All my images begin with photography. Over several decades of art-making, I have altered photographs of myself and my personal environment by employing the distorting effects of handmade cameras, by linking pictures through direct collage, by painting on the surface of finished photographs, and by transforming them as photo-etchings. Finally I have begun to feed them to the everpresent computer.
Current images about one's unstable sense of self in an unpredictable world are driven by archetypal images derived from dreams. Often I begin with pinhole photographs, because they extend the serendipitous nature of the photographic medium, supplying me with pictures that seem to come directly from the unconscious, the source of dreams. The process is enhanced by the reinterpretation of everyday experience through meditation and disciplined yoga practice. For me, the images reflect our anxious experience of ongoing metamorphosis as elusive, fragile constructed identities shift throughout life. The contemplation of images emerging from the unconscious supports a search for peace, both an individual peace of mind and a shared universal peace.
Most of the original pinhole pictures for the Contemplating Peace diptychs are made outdoors through very long exposures (more than half an hour) in a large corrugated cardboard pinhole camera that holds 11x14 fiber-base photographic paper. I participate in the extended exposure time by holding quiet yoga poses or meditating or simply watching leaf shadows shift on the lawn. The time becomes a slow and fruitful contemplation of peace. After development, I generously (or subtly) alter some of the paper negatives by drawing with Prismacolor pencils or paintingwith Marshall's photo oils. Then I scan the painted pinhole photographs to my computer for further manipulation in Photoshop where the files are stacked in a tight diptych format creating tall extended frame digital prints. This vertical extension enhances meaning by referencing dualities and hierarchies, and by suggesting either progressions or simultaneous events. Between frames comparisons can be made, narratives invented, real and imagined worlds linked. In some images the device works to extend the observable visual space, while in others quite separate spaces (perhap sinternal and external states of being) are implied.
Scanned objects, ordinary oddities from my growing collection of inherited family "treasures" have made their way into my Contemplating Peace series. For "Waiting," I placed a pinhole self-portrait made under a tree in my front yard above a direct scan of the contents of my grandmother's sewing box, the tape measure delineating a life, the cascade of spools and thread and yarn reaching down like roots below the ground.
Excerpt from Focal Press text "Elements of Photography" by Angela Faris Belt
Contemplating Peace: Conversation
Contemplating Peace: Waiting
Contemplating Peace: Frozen Pond and Miriam's Rings
Contemplating Peace: Corpse Pose
Contemplating Peace: Dark Buddha
Contemplating Peace: Hiding
Contemplating Peace: Pat & Sven's Pond
Contemplating Peace: Couplings
Contemplating Peace: Two Buddhas
Contemplating Peace: Open the Window
Contemplating Peace: Tower
Contemplating Peace: Sunspots
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SPEakOp (SPE Opinion) is a series of think-pieces.