January 1 marked the 10th anniversary of Pixetera, which began in 2012 as a photo/day project and continues to this day, albeit with less frequent posting. In my last update, I referred to 2020 as an awful year; unfortunately, 2021 was every bit as bad on a global scale, if not worse.
(Click on images to enlarge.)
From a creative standpoint, it’s been an eventful 12 months. I self-published my book of mashups, Compositopolis Journey, to mixed reviews—from me! Its general format consists of double page spreads that feature a pair of photographs: on the left, one of several original camera images that led, on the right, to the final composite. While pleased with the reproduction, my printer (a local company that does work for Blurb but charges its own customers half of Blurb’s prices) struggled with getting the trim right: in one proof, too much was cut off the top; in another, an equal amount was sliced off the bottom; in nearly every one, the title on the spine was off-center and/or slanted. The cover photo and text on the last—and final copy—was also misaligned. As a result, I’ve chosen not to make any copies available for sale, nor do another book. The whole experience in fact, including several work-arounds to make up for the printer’s failings, has destroyed any excitement I once had about self-publishing.
Another major project was an exhibit called “Springfield Then and Now” (STaN) that I conceived as a celebration of both Springfield’s illustrious past and present promise. The original idea was to pair large-scale photos of noteworthy historical figures with current residents who were following in their footsteps, in vacant storefront windows throughout the city. Having parted with my professional equipment ages ago, I invited a photographer friend, whom I thought was a good match for the job, to join me in the project. She in turn connected me with someone who had access to funding. STaN took about six months from start to finish and involved a ton more work than any of us anticipated but on balance I’m pleased with the way it turned out.
On the minus side, I would have preferred that we had a wider demographic mix of contemporary subjects, and multiple locations rather than a single downtown one with almost zero foot traffic. That’s where the money was though. Absent my original collaborators (I’ll spare you the unhappy details), I’m hoping to fix that in 2022 but it’s been a hard slog so far.
At the beginning of 2022, I find myself in a place that I’ve never been photographically. It comes after 40+ years doing commercial work, and a decade of serious personal expression: although I still enjoy taking pictures, I’ve become somewhat bored with the camera output, and pushed to “wring” more out of each image. That’s one reason I’ve gone down the composite path into abstraction. But even that seems to be running its course. I need to find either a wholly new approach to my photography—which may involve finally getting a real camera again to replace my iPhone—or doing something else entirely.
What would it be like to ditch my identity as an artist? Who would I be and what would I do in the new space that opens up afterwards? Intriguing questions to start the year!