This week, I’ve been thinking about a fascinating essay, “Fear and Photography, Opening a discussion on lost images,” by Ian Aleksander Adams (in Ahorn Magazine, Issue 2).
Adams explores the differences between recording images and experiencing them (we can do both, sometimes, he thinks). Most intriguingly to me, he considers the fear artists have around accidentally losing what we make.
He describes a memory from an early photography class, in which he was given an assignment to create “something worthy of the cover of Time Magazine.” Adams describes himself laboring over constructing a set, using artificial lights for the first time, and getting fully immersed in his ideas. He imagines, “Everyone will see the depth of my concept and be in awe of my execution.”
And then, what you can see coming happens. “The next morning in class,” Adams recalls, “I carefully and methodically ruin my film by forgetting to screw the top of my canister on all the way.”
He describes being haunted by his imagined perfection of those images, and his profound experience of loss surrounding them: “[H]ere are images made, composed, captured, but in the mind and memory, unable to become transfixed to paper through our familiar photographic process. They will be photographs to me still, strangely, not simple memories – something about their creation has bound them to the photographic idea, and I will remember them as images as much as experiences – and they are immeasurably important to me and my perception of the world. How can this be learned from? Played with? How can this experience be shared?”
I think about how this relates to all art. Though I identify as a poet, I write songs, too. Throughout the years, I’ve written songs that I don’t remember anymore. Various band projects never took off, and the songs we had been working on were discarded. Where are these songs now? Do they still exist, these little abandoned worlds, like dusty, old snow globes in some forgotten storage space?
I’ve lost poems before (part of being an artist is losing what we make, from time to time). Hard drives have crashed (I shudder even typing this, and then remember my external hard drive in the closet, and then shudder again, imagining it tumbling from the shelf and shattering on the floor). Fragments of those poems come back to me, and sometimes I wish I could see them (not because they were any good, but because I have the urge to revisit them sometimes, just to see them).
The easier it gets to make and replicate art, the easier it is lose it. Or maybe the nature of art is that it is always easy to lose. We keep trying to freeze moments, but a thaw in inevitable.
What creative losses have you experienced? Were they valuable to you, in anyway? Which ghostly projects haunt you?
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In these interludes, poet and singer-songwriter Hannah Stephenson invites you to eavesdrop on the music bouncing around her brain. She’d love to hear your thoughts, your inner soundtrack, and what band inspired that shrine in your bedroom.
3 WEEKS left to make a wondorus pattern & enter our Easter contest!!