Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Experimental Portraiture

The images on this page are some of the art/craft I make. When I do these the visual elements: rust, moss, corrosion, water, stone, and portraits of friends, feel like words in a poem. I employ combinatoric techniques with many attempts, of masking, layering, multiple exposures (or the digital equivalent), until new pieces appear.

If you want to buy a print email me.


the music forbids deep silence

Leonardo da Vinci
From his Treatise on Painting

"You should look at certain walls stained with damp, or at stones of uneven colour. If you have to invent some backgrounds you will be able to see in these the likeness of divine landscapes, adorned with mountains, ruins, rocks, woods, great plains, hills and valleys in great variety: and then again you will see there battles and strange figures in violent action, and expressions of faces and clothes and an infinity of things which you will be able to reduce to their complete and proper forms. In such walls the same thing happens as in the sound of a bell, in whose stroke you may find every named word you can imagine."

span of days

Susan Sontag
From Fragments of an Aesthetic of Melancholy


Because, first of all, they are a compendium of desires – contrasting, contradictory, impacted, immobilizing.
The desire to become fully visible, to be seen (at last) as one is, to be honest, to be unmasked.
The desire to hide, to be camouflaged. To be elsewhere. Other. The desire to impersonate someone else, but that is not other enough. The desire to escape from a merely human appearance: to be an animal, not a person, an object (stone? wood? metal? cloth?), not a person, to be done with personhood.
The desire to be emblematic. Impervious to age and the distress of flesh.
The desire to accede to the ruins of time, to be reconciled with the depredations of time, to become a ruin.
The desire to punish the self. The desire to place no aim before that of gratifying it.
The desire to dissolve the self into the world, the desire to reduce the world to matter, something one can inscribe oneself on, sink into, be saturated with. The desire to compete with one’s own image, to become image, artifact; art; form….
The desire to be stripped down, to be naked, to be concealed, to disappear, to be only one’s skin, to mortify the skin, to petrify the body, to become fixed, to become dematerialized, a ghost, to become matter only, inorganic matter, to stop, to die.

fall glintsilver


  1. Hi, James,
    I find your photo work very interesting, and I share your interest in Borges. I was looking for an English translation to show it to my colleagues in a class on the Origins of Language, at the 92nd st Y, given by an excellent prof: Noam Scheindlin, and found yours. It's a beautiful poem, isn't it; it mentions, among many other scholarly tips, Plato's "Cratylus", which we read in class. I assume you read Spanish, so you may want to take a look at my own blog, which has some English translations -made by myself- of my poems in Spanish.
    Best, Irene

  2. julia - xhulia_rw@hotmail.com6:27 PM

    I absolutely love your work. I've been an admirer for a while now.

    But I wanted to ask you something I've been meaning to about the Susan Santog piece you have up from Fragments of an Aesthetic of Melancholy. I was wondering where I could find this book. Or, well, whatever it is actually. I've lately been very taken with her work but I just can't seem to find this piece.

    If you could help me, it would mean the world to me. Thank you

  3. Hi Julia:

    Thanks for your lovely comment. The essay comes from a rare and extraordinary book, VERUSCHKA: TRANSFIGURATIONS. The 60's supermodel Lehndorff worked with photographer Holger Trulzsch to create haunting, transcendent, brilliant, sublime - words fail me - transformations of her body. You must see this book. If your library does not have it, get it on inter-library loan. I only have put in part of the essay, (i typed it in from the book) there is much more, and it is as intense.

    two links