I was heading out to Harry Bertoia’s place in Barto Pa, and was anxious to talk with him. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Bertoia Harry had a mind that was limitless in thoughts. He was expecting me and had a cup of coffee ready when I arrived. Harry was sitting and looking at some of his sculptures. I sat in the chair next to him and by the way, the chairs were sculptures by Harry. Harry looked at me and asked, “What do you see”? I know that no matter my answer, it would either be wrong or in adequate. I told Harry that I can only explain what I’m seeing that connects my heart. (If this is wrong, I don’t wanna be right) I said I see the light, textures, shapes and the physical things associated to each piece.
Harry smiled and said, what do you think the pieces are thinking as they look at us? My eyes kinda perked up and I was caught off guard. It’s 1976, my son Paul was born 5 months prior to this event. I hadn’t done any drugs in a long time, no pot, no alcohol either. Clean and sober except for photography. So I felt kinda trippy when Harry asked me that question. I never thought about my works watching me as I watch them. It’a absurd I tellya, totally absurd. That’s not the lesson he was teaching me.
Harry was teaching me about perception and how it applies to others seeing me. Harry said that my work is stronger than any mirror image. Look at your self in a mirror and you may adjust yourself as you see fit. When you look at your work, realize that it is looking at you and can’t be adjusted. You just need to accept the fact that it is you and another way of seeing yourself and being seen.
Minor White had a similar concept about viewing work. He felt that it was a 3 way process. The photographer, The work and the viewer. All 3 are as one and not one part shall be excused from the others. I agree with these Master of course. I also like to add that there are other elements involved and even as the work is created. The idea of money or paid work, regardless of the original intent, will most certainly effect the outcome.
The intent of the photo is now maybe divided upon the shooter and the shooter’s client. The photo that’s looking back at us maybe is in the hands of a client and those eyes are watching us intently. Who or whom is our work satisfying now? I think Harry had a getter grasp on this than Minor. Harry made and sold a lot of work. His Sounds Of Sculpture is an amazing recording. I got to play some of those sculptures in his studio. Harry gave me a small mushroom sculpture and I still have it. In fact I was looking at it a short time ago and it told me to write this blog post, so I did,