Tuesday, August 19, 2014

More Crucifix

Clayton Gardinier when out to shoot with Alcy and I today. It was hot and heavy showers were passing through so we felt limited to shooting indoors. The closest place was the antique store on 2920. Alcy, of course, shot flowers. I haven’t seen Clayton’s work yet but as usual I shot my current passion--crucifix. It is getting difficult to find new ones so I often try to get a different take on ones that I have shot before, such was the first image below. Fortunately they sometimes get moved to a new location. I think this might be an improvement over my previous attempts on this particular piece so I am pleased with it. The second image is a new crucifix which is okay, but I am not overly excited about it.

However, the shot of the day was the third. I do not know if this would be considered officially a ‘crucifix’, it is, but it is mostly a rosary. One of the ‘rules’—my self-determined and self-imposed rules--is doing the crucifix as ‘found object’, objet trouvĂ©.  I will not tell you that I never move or rearrange—although it is extremely seldom that I do and what I do is very minimal, but there are times when it has to be done. (Confession, case in point: on the second image I did flip the price tag over since for the series tentatively called ‘the price of Christ’ having the price showing in the photograph is part of the concept. I am not sure that is ‘cheating’ since I really disturbed the price tag in no other way—it remains where it originally lay.) For me the image has much more significance if I photograph it as found. The concept comes from Hattersley’s discussion of finding Christ in all aspects of daily life.

There is just a certain serendipity in found objects that can not be planned without becoming superficial when the symbolism of objects work together and they often do. When they do they strengthen the symbolism—or at least they do in my mind. That significance may only come across to me but I feel that it is important to the process even if I am the only one who knows it.

The rosary was found in a booth where a new tenant is moving in. It was not yet ready for business so the entrance had been taped off to prevent entry. Fortunately the rosary was on a table next to the isle. The chance of finding two such dissimilar objects, a religious artifact and a carpenter’s tool, which had such a strong symbolic connection to each other struck me as being very powerful. For anyone who might not grasp the connection, Christ was by profession, a carpenter. Even though the point of view was extremely limited and I really didn’t have the best camera and lens for the shot, I had to take the photograph. I suppose it is possible that the two objects were placed together by intent, but there was really no indication that the two objects were placed together for any reason other than simply by accident. The table was laden with all sorts of objects from dinnerware to picture frames—the booth was a classic scene from a moving day, everything in disarray including this table.

I have no idea whether anyone else will find any significance or value in this photograph, or even care. I never know that about any of my photographs. But, like the dead bird in Port Arthur, this one photograph made the entire day worthwhile.

If I could only come home with one photograph every time I go out to photograph I would be one happy camper. They don't normally come this close together. Just on  a lucky streak.

Addendum: Would love to have comments on the third photo from anyone that connects to the symbolism of the objects.

Curious about the gold oval frame—is there any connection or symbolism that can be identified in the frame; does the arcs of the dinnerware tie the frame into the composition sufficiently, or is the frame simply out of place, an anomaly that draws too much attention to itself?

What about the major lines; do they radiate upward, or do they simply carry the eye out of the photograph. Would it have worked better if the apex of the triangle created by the rulers had been at the top of the image rather than the bottom?

How do you read the size of the ‘crucifix’ within the image; is it discovery or is it simply too small to be sufficiently significant? I was limited by my equipment but would it have been better to have worked closer to the crucifix?

1 comment:

  1. Gary, I caught the significance (of the carpenter tool) immediately and like the third one very much. Surprising even to myself. :) I have shared with you in the past that I don't particularly care for crucifixes because I much prefer seeing the cross empty, pointing as it does to the resurrection of Christ vs the crucifix which points to his death.The death came first, then the resurrection, so I see the cross as a place of triumph vs a place of defeat!

    Beyond the subject matter and from a composition viewpoint, I like the lines, shapes and randomness of the photograph. I find it much more interesting and it holds my attention longer than single "found" item.

    As for your confession of turning a price tag over, I don't see that as "cheating" at all. On the other hand, I think the photograph would have been stronger if the price was not showing. Why, you ask? Because the price represents a perceived value that the object's owner (someone I don't know) has placed on the object. We all know that almost anything, especially antiques, are worth whatever someone is willing to pay for them. Furthermore, most people are not willing to pay the asking price when it comes to purchasing antiques in an antique store. [As a side note, cashiers in co-op stores have prior permission to reduce the price by 10% simply on the customer's asking - any offer less than 90% and he/she must call the item's owner so that the buyer/seller can hopefully negotiate a sales price]. Anyway, by leaving the price tag unturned, it leaves the potential buyer with a big question in his mind. HOW MUCH? No matter what the object (whether it be a crucifix or a can of beans) one wonders what the asking price is and will quickly turn it over to answer the question (unless you are my daughter, who doesn't really care what something cost). ha By your photographing it with tag unturned, the viewer must be left questioning the objects worth.

    So given the significance of this particular item (not merely a piece of old jewelry or decoration, but a representation of the cross of Jesus Christ), an empty price tag ought to beg the question "how much is it worth?" Any viewer unless they are in a coma should naturally ask this question. And that is the question that every person who has ever lived or will ever live has to answer. And every single one of us will answer it - either sooner (salvation) or later (condemnation).

    In terms of lines and other random objects that make up this composition, the gold color and design of the frame suggests richness or value (a very appropriate tie in) and even the carpenters rulers have "gold" in them as well. With even more significance, Jesus who came as a lowly carpenter, will someday be the judge and ruler on of all the earth (how's that for a tie in?). Also, the shape on the dish beneath is repeated in the frame which is nice. I like the angles the rulers provide and personally don't care if the apex is at top or bottom. Remember, this is random. :) The fact that the crucifix is not larger is of no significance IMO, as the eye is drawn directly into the photograph with the small crucifix as its subject. In fact, the smaller size could be seen as even more significant. After all, Jesus did not enter the world as a conquering king with much pomp and circumstance (as the Jews had expected) but as a lowly, gentle and humble servant. Had we been him, we would have done it in a very different way, but His ways are always different - and higher - than ours.

    Not sure if these are the kind of comments you're looking for, but thanks for letting me ramble.