The Burden of Association
In 2012, I saw an exhibition of platinum/palladium prints by master photographer, George Tice. I met George in 2005 when I took a Master Printing workshop with him at what was the Maine Photographic Workshops. He is for me, hands down, the best photographic printmaker I’ve ever encountered. He liked to teach outdoors. I remember holding one of his platinum prints in my hands—without the separation of glass; without glare; without the formality of gallery walls surrounding me; and within the soft Maine light. The tonal range, the articulation of space, the depth of the detail combine perfectly—transforming the original capture into something else. It was the kind of haptic experience that seems less frequent now when encountering art.
It was looking at this image of lily pads that brought the epiphany.
I spent a long time looking at this photograph of lily pads. I left myself in it. When I emerged, I realized that I connect with a photograph when reminded that this medium, invented to perfectly depict truth, is capable of shedding that expectation, expressing instead, an abstract rendering of the world. Lily pads become circles; reeds become lines; reflections become brush strokes; and all of what I think I know—is gone. For a few moments, the burden of association is lost and I am floating alone in depths of tone.
This is when I love photography; when the medium born to tell a story, doesn’t. No other art form is capable of producing this kind of exchange—giving an expectation of an exact record, only to strip that preconception away, leaving form in its place.
Reprinted from Tilted Arc. See the original piece here.