RAYMOND GEHMAN’S ARTIST STATEMENT;
I’m in Motion. The World is in Motion….The image I see is in motion--a passing, fleeting glimpse. I shoot it quickly, somewhat haphazardly, and with a great faith in good karma because, after all, I am in the process of piloting an automobile!
But this is what I love, the 3-second rush of time as I’m flying along in my car and just ahead I see a splendid convergence of light and subject form. Two old oak trees in a meadow backlit by a sinking sun--tucked between a trailer home and a small house. A water tower that teeters between the trees and power lines, just beyond my rear-view mirror. An old wooden farm house, sun-baked and paint less, blankly staring back at me, its windows lifeless. A thousand tons of concrete highway overpass, that fills the sky and then my windshield as I pass underneath.
With the camera in my right hand, and the car’s steerage in my left, I swing the camera past my open window frame and snap the scene. And then it’s behind me, in my side or rear-view mirror, settling back into stillness.
One may wonder, one could even ask—Why don’t I just stop the car and take the damn picture if I think it’s such a great moment? Because the views we see from our car’s windows as we drive through our daily routines are just that—routine. They are imprinted on our brains, dull and over-used. If I stopped to photograph them, they would appear as a sharp and well composed, but similar to a thousand other images I’ve made. My purpose in shooting from a moving car is to infuse animation, mystery and spirit back into those weary icons of the road.
The normal world, as I see it framed by my car’s window or windshield, is rendered as an extended moment, an impressionistic blur of color and light--NOT a quick 1/500th second slashed snapshot of time. I think of the camera as a blank canvas, leaving its shutter open much longer to light than the normal click it/freeze it. My forward motion captures a stretch of receding landscape, the camera’s scanning and reinventing the scene as I fly by. Houses, horses, trees, and telephone poles… cars, clouds, flowers and forests…gas stations, porta-potties, water towers, and way-faring strangers…these all become transformed into a surreal liquid landscape. Routine roadsides are stretched, blurred and blended into places with new, animated faces.
The camera technique and settings I use give these images a sense of kinetic, animated impressionism. Not quite real, not always recognizable, but hopefully a dreamy, somewhat nostalgic blend of light, colors and shapes. To “see” these images, it helps if we suspend our routine visual reactions to daily, ordinary sights. The images seek an emotional connection with us that’s found further back in time, somewhere in our distant memories, perhaps way back to when we were still children, riding along in the car behind mom and dad, staring out the window at the fleeting world, and all things seen were curious and new.
A TECHNICAL NOTE…
The motion and blur in these photographs is created in the camera, not later in the computer with Photoshop. The effect is achieved by using a slow shutter speed combined with the car’s movement. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But that’s the beauty of it I think. I have one chance as I pass by a good moment of light and subject. If I capture it to some artistic degree, great! And if I don’t, well I imagine I’ll pass by it again some day soon, because most of these photographs were made within ten miles of my house!