Watermark

I was in Florence, Italy, in the late eighties. I stood in line with the rest of the folks to see Michelangelo’s David. In an adjoining room, free of the crowds, were his unfinished sculptures. I remembered them from art books but was totally unprepared for the impact they would have on me. There was a sense of power and magic in these emerging forms struggling to find their identity in the rough hewn stone. And, at the same time, I could feel their desire to recede, to almost surrender themselves back into the mass from which they were born. It caused me to ponder whether Michelangelo had left them to their state of purgatory on purpose.

It was from this apparent contradiction of opposites that the WATERMARK series began. I don’t mean to imply that I set out to illustrate a concept. That is never my method. In the beginning it was more a concern about whether something is busy being born or busy dying and then this interest combined with a look at the transitory nature of form itself.

Photography is a medium of light. The basic building block of the photographic image is the silver halide crystal exposed to light over a period of time. It is the foundation of the medium. So just as light reveals the presence of a watermark on a piece of paper, light is the defining element in these photographs. For a moment, light creates volume and shadows, revealing something that passes as quickly as a musical note. Of course, photography is the perfect medium to investigate time as well. Much as an ink laden brush waiting to make a calligraphic stroke on absorbent rice paper, the camera is poised waiting to capture the moment a shadow appears. The black becomes the substance. Form exists in time for only a moment, almost defined by the very shadow or lack of it that it creates. Very transitory. Busy being born or busy dying.