Whenever I am indoors, I seek sightlines to outdoors. When I am outdoors, I am often intrigued by objects that frame my view, and by outside scenes created when it appears I am looking inside. A window has a frame. A window is a frame. Are you inside looking out, or outside looking in? Is there a difference? Where do your daydreams lead?
A shop window is at its best when selling dreams that might be provided inside: inviting you to share the vision. Here, during Window Arts Malden, you see a window, as a frame, with a window frame inside, which, in turn, frames other windows.
I hope my windowscapes will allow you to imagine yourself somewhere other than where you are. A real place. That you could reach. If you could only get through the frame. Let your mind take you there.
What else is it about windows?
That text (above) was my artist’s statement for Window Arts Malden 2008. My 40″ by 30″ window of windows hung for a month in a realtor’s large, street-facing window, alongside the property listings. I built my window out of thick foam core and framed the photographs within its panes.
Back in 1998, my part of a class photo exhibit was called “Paths toward Infinity.” I wrote
Infinity: endless repetition of a pattern or idea . . . believing you can see farther than you can physically see . . . drawing your eye toward forever, spatially, or in time . . . Open Space.
When I look at my windows framing windows, I think about iteration, like a loop in programming when a piece of code calls on itself, which calls on itself, which calls on itself. Of course the program has to have a way out, an “if” statement that ends the loop. When you write code without an “if” that will end iteration, you end up with an “infinite loop”: the classic picture of the picture, which is a picture of the picture, which is a picture of the picture, and so on.
The entry to the Beebe school plaza in Malden is covered by a gable roof, which leads to an arched overhang, which leads to a faux-gable with a door underneath. The door is comprised of and surrounded by windows that reflect the trees behind me and the sky above. The shapes repeat, which draws me in, and then I escape back out the windows themselves.
The shadow of the house next door repeats the roofline and carries my eye to the weather’s transition from blue sky to storm.
In this photo of our neglected garage, the fence line disappears into the reflection. Note the grassy yard. After the back porch was built by a previous owner, the garage became inaccessible by car. Essentially, our driveway goes nowhere.
Mom sewing by the window continues the flower theme and includes window panes. Admittedly, this photo was a bit of a stretch for including in my piece, but sheesh: it’s Mom!
Nana’s garage window looks through another window to John’s Bay off the coast of Maine. Inside the garage is a ladder. It leads to a stuffy storage space where you can’t stand, much less reach for the sky.
My Dad hates this window. It isn’t weather tight. It sometimes leaks. He wonders if the carpenter ants have left it with little structural integrity. Nonetheless, it’s one of my favorite windows, framing the ocean’s movement to the horizon and pointing up to the boundless sky. On the right is Papa’s well-worn chair. The frame is held together with wire. Perhaps his ghost stares off into the distance. That there is little boundary between the window and the elements might add to the interplay among windows, frames, and boundaries. But it does get cold up there.
Window frames come in all shapes and sizes. Only about 2 feet high, this massive frame peeks through tiers of brick and masonry to reveal other sections of Murat, Switzerland’s fortification.
This is another of my favorite windows, in La Chantuneda, the house in Samedan, Switzerland once owned by my partner’s parents. The handle allows you to open it horizontally or to tilt the top to let in the delectable mountain air: great mechanics surrounding a spectacular alp.
Although my windows provide me escape, I take some of them with me because of juxtapositions I find humorous: beautiful flowers mirrored in decaying garage windows; Swiss engineering paired with a traditional alpen tourist photo; and this one.
One day I was stuck in traffic in Cambridge on Rt. 16 next to the Alewife Brook, which is completely obscured by trees. I had plenty of time to admire the blossoms and, because I had just gotten my digital SLR and so it was on the seat beside me, snap multiple photographs. I was motivated by beauty, but then had to capture the irony of my sitting in a car emitting noxious fumes, penned in by a long line of frustrated drivers, and myself not fuming, but appreciating urban nature.
Windows, frames. Views, shapes. Reflections, iteration. My infinity.