Saturday, December 31, 2005

Invisible people

There are four people in this picture. However, before you spend too much time searching in the bushes, or questioning my arithmetic, let me explain what I mean. The American photographer, Anselm Adams maintained that "There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer". So, if we add you and me to the two at the bottom of the photograph, that makes four!

But don't let my flippancy get in the way of the serious point that I think Adams was making: namely that the appreciation of a photograph - or any work of art - involves an unspoken dialogue between the artist and the viewer. Moreover, the experience of appreciation will be determined by what each party offers to the process - that's why we all see things differently.

In this photograph of the Orangery (now Butterfly House) seen from the Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park, Lancaster, I spent quite a time waiting for those two people to appear and break the symmetry of the scene. Now don't get me wrong, I like symmetry: but sometimes it can be boring if it isn't overlaid with something that disrupts it. Furthermore, I felt the view needed a focus in the foreground to counterbalance the dominating presence of the building.

Nevertheless, I guess some of you will see the people as irritants, unwelcome guests that throw the photograph out of balance. That's the thing about art (and I don't claim that this photograph is great art!): the unspoken dialogue that it prompts is different in every instance. And when it's shared with someone else it can leave us a little wiser.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen