coromandal


annunciation

Here are three works by the photographer Gregory Crewdson, all untitled, set in the generic suburb, landscapes and portraits, each with strong beams of light.  They question our normative assumptions of what is real by showing meta real events.

The first is of a suburban neighborhood at dusk with stacks of railway ties in the foreground and several porch lights just on for the night.  There are three meta real lights:  the beam, the spot in the forground and the tree in the background.  All three light abjectly uninteresting subjects.

The second is a portrait of a woman perhaps in a dream, in her night clothes, simultaneously in her garden and in her kitchen.  She is a flesh and blood woman, fertile and organized. We see her in a meta real moment: conceivably the police have arrived, but more likely God or the Truth based on the intensity of the light.

The third is a pregnant woman in her yard at dusk in the suburbs, in the kiddy pool which her husband or boyfriend is filling with a hose while a friend sleeps on the lawn nearby.  The spot light is again extra human, like a renaissance annunciation:  a miracle birth in the yard.

Each image presents a narrative that collapses the distance between the banal and the transcendent wherein lies its power.

Untitled, from the series Twilight, Gregory Crewdson

untitled, Gregory Crewdson

untitled (pregnant woman/pool), Gregory Crewdson



simultaneously and substantially dual

 

This is from an article by Arjun Appadurai.  In it, he describes how the world we accept as empirical, the spaces we see and touch and know can only be properly negotiated when we add in an intangible dimension, what we remember and imagine from other places – ones we’ve inhabited, dreamed about, seen at the movies.  By adding the new dimension, which by the way is very real, we see that we live in a much different place than commonly described.

“Because of the degree of media penetration and saturation – which frequently also means media of many kinds and media from many places, particularly television, where it’s available – people live, as it were, in layered places, which in themselves have a variety of levels of attachment, engagement and, if you like, reality … In a world of migration and mass mediation, everybody is living in a world of image flows, such that it’s not simply and straightforwardly possible to separate their everyday life from this other set of spaces that they engage with through the media, either as receivers, or as workers in call centers, or on interactive websites.  The work of the imagination allows people to inhabit either multiple localities or a kind of single and complex sense of locality, in which many different empirical spaces coexist.  So one of these call center people is simultaneously living a little bit in the United States and also living substantially in Bombay.  But Bombay itself, because of films and so on, is not merely empirical Bombay.

In this sense you have a kind of creative, spatial form which isn’t reducible to its empirical facts.  Now those empirical facts – for example, that the trains in Bombay are incredibly crowded  – must be faced at the end of the day.  Even if you’re inhabiting many localities, this one will always be present to you.  But because I do believe in the work of the imagination, I believe your engagement with this empirical world can be somewhat different depending on what translocalities you inhabit mentally, in and through the imagination.  So the train isn’t the same for everyone, not only because there’s a better part and a less good part of the train, but simply because the train is only one element of people’s localized existence.  Again I would say, remembering the urban poor, that the relationship of their experienced spaces to their imagined spaces is always at a disadvantage.  And this must be changed.  But the poor, too, negotiate a relationship between experienced spaces and imagined spaces.  They’re not only living in sheer experience while the rest of us live in the imagination.  That’s my sense of the political economy of these spaces.”

~Arjun Appadurai, The Right to Participate in the Work of the Imagination, Trans Urbanism, V2_Publishing/NAi Publishers