Recently I’ve been taking lots of photos of walls. This came about by accident. I was driving across the Harrison Avenue Viaduct and noticed the railroad yards down below. They struck me as very photogenic, so the next day I came back, parked my car up the hill on McMicken Ave., and walked down to the viaduct. The first section of the viaduct was topped with a high fence designed to prevent wayward teens from throwing rocks on the cars passing below. After the fence, however, the viaduct walkway turns into a narrow sidewalk with speeding cars on one side and a waist-high wall next to a hundred-foot drop on the other side. I walked no more than six steps before I started feeling queasy. Rapidly retreating, I decided that that was it for my railyard project. As I disappointedly walked back to the car, I passed by several walls in various states of deterioration. To prevent my outing from being a total loss, I took a few pictures. Back home, I found them visually interesting and decided that walls, though lacking the intrinsic power of railroad yards, were a worthy subject matter in their own right.
Usually, I think that the most meaningful photos one takes are of people, particularly friends and family members. They have the richest emotional connotations and often capture memories of particular occasions that people have enjoyed together. I also like photos I’ve taken on trips to Santa Cruz or New York City since they provide a visual record of places and experiences. All have a lot of personal relevance and meaning.
Walls are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Rather than special, they are mundane, even potentially boring. With photos of people or places, we usually have a rich history of interaction with the “object” of interest, and the photo arouses a host of memories and emotions. Railroad yards, for example, activate a host of meanings: commerce, transport, speed, power, workers, goods, wealth, etc. Walls, in contrast, are ever-present and entirely familiar, but we usually pay them minimal attention and we’re unlikely to feel much sense of personal connection or associative meanings if we do. Consequently photos of walls presents the challenge of selecting a stimulus configuration that will be aesthetically pleasing in and of itself, rather than via what it means personally or in terms of past history. It’s the immediate configuration of shapes, colors, and forms that provides the photo’s sensory impact. Here are some of the wall images that I like. See what you think.
-Donna D (9-13): oh my god, david...these are really beautiful!!! donna
-Vicki L (9-11): Hi Dvd, Wall Art! I say. I think you should continue your project, get over your vertigo and get Greg to have a gallery showing. My friend Virginia (also my supervisor back when I was an intern) has really taken to photography since her retirement and has put on several shows. She's having a lot of fun. I think you have always had artistic sensibility and talent - glad you're sharing. Maybe even more people can see it. The other thought I had is you might select a few of your favorites, frame them and install them at Farm next summer. You're an inspiration. Love, Vicki (PS I've only been making bouquets....).