January 20, 2015

Photo Essay: Noah's Art

Photography can be frustrating because, as a photographer, it's hard to judge a photo based on its own merit. You're always comparing it to what your eye saw, what was actually there.

And sometimes what you see through the lens, or on a digital display, isn't the same thing you see when you examine the photo on a larger screen.

When I visited Noah Purifoy's art installation near Joshua Tree (part of the High Desert Test Sites) two years ago, I wasn't so happy with the photos I got – but I was also overwhelmed by everything I saw there. It was hard to take everything in, even with my own eyes. My brain was overstimulated. I tried to focus my camera on individual elements, but the more pictures I took, the more I felt I'd failed in capturing the entire experience.

I've had a couple of years for the memories of Noah's Art to fade, and so when I looked back upon the photos I'd captured during my visit, I was much more pleased with them, and I thought it would be a shame not to share them.

So better late than never, here they are. I don't have any commentary for them because I'm still not exactly sure what I saw or experienced there, or what it all means. But I guess the beauty of art – and photography – is that it's up for interpretation. Every artist has his or her own narrative, and every art-lover has their own perception of that narrative. Sometimes they overlap. Often they don't.

It's the outlying areas in the Venn diagram – the emotional and cognitive diversity amongst humans – that make life interesting.

Noah's Art isn't just one installation, but actually a collection of art pieces and installations made out of found objects like car doors and bowling balls and tires, all assembled onsite between 1989 and 2004, with titles like Aurora Borealis and From the Point of View of the Little People. It looks much like the front yards and driveways of the homesteads out in the desert, with their rusty car parts and industrial archaeological artifacts. It was built for this area of the High Desert. Although it is baffling, it somehow makes sense here.

Related Posts:
Is It Art, Or Is It the Desert?
Photo Essay: Nitt Witt Ridge, One Man's Castle
Photo Essay: A Robot Christmas Nightmare at Robolights

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