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February 18, 2012: Reading, Photography, and the Nature of Ideas

I’ve always been a reader. I don’t know exactly when I became a compulsive reader, but I know that I am one. If I find that I’m idle, I’ll look for something, anything, to read—newspapers, fliers, bulletin boards included. We have piled our old New Yorkers in the outhouse – I will, when I sit down to take a shit, pick one up and read it, even when it’s -10°F out. It’s amazing what one misses, on the first go-around of reading magazines.

The second photography assignment involves taking 25 self-portraits. This is a


fairly broad topic, as I found out, too broad. I thought I’d take photos of myself framed by things, like doorways and window frames. I took many, many photos based on this theme, and didn’t like any of them.

So I decided to narrow this down to self-portraits based on the subject of reading. This, I thought, would show me doing something, and seem less contrived than what I was working on, conventional portraiture. This was fine for an hour, then I began getting bored with it. The possibilities that at first seemed endless began to seem nearly non-existent.

Then I got to thinking about how my perceptions on this matter relate to the nature of ideas. Sometimes, although not always, it’s good to at least attempt to follow through with one’s initial impetus, and continue to (in a manner of speaking) push the envelope. So I’m going to stay with the reading theme for a bit.

I might very well fail in my attempt to come up with 25 good images. But I’ve already learned something interesting about what I’m most interested in – the relationship of words and images. Taking photographs on the theme has caused me to slow down, and think some about my interest in the written word. Our cabin is filled with books, newspapers, magazines, student papers—material that won’t be read, is being read, or will be read. It’s a hop, skip, and a jump from one print item to the next.

We live in a time when images have begun to take precedence over the written word. We’re at the threshold of a new era. Photography might, for me, be a bridge between the two.

I have not yet taken a single photo that conveys this idea. Rather, I have begun to compile a series of random images. It would be nice if one that says it all materializes. In the meantime I’m going to continue to reflect upon what I’m seeing reading wise, through the lens of my camera.

74. February 19, 2012: Space Relations