My photographs are made from collages which I construct specifically to be photographed in black and white. In a process that creates form as well as subject simultaneously, the collages are a means to an end and are discarded after the photographs are completed. The images are transformations which refer to and represent visual sensations which I know only from a mix of past encounters with other pictures, music, the world, dreams, and fantasies.
The word “representation,” for me, is about photography’s way of transforming things, as opposed to the idea of photography’s way of reproducing or tracing the supposed reality of things. Akin to poetry and prose, a photograph may be equally used to represent the mysterious or invisible.
Photographic syntax uniquely allows and restricts the visual transformation of whatever is silenced, stilled, and seen from the single frozen vantage point of the camera’s lens. I’m interested in how, when it all comes together into a new object—a picture—the creation causes a response that excites a genuinely real, fresh experience, one which did not exist before the photograph.
The studio and darkroom are much like scientists’ laboratories. Artist and scientist both tinker with the known in search of the unknown, and both have an aspiration to see realities never before seen. That desire is what motivates my work. I set myself free to explore the potential of the process itself, and continue to actively encourage chance, accident, and discovery.
As Albert Einstein has said, “One of the most beautiful things we can experience is the mysterious…It is the source of all true science and art. He who can no longer pause to wonder is as good as dead.”
My commitment, finally, is to the exploration of how little we know as compared to how much we think we know; and to how little we know as compared to how much we feel. To be able to make photographs which could convey such enigmas is my continuing obsession.
– Carl Chiarenza
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