Sunday, August 22, 2010

Over easy, please

 I got the idea for this blog while cracking eggs for our pancake breakfast.  I am still intrigued by the title of the book on blogging, “No one cares what you had for lunch” and I understand that a corollary of this theorem is that “No one cares what you had for breakfast either.”  Don’t worry.  This blog is about eggs, but it is not even about food, let alone what foods I ate this morning.

The thing about eggs is that the shells are hard, tough, and smooth, but the vital part of the eggs are runny, gooey and very sticky.  When the simple beauty of the shell is cracked the real substance of the egg oozes out in a malformed mess.  It is the messy part that provides new life or sustains existing life.  The shell is the part we see initially and most commonly identify with the word ‘egg’  but the shells deceive us.  The appearance of an egg masks the real essence of egginess.   

A long time ago, probably 15 years now, I had an idea for an art project. The idea was to have a very polished eggshell cracked open with a sort of mixed media mess of stuff plopping out.   To give you a general idea of the project, I  put a quick (powerpoint!) sketch of the overall composition on the right. The egg was to be cut of plywood, painted black and finished to a high gloss. The mixed media stuff was supposed to represent all the messy realities of life- my own personal “monsters under the bed” that keep me awake at night. I got as far as painting the background and cutting out the egg.  I could never get the egg glossy enough, or so I thought. I really think that I let myself get stalled at the glossy egg step so I wouldn’t have to do the hard part of representing all those monsters.  I don’t know where the wooden egg is, but now I use the textured background for still life photography, so I guess some good came of it.

I still am intrigued by eggs and over the last year, I have been using them as frequent objects in still life photographs.  
This is my favorite.

Egg in Orbit

I  have been playing with the idea that if egg shells hide what is inside, maybe I can extend the deception by altering the lighting and composition until the egg looks like something else altogether.

Sometimes I think they look sort of celestial.

Crescent Egg

I have recently expanded the idea of visual deception in my still life photographs to include other common objects, arranged and lit in a way that the viewer is not sure what they are.  I have found that some people like the mystery and deception and others are really put off by it.  Interesting!

I think each of us prepares  ‘a face to meet the faces that we meet’ (T.S.Eliot), and hides a great deal behind a carefully crafted and often deceptive façade.  Like eggs, we each contain the messy,  gooey stuff of physical and creative life, and I think it is fine to keep it fairly protected, at least most of the time.  Maybe it is my New England reserve, but I am just not comfortable with public soul baring.   But it is also good to let some of the stuff ooze out once in a while and for me that happens most frequently behind the lens of my camera.

Today I am grateful that I can find time, at least occasionally, to let some of the creative ooze emerge!

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