Framing Earth and Sky

1.

planes of existence

*

2.

the sky falls into place

*

3.

the grasses swim; the clouds fall to earth

*

4.

pressed to reveal a secret

*

5.

it could be about the daisies

*

6.

at the edge of the known world

*

7.

we find light, hold it, and let it go

*

8.

this is not the place

*

9.

portal

*

9.

re-contextualizing again

***

This project has its roots in another project I worked on in 1972-73. I took a square pane of glass to a vacant field an hour west of New York City and placed it on the ground. It was a sunny day and soon condensation began to form on the plants under the glass. Everything under the glass took on a slightly blue cast. I photographed that and moved on to other manipulations, wrapping a plastic bag over a small bush and bending a square of aluminum foil around a barbed wire fence so the foil hung like flag. I was interested in reflections and other subtle changes in the light that I could make with gentle interventions in the environment.

The following winter I returned to the field after a heavy snowfall with the pane of glass under my arm. Dropping it onto the snow, I photographed the resulting square made by shadows cast along the edges of the glass. I stuck the pane into the snow on its edge and photographed it head-on, with its bright reflection on one side and its shadow on the other side. I kept going, playing with a ball of string and four utility candles – more white on white. The pieces (photographs of them) were submitted for a sculpture class at the School of Visual Arts, which I was attending.

Then the ideas went dormant for a long time. One of the pieces was titled “Disappearance” but the ideas never disappeared from my mind. The play of light on objects always drew my attention, whether I was working, walking across the city, taking care of my son or gazing out a window. Four slides of the work from the early 1970s survive. Those images and my memory were enough to nudge me toward the hardware store this month to purchase two squares of glass, cut to my specifications. I drove to a field again, this time in Washington State. It was another sunny day, but of course, conditions were different than they were in 1972. I’m different. So I worked with the glass square, took photos, thought about what I saw on the screen and went out a second time. The photos above are from these two recent forays. I expect there will be more.

***


45 comments

  1. Fascinating project, Lynn. I love that you tried this in the 70’s and now reviving the idea. Interesting to evaluate the differences in the images and also the interpretations. How are we different than we were 50 years (!!) ago and how are we the same?
    I love the contrasts in #2 and the play with depth in #5. All the images have an ethereal quality of “now you see it” to them. Compelling.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s food for thought, Jane. It’s interesting to see how certain preoccupations or threads run along in our lives through the years. Your reaction of “now you see it…” reflects a long-time fascination with disappearance, not only aesthetically, but in life; someone is there one minute and gone the next. Thank you so much for communicating your thoughts, Jane, it’s helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes please, continue ๐Ÿ™‚ I love them all. It is very interesting, what happens by looking through the glass. It is inspiring and and there are so many possibilities of “thinking along”, if that makes sense to you. You can see it this way or that way or… Each pane of glass has more than one side, maybe more than two sides. I love picture #7, the black and white one. It is such a special atmosphere. You worked on your seeing through theme at your best ๐Ÿ™‚ And I find it interesting, that you never let go of this idea. How fascinating this work must be in the change and development of your life. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, that makes sense! It’s nice to see the fire of your insatiable curiosity being lit again. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was trying to convey the mysterious atmosphere as I processed the images. There is a drier, more technical side to what’s happening and a juicier, more emotional side to it. As I worked I was pulled toward the poetic side. And you connected this to my seeing through project – thank you for noticing that! Yes, the idea stuck around and is connected to other preoccupations that are important to me, like the idea of disappearance. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and spirit, Almuth. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • ^^ I had to look for insatiable ๐Ÿ˜‰ Mysterious atmosphere describes it perfectly. I love that! I am glad you tended to the poetic side, which is always so nice to attend, in written words as well as in your photos. While talking about poetics, I love the tenderness of #3 and #4, that lets me think of floating water. Very well done! I am really curious what you will try next time.
        By the way: a dry side and a juicy side – funny expressions to me! We use dry too, but not juicy ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a more intellectual, art-world set of photographs than any I remember seeing here previously. Sure enough, at the end you confirmed the genesis of the current project in one for art school nearly five decades ago. I wonder how often someone resumes a project after so much time has elapsed.

    In #7, it looks like the glass is shattered, but I assume that’s from the vegetation pressing up on the underside of the pane. On the whole the image comes across as mysterious. #3 and especially #4 zoom in on the pressing technique and show a lot more detail of what it can accomplishโ€”and then there are the two senses of “pressed” in the caption for #4. If you’d done #1 in a different part of the country you could’ve had the plains of existence. (Etymologically, plane and plain are the same word.)

    I like the low-key look of #9. Your caption for #8 raises the question of why this place is any more “not the place” than any other place. I expect a metaphysical disquisition. (Okay, not really, but it sounds good.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re right, the glass hasn’t broken yet…yet. I was going for the mysterious aspect in some of these. Two senses of pressed – right! I did a tiny bit of reading about planes before finishing this and saw that plain and plane were related, which makes sense. Sometimes words and phrases pop into my mind for no apparent reason; “this is not the place” is one of those. It made me think of Mormons. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks, Steve!

      Like

      • Yeah, I have words and phrases pop into my head, too. Sometimes while I’m still out in nature taking pictures of something the title for a post about that thing will come to me, and occasionally the post will even start writing itself.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. So cool to see your past project works and read more of your narrative…talented you! I love the black and white and fading in and out…seems fitting these days…have another creative day…project work is something Iโ€™d like to do more of ~ sending joy smiles Hedy โ˜บ๏ธ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ’ซ

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fading in and out seems fitting these days, yes indeed! The vast uncertainty of it all. Your posts often seem like projects, even if they’re small ones. I’m sure there are threads running through that would tie posts together into projects, too. Thank you, Hedy, enjoy your day. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  5. You were so lucky to find so many panes of glass serendipitously scattered in such opportune positions ๐Ÿ˜‰

    โœจโ˜€๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ•‰๏ธโ™พ๏ธโ˜ฎ๏ธ๐Ÿ™โ˜€๏ธโœจ

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Always good to see you experimenting! This idea stayed with you for quite some time; must mean something to you then.. I like the ‘Nature-Rothko’ approach in nr3 (I’d like a square frame for that one..). In nr6 and nr9 the reflections are important and strong. And I like the ‘Alien confronting it’s surrounding’ approach in nr7. Keep going; it’s COVID time anyway… See you; say Hi to Joe!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can see a square frame on #3, that would work. ๐Ÿ™‚ The reflections in #6 seemed to make the glass float, but the reflections in #9 seemed to lead down into some strange place. I enjoyed processing these and seeing where they went. Here’s to experiments! Joe says Hi too! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  7. Definitely continue this project. The possibilities for you are only restricted to space on your memory card. I’m picking #5 and #7 as favorites but the entire series is fascinating. Nice work, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Possibilities…I’m sure you’re right, but the muse comes and goes. I don’t think this is the end of this though. I’m very happy to hear that you find the series interesting – that’s good!

      Like

  8. These type of experimentation are certainly a challenge for looking and thinking. Because the light changes constantly and because life changes us, as Lynn says so well.
    Impermanence, transience and movement will give way to different feelings and experiences, whether on the following day or many years later. Even for a glass square!
    I like the plans that penetrate, the perspectives, the titles, etc. The result shared here.
    I am sure the project will continue!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, impermanence, transience, and movement are good words for this project. It’s interesting to see the very different effects that occur just from looking at that square of glass. I’m glad you liked it, Dulce, and hopefully there will be more. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you, and have a good week!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s a great way to get back to your roots: at the same time you’re doing something old for yourself and something new for us guests. Images from a magical world, dear Lynn, especially the last four, I find very extraterrestrial, different worldly. Everything is just physics … which you master imaginatively. Surprising, not the fact, but the results.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s new for me too, because the results are different, my interpretations are different, and the way they are shared is very different. ๐Ÿ™‚ But yes, it’s nice to connect with something that goes back so long. It was an important time in my life. It’s good to be able to “master” physics without knowing anything about the science…the poetry I see moves me, and the best result is when it moves someone else, too. Thank you…. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love the way you canโ€™t always tell on what plane the plants exist. I love how the glass is simultaneously a window and a mirror. It could be a visible metaphor for how photographs are regarded: as windows and/or mirrors. The poetry of your words pairs beautifully. I think itโ€™s wonderful that you have returned to a project after so many years. Think of the ideas having all those yearsโ€™ worth of growth. I look forward to seeing more manifestations.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Windows, mirrors, frames, portals – lots of metaphors. ๐Ÿ™‚ We talked about the words and my plan to have them larger but it couldn’t be done, so I made them red. Kind of strange, but I think it helps emphasize them. I hope there will be more photos with/of the glass. I have another square that I think needs to be cut down it’s huge and cumbersome. It was really gratifying to expand on the original idea. Now I need to see what happens next in muse-land. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thank you Linda, for being here.

      Like

  11. As I and sure you can guess, this is right up my alley. Haven’t we discussed The Frame before…..?
    I love the way this idea re-contextualizes and re-magines The Frame, and what it means. Taking the idea of it and placing it physically within the image/frame.
    Perhaps “re-framing the frame”?
    It immediately brought to mind (for obvious reasons) one of my favorite Howard Nemerov poems:

    Storm Windows

    People are putting up storm windows now,
    Or were, this morning, until the heavy rain
    Drove them indoors. So, coming home at noon,
    I saw storm windows lying on the ground,
    Frame-full of rain; through the water and glass
    I saw the crushed grass, how it seemed to stream
    Away in lines like seaweed on the tide
    Or blades of wheat leaning under the wind.
    The ripple and splash of rain on the blurred glass
    Seemed that it briefly said, as I walked by,
    Something I should have liked to say to you,
    Something … the dry grass bent under the pane
    Brimful of bouncing water … something of
    A swaying clarity which blindly echoes
    This lonely afternoon of memories
    And missed desires, while the wintry rain
    (Unspeakable, the distance in the mind!)
    Runs on the standing windows and away.

    There is a wistfulness here that I feel reflected between your images and this poem, of something just out of grasp of the mind. The…

    gentle interventions
    in the environment.
    gentle interventions
    of the mind. the
    swaying clarities
    of missed desires

    (I *think* that blue cast is a result of UV-filtering properties manufactured into the glass…..leave it to me to be the rationalist party-pooper…..of course I never seem to notice the party being pooped….I’m still having a blast…. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ah, Johnny, thank you so much. Re-framing the frame, that’s nice. And wow, the poem! Amazing. He’s great, I should get one of his books. Talk about wistful. And yes, I was sensing a lot of what you describe as I worked on the images. Not so much while I made them, but afterward. I wondered how much that reflected the larger environment we find ourselves in these days, but I had no answer. Anyway, notions of disappearance or not-quite-thereness have interested me for a lot longer than COVID’s been around.
      A little science never hurt the art. Both-and, not either-or.
      Thank you again!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I often seem to “get” what I was trying to “get at” in the making of an image only “afterwards”. For me this is actually one of the great joys of photography and also why I’m terrible about deleting “bad shots”. I never know what I may discover later that I seem to have been paying attention to on some kind of subconscious level that I wasn’t aware of while I had the camera in my hand. I am trying to pay more attention to this.
        (This would, I guess, be a “both/and” kind of thing. Seems a bit mystical but I am trying to pay attention to it….).

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Fascinating project, Lynn, both for what it is and because you have resumed it after such a long break – and I very much like your words about it being different from 1972, and you’re different too. I see this whole thing as saying something very deep about what makes you – you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Very neat and fascinating project with wonderful images. Interesting how your perceptions and image making may have changed so many years later!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Emotion is more important to me than it was then. Back then I was strongly influenced by minimalism, conceptual art, etc., which I still respond to today. But I want to elicit an emotion from the viewer, while before I was mainly interested in stimulating the viewer’s intellect. Both are important, of course. Thanks, Howard.

      Like

  14. Excellent studies! I think I remember something like this from you in the past but not a whole set like this. I think it’s great to have self projects or series that you continue to work on. I am usually working on several at a time with a particular blog title in mind. Mine are often similar and recurring themes in keeping with my nicheยด. I like and admire your exploration here. They make a unique collection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The ‘something like this’ could have been any number of photos looking through things like fogged-up glass. I don’t think I ever published copies of the few negatives I have of the original photos using the square of glass, from so long ago. Like you said it’s good to keep certain themes going, which you have done for a long time. Just realizing that I could do studies of particular plants and file them under “Just One” and that many of my posts fit under “Local Walks” while others fit under “Further Afield” – that was a relief. I felt more organized. I’ll probably get back to this at some point, not sure when. We’ll see, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Like

  15. I love this series, Lynn. I won’t leave my usual florid commentary, as you commented yourself, lots of metaphors are immediately suggested. So nice that this prompted J. Crabcakes to remember a Nemerov poem, he’s one of my favorite poets. I’ve been unable to figure out, why some of your pictures here, 6,7,9, seem so immediately poignant. Maybe the panes seem like little windows to another time, a little pool of sky on a dark ground, a glimpse of a tree in silhouette – -these somehow underscore how fleeting all this is. Lynn you do good work.

    Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s