“Photography As ART” script shows how James creates his art using only light, camera, and optics, in addition to considerable logistical planning, technical experimentation, patience and dedication.
Major themes for creating a series of photographs can take months and years, but the creative search never ends. James always carries a camera and after “Aliens” looked to cellos, rose pedals and fallen leaves for inspiration.
Image 58 and 59 show cello versions, followed by 60 with rose pedals, and 61 a single discovered archived photograph taken in fallen leaves.
Image 62 shows ROOM OF BLUES from the DOUBLE VISION series full out and in tilts, pans, zooms.
The DOUBLE VISION series followed. When interviewing James, no particular recollection came to his mind for what gave inspiration to creating this series, except for the condition of seeing double. The idea was to make the Muse, Cleveland, identical or fraternal twins in different scenarios, by taking two exposures on one-single piece of film. Continuing his explorations on different ways to tell stories visually through the camera is always provides motivational inspiration, but what else?
Young Cleveland’s story was that she had inherited from her grandmother eight valuable acres of wooded property by Edgartown Pond. It included a plain, small rectangular single-story house where she lived. White shingles covered its exterior, but its interior was decorated in an eclectic color palette. There were only five rooms, including the bathroom. Each provided a setting for a visual story.
The first piece, ROOM OF BLUES, was created with the idea of the twin Muses waking in the morning after an evening slumber party with her twin self. To pull it off he had his View Camera suffer from ocular misalignment by using an external shutter, or one that was outside of the camera.
Image 63 shows a contraption having two sliding panels that would perform like an external shutter. Then repeat back to Image 58.
I built this external shutter after taking the ROOM OF BLUES, but for this shot I took a razor to a large piece of black velvet paper, cut it in half, placed it about eight inches in front of the camera lens, and aligned the seam of the cut to the vertical edge of the bedpost. After setting the right aperture, which is a critical aspect for success, I flipped up one half of the black velvet and exposed the Muse lying on her bed. Then with the shutter re-set, I reversed the flip of the black velvet, asked the Muse to move to the chair, and took the second exposure. In this way, I combined two halves of the film, one with her on the bed and the other with her on the chair.
I understood how critical it was to use the correct lens aperture at the right distance from the black velvet shutter, but to have the left and the right sides match up so seamlessly may be the true testament to left-right brain collaboration. More likely it was just blind luck. It’s unlikely to be repeatable
The external shutter I made never worked out as well. The results of THE KITHCEN and some other themes, nice, but not shown required conventional darkroom blending to complete. Nevertheless, it will be up to the next experimental photographer to give it a shot and make it foolproof.
Image 64 shows CELLO SCULPTURE from the DOUBLE VISION series full out and in tilts, pans, zooms.
James took another approach in the making of CELLO SCULPTURE, for which again he used the View Camera. The first exposure was taken using natural light coming into the room from a window at left. This would illuminate the Muse playing her cello. Prior to pressing the shutter, the window just to the left of her was blocked with black velvet paper, therefor not exposing what was outside.
After taking this pose the shutter was re-set. Then the black velvet paper on the viewable window was removed and placed on the window that had provided the light for the first exposure. In other words, the light illuminating the inside was now blocked, leaving the room in the dark. Only the scene outside was now visible. To create that scene, he had his Muse pose herself outside like a garden sculpture to be seen through the window, and took a second exposure.
Image 65 shows MAKING UP from the DOUBLE VISION series full out and in tilts, pans, zooms.
This photograph called MAKING UP used a similar approach, only in this one, the mirror was blackened out with the foreground lit for the first exposure. The mirror was cleared and lighting reversed for the second exposure showing the Muse relaxing in the tub with her cup of tea on the side. This bathroom was very small and controlling the light was a challenge.
Image 66 shows PEEK-A-BOO from the DOUBLE VISION series full out and in tilts, pans, zooms.
The last among my four favorites from this series is PEEK-A-BOO. I usually make several versions and selected this one to show. The theme for this one is sneaking a peek at yourself. It’s also descriptive of the voyeuristic aspect of photography.
The process was like that of CHELLO SCULPTURE. The exposure of the foreground of her peeking was lit by a window on the left side. That window’s light was then blocked to darken this room, and a door was now opened at left in the background red room. The table lamp was turned on, the Muse moved to the chair (that had been there even in the first exposure) and the second exposure was taken. Love it!
THE END of Scene Nine