Sunday, 11 December 2016

'Entering the territory of an image'

'When a piece of work feels finished, we need time to look, to meditate on, and to absorb what has been done. Every image holds a mystery, something outside or beyond the intentions we had for it. A thing once made has an autonomy, a life of its own - we need to get to know it as we would get to know another person; otherwise we will most likely have missed what it contains or speaks of. The power of an image is that it embodies the complexity of what we see, feel and think but cannot literally describe in words. The things we ourselves make reflect our lives, as do our dreams, and to discover what they hold for us, we need to enter their territory. There is a difference here between looking at an image, where we maintain a certain distance, and entering into an image, where we engage with it imaginatively. Entering into an image is as active and creative in its own way as making it. An image invites us to feel things differently, to see other qualities, other aspects of our lives - the familiar transfigured. The images we make and subsequently come to know, do not so much centre around us, as draw us out of ourselves into a wider field of constructions and meanings.

Everything we make is in a sense a living world - we explore it as with a new place we arrive in, asking: 'What is here?...'What is happening?'  As in the process of making, we follow whatever comes up, and what we find will never be entirely what we expect. Exploring the world of an image takes time - time to let it in, get to know it.

Our first account of an image will always be only a tiny fragment of what is there, sometimes even at odds with what we eventually see. But it is always difficult not to get stuck with our original thoughts and intentions and instead allow the image to have its own voice, to surprise us with what it holds. When we start to look, the image may well appear static, fixed. The process of looking is one of letting the life of the image unfold - a sense of movement and interaction within and between its parts.

In looking we need to follow the slightest hunch, let in the faintest impression, accepting wherever our attention is drawn, allowing any fleeting thought or association to take its place within an emerging picture of what is present. We need to 'see lightly', trying not to impose an account of the image artificially, letting a sense of its presence arise and grow in the looking. As we look, we move to and fro between the physical appearance of the image (its sensory impact), and the associations, thoughts, feelings, memories, stories, that arise from it; every aspect of our experience is potentially a support for our looking.....'

Tufnell, M. & Crickmay, C. A Widening Field; Journeys in Body and Imagination  2004