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Children often collect crystals, bones, stamps, birds’ nests and bubble gum cards.  Are they attempting to emulate the random display of the bowerbird, or are they drawn to these singular objects because they have lives of their own, because they offer new realms to the limited horizon of a young person?  My feathers, bones, minerals, old books and more became personal artifacts, the sundry ephemera that expanded my world.  As a child I did not intellectualize upon my collecting.  Even now it is not systematic; it is intuitive, a part of me.

Introduction to Signs of Life

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I am interested in the way people think about the unknown.  For most of human history people have looked to the spirit world to explain what was going on.  Animals floated in the night sky, and each object had its own "Anima Motrix", its’ own moving spirit. By the seventeenth century clockwork explanations begin to invade the spirit world, opening doors to modern physics.  New ideas form, the old are shattered, and sometimes old ideas pop up again among the new like graffiti on a wall.  All is uncertainty and change, but optimists and bingo players are on the lookout for moments of perfect knowledge and perfect cards.

Anima Motrix

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After many years of photographing books, I have decided to explore in depth three possibilities: a few Ethiopian Bibles (to be accurate, books of psalms), a sixteenth century medical book by Ambrose Pare and an obscure Japanese manuscript.  Although I know what the text in the Bibles is, these Bibles with their palimpsests of leather, wood, paint, threads, and gazelle skin pages make me want to explore them visually.  I can read the English and some of the French edition of Pare, but Pare’s thinking is from another time, the edge of the enlightenment.   The only thing familiar about the Japanese manuscript is its basic form as a book. The images you see here are the beginning of an ongoing project.

Books

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In these images of books, I am exploring the relationship between visual and verbal thinking. 'What does this picture mean?' is a question I am asked over and over. Trying to explain what a picture means is much harder than paraphrasing a poem and both endeavors usually yield only clumsy bits of information.

The Eye’s Mind

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A photograph captures a moment but it does not necessarily render that moment as our eye sees it.  A normal lens with a tiny aperture will usually render with overall sharpness.  As the lens opens the plane of sharpness narrows until all but a narrow slice of image parallel to the lens is sharp, the rest dissolved in colored light.  A macro lens renders greatly magnified subjects with only a thin slice of sharpness.  As I look into the camera’s viewfinder I travel through each tiny subject.

Bugs

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Children often collect crystals, bones, stamps, birds’ nests and bubble gum cards.  Are they attempting to emulate the random display of the bowerbird, or are they drawn to these singular objects because they have lives of their own, because they offer new realms to the limited horizon of a young person?  My feathers, bones, minerals, old books and more became personal artifacts, the sundry ephemera that expanded my world.  As a child I did not intellectualize upon my collecting.  Even now it is not systematic; it is intuitive, a part of me.

Objects of Comfort and Despair

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My Husband John died of Alzheimer’s on December 8, 2016.  When He left home three years ago I began to find the little piles of notes he left behind.  They were supposed to remind him of everything from the names of friends to the places we went on our honeymoon.  As I photographed the stacks and individual notes, I began to imagine how things might have changed in his mind as he lost the ability to read and comprehend what the notes were to him.  As his Alzheimer’s progressed I began to imagine what his mind saw in many situations.  

Vanishing in Plain Sight

 © 2018 by Olivia Parker. Proudly created with Wix.com

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