After meditation. After making marks with Japanese ink. More movement exercises. Free form modern dance improvisations.
We did a lot of distributing weight between partners – leaning, pulling, propping, lifting. For me, the most interesting was an exercise where we paired up. One person was the ‘sculptor’. The other person was the ‘clay’. The sculptor moves the other clay’s body into position with the corresponding body part – i.e. to move an elbow move it with an elbow. The flowing shapes were fascinating. At the end, Sean asked us to stop. And then asked the clay to walk away while the sculptor held the position. The shape of the sculptor was as expressive as the shape of the clay. You could see the missing clay in the void left behind.
Today was challenging. My flow in the first two days was excellent. I struggled more today. Trying to see how this relates to photography is a real stretch. Trying to see how I’ll apply it in teaching is less of a stretch. It’s good for team building. It’s good for improvisation. It’s good for shifting gears. It’s very collaborative. So how does an artist working in isolation with inanimate objects work this into his or her process?
My interpretation of what Sean is leading us to is that when we let go of convention (aculturated habitual responses – a language) and ego (our individual constructs for dealing with convention and society) we get down to an inner core (often unexpressed or highly filtered). This emptiness is full of potential. If you trust the process and just keep going, authentic responses emerge naturally.
We had a great breakout discussion at the end of the day. I learned a lot about Sean and his orientation to photography and other disciplines. It’s pretty courageous to consider giving up photography in order to seek a more authentic response in another medium like writing a novel, which he did temporarily. It’s pretty honest to respond, when asked by a publisher for 60 to 100 images, that, after a long career in photography, he has trouble finding more than 40 of his own images that really hit the mark for him. Those images still provoke a shift in consciousness.
So what do you do after a long day? Go drinking! My family (my wife, son, father)(and my assistant David Wright) had dinner with Sean Kernan, Jay Maisel, Greg Heisler. Afterwards, Jay and Greg came down to my studio and we drank wine and talked long into the night. It’s not surprising to find that we’re all our own worst critics. That’s good, as long as we don’t carry it too far.
Check out Sean’s blog entries on the class here.
Check out fellow participant Russell Kaye’s blog here
Who’s Sean Kernan? Find out here.
Read my in depth conversation with Sean here.
Read Sean interviewing me here
Check out Sean’s creativity workshops here.
Check out my creativity workshop here.