The vitreous humour is the aqueous fluid contained within the interstices of
the vitreous body located behind the retina of an eye. Vitreous (resembling glass in color, composition, brittleness, or luster) materials, as we know, are also liquid. The older glass becomes the more distorted it gets. “Humour” in medieval physiological theory, meant one of the four fluids of the body that were thought to determine a person’s temperament and features.
In the seminal scene of Bunuel and Dali’s silent film from 1929, Un Chien Andalou, a straight razor slices through an eye and the viscous vitreous humour pours out. We commonly think of the human eye as the solid orb through which we see, from which we form an understanding of the world around us. It is also thought of as a solid membrane between the lifeless external world around us and our inner individual consciousness. To many, it is the window to the soul.
At the moment the straight razor cuts through what appears to be a human eye in Un Chien Andalou, the inner mechanisms of sight and optics were revealed. Audiences were and continue to be shocked to see liquid poring out of the eye. It isn’t solid; it is in fact filled with liquid. Liquid refracts. Perhaps what we see with our eyes is not exactly as it appears. We perceive visual information through the eyes and arrive at nuanced, subjective perceptions, understandings, and consciousness. But what happens to this unique consciousness after death? If the soul is behind the eye, what happens to the soul when the body dies?
The film survives, but it’s actors and creators have died. The body ages and dies. The eye loses the spark of consciousness.
The photographs in this series are an experiment in inverting the “window to the soul” idea. Instead of peering out of an eye to arrive at subjective perception or peering into a living eye to perceive the soul, the camera is peering through decayed glass windows into locked and abandoned crypts. These empty structures, thought to contain no living consciousness, daily experience light refracting through their windows. All photographs were taken at Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, California.
also philter, "love potion," 1580s, from M.Fr. philtre (1560s), from L. philtrum, from Gk.
philtron "love-charm," lit. "to make oneself beloved," from philein "to love" (from philos "loving")
5 parts Damiana leaves,
3 parts rose petals
2 vanilla been pods
1 true cinnamon stick.
Enough distilled wine to cover for 8 days.
Strain and Age.
In 55 BCE Lucretius was said to go insane then commit suicide after drinking a love philtre created by his wife. The power in a philter, or love potion, lies in the properties of the liquid used, the menstruum, or solvent, and it’s ability to dissolve a substance over time, or to pull out the essence of botanicals and distribute that essence in the liquid. During this process, the alchemical transmutation takes place, that is, a desired change from one thing to another occurs. The unmanifest intentions of the creator are transferred to the liquid menstruum. Through the tools of lens, shutter, and chemistry, I seek to capture the unmanifest desire suspended within the philtre, and to behold the mystery of transmutation.
The Hand That Harms, The Hand That Heals
The geographic environment of the Bay Area is perplexing. Those coming from afar will usually comment on the natural beauty of the Bay, while simultaneously noticing that the ever-encroaching urban sprawl practically swallows all available land. Still, some of the most potent, resilient, and most effective wild plants remain. This friction, manifesting in the marginal spaces of the city where nature adapts, reinvents, mutates, and survives, colors the Psychogeographic effect of the area.
What Psychogeography has become today, in this place, for this individual, has more to do with the Deep Topography movement popularized by London based writers like Will Self, Iain Sinclair, and Nick Papadimitriou for whom wandering the city becomes a process of discovery. Awareness is born of overlooked spaces, and of the life or lack thereof, that can happen in these places. These areas are decayed, aged, or overcome with unintentional vegetation. Here, native or adapting plants are found thriving or barely holding on. Each new plant discovery becomes a point of further enthnobotanical investigation. Particular healing or poisonous species have managed to survive in the liminal spaces on the edge of development, where the power of the vegetal world remains. These plants have a long history of interaction and cooperation with humans.
The first point of tactile contact between the plant world and the human body is firstly through the hand and secondly through ingestion. When we ingest an herb we absorb its unique code, its ability to assimilate sunlight, and it’s ability to heal or to harm.
Journeying from my home in San Francisco, I wandered the city, searching the margins of urban usage, in overlooked places, to document the existence of these herbs. The resulting images were printed out onto paper, exposed in the light of the sun. Mirroring the process of photosynthesis in which sunlight is absorbed into the plant (that then is ingested by humans), extracts of the plants were made to ingest personally and to use to tone the images. Concentrating the sunlight with lenses and allowing the herbs to marinate the paper, manipulated the surfaces further.
This series of images and accompanying liquid extracts are the result of a fusion of body, plant, and light, which was experienced and was documented in the marginal spaces of San Francisco.