Stones, clouds, shadows — in shape they are all echoes of each other. The clouds will pass, the dunes will drift, even the stones will pass. All seem to be in motion. Like the clouds growing progressively smaller, the shadows growing progressively softer and lighter are caught in the act of shifting and disappearing. Nothing in this image seems fixed or eternal, even stone.
Stone, cloud, shadow — in volume they are equal. While we might take them for granted, directing our attention to other actors in the image out of habit, the shadows are equal players in this drama. The shadows of the stones alter the rhythm and the visual flow of the entire image.
In Procession ii, shadows articulate the volumes of separate forms and bind them together. Shadows reveal the ripples that shimmer atop the undulating swells of a larger wave of sand. Shadows announce the forms of monoliths, standing out all the more clearly against an azure sky for their darkness. Shadows anchor the stones in space relative to the planes below them; without the shadows their positions would otherwise be ambiguous, their presence questionable. The shadows marry elements within this image and describe their relative relationships.
The shadows also indicate motion. While the stones appear separate, they are in fact one. Disparities in their contours belie this fact. An illusion of separateness and difference is reinforced by the ways that light and shadow articulate particulars of the three-dimensional forms unique to the differing angles. That the light is seen from a consistent angle in each instance helps reinforce the illusion. Once their unity is discovered, the consistency of light helps reinforce an appearance of motion. The stone rotates between the various points marking its ascent. The stone moves in two ways, rising and twisting. Just as the sun rises and turns, so does the stone.
To confirm that the separate stones are one stone, we need additional information. There is not enough information contained within the image to reach a conclusion that leads to certainty. It’s challenging, and I think important, to be able to read an image in more than one way. Shifting our perspective can provide both confirmation and illumination. In doing so we take less for granted. There may be times when we grow wiser in uncertainty.
I’m fascinated by images where shadows display what would be an otherwise unseen character of the things photographed. I’m fascinated by photographs where shadows comingle, uniting what would otherwise be seen as separate. I’m fascinated by images with shadows whose sources remain off camera. In looking at this image and focusing so much on the shadows, it occurs to me that, as in a great many images, perhaps even a majority, the source of light is not included, but rather implied. We make assumptions about what is invisible based on the visible residues we find. Often we look habitually. Simply looking can be illuminating.