"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe....All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
." ~ the last words of Ray Batty, a replicant (androids which are claimed to be "more human than human"
), from the movie Blade Runner
Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies. I was re-viewing it recently and I heard Ray Batty's last words in a whole new light, a lightweight photo-epiphany of sorts. - at least at the time I thought it was lightweight. However, upon further consideration, I am coming to an awareness about the medium of photography which is considerably heavier than I first thought.
In a glib kind of fashion, my first thought (honest, my very first
thought) upon hearing Batty's words this time around was...didn't he have a camera
? I mean if I were seeing attack ships on fire on the shoulder of Orion and C-beams glittering in the darkness at Tannhauser Gate, I'd be filling up some memory cards like there was no tomorrow. Then again, I'm not a replicant and I don't know the answer to the question, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (the title of the book by Philip K. Dick that the movie Blade Runner was based on).
Nevertheless, dreams/memories are a big item in Blade Runner
. When designing and producing replicants, the Tyrell Corporation found it important to "program" memories into replicants - memories of childhood and a past life, which, of course, they never had. The Tryell Corporation deemed memories integral to being human and I'm not about to disagree.
One of the renegade replicants, Leon, even has photographs that reinforce his (programmed) memories. In this replicant's case, it would be accurate to say that the photographs are
his memories. In order to be more human than human
, Leon must have his photographs. In an interesting twist, another replicant, the ever-luscious ("ever", because she has no pre-programmed termination date - unlike the 4 year life span of Ray, Leon and Pris) Rachael, must forget her memories, throw out her photos, and start again in order to begin a new "life".
Either way, memories and the photographs which create, supplement and mediate them, are given due weight in the plot line of Blade Runner
Anyone who has taken the time to read my Artist's Statement
knows that dreams and memories are an integral part of my photography and the motivations/inspirations that drive it. Even though my individual photographs are labeled "ku" (see 2nd entry - titled FYI)
, the body of work is labeled Adirondack Dream Memories
. No one has to tell me
about the importance of dreams and memories. I have been exploring that notion for quite a while now.
What's always puzzled me about my photography quest is "why". I know that I'm curious. I know that I'm visually "gifted". I know that I have a drive to discover and express the unthought known
. But, I am beginning to realize that perhaps a large part of my artist-hood is driven quite simply (like Ray Batty quest to meet his maker) by a rage against the Machine
In my case, The "Machine" has many faces - from a few personal pet-peeves like ubiquitous cliche-driven landscape/nature photography or the culture of consumption which destroys souls and
the environment, to the universal grand-daddy of all Machines, death
. Ray Batty was certainly exhibiting a formidable rage against that particular Machine.
In the context of the Death Machine, I am struck by 2 other book titles - both written by the great American artist, Rockwell Kent - It's Me, O Lord
and This is My Own
. Rockwell Kent lived just down the road from me here in the little hamlet of Au Sable Forks. The books are Kent's collective autobiography and in them he lays down his memories proudly and empahatically (I think with a bit of defiance) proclaiming, O lord, this is me, this is what i have created and nobody can take it away!
Unlike most of us artists of the mere mortal variety, Kent's artistic legacy is assured. His works are enshrined in museums throughout the world (especially in the former Soviet Union) and in too many illustrated books to mention (actually, I'll mention one - I received for Xmas a copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass
illustrated by Rockwell Kent).
So, all of this has caused me to think a bit more about my legacy, in this case, photography-wise (although, this O lord, is part
of me, it is my own). Sure, there are a couple coffee table books of my photography out there: one (photo journalism) in which my work is the featured photography (but not only photography); one (still life) which is based entirely on my photography. Sure, I'm working on getting a book deal done - a monograph of my Adirondack Dream Memories. Sure, I have photographs hanging on walls in homes and a few galleries. Sure, sure.
But, I want more than that and, in today's world of internet-based custom photo book printers, I'm going to get it. As some already know, I believe that custom photo books represent an important step forward, full of possibilities for photographers. I intend to pursue the "diary" as legacy possibilties.
Right now, most of my "diary" is on disks and hard drives. For all intents and purposes, it is rather invisible - a sad state for something so visual. I don't have nearly enough wall space in my house to accommodate my "diary" and even if I printed really
small so to fit them all in, my house isn't very portable or reproducible. And, because they're so inexpensive to create (a hard bound book of 20 photographs in most cases costs less than one custom lab made 8x10 print), lots of them.
Make no mistake about it, I really like original photographic prints, mine and other's, but I'm beginning to feel that photo books are my real medium. I like the fact that you can create a more complete narrative than you can with a single print. They're portable. You can print just one. You can print 100. You can lend them to friends. Take them on vacation. You can place 5 different ones on a coffee table and have 100 (or more) photographs within easy reach of anyone. They can be viewed and appreciated in a car, on the can, in bed, on a plane....
And, as Colin Jago wrote on a Steve Durbin post on Art &Perception
, "...one of the reasons that I like photo books... When closed they are closed. They are fresh again when I open them.
So, books it is.
After all, I've seen things like you people haven't seen them. I don't want all of those moments to be lost in time, like tears in rain.FEATURED COMMENT
: John Joannides wrote: "Interesting way of putting it, raging against the machine, and in some ways I think it's accurate for many photographers. For me, as an example, my machine happens to be the grind of daily life. Doing things that one wouldn't choose to do except for the need to earn money and fight negative entropy. The rage manifests itself as exploration of life and fantasy via photography and other types of image making. A ying to the yang. Or at least that is a part of it, but then again so many hobbies and callings are in a way. People are just compelled to do them.
: Steve (no longer semi-anonymous) Lawler wrote (in part): "Roy's time to die scene defines Blade Runner to me; I count it among the most profound in my cinematic experience. It’s compelling precisely because it articulates the fleeting and bittersweet essence of the human condition. As I’d mentioned previously, your work is analogous to the extent that it facilitates this recognition of the divine in the mundane. After all is said and done, it’s about immortality.