Barn and Silo ~ New Jersey and West Virginia
Top: West Virginia Highway 92 just north of County Route 92/4 • August 24, 2009
By Ebenezer Baldwin BowlesPosted on December 10, 2010, from Fayetteville, Arkansas
A barn on the rural landscape, especially an old barn with extraordinary character, speaks to the imagination through the soft voices of nostalgia and the agreeable harmonies of pastoral reverie. The barn's character rises from multiple and diverse expressions of reality and fancy: of shape and color, of architectural design and practical function, of placement on the landscape and concord with other structures and elements of nature that surround and enfold it.
Old barns make the favorites list for a good number of backroads travelers and photo gallery surfers. Like sunsets, animals, waterfalls, flowers, and mountain vistas, these icons of rural life populate the portfolios of photographers with comforting predictability. "I like pictures of old barns," she said. Yes. But why?
I'll admit: The old-barn motif isn't one of my passions. But I can't resist when forces of Art and Desire are set into motion. After the journey has begun and the backroads sensibility gains full control of my imagination, the old barn becomes a prime player on the passing scene. Some are so downright interesting — so handsome, so distinctive, so representative of a bygone era — that they cry out to the wandering traveler. Stop! See what you may before you pass by, once and for all.
Drawing Near in West Virginia
The essence of a thing intrigues me, sometimes to the detriment of setting and context. I tend to burrow toward the microcosm, as if the act of perception becomes heightened and enhanced by my drawing closer and closer to the surface and the shell. Go close enough and deep enough, and I may discover the source.
Two viewpoints of each barn and silo are offered here. As companion images, each pair is created from the same master set of pixels to illustrate the interplay of choice and perception, the conflict between far and near. In the one we draw back to search the big picture for clues to relatedness and insights into the harmony of integrated forms. In the other we draw in to reveal entry points to essence and origin.
The agricultural landscape speaks to romantic ideals of rustic charm and rural innocence, a place removed from the fray, where man seeks an equitable accommodation with nature. (O, were it only true.)
The architectural portrait selects and eliminates, emphasizing precise relationships and defining characteristics. It can highlight meaningful comparisons and contrasts between objects in close proximity to one another, or pare down a thing to its elemental features.
In this light, a created thing — the electric image, the oil on canvas, the quartet for strings, the ode to beauty — becomes a narrowing, the remainder, the final stopping point to a series of choices. You surmise at the heights to go on forever, but then of a sudden the created thing is done, set aside, released into the world.
Or, you can simply enjoy the show for a moment or two — and be done with it.
Drawing Near in Jersey
L I N K S
A Google Eye's View of the West Virginia barn and silo
Joseph Dempsey's Photo of the Week
D & D Farm Center
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Friday, December 10, 2010