When I started this MFA program, I remember being stumped when my teacher asked “what does the photo mean to you?” Putting words to my photos was never something I did.
Titles were always somewhat literal like “dew drop.” Nonetheless, I’m intrigued by the challenge of putting words to my art and hearing thoughts from others.
The truth is that my visual brain is usually driving when I set out with my camera. Even the part of my brain that is deciding the aperture/shutter speed etc is mostly on autopilot. Profound thoughts about what I am viewing do not usually come until after the fact. This timeless dimension is what I love most about photography. The ability to lose yourself in a moment, thoughtless; yet, passionately inspired.
Besides the experience of timelessness that I feel with photography, I do wonder why it means so much to me, why I so often feel the need to view the world through a small peephole.
I have been reading a book about branding called Zag by Marty Neumeier, and was taken by something he said and how much it aligns with the writings in Inner Visions, Art and the Brain by Sumir Zeki. Neumeier says that our brains are wired to see what is there – the positive space – while artists know how to see what isn’t there – the negative space. I think that is what excites me most about art, especially photography. It is the artistic visual brain that seeks what others don’t always see, the hidden parts of our world that are just as much a reality as the louder, brighter parts.
I shall therefore define the function of art as being a search for constancies, which is also one of the most fundamental function of the brain. The function of art is thus a an extension of the function of the brain — the seeking of knowledge in an ever changing world.” – Shemir Zeki
Perhaps art is our way of defining the undefined, putting words to the wordless. To me successful art helps eliminate the clutter of information being constantly thrown our way. It is in that quiet place that we can draw a bridge from the right to the left, completing the picture of our world.