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How These Images Were Made

August 13th, 2014

These images were made by a secret process I will divulge just to you (don't tell anybody!)

I go somewhere at night where there are lights -- you know, Christmas lights, street lights, traffic lights, house lights, mall lights, flashlights, business lights -- even the moon.

Then I take a picture of the lights. A long one. That's it! Well, that's almost it. While the camera is open for a few seconds of exposure, I move the camera.

But move isn't quite the word for it. I, well (don't tell anybody!) sort of, you know, dance with the camera. Luckily, I'm always in the dark, so nobody sees.

I dance with the camera in the presence of light.

And when I move it, the camera dances with light. The results are image after image of lighted lines sweeping across the frame, swooping and swirling, spraying, wavering, surging, dropping off. Every line is the result of a movement I made -- moving the paper (the camera) while holding the pens (the lights) still. Every line is a drawing.

It is a humbling process, marked by an almost unending succession of failures. But in that 'almost' are the gems that make the hundreds of dances worthwhile. Sometimes a mess of a picture will have one corner with real life in it.

I look for those images, and those odd corners, where the camera captured something I could not dream of making -- something I did not recognize until I saw it. I take those few images, cherish them, and work with them.

Sometimes, I just leave a good image alone. Sometimes I mirror an image onto itself, to make a double or quadruple image -- producing a kaleidoscopic effect. Once in a while, two images will speak to each other, and I will combine them.

Often, I just try to get inside some image that I find fascinating. And it gets inside me. It will wake me in the morning so that, before I open my eyes, I see a way to use the image. (Most of these experiments fail, but some are magical.)

I look for images that suggest the excitement I felt when dancing with the lights, the exuberance of doing something for the joy of it, not knowing how it would come out -- and not caring. Just having (I hesitate to admit this) fun.

And once in a while, in perhaps one out of a hundred images, I find what i didn't realize I was looking for -- a hint, a suggestion, a glimpse of a way of representing what it feels like to be alive in a body on this amazing earth, in those moments when you feel the incredible energy of the universe pouring through you, and through all things, interconnecting everything, interpenetrating everything, sustaining the vibrant reality that underlies all experience and makes existence possible.

But I could never say that, because it would sound even more ridiculous than I must look waving that camera around.

You won't tell anyone, will you?

--Gerald Grow

Auditory and Kinesthetic Images

December 25th, 2013

Auditory and Kinesthetic Images

I sometimes think I use visual images to evoke auditory and kinesthetic experience. While the eye can see space as empty and objects as alienated by an uncrossable distance, in music and bodily feeling everything is filled with energy, vibration, sensation, presence, mystery, touch, and often a root-level physiological joy that comes from the surprise of discovering the world after it has arrived inside you.