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.

 

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I am in love.

Let me clarify.  Sir Oliver Lodge and John Tyndall are men I continue to return to, continue to be fascinated with.  Thanks to a delay at work, I have had several hours to return to a book (haphazardly and luckily thrown in my bag this morning) about the life of Lodge. 

Reading biographies always makes me re-evaluate my own life.  I’d never heard of Lodge before I began this strange pursuit of ether science.   Now I find myself reading about his life and feeling like I stumble into old friends.  

Because I have the time, here is my history with Lodge:

I stumbled on Sir Walter Rayleigh’s scattering principle while looking for a way to structure my thesis.  He charted observations of the blue sky, and the resulting image looked like the graceful arc of iris petals.  I wanted to understand why, and so I began to look into refraction and reflection, which led me to John Tyndall.  Within his transcriptions from his light lectures Tyndall talked about the humours of the eye (poem inspired is available upon request) and the ether of the sky.  As anyone who has accidently asked me what I’ve been working on can attest, I haven’t been the same since.  I know more about ether than anyone ought to–and I’m beginning to move into dark matter.  But that’s another topic.

In reading (and reading and reading) about ether, I continue to run into the same names.  This isn’t strange, but what does strike me is how often I run into the same names in different contexts.  A few weeks ago my cousin gave us tickets to Bone Portraits, a play about Edison and X-Rays.  Roentgen was one of the characters, and in reading about Lodge today, there was Roentgen.  Lodge worked with telegraphy at the same time as Marconi, but I would hazard a guess that more people would recognize the Italian.  He corresponded with J. J. Thompson (later Lord Kelvin) and had dinners with H. G. Wells.  Men whose names I remember from science class years ago inhabit these pages, but I can’t remember hearing about Lodge before two years ago.  He seems to be relegated to the “and others” part of most descriptions. 

Who will be the names remembered from the communities (scientists, artists, musicians) now, and who will become “and others”? It is an exercise in futility to project into the future who will be remembered from the past.  Creating is always an attempt at immortality, and some will succeed.  I want to say that Lodge failed, but even that isn’t really true.  I know about him now, and so do you.  Ask me about his theories and his life, and I will tell you more.  This is what I do for love.