, and my visual record of this transitory stuff makes a distinctive statement in the sanction of a “living space.” Seen in this more generous context, there is beauty in the contrast between material chaos and order.
Snapping an image close up, then pulling away in a secession of pictures extends the limits of the original images’ allotted time. It is similar to a filmic moment, but with the added pleasure of thousands of missing frames. The time between images is immeasurable, and distinct from movies in the portions of time lost without any record. There is a scintillating mystery in this.
With a collection of objects, my visual record can take an array of forms. I like to study the peculiar things my wife and I collect, hoping the unexpected, fanciful details will conspire to enhance my understanding of the conflict between order and chaos in Nature. I’m not collecting dental, or medical equipment, but rather warmer objects that are closer to simpler labors.
Memory Pots are works of art that show cast-off fragments, the accumulated “crust” of experience, bonded to a handmade, or manufactured object…most commonly a glass, or ceramic container with an interesting shape. The small shards, shells and other objects affixed to these forms show little difference with the detritus we see on a littered street, or in an old, abandoned house or apartment; yet in most cases, the fragments have been selected to fit with all the other forms, similar to the wall building artistry of a free-minded stone mason.
The difference in masonry and the construction of these pots lay in the fanciful disparity of small fragments, all containing bits of history through their former function, moving from utility to a more abstract realm, while remaining stubbornly purposeful. The putty, or bonding agent records the fingerprints of the maker/s. in some cases the prints are traces from an earlier century. These objects preserve a subtext, recorded from myriad situations of domestic commotion, taking place within the space of one, or several lives. They offer a visual record that survives, independent of diaries, news articles and digitization. The visual power of these forms lies in their multifarious surface comprehended as a whole object, mimicking the texture and complexities of us…the remarkable containers of experience.
photos copyright © 2012 by Gary Justis
This post first appeard in "Does This Makes Sense (dtms)", a platform for critical thinking.