This story is extracted from Images, Voyages, Impressions 2
Contrary to appearances, there is nothing like a right time and a right place. It would be too simple and too easy. Time and place have to be manipulated in order to fit, and you do it either by moving a little, or by waiting a little. Of course, the general setting must be in place when you arrive, but if you do not see it, it disappears quickly. In that sense, you are the one organizing everything, adjusting the details, deciding when it is right. It is true for a photograph, it is true for more general events too. If you are not ready, if you are not looking for something, nothing will happen. The difficulty resides in the fact that you cannot have a clear idea of what to look for, otherwise you would know how to get it and it would blind you to other possibilities. At the same time, you have to have at least an idea that something could happen in a field you are interested in, otherwise you would never be able to concentrate enough to see what could be interesting. In other words, you have to be prepared, but there is a limit to what you can prepare for, and there is also a limit to how much you can manage correctly when it happens. There will never be a right time and a right place if you do not prepare yourself for it, and count only on chance. It is relying on miracles, rare occurrences that, anyway, can bless only the faithful. You have to be on the lookout for an undetermined amount of time, and the longer the better. It could be depressing if you only concentrate on one thing, yet if you are open to many possible occurrences, you have a better chance of finding them at one point or another. It is just a law of probability, spread you bet, win more often. Knowing that desire quickly substitutes pleasure, it seems a good tactic in the long run. In that sense, there could be something like a right place and a right time, but only you make it happen by us quickly grabbing what comes in view and fits your need. It is still a hunting technique, whether you like it or not.
This story is extracted from Images, Voyages, Impressions 2
At first, you do not even see her. While she, she saw you a long, long time ago, as soon as you appeared in fact, and she surveyed you, giving you a danger rating, ready to jump if you were too menacing. It seems that you are not, not yet anyhow, how could you be when you are not even aware she is there? When you do see her, it is you that will jump, scared, or at least surprised and a bit confused. How is it possible that she escaped your attention? She is only a frog, nothing to worry about, but imagine if she had been a more menacing creature. Once you come back to your senses, you will start to appreciate her ability to blend into the background. She is here without being here, a lesson in humility one might say. Or in survival, depending on your point of view. Anyway, she seems completely at ease, relaxed, happy, is that not a smile you can discern on her face? Is she smiling to you or at you, you cannot know. From her perspective, it is not even clear that she sees you as you think you appear. You might say that she sees your legs mainly, the comic flip-flops you are wearing today, and way above, a gray shape reaching the sky, out of her horizon. Or perhaps, considering the shape of her eyes, she sees you as two different entities, reconstructing you in her head in a way you cannot fathom. In any case, there will only be this fleeting encounter between you and her, no answers provided, you will go, she will go, your worlds are too far apart to allow any communication. You seem to understand what she is doing, it is possible that she has an idea of what you are doing, yet you will never know for sure, and it could be anthropomorphism pure and simple. A green frog between green stems is a complete mystery that you can only capture on your camera and look at later, wondering what to make of this encounter. Which proves that you are still far from knowing as much as you thought you knew, does it not?
This story is extracted from Images, Voyages, Impressions, 2, a book with fifty-two stories and fifty-two photos to be published soon.
You have seen them in all the schools you ever attended, they have hidden your secrets and mistakes, they have been your little refuges far from home, you have slammed their doors more than once and it got you into trouble, however you suddenly realize you have never seen them for what they are. Left to themselves, they shine, they transcend their mundane utility, they are artworks, colors, lines. How can you have been so mistaken? They were there, all stuck together in what seemed infinite rows, they had no identity apart the one conferred by stickers bearing the names of their temporarily owners, after a while, you knew the way they reacted when you were opening their doors, each one had its own particularities, but it was not obvious at first, and most of the time, these particularities seemed to come more from something you had done, like jamming the lock or bending a shelf inside, rather than coming directly from them. Now that you see them in an unexpected place and in an unexpected position, you wonder if these lockers whose contrasting colors would have offended all the headmasters of all your successive schools have a personality that you can only see when they are in an unusual setting. Or if they change personalities when they move from one location to another, like you do. If this is the case, it opens a world of opportunities, and you are thinking that this old lamp you have in your basement, if you were to put it in another place, could it start a new life? Instead of buying new trinkets to decorate your home, could not you move the old ones, and play with them in order to change the impression they give? Using your imagination instead of your wallet suddenly seems very appealing. Of course, the end result would be your image, original or, depending on the opinions, crazy, but would you not be at least the main character in your life instead of an extra playing a role someone else decided you should do? In fact, it is decided, as soon as you get home, you will begin to create your own masterpiece, they are waiting for you in the attic boxes.
From my upcoming book, Images, oyages, Impressions, 2
You see four people at the edge of the fog, busy looking for something in between the pebbles, or at their feet, but what attracts you first is the color of their clothes, bright red and orange with patches of white in an otherwise brown gray surrounding. It is life versus oblivion, light against shadow, fantasy against uniformity. Then you get the vague memory of a picture hanging somewhere in a museum, a Whistler painting perhaps, or a Turner, a nineteenth-century painter in any case. You remember some characters along a beach, bent on something you cannot discern precisely, surrounded by fog. Like the picture, your memory lacks clarity, and it is not the first time that you have insights of that kind, as if there was a repetition of some patterns lost in between other memories. Anyway, if the story here is the story of four people on a beach looking for something you do not know anything about, and if it is a scene you have already seen, you begin to realize there must be a sense of eternity in it. It also means you have a sense of what eternity is, albeit vague. It is perhaps as simple as brightly clothed forms strolling along the seashore, looking for bits and pieces of nothing, looking for something entirely different from what they will eventually find, drawn by the pleasure of the find more than by the actual find, their acts the embodiment of a life spent strolling on the earth towards something that escapes them, but enjoying the search nevertheless. If Whistler painted this picture a long time ago, assuming it was him, it must also have occurred to him that there was, in it, an idea to be represented. Now that you get the same impression from a different but identical scene, is it not the proof that something hides behind appearances?
Story #2, extract from the upcoming book, Images, Voyages, Impressions, 2
The top of the stairway is like a conch, with a touch of light inside. You had to climb hundreds of steps to arrive here, it was not a free ride, yet you had hoped it would be worth the price. So far, the journey to the top has been an adventure. This old tower is full of stories and mysteries. You imagine lots of people coming here before you with their joy and sorrow, hope and despair. You know nothing about them, but you know that they still exist in the worn out steps, the smooth handrails, the glistening stones. You have stopped many times to look up, at least it is what you said at the time, although it was also to catch your breath. You have seen this magnificent conch become bigger and bigger until you were inside, able to marvel at the details of the carvings and the time, patience and skills involved. In a way, you would like to own such an architectural beauty, put it in your home, look at it with delight, but you know that even if you could, it would not be reasonable. You do not have the rest of the building to go with it, and besides, you are just passing like everyone else. So you linger a bit more, hoping that nobody will come and spoil the moment. Then you take the little door that opens to the outside. More light, the light of the sun this time, it makes you blink. Gradually you make out the red roofs of the old town below, the new buildings shining white further on the other side of the river, and far in the distance, the first mountains. On your right, an iron cast angel blows into a trumpet, and behind, the slatted roof of the cathedral with its two fine towers looks to the north. What a view! You were not sure it was a good idea to come up here. There were many other things you wanted to do with the short time you had, but for once you are glad you followed your instinct. You are now above everything in this town, and you had forgotten how wonderful it is to be on top of the world.
From the book or ebook "Images, Voyages, Impressions" 52 stories and 52 photos, see info on the right
I like posting on this blog but May and June are busy months, I am showing a lot in and around Boston so I do not have enough time to write and post new stories, I'll be back in July I expect.
In the meantime, if you are around, come and see me on location -dates and places should appear on the Twitter link on the right- or upload my ebook to keep up with your reading.
I do not usually take woodblocks to cut a small format print as the kind of wood I use, plywood, is quite unpredictable under the gouges, however I thought I should try for the prints I did in March. Sure enough, I encountered some difficulties: here, the nose of the puffin is not as complex as it should be, the wood went away too quickly when I tried to work out the fine details. I had to use red watercolor later to compensate for the problem. One eye is in fact a nail I added when the wood chip supposed to represent it flew away. So Bonaparte appears fine and fierce as long as you do not look at him closely, but could it be a better representation of him than the one I had in mind? Do you see the errors? Do they affect the overall aspect of the print?
To forbid is to define what is legal and/or accepted. Is it however limiting what is possible, or just implicitly recognizing the potential of what is possible?
A trail in the countryside is like an invitation to travel. You know you will not go really far as you are on foot today, yet it is still worth following it. You can, after all, find adventures anywhere if you are ready for them. You have never walked on this trail, it could be disappointing, but from where you are now, it looks inviting. In your stomach you already feel the expectations of all there is to come. You see a grove not far away, and you wonder what will lay there: a pleasant place to read a book hidden in wild grasses, a tree with fruit nobody will claim except you, or a hare that will jump in front of you and make your day? Most likely, the trail will just go further without anything special to remember, but at that point, it will be too late to turn back. Your legs will have warmed up and told you they are ready to go further and further until you know that you have had a really good walk. Even if you saw nothing in particular, you will realize that you just enjoyed being outside. You enjoyed feeling the alternatives of sun and shade on your skin as the clouds passed quietly in the sky. You enjoyed feeling your body relax and your mind forget what was bothering it. It is quite possible that there was a nice place to lie down and read a good book, yet you did not see it. You even forgot to look for it after a while. It was enough to walk and daydream. The quest was just an excuse to get you started. If you want to read, there are plenty of places where you already know you can go. The problem is, you do not have that much time to do it anyway, and when you are outside, you prefer walking and seeing what there is to see. The hare, oh yes, you saw one which was fun, you also soon forgot about it. There were no fruit trees, but you do not eat that much fruit to begin with, so it does not matter after all. In fact the reasons you may have to do something will not always be the reasons that will make you finish it. There is a magic at play in daily endeavors that will sometimes transform the way they are perceived. It is surely why life is good, and full of uncertainties waiting to be discovered.
More stories and photos in the ebook "52 weeks" (see info on the right side under "new in 2012")
I just finished to color and number this woodcut, a view from one of my favorite place on Grand Manan, an island in the Bay of Fundy in Canada. I usually do not try to depict a particular location but this time, along with this print, I did nine others (they all are in the Prints 2007-Present page). I plan to exhibit them on the island, but also anywhere else I show, so I will see whether it was a good idea or not.
When he does not take photos, make prints, or write stories, Dominique teaches philosophy and train students for Model UN conferences in an international school near Boston, MA, USA .
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