I first learned about artists like Bill Viola when I was taking a digital Multimedia class while studying abroad in Florence, Italy. During that time I was also taking a Contemporary Art History class, obsessively soaking up everything-conceptual-art. Watching an interview with Bill Viola on his conceptual video art in the dark classroom of a centuries-old building, I felt my senses flying. Here I was, balancing groundbreaking contemporary ideas that touched the very center of my soul, while baking inside this oven of time. I felt a rebirth coming under way.
Watching this interview, I learned of his experience of falling into a lake when he was very young. He says it was the most real and beautiful experience he'd ever had. He had the realization that everything beneath the surface is the way that things really are. This experience informed his work for years, unconsciously, as he applied the use of water in many of his pieces. As a child, I would sink to the bottom of the pool, watching the bubbles of my breath escaping me, rushing to the surface, glinting in the sunlight. My hair would float up around my head, as if unbound by gravity. I always wished I could just not have to inhale again, to dwell in the the stillness of the finished exhale. Don't get me wrong, I love breathing, but the stillness, as Viola talks about in this interview, is a very real thing we are often missing. The flow of water, the silence of the underneath. The standstill of the infinite moments between moments.
I don't know exactly what it is I'm searching for in my photography. I know that it isn't just about my subjects, and it isn't just about me. Whatever it is, it's taking on the form of an investigation into what lies underneath the surface. What do these symbols that make up our pictures tell us? What of them do we see consciously, and what of them do we not? How much do the symbols we do not recognize as significant create an entirely different image from the one we "see"?
In my process of sinking to the bottom of the pool...ocean...lake, I let the stuff of world pass me by...the questions, the conceptions, the pre-conceived notions. I sink, not knowing what I will find, but trusting that it will be worth my while. The truth is down there, and I will sink, rise, and sink deeper again and again as the symbols in my images speak truth louder and louder.