Je Ne Sais Quoi
Articulate and humor-filled descriptions of his creative process informed and entertained an eclectic audience at the Griffin Museum of Photography at Digital Silver Imaging‘s gallery talk last evening. Photographer and videographer, Jonathan Stark, waxed poetically on the feelings evoked by France, shooting with film and the “magical faith-based” moments of creating art.
Armed with 3 Nikon cameras, loaded with color and black and white film, Stark approaches his work with an open respect for the dialog between the subject – animate or not – and the shooter. Eagerly seeking resonance with his subject his goal is to “capture the energy.” The most important lens being that of his own emotion, imagination, and aesthetic. His desire to make a photograph overrides any sense of timidity or inclusion in another’s intimacy. Ask him about shooting the Hassidim in Jerusalem preparing for Passover.
A curious documentarian, Stark, exposes himself to the culture and ritual he discovers while traveling. What separates a photograph from a snapshot? In his view it is the willing involvement of the shooter to engage and exercise a disciplined and attentive awareness to one’s inner vision. An artist transforms the obvious, moving beyond mere representation. Stark notes black and white photographic images convey emotion and render moments timeless in a way color cannot.
A diehard film fan, he favors the nuance of a silver gelatin print which cannot be mimicked by “spraying” ink on paper. Giclee and silver gelatin are different animals. Just as a diamond traveling across vinyl picks up the peaks and valleys of sound in a manner not replicated by high definition electronic transfer – we sense the difference in output despite the ability of our eyes to register the minute pixilation used in ink jet printing.
Darkroom magic is that inexplicable happening when the image unfolds its secrets – the culmination of subject, light, exposure, framing, and myriad processes, both human and chemical, that birth a photograph. In Stark’s opinion art reflects relationship.
Stark approached Digital Silver Imaging’s output as an experiment. He was both pleased and surprised with the results. “Digital Silver Imaging’s printing technology enabled me to take a color transparency and convert it to black and white, which revealed the character that appealed to me, but had not translated in color. The DSI silver gelatin print made the image sing.”