As the great cacophony of noise seeps into every part of daily life, taking photographs is my mute button. It is a meditative practice I value more each time I venture out into the world.
Most people tell me my photographs are short stories of silence, and solitude. This is not my intention, but it usually turns out this way.
Wandering through cities, I settle into a simple rhythm of discovering subjects who, in my mind's eye and ear, live in a noiseless space, if even for an instant.
landscape --n. 1 natural or imaginary scenery, as seen in a broad view.
After coming across this definition in the OED, I wanted to see what would happen if I were to broaden my own idea of what constitutes a landscape.
[Why 33 variations? Perhaps the most compelling variations ever composed for the piano are Beethoven's 33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli. They challenge the definition of a variation as they run brilliantly rampant from their simple theme. 33 felt like a good number.]
If you spend enough time in Venice, you'll hunger to know her other sides, far beyond the postcard views of Piazza San Marco or the Rialto Market. One gloriously wretched Sunday morning in March, through the rain-splattered window of a commuter boat returning from Marco Polo airport, a more watery vision of Venice appeared, from the surrounding islands to the traffic on the lagoon that is her highway.
I'd always thought it should have been Frank Lloyd Wright who said, "God is in the details," not Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (immortalized in glass at the IIT McCormick Student Center by Rem Koolhaas).
But then I grew up a little, at least as a looker of architecture, and I realized that in refining his work to the smallest, most elegantly restrained details, Mies had a point.
As if by Universal design, our Autumn journeys turn inward.
Traveling along quiet blue highways in a newborn Fall, the early-morning frost on the windshield and passenger window offered me a gauzy veil through which to make photographs that represent these inner journeys: scenes which leave more to the imagination than the blazingly overt images of the season just passed.
The first photograph I took in Japan was of a vending machine.
Sleek and modern and beautiful, it stood alone against a wall in the station of the Narita Express to Tokyo.
Each product, perfectly lit and spaced, was lined up in a heroic stance that made me want to buy something—anything—just to see how this machine would dispense the product. Artfully, I am certain.
This was just the beginning. What followed in the years of my travels making thousands of photographs was lovely amazement at every turn.
I’ve always found beautiful order within the inevitable chaos, and a thread of an aesthetic that, for me, links an ages-old, painstakingly fashioned bow tie joint to the crisply pressed uniform of a Shinkansen conductor.
In the present and future breathes the spirit of the past. You can find it in the Ippodo Tea Room in Kyoto, where young women in their summer yukota share secrets over tea, their mobile phones at the ready nearby.
I remember how my Japanese friends must have thought me curiously sentimental as I confessed that tears welled up the first time I saw a train conductor bow as he entered the car.
‘O, just another day in Japan,’ one of them observed.
For me, it was yet another sign of that ancient, albeit slender aesthetic thread, still very much woven into a culture that has changed in a myriad of ways, but in a very significant way, hasn’t changed at all.
"La Roche, with a collection as beautiful as yours," said Le Corbusier sometime in 1923, "you must have a house built that is worthy of it."
And so the Swiss banker and art collector Raoul La Roche promptly commissioned Le Corbusier to design him that worthy house in Paris. In its sweeping gallery, La Roche would display his collection of Cubist and Purist art.
I am fascinated by surfaces and the stories they tell if given the opportunity. So I've spent time shooting into surfaces to find out what appears. It started with glass: car windows, then windows obscured by mist, and drops of rain. Mirrors.
Le Corbusier designed Villa Savoye in 1928, in Poissy, on the outskirts of Paris. Completed in 1931, it stands today as a cornerstone of the International style, and is one of the most influential buildings in the history of modern architecture.
But Villa Savoye is more than a modern building of reinforced concrete and glass and wood. It is a composition: lyrical curves and ramps lead us from space to space. The structure flows in phrases and long lines. A rhythm is found in patterns of glass that wrap the house, allowing sunlight to bathe the rooms in warmth.
When I visited Villa Savoye, I didn't see architecture. I heard music. Was it Poulenc? Perhaps Ravel. I wanted my images to resonate with that lyricism.
In 1956, a group of artists protested the design for a new museum in New York City, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Completed several months after his death in 1959, the Guggenheim would be the final opus of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Milton Avery and other modernists claimed the new design, with its sloped walls and ramp, would be unsuitable for exhibiting art.