Craig Scogin is a friend of mine, a fellow Truchas artist and part of the gallery I share with Anna here in Truchas, the Anna Karin Gallery. He created this piece for the Readers Write section of the blog. I love hearing from you all and hope you, too, will submit something. Love to you, Jeane
Of Sensation and Memory
by Craig Scogin
As a photographer, I’ve worked at being visually aware all of my life. In most cases, this awareness has been directed to making photographs and it hadn’t occurred to me that it was somehow incomplete. Then came an experience that pointed the way to something deeper.
Epiphany came at Delicate Arch. Like so many others, I arrived at Arches National Park with camera in hand. In the end, I had to be reminded to use it. I’m reluctant to use words like transcendent but there was some force that banished all thought outside of that particular point in space and time. I took the time to cultivate a memory, then made my photograph. I think it a good one, but must confess it pales in comparison to the memory.
Memories tend to link up for me. One suggests another. I remember watching an infant, whose attention was utterly fixed on the sound and motion of leaves in the wind. Watching this child learn about the world, I was reminded to pay attention to my own senses. In yet another connection, I remember a photograph of Jeane’s Finn confronted with a rainbow. He seemed to know that it was something special. I can’t resist a smile as I wonder what he was thinking. Of course I can never truly know the mind of another being. As Socrates said millennia ago: “The only thing of which I am certain is that there is nothing of which I am certain.” Still, I’m smiling and Finn was paying attention.
Life has blessed me with simplicity and solitude in a remarkable place to apply my senses. It is often these senses that remind me I’m alive. Before coming to Truchas, my mind was full of career and the needs of others. Much of the wonder around me went unnoticed. Here, in the mountains of northern New Mexico, the wonder is quite unavoidably “in my face.” It defines my life.
Many years ago, I encountered a statement by the photographer Minor White: “Be still with the object of your attention until it affirms your presence.” This strikes me as good advice for living more completely as well as for making or examining photographs. It also implies more than a glance. For me, it has become important to be attentive to the commonplace, to judge nothing as “ordinary.” I see much value in giving some of these experiences some conscious time, extending the moment and experiencing a flow. There is also value in repeating my observations. The more I sense, the more alive I feel. I’m working to banish any trace of a “been there, done that” attitude. More is more.
Some memories defy me photographically:
The trees, in a sort of afterlife, surrender their spirit to the flames and warm the cat dozing under the wood stove.
The hushed silence of a world transformed by snow
Dogs that sigh and cats that snore
The sound of water in ancient Spanish ditches
The cycles of the sun, moon and stars that define time and humanity
The awkward harmony of the dogs singing their presence and
the sad recognition that now there is only one
The luminescent green trails of meteors in a clear dark sky
In silence, The airy beats of the raven’s wings
The fragrance of the earth after the rain in summer
The strut of wild turkeys in the yard
The icy dry squeak of snow underfoot
The voices of unseen owls while I sit at my telescope
The flavor of anise in New Mexico’s traditional cookie, the biscochito
Being examined by hummingbirds
Other memories have a wonderful visual unity that calls for the camera:
The blessings of the senses to all. I am waking up. I can recommend it.