Posted by: facetothewind | August 27, 2012

Chasing Tress

This is Arthur Tress and his pet rock Morro. Arthur is an internationally known photographer whose works are in many of the world’s great art museums.

Arthur who has become a friend of mine over the last year is by nature an obsessive person. His latest obsession is with this rock called Morro that eerily looms over the bay like some sort of space ship that descended from the heavens to observe us. And there it sits in looming silence.

For the past few years, Arthur has been fixated on photographing the rock from every possible angle with every conceivable activity in its foreground. He is particularly focused on capturing shapes in the foreground that mimmick the rock’s dome shape in the background. Here in my own photograph I’m demonstrating that the bush in the foreground looks a bit like the rock in the distance.

And here it’s the women’s hats. But it could be sails on a sailboat, the hood of a car, a goat’s head, or your own chrome dome. You get the idea.

On our walk on the beach Saturday he discovered that the hat on my head was picking up the shape of the rock and so I got caught in the crosshairs of his vintage Hasselblad camera. Not that I mind, when Arthur photographs me, I’m honored. He positions my head with micro adjustments and then cachunk, zip as he shoots the image and winds the big beast. Eventually Arthur will produce his book on this subject. It will be fabulous. Meditative. Spooky.

Well, this got me to thinking…

There is a very distinctive power plant in Morro Bay. What if I offered a companion book to Arthur’s book that featured the Dynegy power plant? Those distinctive stacks would appear in all my photos. Foreboding and silent, these giant “cigarettes” had crept up behind us, catching us unaware.

What could they possible mean? Do they come in peace or are they stalking us? If they could speak, what would they be saying to us?

When did we notice that they had arrived or have they always been there? Can we peaceably coexist?

Now we can’t get them out of our minds and our visual palettes. In every moment and every place, they appear. When we marry, they appear in our wedding photos.

It’s the first thing we see in the morning and the last thing we see before the sun goes down. When we sleep, they appear in our dreams.

Finally the worst thing happens: we stop seeing them and we no longer notice nor care about their ubiquity. And we go about our lives as if they don’t exist at all. We stopped caring about how ugly and scary they were and how they marred the landscape entirely. We had made peace with a visual atrocity. We even thought we’d miss them if they ever tore them down. Our panoramic landscapes would not be complete without the three cigarettes.

It would be a great book.

Well. If only I were as focused as Arthur, I might produce that book. Alas, one day of shooting the smokestacks was enough for me and I’m on to the next thing. In spite of what conventional psychology would tell you, there are some benefits to being obsessive compulsive.

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