Sunday, August 2, 2009

Backyard Soul-O

What I find most interesting and challenging about these book passages is not knowing the context of the passage in relation to the larger scope of the book. So when I would read and re-read the passage from Dreams of Leaving by author Rupert Thomson I was challenged by the details of the passage. Unlike other passages that I have worked on, this passage seemed much more literal with characters and place, making my own personal interpretation a bigger challenge. My solution to a passage that has many descriptive details about a very specific act, the saxophone solo, led me to pick out some key words that I was drawn to. The title, Dreams of Leaving, the words "abandoned mansion, saxophone and solo" around the larger significance of music is what I used to build my visual interpretation.

I grounded the visual interpretation's sense of place with the abandoned mansion. It dominates this passage so much that not including it, I felt, would leave the viewer too disconnected from the passage. The rest of the interpretation deals with the physical and emotional sensitivity that can be experienced through the power of music.

Here is the book passage that inspired my visual interpretation Backyard Soul-O.
"Gloria was introducing the band. If he didn't listen to the saxophone this time, she'd murder him. He only had to wait until halfway through the next song, then Malone unleashed a sixty-second solo, and played with such raw soaring power, assembled such an intricate structure of notes, that listening to him was like being led through some extraordinary abandoned mansion. It was as if Malone somehow knew of Moses's anxiety and was building a house specially for him, a different kind of house, a house where policemen would never appear at the door. The saxophone scaled the facade, dropped into an upstairs room, tiptoed across the landing, opened a door with rusty hinges, tripped, stumbled to the edge of a parapet, peered over, stepped sharply back, ran down flight after flight of stairs, through ballrooms peopled by the ghosts of dancers, through echoing cloisters and claustrophobic passageways, past windows with vistas and hushed rooms no longer used, tore through curtained doorways and out, finally, into the open air, paused to breathe the air, ran on through gardens with peacocks and fountains, along spacious landscaped avenues, past sudden explosions of plants from South America, and back down a sweeping gravel drive to the road where Gloria was waiting with the rest of the song."


Frieda Babbley said...

You are not going to believe this, but when I saw that photo, I started crying. I'm not kidding! There are tears in my eyes. It's frickin' amazing Bill. Seriously, this is the best one yet. There is so much emotion and feeling and movement, and wonder. Fantastic.

suejayne said...

Bill, this is beautiful. Just literal enough to draw someone into the image, but from there, left open enough to interpretation that the viewer can come away with all sorts of emotions/impressions of their own. Thanks for doing such a wonderful job with one of my favorite passages from one of my favorite novels.

Lori said...


I like this one!! Good job!! I also like your postcard idea! Let me know how it goes.


Nancy said...


"I really love how this image is like a whispering subtle story..."


Chris said...

Great image! Very Cool!!

Naomi said...

This is a gorgeous photo. It's romantic (which is not a word I'd use to describe any of your other work) and speaks to the power of music. But the image also leaves me with questions — e.g., is the woman Gloria? Could she be? And why is the sax player in the background? Interesting interpretation — is Gloria or the sax player the subject of the passage (and of the photo)? I'm glad you gave us some backstory on how you put this together. Great!

William Zuback said...

Thanks Frieda, that is some compliment. I new this image would be more "receptive" than many of my other ones because it is a much softer visual emotionally as well as contextually.

Sue, I am happy that you like how I represented one of your favorite passages and book. It is never a goal of mine to try and satisfy that aspect of the process since I am first selfishly and honestly satisfying my own artistic vision but it always is a good feeling when the person who sent in the passage has a good experience with the visual.

Thanks Naomi and everyone else who responded to this visual passage interpretation. Naomi, I am always excited when I hear that the image has left you with so many questions. I try to achieve that with all my images. I want the viewer to leave visually satisfied but intellectually curious and it sound like I did that with your viewing experience.

William Zuback said...

A few more thoughts to contemplate when you are viewing this image. Naomi's observations ask valid questions but here are some more questions to think about.

Is the couple together, reuniting or is this their last dance? and with any of those scenarios does race play any part in it? Current social events has shown us how much work we still have ahead of us to end this ugliness called racism/hatred. and, is there anything better or more effective than music to bring people of all backgrounds together? Music transcends all these things while holding all the joy and sadness in each note.