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photography is writing with light

Photography is writing with light.

That's probably not an original statement but it resonated deeply with me. Saturday was the big open house at the Dutch Royal Academy of Art, the photography department exhibits were the main attraction for me. Didn't see any of the 45 kids who had done their storefront exhibit a couple of weeks ago, but there were some awesome studies on display from all four year levels of students. Hundreds of people visited the schools.

The building [Dutch = KABK] is three stories and has photo labs, galleries, other design / architecture school spaces, and prepares you for a pro career. Four years and a LOT of money.

If making effective photography studies means that you learn how to write with light, then you have to know how to read what you are seeing as well. And there are lots of tools to write with in light, different combos of lenses and settings, just as there are different types of pens / software to write words with. Sometimes there are effective pairings of both.

My icon is a study Kiota made out of her jetliner window during one of her 2006 trips, this is somewhere above the rain clouds over Europe as the sun is going down. Besides the attractive colors, I can feel and read a journey going from the lower R corner to the upper L, from the darkness into the blue even though I know the plane is going to be descending into the dark again to land.

Is that what she wrote in light here, or am I reading other stuff into it that is really not there? And is this, what resonates inside you as you are triggered by some image, part of the photo experience too? Another artist wrote that "at some level, every photograph is about love." Does your heart speak behind your shutter finger, below the levels of the color print? I think yes, this is there in almost everything she made, but that's just me...


The rest of this post deals with two other KABK projects that might be triggering so maybe you want to stop reading right here. I'm not going to cut the whole text, just one of the shots and I'll warn you.


A couple of my LJ Friends are playing around with a survey on death. How, and what you want to happen afterwards. One of the KABK assignments was to define Safe Place and develop a photo essay on it.

Denis Guzzo, an Italian student moved to Delft, decided that his personal Safe Place was death, because death = no danger; death = absence of any fear and all fears except one: "The only fear when we are dead is to be forgotten." "When I would be dead I would like to be cremated. I want my family and friends thinking about me every time they feel the wind, when they look to the sea, not when they ride close by the cemetery."

"No-one really knows how death is, but we still have some choice on how we will join it."

So he staged his own cremation and photoed it for the assignment.

He went to the edge of a small park in Delft that had water canals [like everywhere else in Holland], built a wooden trestle out of branches, wrapped his body up in silk strips [or cotton sheeting], placed it onto the trestle and balanced it on the top of a canal wall next to a lake, and lighted it afire as the sun went down. And photographed it all.

I wish he had them on his site so I could post and show you. The contrast with the shimmering heat and color of the flames, against the tranquil lake reflecting the trees in the dying sun, was awesome.

And, after watching through a viewfinder as his body burned up, his comment to close out the assignment was:

"The feeling of death brought me back to a new life."

How wonderful!

The feeling of studying his photos takes you right through that journey also.


Written words, rather a beautifully calligraphed poem, accompanied a rather horrible Safe Place project by Yke Van Der Knaap, another 3rd year student whose name I can only guess at pronouncing.


my double life
my spacy worlds
reality is my biggest enemy
trust is my biggest fear
my life is like a spinning ball you can
catch me throw me or drop me to the
My thoughts are like flashing lights
My emotions can explode
Am I getting lost in this world or am
I getting lost in my own head

With the poem were four photos, here are two of them.

The closeup speaks for itself, and the remote control / cellphone on the bed next to Jen as she sleeps / daydreams strikes me as the key to reading the whole essay. And, for me, the poem instantly recalled these words from another Journal more than six years ago:

"...my daydreams are so vivid I can actually start crying or cowering or something because of something I was daydreaming. I'm on the verge of not realizing what is reality and what was something that just happened in a daydream. Scary. Eeep. At least I'm not seeing things. Just thinking things."

Matching written words with writing in light. Dark light, even though it's bright...


This last is another from the North Sea coast at late twilight, learning to use my tools. Night lighting can make the moon look more plump than it is, her star brighter and fuller. Again, no cloud was visible to the naked eye, it took the reflected moonlight to show it once the shutter was opened enough to let sufficient light in.

I especially like the soccer net posts, reminds me of the much larger one at Evergreen on the Frisbee Field.

Says the Queen of her Royal Academy: "We want you to use your skills in learning to be a self-confident and investigative creator of images so that you will become an authentic and original photographer."

Blessings Be. At Candlemas and on all days and nights.


(c) 2003, 2006 by Kiota Bandal; (c) 2008 by The Estate of Anna Rosenfeld, All Rights Reserved.
(c) 2008 by Denis Guzzo, All Rights Reserved.
(c) 2008 by Yke Van Der Knaap, All Rights Reserved.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 4th, 2009 11:46 pm (UTC)
Denis Guzzo's Safe Place photos.
Feb. 5th, 2009 11:20 am (UTC)
How cool, I was hoping he would put them up! Thanks a bunch :)
Feb. 5th, 2009 02:44 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. :)
Feb. 9th, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC)
So curious about the scratches on her arms and hands...
Feb. 9th, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
What -I'm- really curious about is her history: the scratches are self-inflicted SI wounds, and the whole series is called "Diary", and the poem is the first page of it. There's more, I'll post them soonish. Really admire Yke's work.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


kiota too late for the stars
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