In this issue of Storytellers, Star Rush a mobile photographer from Seattle, shares her insight behind a new series of work encompassing an exploration of windows. Star also speaks more specifically about her thought process and inspiration behind the photograph “When Words Were Made Mechanical.”
Window displays are fascinating to me. They’re vignettes, framed often not unlike a photograph. I like the voyeuristic quality they suggest, too. They are a peek inside–a tease–and what one may find when entering the space beyond the window and the other side of the door. They invite or entice. The passerby can accept, or reject the commitment to enter. Window displays contain objects but on their surfaces are reflections of what is outside. This duality generated by the glass of the window reminds me of photography: the reflection, the object reflected, and the mirror.
I’m not consciously thinking these thoughts as I walk by store windows. However, on some level, either intuition or subconscious, the dynamic works out this way for me. I take my share of reflected window display photos, working sometimes on just how to get my own reflection out of the way as I do.
“When Words Were Made Mechanical,” is a photograph I took a few weeks ago of a antique typewriter and mid-century furniture. They’re displayed in a furniture store, a popular one, too, that sells modernist pieces and retro designs of the period. They caught my eye because of a few things: 1. I collect objects in my photographs that are near obsolescence–not quite gone but definitely slipping. 2. I love mechanical typewriters, and 3. this typewriter was without its “shell” or a frame. I noticed right away how the key board seems to hover, the keys suspended. They are lovely in form and evocative in their suggestion of what we may think of as “the past” or old.
It wasn’t a sunny day at all, but the glass reflected quite strongly the scene behind me, the cars parked along the street, the contemporary life just on the other side of this window paying homage to design and form of the past. I wanted to capture the objects here, because I think they are beautiful, and they trigger something in me that I don’t fully understand just yet. I am interested in the cultural impact of digital transformation of forms, functions, “spaces” and the artifacts of mechanical or analog functions, space, and form. The interest is in part socio-cultural on my part and aesthetic. When I sat down to choose which photo to keep, edit, possibly share, I chose this one because I saw a dynamic forming between the two sides of the window–what the frame contained and what the image frame contained. I wanted to engage that relationship–a tension in how to expand the window frame, and in a way, also collapse it, via the reflection. To disrupt framing as a sole container of an image’s narrative or its storytelling.
Usually, when I observe and capture an image, I know in that moment whether it will be black and white or color. The decision is part of the overall choice to take the photo in the first place, how to frame it, how to compose it. These depend on what I see in the moment and not after, when I am editing. I predominantly create or capture black and white images, and I do so because I like how it conjures a sense of the “unbelievable” the “unreal,” in the sense that the absence of color in photograph signals pretty strongly that viewers are about to enter another world, one skewed in some way from the one we live it. Black and white can also help me emphasize shape and forms, or other elements as they relate in the absence of color.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about “randomness” and have been using Decim8 as a post-processing tool on a couple of projects I’ve been working on: the snapshot/artifact series. This involves my editing and processing found photographs: snapshots and polaroids of strangers I do not know. I want to add to these an editing dynamic that would disrupt their mediation of an intact memory. I want to think about the way that images not just evoke actual memories by (re)presenting them, but also by (re)placing them in us. I applied about 6 random affects and chose the yellow and white bar for the final image, for mostly pragmatic reasons. First, they render the image below them visible even as they alter the scene. They do not obscure the scene; I want an element of translucence, just as reflections on glass can have that effect. I also like the graphical or design quality the horizontal bars bring to the lower frame, as it contrast with the business of the upper frame, which to my eyes, looks like kind of collage of some sort.
So applying random digitalized effects to photographs from film cameras was an interesting way to do that–I select the images to work with among those I find and I let the app randomly apply an aberration. I suppose my intention is to play with the conceptual tensions of artifacts of memory, found connections and missing links. I don’t consider the artifact/snapshot series as photographs; to me, they are visual images I have created, because I am commenting and altering another’s photograph. Either way, there’s a dialog emerging for me about just what the series suggests for me, what it suggests for those viewing them, and how they “talk” to one another.
“When Words Were Made Mechanical,” is a product of the same concept as the artifact/snapshot series but applied to a photograph of my own observations rather than a found one. This photograph is among 3 I have taken so far that borrow the artifact/snapshot series concept. I am curious where this will lead.
Having reflected on this photograph, I now think that the this photo and the ongoing artifact/snapshot series are threads within my overall interest in pulling tensions between past and presence, between a past reflected in memory and those mediated in images. We all dream. But we don’t all remember those dreams.
I want to thank Star for letting us in on her thoughts and word her on iPhoneogenic’s Storytellers
All images shown here are copyrighted property of the artist and are published on all iPhoneogenic outlets with the consent of the artist, please contact Star Rush for copyright privileges.
Published by: Edi Caves 03/05/2012