Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Karl Strand - Henry Martin project

I know that there are a few of you who wanted to see what is this project I've been talking about. Well, Karl is being absent, but I've decided to share one of his images and the words I wrote for it. For better or worse, we could call this the "real world test" and see what happens.

A little background. Karl is a photographer based in Sydney, Australia. I don;t know much about him, so that part will come later on, as the project develops. I am in NH, USA and I like to play with words.

So, after our chance meeting online, both Karl and I have felt that we could do something together, something meaningful to both of us. Those of you familiar with my work know that I tend to concentrate on the grittier side of life, and while I do not necessarily aim to give a voice to the underdogs, I play with the idea of collective unconscious and the human nature to overlook uncomfortable sights. I also believe that there is a story behind every character, and the ones most often shunned by the masses have the most interesting stories to tell.

Unlike storytelling where I have time to develop characters, settings, and background stories to make the fictional world believable, in this project I have one image and a limited space to come up with some words. I try to concentrate on the subject in the image, to feel their emotions. This, of course, is very subjective, and my 'understanding' is only one of many possible scenarios. I do not have the luxury to talk with the subject, to observe them in real life. All I have is one image and my imagination.

So, without further ado, this is the first image Karl sent me. Since it is the first one, I wrote sort of an introduction based on the first, cursory glance at the image. The more in-depth look resulted in the words below the image.

 Two generations passing by on the dividing line which plagues our world. The man—set in his ways, unconcerned with either side of the division. The girl—too young to care either way. Yet, the keen observer cannot help but make a parallel between the unintended scene in the image and the reality art faces today. Competing for the public's attention, art and commercial fad coexist side by side. On one hand, a street artist gazes in concentration as he draws the images only his mind could see until now. On the other hand, an upscale boutique screams loudly with its "SALE" sign, ready to discard the old and bring in the new. Which way would you look? Such is the dilemma the artist faces today—staying true to his art has never been harder unless one is willing to sacrifice everything.

I admire the clean sheet of paper in front of me. A pen in my hand, I make the first black stroke, and the images played in my mind's eye assume a concrete shape. Once upon a time, I, too, was a clean sheet, but those who were supposed to care left their marks on me—deep cuts that run through my consciousness yet never bleed.

As I work, people rush past me in a perplexing hurry, their eyes skipping from one ad to the next—flashing screens and shop windows demand their attention—not caring what it is that is offered, as long as their gaze never meets mine.

I am the stain on their subconscious.

I reach for a new pen, and give birth to a fresh line. With each stroke, a bit of my burden leaves me, and a cut closes over, leaving scars that no one can see. My art is my rebirthing, a way to simplicity I can only achieve if I shed most of what civilization has to offer. And while you keep chasing colors in the shop windows, in my new life there is only room for black and white.

Yes, the necessary Copyright info: Images are the property of Karl Strand Photography.

I would love to read your thoughts on this project. 

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