Monday, March 15, 2010

Abstract Realism in Photography 4: Point Lobos

images from Point Lobos Natural Preserve, CA, February 2010

I've written before about abstract realism in photography, about how form and content can be fractal.

One of the most interesting aspects of Point Lobos is how well the rock formations there lend themselves to discovering abstract forms, how the light creates shapes from rock and shadow, tree-limb and sky. The point is a designated nature preserve now, and so has retained much of its beauty, in spite of being highly visited over many years. The morning I visited Point Lobos on this roadtrip, the line to enter was long—it was a lovely day, and a holiday—and when I got to the park ranger entrance station, the ranger taking admission fees was very interested that I was there to make photographs. She approved of my activity, and thought I'd picked a good day for it.

The geology of Point Lobos, like many spots along the California coastline, is a mixed glop formed by many sequences of island arcs slamming into the coastline, creating it and widening it. Weathered sandstones sit directly on top of ancient ophiolitic seafloor, the same kind of gray peridotite that is formed by the magma upwelling in the mid-ocean ridges that stitch the moving tectonic plates together under our seas. There are conglomerates like jeweled veils, and mixed layers, and many other kinds of mangled, deformed, beautiful rock. The way the rock has been weathered by the sea is part of the beauty, as well, creating rounded and sculpted shapes that could have been made by any modern expressionist sculptor. Only water and wind and rock do it so much more powerfully, in the end. We can but respond to it, try to capture it.

There's something wonderfully mysterious about these abstract, natural forms. The play of light and form, shadow and shape, is somehow more vivid here, more remarkable. It's a place of astounding presence.

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Blogger Elisabeth said...

I am amazed by the artistry of the 'natural' landscape. These are such beautiful images here, Art. Thank you.

3:59 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. It's no surprise that many sculptors and other artists would turn to natural forms like these for inspiration, when their own wells temporarily run dry. There's so much more amazing things in natural forms than most people every imagine. It's a process of discovery and imitation, as much as of inspiration.

12:45 PM  

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