Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I hated that stinkin' green photo. Seriously. Even at the time I was wondering why I was posting it. And that made me wonder once again who it is that's doing all the interrogating in my head and who's doing all the answering. And who it is who's thinking about the interrogator, and whether that's the metaself. And whether the metaself isn't like God--in charge but sorta out of sight and seemingly out to lunch, too. And I decided there's a fun house of mirrors in my brain, and all the parts don't have to fit. So I've got that goin' for me, which is nice. That and total consciousness.

But that photo. Why did I post it? It reminds me of hearing the great Rod Steiger interviewed about his acting and how in The January Man he couldn't get his mind wrapped around his role's character. He kept hoping he'd find the key to unlock the character, but it never emerged. So when he was on the set, he was feeling desperate and tried to force the character out by will alone, and as a result he ended up shouting throughout every scene. That shot was like Steiger's role in January man. Rotten. And loud.

BTW, I was pleased with Nora. I asked her at the Hunter Museum of Art what she thought of a certain piece. She said. "Dunno. It's too busy for me." Atta girl, my minimalist munchkin.

That being said, this photo isn't minimalist. Just because Lydia has no head in the photo doesn't mean it's minimalism. That's important to remember. I did this one "in doubly." Literally.

And the untouched original:

Minimalism in art has a specific meaning. An example of genuine minimalist art is this piece by Brice Marden called The Dylan Painting.

I have my own name for it: "Cleveland." So gray. So very very gray. The's just under- AND overwhelming.

But here's an example of minimalism in the more casual sense, and it's simply exquisite. It's by the 17th-18th century Chinese artist, Gao Qipei. It's titled "A Pine Branch," and it's taken from the series, "Finger Paintings of Assorted Subjects." This painting, which is displayed at my beloved Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, captures every thing I want to do with my photography. It reveals and conceals simultaneously. It points beyond itself while inviting closer viewing. The problem, a severe one, is that my stupid camera (which is literally falling apart, and rapidly) doesn't have a "Chinese finger painting with ink" mode.

I'm very very angry with Gao Qipei. And at my camera.

Have you ever listened to Brahms' Violin Concerto in D? You should. And have. (Admit it.)


timekeeper said...

But I enjoy the photo. Except for the green part. Why did you turn it green? To go with your message? Don't try to force it, Rod.

I bet this long distance critique makes you long for the hour I will return today and you will hear my dulcet tones again.

Andy D. said...

Wow. Lots of material here to comment about. Ironic, for a minimalist rant, no?

I think the Dylan Painting has to be one of my all time favorite pieces. Thank you for introducing me to it. I didn't . . . . .

Sorry. Dozed off while looking at the Dylan Painting.

Claudia said...

IF I didn't already like you, I would now that I know you listen to the Brahms violin concerto.

Mike Bailey said...

Claudia--Shoot, that covered a multitude of James T sins. Thanks.

Craig Pope said...

I spent two weeks in Cleveland once - grayest two weeks of my life. One big gray blur of sadness.

Mike Bailey said...

Craig Pope is in da frickin HOUSE, baby! Good to have you, bro. Now I must say I found the gray of Cleveland just beautiful. I had a lovely if horribly depressing time there.