Truth From Perceptions

The project that I am working on that is a part of 2 Photographers Works In Progress started sometime around February of this year.  It’s genesis came at me from two directions.

First – one day I read this poem that really knocked me out:

Societal Instincts
Edward Henry Satchwill III

To separate truth from perceptions
Is to remove all its coherency
Yes, absolute truths do exist in man
But their comprehension is beyond us.
Happiness, envy, love disgust and hate,
All ideals which are never to be matched,
And for this reason, clichés are needed:
“Love is exactly what you think it is.
If you don’t know what you think, then you are
Lucky, for you can find love anywhere.”
Such are the I.V. drips that keep us here,
Below enlightened, but above insane.
Not reaching full potential, but also
Not falling to our deepest depths of life.
So, in this way, do we oppress ourselves?
Or engage in paternalistic aid?
The fallacy of minds trumping the mind
Seems understood by none but you and I,
The weight of all mankind now upon us.

© 2011 Edward Henry Satchwill III
(reprinted with permission)

The concept of separating truth from perceptions and the poem’s examination of the human condition continued to bounce around in my mind.  Many times in today’s world truth is ignored and calculated perceptions are melded into one mass marketing scheme; yet in reality we all must end up dealing with truth rather than the perceptions that we are bombarded with every day.  These notions led me back to thinking about and revisiting particular photographers works that are important to me – Minor White, Alfred Stieglitz (especially his Equivalents), Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind.

Second – very shortly thereafter I met Matt Lafary and Angi Skaggs in Fountain Square.  After getting to know them it became very apparent that they had a passionate affinity for film photography.  Their knowledge and love of cameras was impressive.  This rekindled a notion that I should take a look back at some of my cameras.

Thanks to Satch, I have used rudimentary plastic cameras (Holga and Diana+) for the last several years.  I had completely let go of the science and process of photography and embraced seeing and perceiving my environment.  But now I felt that the time was right to explore the possibility of using a more precise camera again, for a specific project.

I started to put all of these things together and got the idea to do an ongoing project. Conceptually, the poem would be the inspiration to see and perceive. Off of the shelf, I pulled an old Leica SL2 (35 mm), that had an excellent wide angle lens.  This would be the project’s tool.  Using a hand held cameral was important.  Wanting to be mobile and photograph at will, I did not want to be saddled with a tripod.  I ran a quick test roll to see if the camera was in working order and realized that I would need better metering, so against my better judgement, out came the spot meter – a light meter that measures the reflectivity of a tiny spot within a scene.  Employing no metering or through the lens focusing since using the plastic cameras, all of this kind of jolted me a little bit.

So, out of all of this the project “Truth From Perceptions” was born.  One of the first photographs that I made came from the wall of Satch’s studio.  It seemed like an appropriate starting point.

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