On the same day, in fact just minutes after I made the photograph “Tangled,” about which I have previously written, I came across this ledge outcropping at the end of that beach.
I was instantly “there,” wholly transported into dark and dank Bruegelesque visions of 9/11.
I don’t know what it was about that day that had me in that sort of perceptual frame of mind…."tangled” and then this, even darker stuff.
“Mama said there’d be days like this;” well, no, my ever-sunny mother didn’t really say that or feel that way, but it was one of those days. They are not necessarily bad days…but on days like that I am just tuned a little differently, I’m looking at the world through a different (mental) filter. Hey, I’m almost grateful for those days. They are what they are.
In any event, when I got home and looked at what I had shot, I went straight to the frames that became “Tangled,” and was pleased by what I had done there. But then I went immediately to the shots of the ledge and knew that I had gotten what I was after.
I’m going to digress here, because by offering two images within this one story I’m sharing something I think important…something that I didn’t invent by any means, but important to all of us who work as creative types. It goes like this…
The great American photographer, Ansel Adams, was a superb pianist as a young man and faced the dilemma of which path to follow in his life…that informed by his ears or his eyes. Fortunately he followed the call of his ocular vision and the rest is history.
Given that context, consider the following quote from him, it’s one to which I constantly refer. “If the negative is the score, the print is the performance.” Amen. And as I work with my scores, I love the variations I can make as I make my prints, my performances. I take that work very seriously.
And when I beheld this “score” I knew I wanted to really push beyond my usual, conventional, conservative performance (“South Tower”) and really blow this one out…I wanted to more directly and even violently respond to the horrors of that fair and pure September morning eleven years ago.
Thus I made a very different variation on the score, “Ground Zero” by name. I dove into the Dantesque nature of the cataclysm, the sheer hell of it all. The reds of the flames and the gaping wound in the tower. The dark, tragic opera…the Godlessness.
Anyway, I don’t know how successful I was with either image…they are, after all, dark and darker. They sure don’t sell as prints. But that’s not even remotely of consequence. For once I really departed from my more restrained performances and went, for me, sort of wild.
Looking at these today, I am transported back into that hell of a decade ago and I think I maybe got something of it.