Those who have spent periods of time single, longer periods, 6 months to several years will probably understand this. It makes no sense. Some days you just feel it, you feel love. It involves nobody, it is directed nowhere, and as far as I’ve ever been able to tell comes from the ether that is nothing.
I don’t know why I feel it now.
Maybe after realizing how bad, how evil, how horrible women can be (and let me stipulate here, men are just as bad, I just don’t deal with them on those terms, so for me it’s women), over the past few months I’ve had so many experiences of kindness, and wonder, and joy, of generosity, friendship, caring, concern, interest, and so many other wonders. These have come from friends old and new alike, strangers as well. Nothing all that unusual really. Nothing that happens out of what I’m guessing is the ordinary. (I really don’t know what ordinary is, so I’m guessing there.)
It is also a great inspiration. It is my current source of wanting to create. Damn, I wish it wasn’t going to rain tomorrow. People don’t dive into pools in the rain, I think.
The simplest of sources, happiness, love, hate, depression, seem to give me the most creative ammunition. Always has. Maybe the simplest, the basest of emotions are what we can all understand, what we can all share the easiest. As a wise man used to tell me, “That which is most personal is most universal.” It’s cliche crap, and it’s true. Maybe those emotions are the simplest to let flow, let fly from within. And hence are the clearest, and the easiest for people to grab, to understand and relate to. Maybe I just need to be able to get lost in my emotions, to forget how to think, to forget to think, to let it flow, and to let people relate.
This is all great and dandy for art work. Journalism is, happily, a different world. That is what much of tomorrow is, thought, and relation to subjects with purpose. There is little to no place for emotion, but it is still there, underneath. It’s easier to work in a world of thought, there is less risk, less exposure, less chance for failure and rejection. And yet the world of those chances still calls, on that slim hope of success. That slim hope that letting loose will succeed in helping someone feel, just feel. Maybe the feeling they share won’t be the same as mine, but maybe it will touch something in them. If that’s all you can give the world, well, for me at least, that’s enough.
Or maybe I’ve just listened to too much Jeff Buckley tonight. That’s probably it.
8 hours of shooting is a lot of fun. It is also very draining. When I shoot, I focus. Totally and completely. Everything else falls away. It may be the most zen like moments of my life, but it also requires a lot of energy to do it. A few hours day 4, 5, 6 or so is fine and dandy. Much more is tough, consuming. It feels good, but everybody needs to breathe. I look forward to breathing soon. But I can’t do that yet.
And to be realistic, the two 16 hour days have been because I’ve been making imagery of dancers for Danza Viva. Beautiful, kind women who know how to pose for the camera, as I said, good.
At one point many years ago I was reading about championship chess players. How the really good ones have multiple hours of excericise in their training/practice scehdules. I also read about how during a championship chess match the players will expend as much energy as an NFL lineman during a game. I have no supporting evidence to point you to where to get this information. I just remember it, and want to believe it. It takes a lot of energy to focus, so I want to believe it.
My website has been neglected for too long. I know it. I haven’t had time to update it, or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it, though I know it’s a total line of BS.
So I did something. It’s small. All I did was update the entry page. I’ve been tired of the entry page with the construction notice for a long time. So it’s gone. Yes. (It’s the small things in life that make me happy.)
I’ve updated the images to some more recent work, which I may try to do for a while. It’s now images from my Summer Love project and images from Chicago Tap Theatre’s “The Hourglass in the Stop-Time Chronicles”. Both projects have images that haven’t otherwise been widely seen, if seen by anyone. Take a look. It also auto-rotates the images. I’m not sure if I like that, but I’ll try it for a while and see how I feel about it later. If you’ve got an opinion about it let me know.
I should also note that after looking through the images from my second visit with Summer Love again, I’ve changed my mind. I got some usable images out of that visit. I actually think I may have got one or two very nice images. I love being wrong. At some point down the line I’m going to post about my work process for selecting imagery, but not tonight, as it could be kinda long.
Anyhow, the website is updated. Take a look.
As is so often the case with anything new, especially anything new and so exciting, I can’t stop thinking about this. I mean I can do things, I can live life, but I think about this project for hours a day. I talk to people about it, I work on it. I am head over heals for it. It has gotten to the part though where now I have to start dealing with the reality of it all. It really is so much like dating, or so much of what I know and imagine dating to be. (if you know me you know what a strange world women are for me, so you understand, if not, suffice it to say, women are a strange world.)
The second date with this project, her, was both a failure and success, a successful failure? (I love Apollo 13 references.) A failure in that I don’t feel like I got any usable images out of the time I spent with her. A success in that I learned about her. At this point the learning is worth so much more than an image. The exploration of her quirks and needs was worth the time. So failure is perhaps both harsh and inaccurate, but I can be both some days, including today apparently.
The third time with her went well. I learned more yet, got yet more ideas, grew into my understanding of her more, plus I got some nice images out of the deal. I don’t know how many I’ll keep when all is said and done, but I got some. She needs sun, absolutely has to have sun, it’s a key to her happiness.
The thinking about her has been some of the most interesting stuff of the last week. I’m a journalist, a photojournalist, but a journalist, my reporting isn’t about me, but this isn’t quite reporting either. It’s something else. It’s more art project. I’m fine with this, it also creates some differences, some important differences for me. Pure reporting projects I get involved in, involved in emotionally, I care about them. I don’t understand how anyone could do a project and not care about it. I don’t think it happens, I hope it doesn’t happen.
The difference with a project like this is the point of origin, I think that’s the right term. With a reporting project the genesis is the world around us. This project the world around me is part of the project, but not the genesis point. The genesis point is me. This project is about freedom, faith, chances, leaping off the ledge, the soft catch, fear, comfort, embrace, a loss of control, and a belief that it will all turn out well. It’s a host of things.
The fear of stepping up to that ledge, and taking that step that should, in your primal brain, kill you, or at least hurt you. The knowledge that jumping two or three stories down won’t kill you, that it won’t hurt you. The belief that this is true, despite all the instinctual knowledge that it’s not, and having the faith to follow that belief, and come out the other side unscathed. The freedom of summer to take these kinds of chances. There is something about summer that leads people, at least me, to take chances I wouldn’t normally take. Maybe it’s that Midwest finally leaving the house thing, I don’t know, but the world, and all the opportunities open during summer. (The summer fling seems to be the greatest example of this thought process.)
This project is all those things, but ultimately it’s about me. It’s my attempt to express my feeling of these emotions. If I didn’t feel all of these emotions, I wouldn’t be able to do this project, to create this imagery. I don’t know why I wouldn’t be able to, but I know that when it comes to conceptual projects like this, it’s vital that I feel what I say. Maybe I just wouldn’t have the interest to say it otherwise, maybe I wouldn’t take the chance that’s necessary. I don’t enterily know, other than to know that I must feel what I say. I also know that this project isn’t for me, it’s for the world at large to see, so I must say these things in a way that the rest of the world will read, will understand, and hopefully feel. That just scares me. Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt it, but I fear no one will understand what these images say, but I think some people will understand, and I want to say it to them. Maybe it’s the way I’m most comfortable saying it to myself.
I know why I need to say it now also. It’s funny, when I was explaining the project to my friend rat bastard (sorry can’t name him, so I got to razz him) he came to roughly the same conclusion I had come to before I said it. This is my recovery piece.
I feel this way, now, because I didn’t feel this way for so many years before this. For me there seems to typically be a recovery project from a tough emotional period (let’s be clear, this involved a woman, shocking, I know). Previous emotional events went similarly, many a year ago it was photo project which I’m still very proud of, but it was destructive piece, because I was in that place. I’ll call the next project a performance art piece, between returning to college, again, and my behavior, that seems about right. And now, this time, it’s about freedom, and joy and happiness and release and faith in the world. It’s funny, because I knew I needed to have this piece. I could feel it in me, for the last year, I could feel it simmering. I made a couple of failed starts on projects that just didn’t work. And then this happened. I’m not sure why, or how, it just seems to work. It’s a mystery. (Shakespeare in Love reference) And this is so very different than what I would have expected, maybe I love it more for that.
I guess if I’m going to be in a place, to be in a place of happiness and exploration is a good place to be. I’m still driven, I’m still unsatisfied with myself, I believe I can be, and should be more and better, but that’s kind of the central to being me, and that’s fine.
But at the end of the day I want to discover the world anew, I’m comfortable being vulnerable (which is a strangely wonderful feeling) and I’m happy. And maybe those feelings, and the feelings surrounding them is what this piece is about. And maybe those simple feelings people will understand and hopefully they will give me the pleasure of sharing those feelings with them, even if I never know that they have shared those feelings.
P.S. Sorry for the length and if you got through all that let me know and I’ll buy you a drink next time I see you. Cheers.
Leslie Beukelman is the singer for a band called the Rhythm 4. I saw them because I know the percussionist that performs with them, tap dancer Mark Yonally, of Chicago Tap Theatre. Suffice it to say it’s fun to watch jazz with a dancing percussionist. The world needs more of this type of change. But, and sorry Mark, the real joy of this band is Leslie (Mark does do an excellent job, as always, and it says something powerful that she can over-power him in the lead performer category.) She has a voice you can just listen to all night long. I would have no problem watching, helping or commanding the sacking of Damascus to hear her voice. Just classically beautiful, stunning. (To be fair to the rest of the ancient world, Damascus just feels right, but if it was Kent, or Venice, Cairo, or the always classic Troy, it would all be the same to me.) And the only reason I would suggest sacking a city for her voice (because it’s not to be disturbing, that’s not my intent) is that there are some things in this world that are just timelessly beautiful. That’s her voice, it just feels like the vocal version of Helen of Troy. (I will freely admit that I have no musical background, knowledge and little experience, but I know what sounds good to me.)
Take the chance to listen to this band live. It’s worth one night of your life.
The problem, the joy of creating, is that it is, at least for me, like falling love. You date around a lot, well at least it seems that what the world does, and it’s what I do with imagery for sure, then every once and a while, you meet that one. That one that sparks. That lights you up. You hope it lasts. You want to do nothing but consume it, drink in it, savor it, and be consumed by it. And there is always that fear that it won’t last. That it’s no deeper than what you first saw, and it’s just more of the same, but you hope, pray if you pray, that it has some depth, some staying power.
I know this series won’t last more than the summer. That’s probably good. I know I have to consume it all now. I know there will be an end, for better or worse. I know I have to work it for the little time I have. I doubt it will survive the winter, usually projects don’t survive an extended separation with me.
Hell, I get kept awake at night by this. I just want to make more and more. But I need to temper my time, my passion (tempering my passion has never been my greatest skill for sure) give it time to grow, get it right, not make a mess of it. Find a way to savor her right, treat her properly, the way this one, this particular one needs to be treated. They all have some needs in common, but they are all unique, and must be cared for differently, specially.
What a rambling mess it all is, this note.
My head is all jumbled and I love it.
Let me start by saying, somewhere, maybe on the right in that little blurb about me, it says something about this blog being sporadically updated. Apparently the last month has been the blank portion of the sporadic. I’ve got a lot of good photos filed away, and few stories to go along with them. They should, should, start appearing. Anyhow….
This was a PR photo for one of my favorite performance groups, Chicago Tap Theatre, and their new production, Hourglass in the Stop-Time Chronicles a Superhero Tap Dance Opera.