Saturday 13 July 2002

Better than a show

It’s been a photographic trip down memory lane at Visible Darkness. Jeff Ward’s own gallery series—Social Studies in Southern California Bars 1989-93—is simply remarkable. Forget the thumbnail sketches, choose either the 800x600 or 1024x768 show, sit back, and let the images wash over you. So much hope, longing, sadness, optimism, and desperation packed into every frame. And pay attention to the edges of the frame, there’s so much going on.

Jeff’s scattered other pictures though his blog over the past week: his own (Brak’n’Tune, Bakersfield, California 1990ish and California City, California, 1989) plus images by Lee Friedlander (Boston 1985), Bill Owens ( “We’d rather play games than watch TV”—Suburbia 1973), and Lewis Baltz (from New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California). The Baltz photograph brought back the fondest memories. He was the first to teach me how, by carefully balancing interior and exterior illumination, you could totally flatten three-dimensional space.

I know just what Jeff means when he writes about how, even though he stopped photographing some years ago, photography “never really lets you go.”

I’ve been composing all manner of texts, excepting fiction. I approached photography much the same way, experimenting with everything except fabricated tableaus. Eventually, I’d like to be bimedial. That’s part of what this website has been about. Experimenting with combinations of words and images, just trying to see what I can make work. It think there is a synergy between text and image that is rarely explored, let alone exploited to full advantage.

Being bimedial. What a marvellous ambition. Sign me up, Mr Ward.

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