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 a solid membrane between the lifeless external world around us and our inner individual consciousness. To many, it is the window to the soul.
If the soul is behind the eye, what happens to the soul when the body dies? The film Un Chien Andalou survives in a decayed form, 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 moving and refracting through their windows, giving the resemblance of life. 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
Psychogeography has become for myself, in this city, a process of wandering to see what I discover. These areas are decayed or overcome with unintentional vegetation. Native or adapting plants are found thriving or barely holding on. Each new plant discovery becomes a point of further ethnobotanical 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 documented in the marginal spaces of San Francisco.
These images are created using Cymatics: tonal sound vibrations on the surface of water resulting in unique and unpredictable shapes. Since I am working with feedback loops, the shapes change continuously revealing mysterious new patterns. The camera aperture slices time, revealing patterns not seen. There is a mystery and subtle power perceived. I think of this work as fusing science, aesthetics, and alchemical self-transmutation.
Working in darkness, listening to loops of a single tone channeled through analog keyboards into pools of water atop digital speakers, I attain an altered state of consciousness. This sensual sound bath combined with the light dancing on the surface of the water induces a state that is illuminating, pleasing, and rejuvenating. The traces of this moment, infused into the unaltered print, invite the viewer to move into a space of feeling, and openness to the unseen.
I rely on water as the classic medium of empathy and non-verbal feeling. Within the history of Cymatics and photographic exploration, this work echoes the soft boundary of science (or pseudo-science) and art, while affirming the need for art to transmute consciousness.