Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Syntax of Objects

I just finished reading this small book by Tim McCreight called The Syntax of Objects. He writes about the importance of objects in our lives. It's an OK book in it's entirety but it does offer some interesting vignettes and words that are truly thought provoking. Here is one of my favorite vignettes from his book:

The world is carved out by light, created each dawn from the greasy clay of twilight, hewn as an angle of incidence grows, lending solidness to the forms of the world. To a blind person, solid is a single sense, the proven press of flesh against matter. To those with sight, objects float in a shifting current, pulled into the crisp contours of graspable form for an hour, only to drift into a murky semi-solid as the light fades.

Photographers are the choreographers of this dance; they learn the moves and practice alternate arrangements. You think it is a brick, they say, and think it would shatter that window, but see how little you know. At the moment of illumination, there is no window and the brick is a bird. It is a function of light, like dreams and sometimes, like love.

If you were told you had ten minutes to take what ever possessions you could out of your house before it was gone, what would you take? I could be wrong but I doubt that most would grab their flat screen TV off the wall and run. It probably would be objects that perhaps have monetary value but most likely offer sentimental riches instead.

As a person who makes a living photographing objects I find the subject matter fascinating. With my dad's death almost five years ago and my mom preparing to move I have been dealing with many sentimental objects recently. My mind would spin if I had only ten minutes to grab what was important to me but I can guaranty that what I'd grab would not be important to most.

Recently I found a pair of very old sunglasses of my fathers while helping out my mom. I am 44 and almost never wear sunglasses. I can't take these things off my face if I'm driving. It's not the cool factor because of their retro look. Can't beat my dad's cool factor in his day with the side burns, glasses and cigarette. He looked like a movie star. It's the energy I get from these simple plastic frames that motivates me to put them on. Objects perform for us every day. They function as invented, they offer insight into the past and sometimes they can heal.


Naomi said...

Nice insights about the sunglasses (and how we give meaning to objects). I'm curious, can you tell us more about the photo?

William Zuback said...

The photo is a photo my dad took in front of my Grandma's house of me and my sister. I have a whole bunch of photo's to go through since my mom's in the process of scaling back to fit into her new two bedroom apartment.