Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Theory of Forms present ideas about reality, the material world of change, and higher truths. He asserts that what we experience in life without education or enlightenment is like the experience of a prisoner chained in a cave watching shadows of reality on the wall. The higher truth or reality is not what we experience in the changes of everyday sensation – this mundane world is transient and is a shadow of higher truth.
In a sense, photography is a shadow of reality. It captures a moment of something ever-changing. But is this moment perhaps the embodiment of this reflection – a way of capturing and preserving the shadows of reality, and thus providing a greater exemplar of a higher truth than our experiences alone? Can photographs provide a means of searching for and seeking a higher truth? As the character Joy stated in the stage version of Shadowlands, “See yourself in the mirror, you’re separate from yourself. See the world in the mirror, you’re separate from the world. I don’t want that separation anymore.”
I am seeking a reconnection with reality through these images. In keeping with Plato’s Allegory, I have created a shadow world, but I have added real elements interacting with the shadows, exploring ideas of religion, spirituality, music, human relationships, and even sports.
Here are some of the final images in the series as well as some of the working stages and experiments I created along the way. I’ve also included two model images – one for my Michelangelo image of the hand of God and Adam’s hand, as well as the snake I used as a model for that in the “Got Sin?” image. In the end, I reversed the snake and then had to completely re-draw it in Photoshop. Finally, I added a tongue and blurred the whole snake to make it look as if it is farther back in the image. I’ve also included the original version of the image with the black and white apple. In the end I thought the color apple made more of a statement, although I’m not usually drawn to the use of selective color in this way. I’ve also included two experiments with bricks behind the shadows in “Whisper” and in “Bang Bang”. These are alright, but in the end I chose the plain backgrounds for consistency with most of the other images as well as clarity in “reading” the images. I’ve also included a couple of draft versions of “Reach.” In the end, I just used the two hands, one real and one shadow. As you can see I gravitated toward hands in this series.