If you take away the label of what something is, leave out its location, can you still experience what the picture is saying? This was the question that revealed itself while editing this body of work.
A close examination of 30 years of negative files revealed far more abstract work than I had remembered . The making of each one was still fresh in my mind along with the sounds, the memory of what the light that day. But as I worked though them they first appeared as answers without a question. It is common and normal to look at a photograph and then ponder its location. I’ve observed people who look at location first before viewing the image — the visual equivalent of salting your food before tasting it.
The images in this body of work were being saved for the end, the last portfolio before I go into the “Final wash” as Adams was so fond of saying. I began working in projects vs. single images in the early 2000’s and there are plenty of long term projects in various forms of completion that are waiting in the files for a voice. After all they are all “works of genius” until you print them. Once edited and printed as test prints, I knew this body of work would get done first.
What started as 157 images edited down effortlessly to 120 once I removed the nature work (likely portfolio all its own), slimming the count to 80 doable if I treated them like they were not mine. Getting the count down from 80 to 60 images was the equivalent of throwing your children out of a lifeboat and more than once, sleeplessly second guessing myself, sent me down to the studio to trade out one for another.
“It’s not the destination but the journey that matters.”
Some of the images in this body of work are very simple, always the hardest pictures to make (also true in music and writing) —others complicated, rewarding the viewer on the 5th or 10th time with subtleties unnoticed during the first view. In all of them, line and form outweigh “what” it’s “where” becomes moot. A secondary but important thread binding them together is the fact that every Extract was not the picture of the day, not what I set out to make, and not visible until I set out walking.
It has been said that it is not possible to make abstract photographs, nature having already made every pattern possible. I think that where we stand, how we place the subject in the camera, and the emotions assigned in the exposure and printing reveal endless possibilities even if we are just extracting from the visible.