Archive for the Visual Art Category

Eggleston’s Depth

Posted in Visual Art with tags , , on January 23, 2009 by Adam

This past weekend, I finally made it to see the William Eggleston Democratic Camera exhibit at The Whitney. I had seen many of his photos dozens of times, in books or on a screen, but this was my first experience seeing any prints in person.

There are so many things that can be striking about one of Eggleston’s photos. It might be the otherworldly glow cast upon a subject as she sits in an angled sun ray. It might be the seemingly immense scope of an everyday item shot from a low angle. But for me, the most striking thing about any of the work I saw at The Whitney was the visual jarring that occurred when looking at a photograph of branches. These branches, as I moved toward and away from the photograph, existed in a countless number of planes, and each time I tried to focus my eye on one part, my brain would be convinced that there was someplace else I should be looking, either in front of or behind that particular branch.

The result, in person, was an incredible visual sensation that actually made me a bit dizzy as I moved around the photograph. Because there were so many layers to the photo, my eyes found it difficult to process the entire image at once. As they scanned up and down, left and right, it felt as if my head was shaking ever so slightly, as if I were a bobble head about to become still once again. This sensation, rather than take away from the pleasure of the experience, enhanced it in a way that I could not have expected: it made this photograph, simple on the surface, a tormentor, daring me to level my gaze on one spot, and than grabbing me by the ears and tossing about the contents of my skull. That kind of interaction, I found, made the visit priceless.