When I was a kid, I remember that there was this thing – it was nameless. It was a taste and a texture and maybe a mood. Whatever it was, I could feel it and I was attached to it, because I felt like it was right outside of seeing and it was within my grasp, and we’re never more enthralled with something than when we don’t understand it. It was almost cellular; inside my skin. It would move. It would grow to the size of the cosmos or shrink to flicker on an eyelash. It was something like feeling a cancer growing inside you that you’ll never have, or like pressing air between your tongue and the roof of your mouth, or like remembering the claustrophobic comfort of developing in the womb.
I hadn’t thought about this strange sensation in at least a decade. Then, last week I was tinkering with my sister’s digital camera, just enjoying the freedom of knowing that taking a dozen frames wasn’t costing me $19 ($6 roll of film, $5 to develop, $8 to have scanned), and when I put the photos on my computer, they were getting to me, and I didn’t know why. They were just photographs of yellow leaves through a lens on a lens. I’m sure this sounds, at the very best, like I’ve gone off my rocker, but I think that nameless thing was partly described in these three abstract photographs.
For the last year or so I’ve grown increasingly drawn to abstract photography, but I couldn’t articulate why. This experience has helped me realize that when you can’t define an image, it becomes so many things – an impossible amount of things – and we’re forced to let go. And in that act of letting go, it’s like a warm exhale on a cold day – turning out what’s within and making visible what isn’t.