I have never been comfortable in front of a camera. I think my smile is awkward, my face looks too round and my gestures are forced. I’m in continual awe of people who are just naturally photogenic like my dear friend K and her boyfriend — even simple snap shots look like something out of a catalog for Perfect Happy Couples. Perhaps one of my “problems” is just that I think my friends are beautiful. I love snapping photos with my phone and looking back at their smiles and their strength. For the most part, that’s me. Behind the lens.
It was sort of unnerving when H- turned the camera around without really asking– let’s get a picture. Smile! As a result I have great photos of us climbing at Smith and it isn’t just his helmet or him at the anchors… I’m there too. It makes me smile, and I’m glad to actually be recorded somewhere instead of just the one doing the recording.
A photograph is an interesting thing. It’s a moment, without context. I’ve been thinking a lot about context with the lamp series that I wrote about here. Thus far I’ve just been posting the images on Instagram with the tag #lampseries. Each image is paired with a quote from a book I’ve read or whatever is laying around close to hand– it’s funny how often Anne Carson and John Tyndall work their way in. Are these quotes misappropriation? I don’t think so. Do they help provide context? I doubt it.
I’ve done three sessions of photographs at this point, and I just bought some lamp oil to fill hurricane lamps and work those in. (I also broke the tripod I was using, so I’ll have to wait a little while for the next series. Or, gulp, recruit help to hold the camera.) I’m not really sure where this collection belongs, if anywhere. But I like what it’s doing to me– allowing me to wrap myself in lights and do something ridiculous, feeling silly but keeping at it. Art is ridiculous– splashes of paint, the curve of a shoulder, words scrawled on a page. This is supposed to save something? Why? Because, when you see something that resonates in your body like a plucked string– it matters. I’m not saying any of these photographs do. It’s just me, dancing around my apartment, pretending like my windows aren’t street level.
The images are slightly NSFW, so I’m embedding a PDF (lamp series) and you’ll have to click through– it’s your call.