For this post, I’m going all the way back to 2005, when I bought my first DSLR and went to Vietnam and Cambodia on a whirlwind low budget two week trip. I mean seriously low budget. My friend Franz and I got a room together in Hanoi for $6 a night, and our room in Siem Reap by Angkor Wat was $4. We were there before the tourism boom, and were still able to climb all over the temples in Cambodia. It was magical. I spent years thereafter trying to find the next Angkor Wat, finally realizing in Mandalay in 2013 that you don’t ever find it again, and that you cheapen each new experience by comparing it to the precious memory.
Anyway, I was very much a beginning photographer at this point, and still calling myself “a painter with a really good camera.” When I got home, I took my new camera on a couple local excursions, including one to the Chiricahua National Monument. I took images from Angkor Wat and used Photoshop to combine them with images from the Chiricahuas in a series called Juxtapositions.
I still find the results of this photoplay magical. Parallels and similarities exist in the most disparate places and environments. All you have to do is look and you will find them.
This was the first image I made. Something about the natural erosion of the rock being at the root of the temple design. I’m sure someone more skilled than I at Photoshop could manipulate the connection between the two images to be more seamless and organic, but I kind of like that you see them as connected at first and then the hard edge between them delineates their separation.
This last one is maybe a bit more subtle. I love the shape between the mountain ridge and the statue’s neckline. There was a teacher at Pratt who taught me to see. I remember him holding his hands up, palm facing palm, parallel and saying “this isn’t beautiful.” Then he slightly altered the angle and position of each so they were no longer parallel but complimentary and said “this is.” I am certain that those weren’t the exact words he used, but I understood in that moment how to juxtapose two things together.
If only it were so easy with people.