Saturday, January 12, 2013

Geneve Journal: Discordant Eras (CH Missives)

Each of the 24 CH Missives are stamped and numbered.

The objective behind the series of Swiss (CH) Missives I intended to create while in Geneva was to mash together photographs taken on my previous trip with images taken on this recent trip.  As a gesture, these pieces (created as another reward for Geneve Journal supporters) is the most immediately emblematic of the compare/contrast between to moments which is the root of this entire endeavor.  A tangible interaction between the sensibilities of then and now, manipulated by the current me; that's what these things are.    I like the fact that in and of themselves, these photos are the most artifacts that most directly reveal the character and curiosities of the person on each of these trips, and that when jammed together might offer the most naked evidence of the shifts in time and mind.
Using the approach I've used in making the Missive collages since 2009, I made this special edition using only photographs taken in Geneva in 1992 and on this recent trip.

In creating these postcards over the years, I tend to move quickly and intuitively over the pile of material; a breadth of photos and collage material from which to choose.  I skirt points of resistance  by digging into the pile of material and moving on to other compositions, coming back to resolve the unresolved when resolution is revealed to me through the distance covered in the sequence of subsequant compositions.

Shuffling through the more focused material I granted myself in Geneva, I found that photos from '92 were more naturally paired with other photos of that time, and the same was true of the photos taken in '12.  My intention - my assumption - was that I'd simply ride over the imagery and make my mashups. Boom boom boom.  I hadn't anticipated that I'd meet resistance from the polarity of the character and vision represented in each group.  In a minor way this, resistance antagonized the premise of my trip, my thesis which assumed a happy pairing of two moments distanced by 20 years.  I wasn't trying to get the two eras to simply just get along, but to work together.  sitting at the table in the initial stages of looking at the material, I was frustrated by the insubordination of the evidence on hand.  They were neither readily working or playing together nicely.
What struck me through the initial frustrastion was that this was a signal of what is interesting in the excercise of examining our past selves, our past.  Whether we have issues in our past, resolved or not, The accumulation of moments of our lives (to my mind) appear fluid, one moment flowing into another and another a weaving of linkaging making the body a whole.  And as we, through our memory, can go back to any moment, any one moment can be immediate to and touch any other.  But really, I think this mass is granular, not liquid.  En masse, this granularity gives way to fluidity, our pasts coalesce with our presents - their all connected, but look closely at the moments, the hurts, the visions etc. maintain their distinctiveness, their autonomy.  I'm envisioning the fluidity of waves and undulations of desert dunes or clouds of birds, mimicing liquidity through the amalgamation of countless individual components.  The one alternative to that is the effect of forgetfulness - both unintentional and intentional (revisionist) -  which embodies the mechanism of the blender, which masticates and neutralizes and ultimately liquifies all into a gray substance of assumptions.  Assumptions or revisions create an alloy that decimates that granular autonomy.  The narrative in such instances are like the museum displays of ancient artifacts which have sustained physical loss, and no longer exist in their entirities.  The museum may, for structural purposes or for the sake of visualization "complete" the form with a simple, dumb articulation of the missing parts to give the viewer a sense of the scale and nature of the complete piece.  In the retelling of our own narratives, our mind does essentially the same dumb filling in. 
But in this exercise, I faced working with the individual grains, each unique to the era of their origin.
I couldn't just ignore the resistance I faced in the material.  Without the intermingling of the two groups of images, the underlying principle of these cards would be made null.  For once, I had to force the situation, and yet, I couldn't deny the the emergent polarity of  the material.  In the end, some of the postcards, there are 24 of them in total, are predominantly representative of one era, but I made sure to insert at least a touch of the other in the composition.  
It was a compromised process. I generally don't hold the work I'm doing against a prescribed checklist.   I generally let happen what is to happen and push forward toward an open end. Interestingly, I had to inject a different kind of questioning than I usually employ.  A good exercise, for sure.
The results? I think they are, together, are artifacts that pretty successfully embody the history of their making, although if I hadn't toed the line of my own predetermined strictures, I would have made different aesthetic choices. That said, they are still well marked by my visual tendency.

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