Monday, May 8, 2023

Turning Point - 1978

One day

Larry Wolf (1978/scanned 2022)

and the next

Larry Wolf (1978/scanned 2022)

In 1978, I was immersed in 35mm black and white photography. It was more than a hobby, but what was it? I spent a week at the Maine Photographic Workshops, an intensive of camera, film, chemicals, darkroom, prints and reviews. I came home to Burlington Vermont, where my home darkroom had taken over my bathroom and kitchen. I continued at that pace, carrying a camera with me all the time, even into work meetings, doing my day job writing software and the rest of the time photographing and processing and not getting much sleep. I was 27. Who needs sleep? 

Then one day the computer screen I was looking at, writing code, stopped being characters in the syntax of a programming language and was simply pixels of light. 

My visual mind had taken over my analytic mind. It was a profound shift in perception. Years of training to turn pixels into characters and characters into language and language into algorithms had been overridden. I was simply seeing what was before my eyes without the mediation of all those concepts. Wow! Yikes! Oh no!

I grappled with the choice: Do I open to this new thing or to set it aside and do what I had become a master of? 

At that time, I was not willing to walk away from the good job, the great team, the amazing visionary work, and become, I didn't know what: an artist living in a stream of visual perceptions. How does one do that? How would I do that?

Now 45 years later, I have returned to that choice point. The past four or five years have been a  renewed connection to photography and art making more broadly. This year is a fuller nurturing of that way of being. A new immersion. Different daily demands to be a responsible adult and also the time to explore being and seeing and feeling and making. 

It is scary and unsettling and exactly what I want to be doing; how I want to be. Who knows what will come of this?

At 71, every day is precious. The journey continues.

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