Of the various kinds of photography I have done over the years, the one I perhaps get the most personal satisfaction from is abstract photography. There seems to be something about the simplicity of abstraction that draws me to it. The images are generally made without a lot of logistics involved and usually it’s just me and the inanimate surface, mostly flat, and because there are generally few distractions I can take my time. I work methodically, slowly scanning the surface with the camera’s viewfinder, moving closer, pulling back, and when I sense I have found patches of cohesion in the chaos before me I press the shutter.
To varying degrees, of course, all photography happens this way, but for me working abstractly seems more reliant on a gut feeling informing me when I have discovered a photograph. By photograph, naturally, I mean the creation of something that did not exist before––a two-dimensional image, in which all that is presented for the viewer in the finished image is what’s framed by four sides. Previous visual context, that which originally resided beyond the boundaries of the image, has de facto been removed; and even though a new internal context has now been introduced, in the way visual elements have been cropped and framed by the photographer, what the viewer ends up seeing is not necessarily what the photographer saw, since all visual information by its very nature is subjective––that is, open to personal interpretation. The photographer only presents, applying his or her best skills and intuition to create a compelling visual interpretation of what they see (based on their past experiences), the viewer then forming their own interpretation (based on their individual past experiences).
My New York City abstracts of tattered posters are from the side of a building under renovation at the corner of West 57th Street & 10th Avenue. I have visited the wall many times during the last few years and rarely have I come away without finding something interesting to photograph. The wall, in fact, has become for me a living thing, ever-changing, and always as I work I feel a kindred connection to the many hands which over time have removed or added to its surface, a dramatic example of how the combined forces of nature and human activity––those ever-present and anonymous collaborators in artistic creation!––are constantly bringing into existence the rich and varied visual world that we photographers are drawn to.
Finally, in a more personal way, what I like most about working abstractly are those moments when, as happens often at 10th and 57th Street, time seems to stand still as eye and mind become one, causing in me that feeling of being transported back to my early years as a beginning photographer, back to when nothing was more thrilling than simply creating images out of shape and form and design and light and color.
––© Roger Minick 2011