Lamp Series

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.



Good Books I’ve read lately

Oh books.  Oh joy books! They exist, and that makes me happy. Here are some I am particularly fond of lately.

Cartography of Birds.  It’s lovely, and the I emailed the author to tell her so.  She wrote meCover of Cartography of Birds back with a very kind email.  People amaze me.  Take a look at her book if you get a chance.  The first poem is breathtaking.  I was going to write my academic writing sample as an in-depth analysis of  her text, but I decided I’d rather enjoy it than dissect it.

Second book I don’t have an image of.  Notes of a Course of Nine Lectures on Light.  It’s from 1870, and still has phrases about the humours in the eye, and spells reflection “reflexion”.  There are some intriguing experiments using water with black ink  and I’m working on a series of poetry using these experiments.  Best thing: run your fingers down the page. You can feel where the typeset pressed into the page.  I’m seriously considering “losing” this book  and paying the library, but I know that no one else will find it as useful as I have then.  I’m not sure.  It’s from the science library, and as some of the facts are inaccurate, maybe it’ll be okay.  I have a while to figure out what I’m doing.

And the final selection! Fossil Sky.  This is a book/poem/map.  When I decided not to write about “a cartography of birds” I decided to write about this.  54 square inch page, with the poem meandering about within Fossil Sky Coverthe circle  spread on the page.  It was actually a fun project.  I read into maps, the theory behind maps, the graphic design of maps, and most importantly, how we read maps.  The paper tries to show how Fossil Sky must be read as a map and all preconceived notions on reading poetry have to be left behind when attempting this text.  The best part about it: I had previously thought that Fossil Sky failed as a project.  But in digging deeper into it, and approaching it as a map rather than a standard poem (ie on its own terms instead of the ones I forced onto it) I think it’s quite successful.  Thanks University of Denver, for requiring an academic sample.  This might have remained a cool but unused and unread book/text/poem/map in my collection, and that would be sad thing indeed.