Book Review for Shutterhub
‘New realities’ of the everyday, vernacular, and the familiar are reimagined by Stephen Posen in his book Ellipsis: Dual Vision, which takes a poetic and creative approach to how the world and the everyday might be explored. More than this, the book explores a relationship with imagery and between images that seems previsioned; a coming together of a depth of experience of simply and not so simply, seeing.
The pairing of images together gives this work its underlying structure, hence the Dual Vision of the title. The preface has Alexandra Posen reference Bachelard’s, The Poetics of Space, a book and influence I have long enjoyed in my own approach to image making. The notion being that the everyday, the things we see and take for granted such as a sea shell, a chest of drawers, a nest. Objects that are inhabited and used also have their own story, their own space in which to play a part in our lives; the elevation of the mundane.
Alexandra describes how her ‘father’s camera grabs at the incessant aesthetic happenings of everyday. The act of seeing becomes a giddy festivity of abundance.’
This sense of pure joy and delight is what we seek and sometimes gain in rare moments in our working and responsible adult lives, but Posen gives us an example of reconnecting with dreams, with the delight of a fresh vision and experience as though being allowed to re-experience the world anew.
Posen’s images speak for themselves, that is if you listen; reading images is a skill that develops and Posen challenges us further to explore this and find the metaphors that hold the meaning together. That said the book contains a preface, forward, introduction, and essay giving four perspectives on his work and the context of it. The written text gives viewers unfamiliar with Posen’s work a clear overview of his approach and also an indicator for how we as viewers might approach the work. It is completed with an Afterword from Posen on his process of collecting and curating his own work.
There are numerous images that catch my eye and make me smile: a simple pleasure of recognising a shape, a missing jigsaw piece that resonates with its chosen pairing of a ‘daddy long leg’ spider (page 33). The juxtaposition is sometimes a visual extension rather than mirroring. The images of tree, sky and pruned hedgerow paired with a birds nest in a roof top building (pages 48, 49) shares elements, aspirations, and allows us to layer a new narrative.
This is a clever book, we are asked to engage our intellect as well as our senses, the spatial awareness of puzzle solving, or the mapping of colour, pattern, texture to explore diverse images. Posen’s background as a painter is evident in the abstract approach to this body of work and yet the fundamentals of image making and photography frame the concept. Its essence may be the simplicity and fundamentals of pattern, line, form, colour, shape, texture, and light; but it is the juxtaposition and choice of how elements are paired that create this vision. Ellipsis meaning a gap or something missing, in this case the gap creates the space to re-read, re-vision and spark a little synapse in our own creative minds.
Posen, in the Afterword: Taking Inventory, reminds us of the role of the white border in framing meaning as well as imagery. For without this the images would bleed and merge, the absence or ellipsis would itself be absent. It’s in that ’third space’ that we see and create something new, just as Posen creates and offers us his ‘new reality’.
This is an enjoyable, creative exploration that engages our sense of play and stimulates the pleasure of connection between image, metaphor, poetry and abstraction. It’s a book to enjoy and revisit and just might inspire us as image makers to see a new reality in our own work and image making journey.