In the Gallery: Sun, Stone, Water

Wikipedia says, “Abstract art uses a visual language of shape, form, color, and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.”

One of my photography teachers often talked about a quality in photographic images which he called “otherness,” which referred to ways in which an image brought up associations very different from the actual objects, forms, or persons pictured.

A visitor to Mindport once approached me about the images in a show that were similarly themed to to this one. He asked, “What are these pictures OF?” I often can’t articulate in words what the metaphoric reference is in pictures I create, so I told him they are of whatever your imagination wants to make of them. He was not at all happy with that answer and walked away grumbling. Earlier I’d also mentioned the
pictures were of water, but they didn’t look like water to him, so he wasn’t content with that answer either.

Maybe a good description of this show would be, “Sun, stone, and water as seen by camera:” A creek when viewed without the benefit of a camera does not look to most people like what these images represent. I shot perhaps 100 images of the water, then picked the ones I liked best. They felt like “creekness” to me, combined with other qualities of light and color that make me happy when sitting in the presence of a mountain stream on and off for five days. The creek pictured is in Montana, and runs through canyon property of friends whom we visit there frequently. We slept in a cabin about 100 feet from the water, so its rush and roar populated our dreams all night long. Add oxygen to sun, stone, and water and you have all the ingredients necessary for life, since those elements that constitute our bodies were derived from the same elements that make up stone.

During our stay near this stream, one awareness that was running continually “backstage” in my mind was the ways in which we’re busy destroying this beautiful planet that sustains our lives and all the other lives that we share it with. Periodically I’m astounded at the sort of unmitigated gall and arrogance that enables us to assault life in the ways which we’ve done so. As I write that, the first image that pops into my mind is aerial shots of the tar sands mining now occurring in Northern Alberta, Canada. This is not to lay blame on Canada any more than any other country for committing environmental suicide. The U.S., in fact, uses more energy per capita, most of it derived from fossil fuels, than any other country in the world.

So, I’d have you imagine this gallery with a creek running through it, and while doing so, keep an ear out for the contrasting stream of fossil-fueled pollution generators streaming by on Holly Street, just outside the door. If you really want to savor irony, consider that the lights which illuminate these images run on electricity generated by damming up a river, interfering with the migration of fish who, besides having a right to existence for their own sake, also feed us.

We really ARE the earth and the earth is us, so why are we destroying ourselves. ..and how do we stop doing so?

Kevin Jones