Perception vs. memory
In Copy of a Copy, Koestler
distinguishes between making and looking at photographs, actions which
have become almost simultaneous but once were separated by developing.
In 2017 on the art and music archive My Idea of Fun, he described how
time changes perception: “Often times after waiting for film processing
and scanning, these actions can be remembered differently ...
simultaneously obscuring history through subjectivity and also
presenting new, clearer connections.”
addition to archival pigment prints, the exhibit includes handmade books
describing a challenging nature hike similar to the Appalachian Trail.
Notes preserve experience differently from pictures, but even they are
read differently by new eyes. For Koestler’s series Walking to Mexico
(2017), viewers bring more to the table than ever, thanks to our
superheated political climate. Four photographs depict how we imagine
the southern border. Two depict walls: A chain link fence with a
human-sized hole, and towering posts of reinforcing steel, waiting for
concrete. Another shows the stump of what was a magnificently gnarled
tree, perhaps leveled to improve border security. Finally, a sad
landscape as seen from the trail is divided into smoggy skyline, brushy
middle ground and closest, a pipe spilling noxious liquid on the ground.
Several images come from the series Everybody Wants Somewhere
(2017). The most absorbing are twins, “West Coast View (Overexposed)”
and “West Coast View (Underexposed).” Seen across a gallery, the former
seems an empty canvas while its sibling appears a black hole. Details
emerge on approach, but it never feels like everything is visible. This
is Koestler’s point: from a distance, things tend to look black or
white. To understand, you have to get closer.
- Pamela J. Forsythe
Broad Street Review