Sunday, March 29, 2015

"How can we tell the dancer from the dance?" (W.B. Yeats)

I can't, i have to admit. two dance concerts this week, and after they were over i felt i hadn't seen them, distracted by suspense, always wanting to know how the story turns out. yes, i can't see the moment as it flies by. i learned this by taking a million photographs of dancers and performances. later, i'd see the dance again and none of my pictures were in it. 

sometimes at a theater performance or in a cafe, i'd watch a face, closing my eyes for a moment, and each time i opened them: a different face! i'm convinced few of us can see our world as it is. true, a movie should show it, but never again will that same sequence be played. a famous actor said he'd never believe in film-acting again after seeing ava gardner go through sixty takes of one scene.

we live in an edited world. for example, 99% percent of the media news speculation about what might happen. drama keeps it going, facts (actualities) are of no use to it. otherwise we wouldn't sit through the next ad for syrup. and when i can, i always go to a second performance of a piece of particularly like. 

not long ago, i attended an opening theater night astounding me. and i said to myself, "that's a fluke, the actress can't be that good." on the final night i found it the truth: the actress simply imitated her actions from other performances, her partner actors might as well have stayed home. no, i didn't like being right. 

actually, my most incredible bit of street-theater in a parking lot behind the drugstore. a man in derelict condition sat on a curb, video-taping himself. i mean, his clothes filthy and ragged, his hair tangled, his beard a shambles, and yet he smiled into the screen of the smart phone. (the fact he even had one blew me away.). and did he see what i saw? not bloody likely. 

a world in decay taking selfies, now i've seen it all. and yet, nothing, for a moment is a moment unlike any other, speeding past like a goose on a bicycle: did i really see... no wonder witnesses at an accident or crime notoriously unreliable. each glimpsed a separate nano-second, one telling one truth and the many others truths grasped fractionally by similar blindstanders. 

yes, the dance can't be seen apart from the dancer. only the photo can preserve moments and none of them tell the whole truth. even a sequence merely an invention, and film-motion simply an aggravated example of what might have happened. of course, the irony: the dancers simply counting numbers,  that's how dances made and performed. did i get a 6 or a 9? i will never know. 

here are my dance galleries:

Friday, March 6, 2015

we are surrounded by mysteries

                                    The Secret Life Around Us 

"I take pictures to see what things look like photographed." (Gary Winograd) and this means being dumbfounded more often than i would like to believe. most of the time i suspect i'm blind to the beauty around me, even though i'm an eternal tourist. my mind spins with its own images. once in awhile i wake up and think, 'ah, so this is really my reality.' shameless, i must say. i do more dreaming while i'm awake than asleep.

last eve, walking home, i turned on the camera i always have noosed around my neck, and tried a setting said to work better in low light. i took a pic crossing the campus creek, and a few more, just standing there. then when i got home i discovered the face the the branches - no, i had not seen it in the moment:

and even now i get chills looking at it.

i realized the full moon out. suddenly, i felt inspired. alas, none of the photos did it justice. i did get a photo of blossoms in the night, which needless to say i did not see this way: 

and a skateboarder flashed past me. i thought, 'that pic will be blurred' and it was. still i like the mystery of the colors:

but that moon, couldn't i get that moon. shot after shot failed until i tried one through the branches of a tree. i thought, 'maybe that will do'. i tried again with other trees way too green and they failed. when i got home, this is what i had:

okay, i told myself, don't push your luck. no other picture in this short a time can be worth your trouble. i was wrong. another moon shot along the railroad tracks, a red path leading the eye into the distance, so i called it 'the path to the moon'. 

here were five good enough photos (out of many shot), taken in less than 24 minutes. and they only revealed themselves to me as i clicked them to and fro on the computer. how much i would permanently miss if i didn't take aim and press the shutter, even feeling foolish for doing so. am i not missing life by staring at a screen? guess it all depends on which screen i'm staring at.

i've added more pics to my most recent collection: Poet with a camera: