Illusions of Space

In this presence that I am, where the appearance of me and you, of this and that and everything in between seems to unfold, all such ideas dissolve into the invisible truth of none. Brian Thompson

An image of the great Ruth Brown at one her final performances at the Poconos. Amazing emotional display
An Impression – Ruth Brown – In the Moment

I: Sonic Visual Expressiveness

Crickets chorus ringing, a reverie swirls amid semi-conscious manifestations as these wonders envelop streams of the illusions of space and artistic creativity.

An explanation: I photograph performances, primarily blues music.

I am often there to document, and typically accomplish this, but throughout the years I aspire to create art of the music and performances, creating visual expressions that convey intense feelings based on sound. Most often a dilemma….

How does one convey an artist producing cascades of heightened sound peaking with near perfection while often they are painted on stage by another lighting artist from nearby with innumerable hues, shades and intensities of luminance? All the while intermingling with other audience members and performers, each in their own moments of varied “feelings of life”, collectively exacting profound effects into the psyche. The visual motions and sound create a perceptual tension, and even if the scene becomes motionless, the sound can be made to depict the potential of dynamic movement. This creation of visual tension get resolved as the viewer develops an understanding of the artwork.

Carlos Johnson Birthday
Carlos Johnson Birthday

Here is where the illusion of space gets distorted.

The arts have a way to enable participating in their aesthetic illusions. Photographers through use of color, composition, form, and other symbolic expressions. When representing sound waves by using a camera to interpret the subject, one hopes to make the viewer take an inventive leap into the emotional context of the image. Artworks, like dreams, represent unconscious wishes and desires. The artist can use the visual illusions of space to engage the viewer. A composition provides an infinite space within as if the viewer is peering into the artist’s imaginative world. The viewer then might understand what the artist has created.

Working to instill this world onto a two dimensional plane with the expressiveness of these wondrous and continuously varied, sensory overloaded aspirations, I often, when things are just right, enter a subjective state or zone where the world around me dissolves. There is a concept called “flow” which is when your experience consists of a heightened focus of attention, a merging of awareness and action, a clear sense of goals, and a loss of time. A key for this is its autotelic quality, defined as a sense of satisfaction for no other reason than feeling the pleasures of the activity.

During these inestimable fractions of time, I transcend into a subjective zone of awareness and surmount the magical representations of digital luminance, extracting microcosms of this timelessness. My own “autotelic flow”.

I am often pushing the limits of digital technologies. Confronting extreme dynamic ranges of light that change with indeterminate frequencies and considerable luminance values including murky shadowy areas alongside brilliant super saturated layers, these require continual rapid tunings of manual camera settings to convey the intended sensibilities.

Tracking a performer as they develop flights of fancy across their stage, intermingling with mic stands, monitors, amps, drum kits, risers, and much more requires a persistence and patience in addition to well-founded anticipation.

If the conditions present themselves, my “flow” is all prevailing, yet maintains parallel meager flashes of momentary cognizance to assure technical settings continue to embrace the moment and to maintain “good citizenship” in my pursuit.

The moment gone, I scale consciousness while monitoring additional quests and reflections on the immediate instance.

Success is a rare measure as extensive multitudes of factors require a coalescence with precision and, even with repeated attempts, remains elusive. The ultimate is when my “flow” coincides perfectly with the musician’s moment of “flow”. They are in the “zone” and have a “thousand yard stare.”

Harmonica Player, Carey Bell, in the Zone
Impression – Harp Player, Carey Bell, in the Zone

II: Reflections of compositions

The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. – Pierre de Coubertin

An occasional anticipation, conclusions upbeat based on favorable conditions; artists, lighting, access, time of day, conscious coordination and so on, I download the images. Historically, I’ve become accustomed to indifferent results, realizing minute affects culminate quickly to dissuade intended or anticipated acquisitions.

Quickly reviewing the entire volume of captures, I cull to a more finite catalog. Often, I sequence through these as I time lapse mentally to the details of each selection, reliving all the subtle details and the subjective awareness of each.

Remembering where within the sequence I distinguished potential selections, I will localize these, often having a series of “in the moment” captures intending to decide which might be the “peak” of the sequence. I will view these and delineate appropriate selections with digital labels to ensure easier recall within the collection.

These are checked for critical technical details of focus, depth of field, isolation, lighting, coloration, sonic details, expressiveness and so much more. At this time I often need to abandon this pursuit and pursue the larger goal of creating a subset of images to provide the promoter, etc. as time quite assuredly is of the essence. Most viewers, sponsors, VIPs, artists and such expect to quickly have these overall reflections available thus ensuring they respond in kind at the next promoter’s events and it is much appreciated for these deliveries.

Another aspect of processing these for the promoter is that it gives some time and space between the event and viewing potential artistic images, a time of psychic calming, allowing “mental distance” to subside the affectiveness of the moment and permit better judgmental influences to hold sway.

So, typically a day passes and the event is documented and published, efforts that were postponed are resolved and I am finally able and reflectively return and pursue artistic content.

Buddy Guy in the spotlight at the Blues Music Awards Showcase.
Buddy Guy in the spotlight at the Blues Music Awards Showcase.

III: Analysis

If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter. Marcus T. Cicero

Finally, I cull potential images and then assess each. I have defined over time somewhat of a methodology/criteria that is the baseline for my selections, my “Attribute Evaluation Critique List”. Far too extensive to analyze here, this has been developed over many years and continues to be scrutinized and advanced as my awareness and thoughts evolve.

It does, however, assure my intentions leave few stones unturned and that visual elements, artistic impulses, and more are accommodated.

Having the attribute master list and referring to it continually over time has slowly developed an intuitional/instinctunal cognizance that assists when initially viewing the culled images.

More often than not, this is where the evaluation ends as none of the images passes muster and become heartfelt memoirs.

On that rare occasion where a glimmer of potential begins to pass muster with my criteria evaluation, I develop this further but again allow it to “simmer” at some point before returning for a final analysis and judgement.

On the rare occasion that I feel I have created an image that expresses my vision of an artist emoting their sound and emotion, I create several versions and often tend to enrich one final version with an impressionistic feel. Over a considerable time, I have been able to gather together a fair number of these. The remembrances of each moment’s capture is relived as I view them. The details are amazingly profound and give me pause. I have created a portfolio of a number of these and intend to publish a portfolio soon.

In conclusion, very few images pass final muster and are made into art work. Making art that projects the non-visual senses and trying to find methods and ways to accomplish this using visual symbolic language allows one to foster creativity and inspiration, yet most often with little or no success. The confluence of perceptual, conceptual and emotional paths require activation for pursuit. The challenge is the reward.

Blues for a Cure - Jimmy Thackery Emotes
Blues for a Cure – Jimmy Thackery Emotes

To be Continued…..


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