Michael Scudder: Photographs

In the Mirror with Seena, 1980
silver gelatin print

March 5 – 27, 2016
Opening Reception: March 5, 4-6 PM

My process resembles a shamanic journey in which I encounter configurations of meaning –quintessences, as it were– incorporating visual, emotional, metaphysical, and spiritual elements. These images are artifacts of these encounters – postcards. I speak of capturing images, yet really an image demands of me to be captured, so in a sense it captures me. My work and action is to surrender to the imperatives of the journey, to be present, and to pay attention with every cell of my being – fearless and ferocious. One must venture out of time to capture a timeless image. The Platte River images in the current show illustrate my approach. I enjoy the challenge of using the limited aesthetic capabilities of photography to produce art, of using an analytic medium to synthesize an experience or, as I would prefer to think of it, an understanding. The capabilities I rely on the most include the frame, tonality, time, and the juxtaposition of disparate elements. Many of my images encode metaphysical concepts – an approach I call Philosophy in Pictures. For example, the images in this show were all originally captured on black-and-white film, thus rendered in silver particles. The image structure itself – i.e., the film grain– is a metaphor both for the fundamental structure of physical reality and for consciousness – subtle, delicate, vibrating, ephemeral, tenuous. The silver grains which form the image are randomly distributed – thus another aspect of the metaphor is how reality – order – emerges from chaos. The metaphor is related to the concept of māyā in eastern philosophy, where experienced reality is an illusion, comprised of constantly changing appearances, which conceal spiritual reality. The images reveal the unseen via the māyā of experienced reality. My hope is to produce art that transforms and heals; that delights, comforts, and sustains; that helps you to see better and deeper; that engages all of your senses; that makes you cry in a thousand different ways and laugh in a thousand different ways.

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