Thursday, August 26, 2004

Absence is Present

Today, I received the latest version of Aperture in the mail. For those who aren't familiar with Aperture, it's a magazine (periodical) devoted to photography. Not photography in the sense of Shutterbug or Popular Photography, more like photography as image, icon, and art.

The thing I like most about Aperture is that it always makes me think. Something about it just spurs my creativity. Just when I get to the point of thinking that "it's all been done before" and there's nothing else we could possibly do to extend the creativity of the artform, bam! along comes Aperture. It's almost like it's sitting, resting, nesting in the lurches, waiting to pounce on my negative thoughts.

Apart from this, Aperture is a magazine without filter. They don't judge photography, or the photographic images presented within, no they just sort of present them, leaving the sometimes daunting task of mentally processing the images to the reader. This degree of interactivity is what, I would imagine, the world wide web was initially intended to harness. It makes for interesting reading. You get to see nudes presented next to landmine victims, alongside European ruins. All there in black and white (and, actually, quite good color representation) for you to enjoy. Is it art or pornography? Is this something worth looking at or just noise on the photographic landscape? They let you be the judge and jury, but present the vision as close as they possibly can to it's original intentions.

This month's issue is typical in that there's an add for a photo book called American Cockroach which, from the ad, appears to be a book dedicated to the beauty of the ugly creatures of the night (it's not, as far as I can tell, a political essay; there's no mention of John Kerry or George Bush, rather it's actually about the buggy-bo's.) There's also Return, Afghanistan, Jock Sturges: Notes, and one in particular I really liked called Candida Hufer: Architecture of Absence.

It's the last one that really got me thinking. Architecture of absence is very close to what I photograph; it's like my work in a nutshell. I concentrate on the conspicuous absence of people in public places. It's comforting to see somebody else working along those lines. Just gives me peace of mind.

Something else, which sort of gave me the opposite of peace of mind, is this excerpt from the article accompanying the landmine photographs:

The thing about minefields is how quiet they are. A minefield has none of
the noise and chaos you'd expect in a violent place. The other thing about a
minefield is that until you find the first mine, you don't know where the field
starts, or even if it exists at all. ..When you're standing at the edge of an
unmarked minefield, the terrain looks just like as it would anywhere...You would
think that no one would go intentionally into minefields, yet people do it all
the time. Desperation is a consistent factor...They know it is dangerous to let
animals graze here, or a gamble to cultivate the land, yet they do it anyway,
because they can't conceive of an alternative.


It's the alternatives in life that are special indeed. Along with my subscription, of course.

Until next time...

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