"What served in place of the photograph, before the camera's invention? The expected answer is the engraving, the drawing, the painting. The more revealing answer might be: memory. What photographs do out there in space was previously done within reflection."- John Berger, 1978
I've been reading Berger's essays lately, and though the man has a completely batty view of photography (admittedly, this view was held in the 1960's, but it is nevertheless fascinating to read someone so vehemently opposed - at least in the case of his essay "Understanding a Photograph" and certainly less so in "Uses of Photography: For Susan Sontag" - to the very idea of photography's function and purpose). Got me thinking, though, after I visited my friend Jess Howen's grandmother's house in Pasadena on Monday. What an incredible space!
In darkened corners that held innumerable relics of a life lived interestingly, the light from the paned windows seemed to enter violently - disrupting the relative inactivity these pieces exuded. Instead of stillness as a direct response to a room's absence of humans, the light forcing its way in from outside caused a kind of chaos within the space. Ever changing and ever illuminating, shapes became at odds with one another, shadows moved soundlessly between harmony and havoc. A space at war with itself. And like any war photographer, all I could do was freeze a moment in flux, to pluck it from its own continuum and attempt in some way to represent the violence, the upheaval, the utter bedlam of a home under the fire of fading daylight.
Oh, and we went swimming, too.