Catalyst Installation

Catalyst was delayed last month because not all the photographic material was ready.  This was interesting in itself, listening to how difficult some of the poems were to capture in a single image.

The exhibit is finally installed at Bank Street Arts, poetry, photography and sound, all there in the same room at the same time.  There are a number of things I’m finding interesting about the work.  Of course, primarily, the images that the poems responded to, and the images that responded to the poems are presented together, and the themes that were picked out by the poet can often be identified in the second image.  For example, the flower in Noel William’s “Fallen Flowers” has been reconstituted from the petals on a windscreen to a rose in full bloom.  The triptych of images Noel responded to has no figure in it.  Beverley Green’s response to the poem pulls out a character and fills the frame with it.  I’m looking forward to spending the next week or so looking at the installation and looking at how the chain of response works.  Or at least my interpretation of how it works.

Speaking to one of the photographers, David Jay, brought to my attention all the possible compromises photographers make, the difference between the photograph they create and the one they wanted to create.  In this case, the image taken after reading “Petrology” would have had even more in common with the original Ben Anderson image, had he the time: that the aspects of the Anderson image I was trying to get across in the poem came through and were interpretable, not just a description of the image, but a sense of its mood, maybe.  The location of the image has changed from an urban, stone building background, to a more earthy, nature dominated environment.  It is possible to read this as something that has come through the poem (see below), but of course it could just as easily be dictated by the photographers resources, or his personal preference.  There is a need to read the images and poems independently of the authors, but following this, I also need to know what the contributors were thinking, why they made the decisions that led to their work.  I don’t know what all this means.  I’ll have a think, and see how this experience compares to the other photographers’ experiences.


The world tips,

ups sticks, as the sky

rotates on its heels.

I turn my back,

the soles of my feet,

on Andromeda’s redshift,

face soil,

redshank, the roots

of an oak

creeping under surface.

Carotid blood tumbles

towards the earth’s mantle.

I’m my most serene,

eyelids pulled open

by gravity inversed

as though god

and the heavens

were here

all along, in semi-

permeable rock,

in coal veins and chlorite.


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