Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Square Format Goodness

Open Doors

The square image has long fascinated me. Neither wide nor tall, preferring neither horizon nor height, the circle squared rests in perfect symmetry. Its essential removal from the traditional landscape places it at an ideal intersection of the human scale with the cosmic.

The square image demands balance, cohesion. Empty image space takes on geometric solidity, blocks and fields of tone balancing one another. Platonic idealism held in place by the tension brought about by lines intersecting edges, color a counterpoint to shape, texture against tone.

George Eastman's first Kodak camera, bringing photography to the masses, projected circular images onto paper negatives. Since then, the circle squared has adorned phonograph albums and CD covers, but is now eschewed for the stretched horizon of the cinema and HDTV screen, pinning the future of media firmly upon terra firma.

The square image is simultaneously idealism and abstraction, bringing with it a new way of seeing. Enjoy.

Composition With Yellow










Red Curb








Postscript: Photographic abstraction essentially removes the human element from imagery. These images were captured on a rainy Tuesday in Albuquerque, on the cusp between the once-wealthy Huning Highlands neighborhood of quaint Victorian-era homes, and the more modest houses of the Martineztown barrio. Families have come and gone since, fortunes won and lost, lives lived and died. The boarded up house in "Rectangles", presented as mere geometric abstraction, ignores the story of human tragedy represented by the artifact of a once-new house in a once-nice neighborhood, as does the seemingly discarded bedding in "Parallelogram", quietly asking whether some homeless vagabond sleeps here. So it is that these square format images, having become essentially graphical in nature, still retain some semblance of the realistic. They serve to remind us of the tenuous balance evident in all photographs, a tug-of-war between abstraction and realism, connotation and denotation.



Blogger Strikethru said...

Eek, the bloody foot!

I am always most drawn to the square photographs from my family's old picture collection. I miss the format. I agree, something about it satisfies the eye.

8:58 PM  

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