Beyond the Frame

The casual photographer’s aim is usually to take a picture of something, such as an object or a person, which in his or her’s mind s/he’s set apart from the surrounding environment. “Here’s a picture of Aunt Mary.” Or, “Here’s a picture of a bee on a flower.” This is one perfectly legitimate use of a camera, but one reflecting the traditional Cartesian paradigm that understands reality as a collection of objects which can be separated from one-another and observed independently.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, with the formulation of Einstein’s theory of relativity, discoveries in quantum physics, and more recently, complexity theory and fractals, a new view of reality has emerged, one which understands it as a network of dynamically changing relationships, rather than as a static arrangement of distinct and separable objects. Not only do classical “objects” begin to merge into something larger, but the viewer becomes inseparably related to them, implying that meaning and emotion become as legitimate a part of physical reality as more “objective” qualities.

As my own view of the world has evolved increasingly to reflect this “new” reality, I’ve found the camera to be an effective tool for exploring and expressing my understanding of it. Photography has become for me a process of meditation, and the resulting images point not only to what is seen within the frame, but to what lies outside it as well, particularly those invisible territories of relationship, meaning, and emotion. I am intrigued by the way in which unusual perspective and lighting call attention to these unseen qualities, sometimes lending images a surreal or even supernatural flavor.

The photo above exemplifies the emotional relationships of which I speak. To me, it embodies a quality which a photography teacher of mine use to call “otherness.” In other words, it’s about something different than what it depicts, something outside the frame. It provokes a question: “What is the meaning here?” “What is the story being told?””Why does this image make me feel the way it does?”

Kevin Jones