Saturday, October 15, 2011


Photo by David Light (slight fuzziness due to my photo of the photo)

Lyn's brother-in-law, David Light, took this photo in Scotland. It has been hanging on our wall since late last year and I've often had the impulse to write about it (in the service of seeing it better).

In several ways the photo is the polar opposite of Hyunmee Lee's painting (see the previous post); but in an odd way it raises some of the same questions hers does.

This time the mass that weighs heavy on me is stone, cut stones stacked and mortared together to make a massive set of structures. Had I been walking past these buildings I would have looked the other way, hoping for a human face or an interesting sequence of hats.

David saw and photographed the mass -- and much more.

There are the colors, remarkable in variety despite the fact that they are all closely related.

There are the mostly vertical shapes, a verticality enhanced by the horizontal roofs they hold up, straight lines broken only in a couple of places by curved arches.

There are the alternating planes, some facing the viewer, some slicing across the view, that keep the eye guessing about relationships. 

So the mass is differentiated, interesting, even beautiful. Still, I wouldn't have asked David for the photo if it hadn't also made me smile.


Pink is just the wrong word for this stolid set of buildings. It belongs here like shit belongs in a boardroom. It's unsettling. And sly -- sly at least in the photo, even if it's probably just the sign for a boutique of some sort. As letters that together mean something beyond themselves, it works in my mind like the "5" or the "b" or the squiggle works in Hyunmee's painting, as a sign of the human mind at work making sense of things.

And then there's "ROYAL EXCHANGE SQUARE." The building is a human construction and has a name. The name, however, the sign "for" something, raises tension in the context of the massive pile of stones that stands there. Although the architecture too is language, there's a distinct contrast between the two modes of signification.

Exacerbating that delicious tension is the hanging sign facing backwards, "MERCHANT CITY." It takes a conscious effort to make it out, a conscious effort that inserts itself agilely into what looks like a mass of stones.

And finally, there's the camera.

Not the camera in David's hands, but the security cameral bolted to the building and then reflected in the window. These windowed and reflective and lettered buildings are self conscious.

This is a significant set of buildings, thanks to David's good eye. 

1 comment:

michael morrow said...

yeh significant....thx for stretching truth, image, word, favorite element is the shrub growing out the moldy seam..devouring impermeable stone....a reminder that nature consistently teaches what humans least want to learn...she is the boss....