...so I am not done exclaiming about how wonderful this book has been to me yet.
I am going to reproduce the entire passage here because it is so perfect.
"One night, after much sky-watching, I could not sleep and went to the kitchen to make tea. I sat in the dark and waited for the water to boil in a transparent kettle, and watched the bubbles accumulate on its surface, illuminated by the oven flame. Slowly, in my half slumber, they began to mutate into a picture of the celestial vault as it was being formed in the moment of creation. The fiery certainty of the stars mingled for a second with the liquid freedom of my dream, I felt the infinite presence of this subconscious, liquid night as an intrinsic part of the physical universe--and at the kettle's annoying whistle, I woke up with an idea.
I turned on the loft's lights and went over the historical charts I'd been making as a hobby, and got to work sizing and preparing them; this went on until the morning. As soon as the stores were open, I went out and bought cheap plexiglass frames that were shaped like shadow boxes. I also went out and bought a variety of transparent, colourless hair gels, and a syringe. Then I placed one of the shallow, transparent boxes over the chart of the Hiroshima explosion, filled it with hair gel, and with the help of the syringe trapped bubbles of air atop the place of every major celestial object in the chart. I had to build a tent in my studio so I could light the contraption from a slit on one side of the tank without reflecting the huge 8x10 camera on the plexiglass surface. Because of the single source of light coming from the upper side of the image, the bubbles seemed to have been photographed as if they were ascending to the top, as in boiling water, or a glass of champagne."
p.174 chapter 15
I am so infuriated but more excited by this. Damnit, even that first sentence, with seeing the cosmos within a tea kettle, that is EXACTLY THE SORT OF THING I WANT PEOPLE TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO. It is no secret that the next evolution in my work was to be purely astronomical, as this is the farthest thing away that we are aware of, and I have to laugh at his struggles in working within a similar manner. [that camera reflection issue is a rough one sometimes] The concept of making bubbles with a syringe is something that I never would've thought of. In my photographs of dishsoap I have attempted to suppress the bubbles as I felt that this revealed too much of the scale factor, but he emphasizes them to make you feel a greater sense of connectedness to the material. Thank goodness for my discovery of this book, it is encouraging to see someone working with photographing unorthodox materials like chocolate, using them to create a drawing, then stubbornly always photographing them as the final output. Sometimes I question why I feel the need to photograph the things that I make, besides the obvious reason that it makes them all the more impressive, but reading this book has helped me to understand my own justifications for working with this method. I've always known that there was a good reason for it, but in the art world everyone is always obsessed with WHY you choose to do anything, as if a gut wrenching natural instinct is not a good enough reason. Obviously the most logical reason is that it is merely another systematic means of delivering information to someone, but that answer did'nt feel sincere enough to me to be the real reason.
I've always admired Muniz's chocolate portraits and such but always felt a disconnect as:
1.) They were graphic and representational
2.) They were all homages to previous art works
In all honesty the only art that I can feel a connection to that shares these 2 qualities is Warhol. I can think of no other artist that had such a strong effect onto my impressionable young mind. It is my intense and early love of Warhol, I feel, that makes me get defensive about any artist that is doing anything similar. This is really ridiculous, I realize, because a good 90% of art today has taken Warhol into account in one form or another. I need to lay off and deal with this cross-referential art and realize that it's got a genre within itself.
I guess this is just a long winded way of saying that I feel the abstractions are more successful. His drawings of clouds are lovely as well.
Anyway, not to stray too far from my original topic. Reading this book was exactely the sort of encouragement I needed right now and I don't remember the last time I was so excited to explore some new materials. I am going to go out and make some lists right now of things to collect. I've already ordered 50 petri-dishes to store the materials in, and I'm about to order some more C-41 chemistry.
You have to love how Muniz's desicion to make these hair gel pictures arose from his jealousy from Thomas Ruff's photographs, and how he wished he could've made them. He found a way to make them once again. Now lets see some of those beautiful "Pictures of Air". Also found here of course.
I haven't been this excited since I saw James Welling's tinfoil photos.
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