“Where are you headed? Do you even have a destination in mind?”
“Forward, I guess. Sideways maybe… Geez… Anywhere but down.”
“C’mon… Is THAT the best you can do? Spitting out vaguely esoteric statements might impress other girls but I call bullshit. And it’s not anywhere near cute either. You have no idea do you?” I was taken aback by this sudden shift in tone. “You’re right, I don’t; I really don’t.”
“This game is a never-ending spiral, an abyss… Go deep…“ she said, her smile widening slowly, ”Go looong…”
I was building a job — that was the idea. Yes, it was steeped in passion but I wasn’t going to let all that creative nonsense take over the way it had with music. I was building a job meant to provide an income. Period. I would come at it fully prepared to provide a service, pure and simple, without losing myself in any so-called art and the endless quest that unavoidably follows in its wake. The business of photography would be about aligning rows and columns and compartmentalizing to make sure everything was in its proper place, organized and rational. Personal pursuits would take a backseat. Well…
If there’s one single thing I’ve learned in life it’s the importance of being totally in line with who we are. I’m not claiming any kind of insight, I’m not saying it’s the key to financial stability or some golden ticket to tremendous success… God knows. But I believe it’s the only path towards truth and a modicum of understanding. This idea of negating who I was, of becoming some kind of visual accountant, pursuing everything and anything… It was bound to be a zero-sum game. It’s only when I began expressing myself again, without filter and without attempting to paint a slicker, more acceptable/commercial picture, that my life and career took the appropriate turn. It’s not always easy mind you, it’s a fight… But at least it finds its roots in reality. In Truth.
Last night I finished reading Dan Winters’ magnum opus Road to Seeing — I got it from Cynthia for Christmas and it became a constant companion all through the holidays, a gentle and wise whisper in my ear. This isn't a portfolio and it isn't about recipes: it's an almost encyclopedic journey into photography itself, an absolute tour de force and an instant reference that should be required reading to anyone interested in this craft of ours. But while I knew what this book was and wasn’t — I’d read several reviews when it was released a little over a year ago — and I knew I’d probably find a kinship on some level or another… I had never expected anything so profound. This is a work about Truth, about a singular vision carrying a man’s considerable talents through life, as an experience as much as a profession. It’s about creation in the most holistic view possible, touching every single aspect of one’s existence and pulling together every bit of knowledge, technique, inspiration and abilities towards a single goal. He built models as a boy and eventually worked at ILM, built houses, kept bees, raced cars… He’s a father, a photojournalist, has a passion for science, for astronautics… All of these disparate elements have been distilled, they combine into the artist he is today and the body of work he’s been able to create. And that’s the takeaway for me: to use all that we are and all that we know. To become our life’s work and dissolve the barriers.
I wanted to be a scientist — oceanographer or palaeontologist — until I was about fourteen, which is the age around which music began taking over. Rock and roll baby... A cruel mistress. Still, I kept attending science camp in Charlevoix during summers, studying dragonflies to the point of being able to name most local species, even discovering a new one for the region; I was pretty proud of that, even as an increasingly jaded and self-medicated sixteen year-old. I'm not mentioning any of this to brag but to point out that scientific curiosity has always been a big part of my life and yet I’ve never consciously used it to provide subject matter, in music OR photography. Why? What we are always instructs the work we produce at a subconscious level but actively digging into his past and present fascinations has shaped Winters’ trajectory as an artist. The brilliance of it is awe inspiring.
I updated my copy of ArtRage during the holidays, plugged in a decades old Wacom tablet and started drawing again; I’d always kept at it though my iPad, on and off, but never with any real intent — more compartmentalization you see. I've scattered a few of them in this post. I might just find a way to do something with dragonflies too. Break down those walls brick by brick.
VARIOUS IPAD DRAWINGS
In a way I’m glad I didn’t read Road to Seeing when it first came out. It contains so many reflections that are directly aligned with everything I’ve been talking about in workshops or conferences… I think it would’ve stopped me dead in my tracks for fear or repeating what’s already been so perfectly expressed. And I have to admit it was almost jarring at times, from the Jack Kerouac quote that opens chapter one right up to the words on the backcover about the multiplicity of moments. But ultimately it only reaffirms how universal these concerns are for all of us and how important it is to make ourselves aware of these concepts at all times.
It’s 2015 my friends, and I, for one, am still waiting for jetpacks. The future is unclear and always will be but the past… The past just might be a goldmine. Let’s all go deep this year.
Let’s all go looong…