Rays of Light, 2000
I’ve made shadow as much as I’ve made light in Fissure i. A key perceptual strategy is to see a thing and see its opposite. Looking down, I saw a dark crack in a slab of light stone. I thought of looking up at a light crack in a slab a dark stone. The dark flecks in the stone became stars. The rift became a gateway to light.
I like the idea of embracing opposites and holding them together. They’re not mutually exclusive. In fact, I think we can’t see the whole picture until the picture we form of a subject or event can encompass the things that at first glance seem contradictor: Turning dark into light and light into dark, making an interior space appear like an exterior space and an exterior space seem like an interior space, pitting heavy stone against airy light, uniting geometry and chaos. The path the eye travels is both up and down.
Looking at this image is an interesting visual experience. There’s a linear focus to a single point, yet the lines become more of a preoccupation than the point. I almost squint looking at the source and find the residual light easier to bear.
There’s a solid geometric foundation to this composition. I’m sure all the reading I’ve done on sacred geometry influenced the creation of this image. But I’m not sure how. It’s probably better that I don’t know. There are times when not knowing is the right answer. In those times we are able to listen to messages from the interior that we ordinarily screen out. Like a sphinx, this image still teases me with a riddle I haven’t yet been able to solve. That’s probably why I keep coming back to it. I’ve looked at it more than many other images I’ve created. That says something.
There was detail in the shadow, so there was detail in the light. I wanted a great deal more mystery behind this looming wall. I took the detail out. Contrast is a wonderful thing. It’s considered good photographic form to hold detail throughout the entire tonal scale of an image. It’s a good rule. I’m glad I started there. There are exceptions to every rule. Less was more here. Without a definitive answer to the nature of the source of light, I can come back to this image again and again. Rather than a definitive sermon, the image becomes an open-ended reverie. It’s important to leave room for mystery. It’s important to leave something unsolved. There can be something perfect about imperfection.
This image is about revelation. It’s an open-ended revelation. It’s about breakthroughs. It’s about the process of making those breakthroughs rather than the answers that come out of them. The process of getting there is elusive and the answers aren’t always definitive, but the changes they bring are undeniable.
Making this image reminded me of making a painting. Many layers were painstakingly built up, out of many tiny elements, to create the final effect. The image looks so unlike the original source material, I sometimes think I could just as well have started with a blank canvas. I like to photograph a thing, not only for what it is, but also for what else it is, and for what it can become.