“Butterfly Effect” is an older collection of photos, taken with a Polaroid i830 DSD about May 2012. The collection emerged by the odd accident, as I remember, of finding this butterfly, a swallowtail, outside which was barely able to move for lack of warmth. I was surprised that the creature let me hold her, so I took her inside and began taking pictures. She was rather patient with me, allowing me to place her on the book, and on flowers for my photographic pursuits.
Looking back on these pictures, and on the circumstances of their formation, I’m compelled to impose some degree of meaning on the butterfly in context of my life at the time because the butterfly is symbol of transformation, and of the soul. My life, back then, had entered a transitional phase and I was emerging from a period of mental oppression. Like this butterfly, my spirit was out in the cold and could barely move.
There is no ‘salvation’ in this resolution; after taking my pictures I decided it would be best to leave the butterfly outside and leave it to Nature. This, too, seems like the oppression of my spirit, stiff and motionless which was taken in by Fate and used, perhaps for good, then set back into to Nature with a new experience.
These photographs, show the spirit in a ‘natural’ state, a typical ‘butterfly in a flower’ setting (Butterfly IV – II), then the hand of fate changes, not only the flower, but the location (Butterfly I). This experience changes the spirit, and suddenly the spirit searches for sustenance from something else (Book and Butterfly I – III). From this experience, the spirit is introduced to books, and through books a concept of love (amor). Here the visual story ends, and the spirit is left alone, unguided by fate.
My own spirit, from 2012, felt subject to fate and chance. Cast from one event to the next with little regard for my will, and after fate had finished with me I was left on my own. Fate had given my life back into my own hands, and though this was empowering it also meant I had to ‘fly or fail’ and this ending, where the butterfly is returned to Nature, never concludes.
“Take Care of All of My Children” is based on a collection of pictures I took on the evening of June 6, 2013. The idea started when I found the deflated balloons on the sidewalk and I was reminded on the Tom Waits song “Take care of all of my children,” from his album Orphans, which says
Take care of all of my children
Don’t let them wander and roam
Take care of all of my children
For I don’t know when I’m comin’ back home
This song is, in my mind, an odd blend of a parade march and an old hymn, and thinking of this song while staring at this mass of balloon I started wondering about the story behind the balloons.
Perhaps some children were playing with their bunch of balloons and the balloons floated away and popped and landed there. Perhaps they were walking in the heat of the day and the balloons ran through the tree and popped and were left there.
A lost set of balloons, childless and therefore incomplete. Aside from the emptiness of the balloons, my walk made me reflect on the world we’re creating for the children. Cigarette butts, and factories, and sprinklers line the city streets and I started to think about the world the children will inherit.
The collection of photographs became a reflection on the future. The album beings with “A” and “B” pictures of balloons, a typical childhood toy, that lack air and are left empty on the ground. Which is to say, “Maybe we will rob our children of a future if we are not careful with how we use technology, and how we manage our resources.”
This leads into C – I which depict “Artificial Rain”, and the “Flora of the New Age,” as a way to reflect that maybe we are creating a world better suited for machines than for humans. The album ends with J and K to restate the initial theme of childhood, and the questions “Why are the balloons deflated?” and “Where is the child?”.
“The Wasteland Variations,” are photographs taken in July 2013 of various pages from Volume 23 of the English Journal. The pages originated as the bi-product of a “book-box” project, which involved removing the ‘entrails’ of the volume and setting them aside. I decided to use said pages to make paper and so I place all thousand odd page in a large bucket and poured water over them.
Two things came to mind as the pages began soaking. First, how pretty the water made the pages look, and second how horrible it was that I could treat a book so poorly. This second observation was deepened what I decided that ripping the pages would help them mulch better and I started thinking of “The Hollow Men,” by T.S. Eliot who is referenced in both the gallery title and the majority of the picture names.
I started taking pictures of the pages, and noticed how the focal nature of photography made certain words more prominent which lead to the “Notes – of the spirit – captures this truth [in correct, effective speaking] – there is nothing [new]” which is a reflection on the way civilizations come and go, and to Ecclesiastes 1:9 “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.”
What remains of Atlantis? Of The Roman Empire? Of Babylon? And few have left their books, and to this day are doomed to slowly fade away from recollection. Then, “please examine” is a call to think about the nature of literature, and what these words mean and their implications. Leading to “The Way the World Ends,” and “With a Whimper” which emphasize the slow and painful erasure of civilizations as they are reduced to history, then fact, then legend.
“Saints and Effigies,” is a collection of pictures composed of three effigies: a statue of Mary holding baby Jesus, a wooden owl, and a pink ‘magic eight ball’ Jesus. The ‘Mother Mary’ series were taken in December of 2012 at my grandparents house and is a photo representation of Faith as it endures sickness. Mother Mary I is the young faith, and self-assurance of new belief, then Mother Mary II and III introduce doubt, sickness, and strife in the form of the various pill bottles, leading to Mother Mary IV which is the faith darkened, though matured, from the previous turmoil.
This then leads to Owl I and II, which is a wooden effigy pictured with gold and pewter in the background. The owl itself “is the symbol ofthe feminine, the moon and the night.The owl is the bird of magic and darkness, of prophecy and wisdom.” (Lin’s Domain) while the gold and pewter represent the different pure and tainted qualities of the soul. The Owl, then acts as a physical search for renewed faith leading to the ‘resurrection’ of faith with Pink Jesus I.
The journey of faith concludes with Pink Jesus IV as the manifestation of a more real faith, which understands that grasping the True character of the infinite God is beyond the capacity of the finite Creation. The faith is, however, not as one might expect because not only is Jesus pink, but also plastic and static describing the individuality of faith and understanding, and also the dangers of ascribing finite features to an infinite spiritual entity.