Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hello.......Farewell



Here is the fourth installment of my Book Passages Series. This book excerpt was sent to me by my father in-law, Bill Schulman. Bill is a prolific artist himself who has spent his life creating art and teaching art. So with a bit of hesitation here are the results of my visual interpretation of the passage from Speak Memory by Vladamir Nabokov.

The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our experience is but a brief crack of light between two enormities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour). I know, however, of a young chronophobiac who experienced something like panic when looking for the first time at homemade movies that had been taken a few weeks before his birth. He saw a world that was practically unchanged-the same house, the same people and then realized that he did not exist there at all and that nobody mourned his absence. He caught a glimpse of his mother waving from an upstairs window, and that unfamiliar gesture disturbed him, as if it were some mysterious farewell. But what particularly frightened him was the sight of a brand-new baby carriage standing there on the porch, with the smug, encroaching air of a coffin; even that was empty, as if, in the reverse course of events, his very bones had disintegrated.

As always, I enjoy hearing your critiques and observations. Please feel free to comment.

13 comments:

Frieda Babbley said...

Dang Bill. Great photography! It's getting harder and harder to choose favorites. Which do I chose? The one where she's holding the doll is awesome. It's eary and she blends in with the cemetary people. The second one, she is interacting with the camera. She has a stronger presence. Both are just so strong and so gorgeous.

Bill Zuback said...

Thanks Frieda. I struggled with my concept not being as literal to the passage and with it being such a complex passage will I lose the viewer? I wasn't sure I had something even when I was creating the photograph but once I got home and could see the images and the expressions I felt I got what I set out to create so I'm pretty content. If you know how I can make the images bigger and still look good let me know because there is one subtle element I did that is pretty important to the concept but nobody will see it in these small images.

Naomi said...

I like both images. In the first one, she seems more connected with the two women. But I love the sense of purpose she has in the second shot (which seems more linked to the excerpt — because the author seems to feel a bit distant as a child, but already has a mind of his own).

Bill Zuback said...

That is why I love it when you guys leave comments. It is so great seeing the images through someone elses eyes! Thank you.

Frieda Babbley said...

when I click into the images, they open in their own window. But not too much bigger. I don't know how to make them bigger than that unless you have them larger in the first place so that when we click in they are bigger? Do you upload them on the largest setting? I'm going to search for the "element" a little longer before I give up and bet you to tell us what it is. In the mean time, any hints?

Bill Zuback said...

I think I will put a gallery on my website that shows each of the selected images larger. I'll do that when I get home tonight. I do use the large setting but I also keep them as small as possible because I don't want the used for publication without my knowledge. So some of it is probably my own doing. No hints yet but I will tell you that until I provide a larger image to view you won't see it.

Frieda Babbley said...

Good thinking Bill. I'll be looking forward to them.

Jane Konkel said...

I'm so glad you are taking on this project, Bill. It's interesting to see how interpretations vary. Upon first reading this passage, I envisioned an old man as the central figure, standing in a slit of light, looking with fear at his approaching death and at his rebirth with a little more calm. I like your feminist twist and the look of the child in the forefront. How different the scene would have been, had the girl been smiling.
Jane

Bill Zuback said...

I thought of having her smile but all along I viewed the passage as a pretty somber and unsettling mood. I'm glad you commented on the feminine twist because was very deliberate. I wanted to play with the questions of are they related (three generations of women), are they complete strangers dealing with the chronology of life? I really wanted the camera to be a fourth character in the scene. Thanks for playing along Jane.

captain cloud said...

I loved it. I completely forgot that there was a choice to be made here (I am constantly forgetting and re-discovering things) on the favorite. I really just took them both in, as part of a story. It seemed to fit in succession. I wonder if it would have looked that way if the bottom pic was on top.

Bill Zuback said...

Interesting observation. I didn't see them as connected but from your observation I definitely can understand how they could be. Thanks for the observations. They are all so valuable in seeing how others view and interpret the work.

Tea said...

I want to mention that I love love love the photograph of the girl pulling the wagon with the house in it in front of the graveyard. I like the top one (not looking at the camera) better than the bottom one (looking at the camera). I think the photograph stands extremely well on its own, but it also works with the passage as well. I also like the passage on its own; I’ll probably have to read the accompanying work. That being said, the photograph needs to entered into a contest or put in a gallery or something — it needs large scale exposure.

Bill Schulman said...

Nabokov pushes his memory back to the cradle of his existence, into the womb . His pre natal abyss although equally dark . is calmer, because life is more frightening. His awareness of not being there in the family movie thus not present in the the empty baby carriage brings the specter of non existence to him. What can one be without life?
Bill your setting is exquisite echoed by your family separateness. The chiaroscuro of setting is a reflection of memory. It works. The mother figure may be a bit indistinct in distance rather than attitude. Your images "Speak Memory". Great creative leap! Bill