1/27/12

Speaking of Poltergeists...

This is a non-digitally altered shot of a scene I created using a run-of-the-mill printout from the web, it's of the house used in the movie Poltergeist which I then cut out and taped to a window (I'm revealing my amazing technical secrets to the world here...)

Thoughts on things that creeped me out, and other lofty ideas

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When I was in grade school I loved looking at books about UFOs, ghosts, the supernatural, and really whatever whacked-out mysterious things might exist ("might" being the operative word in my mind at the time). In 7th grade I went through a serious ouija board phase--at the time one of my closest friends claimed to have seen the ghost of a man in a top hat and tails in her parent's bedroom and I must admit her house was fairly creepy (the third floor bathroom was basically in a turret). So of course this meant that it was our favorite place to pose questions to the mass-manufactured Parker Brothers game that we invested so much faith in. (But not really, I mean, we pretended not really, being in that weird place where we had one foot in adolescent skepticism and one finger trying to still hold on to the imaginary realm of childhood.)

I'm not sure if I fully believed in any of it, but it still scared the heck out of me; I had both the mind of  a doubting scientist who wanted evidence (I once asked Santa for a picture of Jesus, meaning a photograph not a painting, Mom and Dad) and the mind of a sometime spiritualist who recognized that the world is full of unsolvable and vastly unknowable questions--and possibly horrifying hairless demons that might live in a tiny closet in your bedroom like on that one episode of Tales from the Darkside.

I continued my seeking ways during college, spending hours in the self-help section of the local St. Louis Barnes & Noble reading everything from cognitive therapy-based books to volumes on runes. I resided--and mostly still do--in this middle ground: my logical brain thinks I'm a skeptic, and my artistic brain thinks I'm a speck floating in a mind-bending soup of who-knows-what. Call me wishy-washy, but I guess that means I'm intellectually agnostic.

My latest series (still unnamed) is an attempt on my part to try to recapture some of that old feeling of fascination and awe that got shelved quite a bit in the day-to-day of making sure the kids were mostly clean, were every once in a while eating something other than beige-colored food, and as of late telling them I don't care who did what to whom, just stop bickering forgodsakes. I had already begun to examine some supernatural ideas with "Strange Happenings" but for whatever reason I just wasn't fully invested in it. Once I shifted my focus slightly to connect it to my past a bit more I began to feel like I'd found my voice again. Throw a dash of physics, astronomy, Jung and all things ancient into the mix and you've basically got an understanding of where my influences lie.

Still, in many ways it's difficult to capture visually how it felt to watch scary shows and movies back then, what it meant to read about chaos theory and Shrodinger's cat (which, trust me, I had/have only a very basic grasp of but still find compelling nonetheless). The best way I can describe it is to say that overall certain images are embedded in my mind, along with a hard-to-describe feeling--one that's unsettling but not entirely unpleasant either. If I look for clips now they strike me as cheesy, but also bring back some of that old feeling, a kind of weird nostalgia.

While this is the impetus for the current series, I'm feeling that some of it has been approached too cerebrally (though that may be central to the images in some ways). It's that logical vs. imaginative brain thing again, that middle ground I always seem to be pulled towards. Still, the photos right now seem too "clean" to me--I've been thinking about how to make them less pristine, more messy in that crazy adolescent poltergeist way. But maybe too there's a chaos I'm trying to control, which might root them in the more orderly nature of how the pictures have been coming together. I don't know, I'm thinking out loud, at which point blog posts can become boring so I'll shut up now. Long story short it's at least coming together more than before. We'll see what happens next.

(Wait--did you know there's a theory that poltergeists aren't ghosts but actually the pent-up energy of teenager's (mostly girls') anxiety and hormones being physically manifested? An interesting tidbit I think.)

1/20/12

Still alive

Well, hello. Has it really been over a month since I posted? Why, yes, it has. Blake Andrews wrote an entry about dying and/or dead blogs ("In Memoriam: Photoblogs 2011"), citing those that fizzled out, those that spontaneously combusted, and those that at last check were hovering somewhere in between. I've been thinking a lot about that post since I read it; specifically, about whether there's still life worth breathing into Tethered--whether it's merely convalescing until I nurse it back into health, or whether it's on its last legs.

The truth is, I'm not ready to let it go. I hope no one will notice if another month goes by with empty space unfilled, or that if people do notice they'll stick with me through the lean times. Feast or famine, baby. One of the difficult things (of course) is that the less I write the harder it is to write (duh). It gets to be that there's too much to say, so I don't say anything at all. But still, a month (and a half) hardly doth mean the final curtain has gone down.

All that said I have grand plans as always--new website, new book, finally getting my new series into a ready-to-show happy place. But then the kids get sick, or I get sick, or holidays happen, or my sister gets married, or I'm sad that my sister's wedding is over and that she's so grown up and that I'm getting older and perhaps not living up to my potential (whatever that might mean). Or, truth be told, I simply procrastinate and procrastinate which leads to paralysis. Still, here I am, pulling myself out of the creative rut once again. I guess that's how this artist thing works--bursts of creativity then go fallow while I wrestle with my various demons and attempt to abolish guilt. I'm trying to remember that I always seem to make it back out of the hole. And a post, any post, is as good a restart as any.

Perhaps not my most profound or interesting entry, but long story short the defibrillator has been utilized, and here's hoping that the blog-heart keeps pumping, and that I can become a bit more consistent.

As far as the images above are concerned, they feel a bit wistful and time-gone-by to me, which is about where I am mentally. I'm not sure why but they make me sad, and for that reason they'll be factoring into the as-yet unnamed new body of work which I'll be revealing more of asap.

Thanks for listening.