CONCRETE IMAGERY - POURING YOUR PASSION INTO YOUR WORK
In a previous blog post, I made reference to the concept of concrete imagery in poetry and photography. I'm not talking about the mixture of Portland cement, aggregate, and water compounded, poured, and hardened to build a front porch. What I'm referring to is taking steps as a writer and photographer to utilize descriptive language in writing and the juxtaposition of movement with rigidity in photography to evoke a similar emotional response in the reader/viewer as the poet/photographer felt in crafting a poem or photo.
Incorporation of concrete imagery into one's work takes practice and patience. Whether writing or taking pictures, the middle men of tools - camera, computer, pens - can act as distractions rather than conduits without prior attention to preparation and mastery. An out of ink pen can be just as maddening as a drained camera battery when that blazing moment of inner or outdoor light begins to fade to frustration.
For me, employing concrete imagery in my work has been an exercise of stepping back from the immediacy of my emotions and observing the particles and waves of inner conflict, elation, or indifference in any given situation, then writing down, photographing, or dancing the composition, light, saturation, tension, relationship, and content of those feelings in order to generate a muscle memory of expression rather than reinforce a bi-polar boing.
Let's take the phrase "bi-polar boing", for instance. Alone, bi-polar is a psychological state to be medicated, but boing elevates the meaning into a more personal and visceral experience. Using words and phrases that arouse the reader's sense of smell, touch, hearing, taste, and sight are effective ways to lead the reader around to your point.
Likewise with photography. In the photo above, the viewer's eye is initially drawn to the concrete bridge abutment with its sharper focus, then pulled into the shadows of itself and the river by the pointed angle of contrast, then back up again and around through the rippling water and reflection. For photographers not familiar with the habit of writing, carrying a notebook (or smartphone) and jotting down simple phrases and words to describe what's impelling about the scene to be photographed may encourage a stronger link between one's inner world and the composition of the photo.
The thoughts and suggestions above are not concrete steps to climb up to an open door of absolutes and if followed religiously will yield results. Some may prefer wooden steps and others stone. Some may choose to stay firmly planted on the ground. Some may choose to take a sledge hammer to any sort of paved way and make an art project from the rubble.
Regardless of how you get there, go.
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