CHARLOTTE WATTS-THE PROGRESS OF LIGHT
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AS IF WE HAD NEVER FALLEN

 

Old paint on canvas, as it ages, sometimes becomes transparent. When that happens it is possible, in some pictures, to see the original lines: a tree will show through a woman's dress, a child makes way for a dog, a large boat is no longer on an open sea. That is called pentimento, because the painter "repented", changed her mind. Perhaps it would be as well to say that the old conception, replaced by a later choice, is a way of seeing and then seeing again. --Lillian Hellman

 

We think that everything happens in the "blink of an eye", or "in a heartbeat", and that the camera catches those moments in time--stops the motion, preserves the instant. But yet, I think it does not. A photograph only continues the present, the idea. It takes time for the eye to see and longer for the brain to process; and for as many images which our brain can bring to the foreground, there are many more behind the scenes--brief "brainprints" I call them, or déjà vu--which return to us in dreams,  or prayers, or song. These recurring photographs are memento mori--they remind us that we must die, and that is why they can be so powerful. They speak to us on multiple layers--appear and reappear in many different forms.

 

These words I keep in my head as I photograph:

 

The earth has dreamed me to stand on the rise of this highway, to admire
who she has become.
                                             ---Joy Harjo

 

May my heart always be open to little
Birds who are the secrets of living.
Whatever they sing is better than to know,
And if we should not hear them, we are old.
                                                                                  ---ee cummings

In our next lives, we'll remember
Not to be human.
We'll be a pair of wild geese
Flying high into the sky,
And from that distance
We'll look down on
The world's blinding snows,
Its oceans, waters, hills,
Clouds, and red dust,
As if we had never fallen.
                                                    ---N'Guyen-Khac-Hieu


 

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