A New View of Blue

IN objective reality, photographs are probably not as valuable as screwdrivers. After all, familiar objects like screwdrivers, manhole covers, and belt loops keep the flow of daily life somewhat in valued order. Pants stay up. Things stay together. Streets don't have holes. Things get done.

But any experienced photographer knows this is a facade. Subjective reality, like laughter, is individual, a rebel presence in the screwdriver world.

When photographer Neal Menschel bent down next to a truck with empty water bottles, what struck him was not the familiar. Another set of values came together in the viewfinder of his camera. The utility of truck, bottles, containers, chains, and street light dropped away.

What did he see? I don't know. What I first saw here - through him - was a blue-cool arctic gathering of eyeless brutes, big-shouldered guys held back by chains and guarded by a one-eyed arthropod. This is fleeting imagery rooted in some bedrock fissure of my consciousness; but there it was, coming to me.

I would like to see this photo for the first time again. And then again. It pulled me quickly into the rebel world where symmetry, transparency, and an enigmatic blueness were a delight. The odd angle was not odd; all the parts, including the angle, fit tightly in my mind's eye. I wanted to be in this photo, standing somewhere in there as a witness to what was going to happen next.

I am convinced there should be a noise emanating from this blue scene, a kind of low, tense hum, a little like the sound of a field of crickets just as the sun goes down. And for some reason I hear wind too.

These big-shouldered guys are getting ready to do something. Be prepared. The screwdriver world probably won't like it.

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