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The Lens

The Lens

This is one of the images from my series Artifacts of an Uncertain Origin .I've been making photographs for this series with a wooden pinhole camera and black and white medium format film since the summer of 2006

I am often asked what this series is about, which is not an easy question to answer, since there is more than one answer. On the most basic level it is a series of still lifes in the landscape. But there are other levels than just that superfical classiifcation. Each image has it's own story and can lead in a a variety of directions, just as different doors will open into different rooms and passages. These photographs are a bit like doorways. What you find once you enter them depends on who you are and what you see. Apropos that thought, and the concept of seeing, here are some musings on The Lens..


As photographers, lenses are important to us. We see the world through the lenses of our eyes and we create our images with the lens on our camera (the irony in this photograph is that it was made with a wooden pinhole camera that does not have a lens!).

But the idea of a lens is significant beyond the purely photographic associations. A lens focuses light, bringing our attention to specific areas, magnifying some parts while blurring others. Lenses help us see better, farther, and more clearly. A lens can reveal to us that which is hidden beyond the horizon of natural vision, showing us things we cannot see with our own eyes. Our perception of the world and our journey through it is shaped by the lens of our past experiences, deeply held beliefs, future hopes, dreams, and the river of emotions that courses through us.

One of the most significant concepts that influences my experience with photography, both in creating and viewing images, was expressed perfectly by the photographer and philosopher MInor White when he wrote that "One should not only photograph things for what they are, but for what else they are".

At the most basic level, this image is both a still life and a landscape, a photograph of a lens at the edge of the sea. But beyond that there are other levels. What you see, in this photograph or in any photograph, will depend upon who you are and the nature of your own lens.

© 2011, 2012 Seán Duggan • all rights reserved

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