Blindness 3

Blindness 3

Detail from a reproduction, Madonna del Parto, Piero dela France

Detail from a reproduction, Madonna del Parto, Piero dela Francesca.

This is one of my most favorite paintings. It’s presence alone is humbling and timeless, but add to that the fact of the painting: I think it is a smart and inspiring ‘essay’ on the additive primaries (before optics and the properties of light had been empirically described), red, green and blue; and other technical aspects such as: Piero painted this at the height of his prowess with fresco, and still took tremendous risks, successfully; and the sum of it all generates a constant, murmuring infatuation.

And its presence seeps into my work in other ways. Looking back at the photograph of Jeoann and Shiloff, I now think of the gamut that stretches between vision and render. Seeing is survival. But seeing beyond seeing is generally denied by visual event after visual event, the maddening crowd of image. Image, the golden calf. So, does seeing become a kind of blindness? I don’t want to belittle or intellectualize Jeoann’s terrible blindness, quite the opposite. I wonder, deeply, at how much and what she now sees, and how her will may or may not bring her to this same imaging in the Madonna del Parto – of seeing beyond seeing. (And another thought runs alongside like an annoying sweat bee: am I now disagreeing with the oft quoted, among photographers at least, ‘seeing leads to vision’?)

A technical note about this photograph: I took it with a borrowed camera, a Canon 5D Mark II, and a Zeiss Planar 1.4/85mm lens. Delicious! (Thank you Rachel Malde and Roger Vail!)