The trick to editing is letting go of your preconceptions and seeing what is actually in your photos. Letting them speak for themselves. If this is the case and we are successful at it why do we need to write? For the last two weeks I have been lost in rewriting my artist's statement for the Parentheses project. There is an odd tug of war between wanting to just put them out there and the realization that other people bring their own experiences and background to them. This is a bit of a double edged sword.
I have been thinking a lot about this image recently and a few of the responses I get to it. When we view images we bring our own experience, our own concerns with us. On the one hand this can be an amazing thing. Other people can make connections and see things in your images that you were entirely unaware of. For me this happened when a friend immediately saw the reflection of my elbow and body as male genitals. I prefer to think I was subconsciously aware of this at the time but, who knows? A gift from the photography gods one way or the other.
On the other hand, we also tend to project our personal interests and agendas where they don't belong. The reason this image came to mind is my confusion over how, when I take pictures of men, they are seen as alienated lone figures. Somehow this is a positive. But, when I take largely the same pictures of women they are often referred to as sexualized and controlled. Which is most definitely a negative. I find this odd because I have never differentiated between the two. To steal a quote from Minor White, “…all photographs are self-portraits.” For me gender and sexuality has always been a fluid concept. But, how to get this across? That these images are not my view of Japan, or gender issues in Japan. They are my views of myself.
Thus the need to somehow nudge in a direction without actually telling people what to see. Although I think my images are very direct, in practice, this is almost never the case. A friend recently asked me why I take photos? It was a question I couldn't easily answer. But, I think at the most basic they are my attempt to communicate. Trying to connect even though I might actually believe that is impossible. As long as I continue taking them, continue writing and trying to get them out in the world there is still hope. There is a distance to my imagery, the world as I experience it. But in that hope lies my optimism. Communication is a dialogue. It is not static and allows for misunderstandings, surprising twists, leaps of faith and unforeseen connections.