On True Love: I'm Done with Taking Pictures of Moments / "...'art' [or insert anything else that we tend to revere in order to add parameters, or to literally *frame* these experiences] pales in comparison"

"At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough."
(-Toni Morrison)

I asked my good artist friend last month while she was tabling some ideas of a future planned exhibit on memory and identity whether she feels like installation art is at all limiting because of the particular physical aspects of it. She explained that she is intrigued by the body’s relationship to art and how the art interacts with it as the body moves. In her body of work, she leaves room for the art to react and change as dynamically as humans do -- as close as she can get to how the interaction would occur in nature. I thought of this maybe a day or so later as I stood peering over a ledge of a cliff into the waters of San Pedro -- and specifically, I considered how the canvas that we were observing was different, subtly different, with each moment that passed. I really can’t describe it, it was one of those “you had to be there” kinds of things. I was humbled by nature’s way of going through its respective motions and it was simply beautiful.

In another time, the documentarian in me would have wanted to feverishly capture each moment so as to have a close-to-accurate point of reference for future recollection. Like last summer with a few of some of my closest friends, I saw the most magnificent sunset-sunrise-sunset that I’ve ever seen in my life, and have since been at a loss for words trying to explain it. I remember wanting to freeze the moment in time. Then, I realize that it’s not that I wanted to freeze it in time, it’s that I wanted the feeling at the time to never stop happening -- I wanted the feeling that I had in relation to what I was experiencing to remain static. As a pre-meditated substitute to the real feeling, each second that went by and the canvas changed, we snapped pictures to preserve the moments -- hoping that our uploads later would be able to tell the story that we wouldn’t be able to tell ourselves.

They couldn't/can’t.

It occurred to me that a) most of my most intimate moments with life (read: mind-blowing) have occurred while I was in the midst of nature; and b) the more you experience moments in which your senses are heightened organically or naturally, [and I’m finding for me specifically, while in communion with others] the more “art” [or insert anything else that we tend to revere in order to add parameters, or to literally frame these experiences] pales in comparison.

Thus, in San Pedro, I was less pressed with “capturing,” because somewhere in and around that moment I realized that there was more there than us just *looking* at the water while it ebbed and flowed with its brilliant colors and stutter-stop motions – seemingly indifferent to our presence. And my ability to “capture” it in its entirety was lacking anyway, as I'm sure my companions that day would attest.

And then there’s the recollection on the back end.

A moment can be viewed through so many different prisms, and you always end up shading the substance of the meaning you retrieve from it variably from each moment to the next. I have experienced things that seemed the dopest of dope, but upon recollection, its bold colors faded and meaning waned. I’ve experienced things that didn’t register much on my sensory radar at the time of occurrence, but upon recollection, usually shared recollection, it grew meaningful. I would like to reconcile my recollection and memories with the ongoing nature of reality. For me, the answer is to humbly commit them to the communal memory that my friends and I have of that moment and leave it at that. It’s not the scene, picture, or actual piece of art -- it’s our experience in relation to the art or *thing* and how it functions in relation to us; how we affect it and how it affects the way we proceed and continue.

I think I’m done with taking pictures of moments.

{liberatormagazine.com exclusive feature}

Originally Posted 3/8/2013
Updated 10/2/2014: Toni Morrison quote.

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