As a stay-at-home parent of a 15-month-old toddler, I have very little time to be creative. Yet, late one evening, while washing the dishes, rapidly evolving patterns of soap suds on the inside of a stainless steel lid caught my attention and set me on a path of exploration. As I turned the lid’s concave surface toward the bright, overhead lighting, the illuminated metal magically rendered the fleeting, white suds darker than the reflected light. This gave my captures somewhat ominous results; but, what was more interesting was the way the concentric circles in the surface of the steel suggested depth and added something subliminal to each scene.
As unique perspectives of the mundane, the meanings within each frame of this project are drawn out of the viewer. To me, the machined circles can represent heavenly bodies like the Sun and Moon, nipples, growth rings within trees, or, time-lapse photography of star trails. The dark, organic shapes, made by my own hand with a sponge, can represent the motion within forces of nature, fingerprints, glyphs, or fluids like smeared blood.
Additionally, based on my ongoing explorations of pareidolia, the tendency to interpret a vague stimulus as something known to the observer, in the first image on this page, I see a silhouetted “family” at the base of a very large “wave” that towers over them and consumes half of the frame. Because of this, on a much deeper level, I believe the images in this project represent the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges humans continue to face living, conceiving, and raising a family in our “modern” world; and, on a much larger scale, the wholehearted embrace shared between order and chaos in the universe.
Half-Truths: Pomelo, Grapefruit & Blood Orange
Arno Rafael Minkkinen is right. What happens inside your mind can happen inside a camera. Based on my experience with an in-camera effect, I can say the opposite is also true.
In 2015, I began to experiment with a digital camera’s built-in “reflection” effect and pareidolia, the tendency to interpret a vague stimulus as something known to the observer. The evolving symmetry of this live, handheld process allowed me to create art through what is like an evolving Rorschach Test ink blot. After producing several “portraits” using ornamental gourds as my models, I decided to explore other organic shapes this way. Torn citrus segments became a muse that I could consume during my creative process.
The results, true glimpses through my mind’s eye, can be whimsical, grotesque, otherworldly, anatomical; yet, each viewer has the ability to reinterpret what is presented and see other things within the frame, based on their own experiences.
Half-Truths: Pomelo, Grapefruit & Blood Orange is the result of exploring the cellular structure and translucence of citrus fruits, through the filter of a “forced symmetry”.
Blood Orange Insect
This image, photographed on a makeshift light table, is an experiment with two pieces of blood orange on separate panes of glass, like layers in Photoshop. And, an unintentional effect is created by the juice on the top layer.
Heart and Soul II
Blood Orange Butterfly
Blood Orange Beast
Blood Orange Spire
Blood Orange War Mask
Blood Orange Nightmare
Blood Orange Invocation
Blood Orange Genitalia
Blood Orange Torso
Pomelo Soul Cage
Grapefruit Last Breath
Half-Truths: Stainless Steel
Examples of a variety of studies of stainless steel and light via a “forced symmetry” that can trigger pareidolia. (Will be updating, soon.)
The Vegetarian Nudes
NOTE: This project is being revived, in 2019, with high resolution scans of the original negatives. Prints and posters will be available, later this year.
What, at first glance, appears to be “a bronze sculpture", "a person dipped in chocolate", "a woman with a cabbage on her head", suddenly, becomes something more familiar.
Inspired by Edward Weston’s Pepper No. 30, Jim's Vegetarian Nude and Vegetarian Slumber are monochromatic photos of a red pepper and Brussels sprout. They were produced in 1994 for a college 'Photo I' course assignment on abstracts. The “subject” was placed on an old shirt and lit with a single desk lamp.
Later that year, following the advice of a friend who had one of their winning photos published in a book, Jim submitted Vegetarian Nude to the Boston Globe's photography contest. It was not selected; but, it was published, full size, in The Boston Sunday Globe, by columnist Mark Wilson. (August 14, 1994, p. A60) Years later, it was remembered and revived via the Boston Globe's 'Ask the Globe' section.
These two images still invite surprise, wonder and conversation, today.
In 2014, while continuing to get reacquainted with my passion for photography, I had the opportunity to explore the "Human Landscape" via workshops offered by Karin Rosenthal. These images represent some of what I was producing in the differing landscapes of Cape Cod and Vermont.