Light & Shadow

I see shadows. I see branches. I see their skeleton fingers year round at sunrise. The grass below, outside my window, shaded by the buildings, shades of green in and out of the light. Sometimes against the brick wall at certain times of the day, at specific angles of light, depending on the time of year, I see a different set of shadows cast by the sun at dawn. I have baroque dreams, baroque reveries drawn by day as well; waking dreams, sleeping dreams, I have become fascinated by shadows even more than when I was a boy, my sight fixed on the headlight cast shadows that would climb the walls and rush quickly across the ceiling as I lay myself down to sleep, having already said my evening prayers, my soul to take. Fascination may be too weak a word to use.

I have taken far too many photographs in black and white. I love monochrome, shades of gray. I follow shades; I find the shadows. I like low light photography. I push exposure. I learned how to hold the camera steady at one-fifteenth of second shutter set at f-2. I have hundreds of photos of Jule’s Bistro by votive light. I have a shot of my wife’s hand by votive light just having picked a piece of crust from the bread in the basket. It’s a beautiful shot helped I have to admit by the beauty of her hands, elegant hands, long hands, delicate hands, tender . . . baroque revery, reveries drawn by a baroque aesthetic.

I look to the wall opposite my window inside. I see once again a bone finger hand reaching out about to scrape me or not to scrape me, the branches of the tree in the courtyard outside our bedroom window; ours, not mine. I spent a year photographing the shadows in our apartment. Another oblique homage to Dutch and Flemish interiors from the Baroque Age.

Memories, reveries, recall, what I recollect from mornings on the beach in Montauk waiting for sunrise. All of them reaching out for me . . . remembering, recalling, recollecting, we would walk to Ditch Plains and collect shells, collect rocks, pebbles, I have a collection of wave  worn stones on a window sill in our bedroom. I have them arranged around the the small pieces of driftwood we brought back from Montauk after our son found picked them up from the beach one walk how long ago I cannot say. I have tried to sketch the shadows of the rocks on the sill in the afternoon light, the window in the wall perpendicular to the wall with the window facing east and the rising sun. The setting sun reflects off the windows opposite the window perpendicular to the window that lets in the morning light.

When I was a boy walking at night, I imagined the shadows clutching me jumping out at me grabbing me;  branches, winter bare, on my block all the way home alone after after-school. The London Plane trees in my old neighborhood–East Flatbush–we had a lot of trees on our streets. Winter bare trees shaking in the wind–I would sometimes scare myself and have to run home beneath them, convinced that if I slowed, they would bend and grab me, pick me up and that would be it.

Hounded, haunted, hunted; how are they not related. Related, casting shadows, tactile objects. Do words have echoes that resound in other words? What is a shadow? An echo is what? How is each not the other in a way that would embrace their mutuality. Each shadow, a spectral echo; each echo, an acoustic shadow. Sight and sound are reciprocal in my sight; my sight has been affected by the day dreams I have dared to dream, baroque reveries, a chiaroscuro of the soul.


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