“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.
DOUBLE VISION followed. When interviewing James he had no particular recollection of any single reason behind the inspiration for creating, via multiple exposures, two Muses of the same model, Cleveland, on a single piece of film. Continuing his explorations on how far he could push creativity through the camera is always part of it, but what else? He only had this idea of creating scenes duplicating his Muse.
It was told that Cleveland had inherited some eight valuable acres of wooded property by Edgartown Pond, and it included a modest, small rectangular single story home. Plain white shingles covered its exterior, but its interior was decorated in an eclectic color palette. Each room, and there were only five, including the bathroom, had seem to have a story to tell.
The first piece, ROOM OF BLUES, was created with the idea of the Muse waking in the morning after an evening slumber party with herself. 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.
He built this external shutter after this shot was it was taken. For this photograph he razor cut black velvet paper in half, placing 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 critical to success, he flipped up one half of the black velvet and exposed the Muse lying on her bed. Then the shutter is re-cocked, the flip of the black velvet is reversed, the Muse is moved to the chair, and the second exposure, for the other half of the film, is made. The result he says “was his most successful bit of good fortune” using this process. To have the left and the right sides match up so seamlessly may be a true testament to left-right brain collaboration; although questioning if he could ever make it repeatable.
The external shutter he subsequently made did manage near perfect double vision results of THE KITCHEN (not shown), and some other visual themes. The system needed tweaks, but conventional photographic techniques were able to deal with any slight blending required.
Image 64 shows CELLO SCULPTURE from the DOUBLE VISION series full out and in tilts, pans, zooms.
Another approach was taken in the making of CELLO SCULPTURE. Again using the View Camera, the first exposure was taken using natural light from a window at left coming into the room showing the Muse playing her cello. Prior to pressing the shutter the window just to the left of her was blocked with black velvet paper.
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 was now blocked leaving the room in the dark. Only the scene out of the viewable window was now visible. To create that scene he had his Muse pose herself outside like a garden sculpture seen through the window, and took the 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 lite for the first exposure. The mirror was cleared and lighting reversed for the second exposure to show the Muse relaxing in the tub with her cup of tea besides her. James mentioned the space being very small, which made it challenging.
Image 66 shows PEEK-A-BOO from the DOUBLE VISION series full out and in tilts, pans, zooms.
The last among his four favorites is PEEK-A-BOO, and this his selected version. Many of his photographs have several versions. The theme for this one is sneaking a peek at yourself. The process was like that of CHELLO SCULPTURE. The exposure of the foreground of her peeking was lite 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.
THE END of Scene Nine