Thursday, June 6, 2013

Portal 1

Ever since I began bklynbiblio in August 2008, I've used it primarily for the discussion of ideas and reviews associated with the arts and humanities. I've also brought in my own work, such as my scholarly presentations and writings on the 19th-century artists John Gibson and Simeon Solomon. However, it always was my intention to also use the blog as a portal for the dissemination of my own creative work, especially my photography. For the record, I make no claim to being a professional photographer, and in fact I would only ever claim to be an amateur. To be blunt, I'm not that good, and I know very little about how to take professional photos. Digital photography, not to mention software tools like Photoshop and Instagram, has made all of us photographers in one way or another, for better or for worse. So in some ways for me it's less about the ability to take photos and more the conscious thematic arrangement or composition of them that is important. Over the years, I have worked on an art project that I call Portals, and I've decided to start sharing images from the series on this blog. The work you see here has now been dubbed the first in the series, Portal 1: Firenze (8 July 2005). As I post these from time to time, each will be accompanied by texts, and to begin the series I thought I would write a statement about the project and the images. I hope you enjoy it, and please do feel free to comment on the blog. (Note that I hold copyright on these images. You are free to download them for your personal use, but please ask my permission before using an image for print or electronic publications, including on another website. You should always cite the source and photographer for your images, when known.) And now, my statement...

What is a portal? It's a doorway, a gateway, a passageway. It's the in-between space between here and there, between today and tomorrow, between life and death. It is no space and all space at the same time. Sometimes it is open, sometimes it is closed. A portal's very existence is an invitation to look through it and to pass through it, and in doing so a new world awaits you on the other side. It may be better than what you left, or it may be worse. That is the risk and thrill of a portal. We pass through portals every day of our lives and never think about them. Other portals, however, make us stop and think, perhaps because we see something exquisite on the other side and we cannot fathom how we to obtain it, or because we know something dark is there and it terrifies us and we can barely convince ourselves to turn the doorknob. To pass through a portal is to evolve. Portals may be doors, but they may be windows, gates, or simply created spaces in which to pass to another place. My photography series Portals will show you various types of passageways I have photographed through the years. I leave the aesthetic judgment of each image up to you. Each will be accompanied by excerpts from poetry, literature, essays, and/or spiritual texts, each of which will share how portals have impacted and continue to affect our lives. It is my hope from this series that you will appreciate my images as examples of the beautiful and the sublime. But ultimately I hope that the series may teach you to pause every once and a while when you come up on a portal, to think for a moment about where it is you are in life and where you are going, to relish the very life you are living and the experience you are about to begin, simply by peering through an open window or stepping through a doorway to another space beyond.

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