(Note: my case study this week in inspired by some conversations I have been having on Facebook about visual trends in the online business worlds - in particular, idealized images of entrepreneurial everyday life: clean tables, steaming cups of cappucino in perfect ceramic mugs, brand-new journals, and a generally minimal/modern/pure look. Many of these images are beautiful, but there are so many of them it led me to begin to wonder about the underlying effect of these visual trends, and the values and ideologies they contain. Instead of writing a giant essay about it, I'm going to simply present alternative points of view in the form of case studies. Enjoy!)
CASE STUDY #3: THE PHOTOS OF LAURA LETINSKY
This image is LIGHT in color and value, but not in the ways present in so many visual trends right now. This light is complex and revealing.
Present in this light: stains, wrinkles. grease. rot. crumbs. When I look at this image, I am reminded that meaning - and presence of being - and breathing - are not found in the perfectly clean table top. Not in the perfect mug for my cappucino. Not in a perfect ANYTHING.
That here: amidst the dust and crumbs, amidst the table unwiped, the coffee gone cold or the cup that slips off the table and breaks, here in the aftermath of the meal and in the in-between spaces of living, is mystery too. Here is luminous air, powerful stillness. Here is meaning, and magic.
This is the kind of perfect I want. The one in which things die, in which I will die. In which things rot and the table goes unwashed. And in the middle of it I can sit and feel something sublime, and true, and unnameable. And beautiful.
The light graces everything, it does not discriminate - it is warm even in the forgotten space against the wall.
For any of us who aim to support the well-being of our clients, in any of the ways we do, isn't this a powerful message? Isn't this something like liberation: you are just right, you do not have to be perfect, the magic of being here is available to you, as your birthright, no matter what the state of your tabletop?
If you are gonna keep it light, make it a beauty that includes us all, in all of our moments. Make it a light that reveals, not a white that erases.
PROMPT for you:
Using your camera, go on a hunt for beauty - without "improving" anything, cleaning anything, or creating an illusion of some other kind of life. Its OK to "stage" things - this image being studied is clearly "staged" - but notice what you are tempted to conceal and reveal, and try playing around with that. Where is the beauty residing in the life you already have? Remember: this is still about seeking beauty, meaning, love for your space and your things. Its there: find it.
Feel free to come discuss your findings on Facebook in the Tactical Imagination Club.
See more of Laura Letinsky's work here.