How to put some of yourself into images of objects that were originally designed as art or architecture
Why you might want to photograph art anyway
Some of the fine points of composing images
The other weekend I tired of cleaning and repairing around the house. I even tired of reading, yet had no photographic projects in the works, so I headed downtown for a bit of a ramble. Amongst several potential subjects, I came upon an intriguing sculpture/windbreak at the end of my walk (figure 5.1). It is several stories high and can be seen for blocks. I started shooting it from some distance away with my zoom at its longest setting. I gradually approached, taking more images until I was under one half of the sculpture, the remainder on the other side of an aerial crosswalk.
I made a number of images as I looked up at the sculpture. I tried playing the sculpture off against its reflection in a building, and I even tried concentrating just on the reflection. None of the images were especially satisfying, however, and I knew I was “just trying”. Eventually I decided to wander on and to my surprise discovered that more of the sculpture was to be found on the other side of the aerial walkway. Not only that, there were some sunlit buildings and some building faces lit by reflections from those sunlit buildings. Now I was really starting to get interested.
When I first considered writing about servicemen’s wives, several years ago, I was concerned solely with the emotional impact of the various losses that they sustain because of military mobility. My training in psychodynamic counselling meant that I was inclined to privilege such inner experience. However, that tendency started to change as a direct result of the incident that I mentioned in the introductory chapter, when I attracted criticism from another serviceman’s wife for declining to make floral decorations for a military dinner. That incident aroused my interest in environmental influences on the emotions, propelling me on a journey into psycho-social research and ultimately to the production of this book.
I described this rather personal piece of learning at the outset because it evoked such a significant shift in my thinking from my earlier, almost exclusive, focus upon the psyche to my subsequent realization of the equal importance of social factors. This book has attempted to show that by integrating and addressing both aspects it is possible to enhance understanding about emotional experiences; in this case, those of relocated British servicemen’s wives, whose feelings, it transpires, are strongly influenced by the military institution and community. Indeed, I would now argue that an in-depth understanding of individuals and society becomes possible only through considering both psychological and sociological influences. As Winnicott (1992) said, “at the same time it is neither the one nor the other of these two it is also both” (1992, p. 204). When he wrote that phrase, Winnicott was referring to a paradox that, for him, lay behind much of human experience; namely that certain aspects of life belong neither entirely to the external world nor entirely to the internal world but derive from somewhere in-between, involving both reality and phantasy. While not directly concerned with Winnicott’s closely related notion of “transitional phenomena” (1992, p. 204), I hope that this book nevertheless demonstrates the inextricability of the social and the psyche.
M“y God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Christ’s
cry from the cross of his crucifixion epitomizes the suffering of the lost soul. At that moment Christ could have had no expectation of release, or of his imminent resurrection. This despairing cry, from a son to the father who has abandoned him, has echoed down the centuries.
The way it is phrased as a question rather than a statement suggests the difficulty with which we approach God’s negativity, his dark side. Man does not want to see his abandonment as a betrayal; he does not state “My God, God, You have forsaken me!” He wants to give God the benefit of the doubt. In one interpretation of that cry, it is even seen as a cry of rejoicing; any death, no matter how painful, is welcomed because it will lead to a union with God. (Edinger, 1985) Confronting God would be to confirm our separateness from him.
In Psalm 22, in the Old Testament, David is expressing his distress and he begins with the same words.