Form Does Not Follow FunctionMonday, June 28, 2010
The wife of a friend of mine in Texas reads my blog occasionally and says that many times I am much too dark. She asserts that I should also photograph my grandchildren smiling and not make them look somber. I tried to explain that the difference of approach could be that she is an Anglo and I am partly a Latin. I did not add that I lived in Mexico for many years and that I learned to understand and admire the Mexican approach to death. It is one of acceptance and not avoidance. It is also discussed in your face without euphemisms.
What you see here is a scan of two spent blooms of the English Rose William Shakespeare. It is not a sturdy rose. In fact it was such a bad rose by the perfectionist standards of the hybridizer David Austin that he had the temerity to de-list it and he removed it from the market. A few years later he introduced an improved William Shakespeare 2000. I can attest that the improved rose is much healthier and gives me many more blooms. But there is something about the regular William Shakespeare and its flowers when they are past their peak that attracts me and reminds me of death. Not a death that I must avoid and not think about. These blooms are beautiful in their decay (albeit a dry one). Even though they are spent they retain an intense old rose (fruity) scent.
It was last week that I gave a class at Van Arts and we shot four models in a back alley. The students had to learn how to mix flash (shot through a soft box) with the existing light of the alley. In 2010 parlance my students told me I was teaching them key-shifting. In the old days of the 1960s Peter Gowland would over-blast blondes (in bikinis) frolicking on beaches and we called it sychro-sunlight. Both Gowland’s models and the ones we had last week were young and perfect.
Without wanting to deprecate their looks (they were beautiful) they reminded me of the photographs that have inundated the internet. They are bright, colourful, and so perfect that they do not look real.
Today I went with Rosemary to our Kerrisdale London Drugs. I purchased a pair of Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit CF-130 orthotic inserts for my shoes. I hope to find relief from the intense pain I have been feeling in my right heel/ankle. As we walked out of the store I spotted a strange young tree in a new house across the street. The tree was a Styrax japonica which is a lovely tree with small and delicate white flowers that have a fine scent. This specimen had large red rose-like blooms. We crossed the street and I saw that the owner had strung up a garland of fake plastic red roses on the tree.
We ate chicken at Nando’s and out of our window there was a huge late model Mercedes. The man driving it got out. He was wearing a short-sleeved blood red shirt with a black tie. I wondered if he was wearing a Staples uniform. Rosemary told me, “He thinks it is an elegant shirt.” I looked at the car again and explained that it was a design terror. Nothing seemed to work. It was a mishmash.
The plastic roses on the tree, the ugly Mercedes the perfect models in the back alley. They are all signs of the time. We are living in a transition. It is a time when form (beauty) does not follow function.
I will take the somber, the sad, the used up, the past its peak, the dying and the decaying. There is beauty there if you stop to look. Perhaps the reason is that it all defines what I am.