counting the vases
I did know perfectly well that I hadn't seen a ghost this morning, or even the visual whisper of an intruder slipping past - but standing at the kitchen sink there was a definite sense of something moving, almost seen one moment, and then gone the next. It only took another instant to realize that what had happened involved a thick transparent glass vase: as I moved my head, so a sense of movement somewhere in my right field of vision was created, as two sides of the glass, and the glass of the window, all came into a kind of slippery dialog with one another.
How to photograph this sensation? It would be easy enough to have taken a little video of the phenomenon, but instead I opted for something closer to the subject of the reading for tomorrow's class, involving digital manipulation, creating what was never there in more ways than one. For of course my own optical experience was a momentary illusion. But there was only ever one vase. In this image there are - how many? Three? But then there's a spectral presence of part of a fourth (between the two on the left hand side). This is a composite image: I fed five images, taken sequentially, right to left - it could have been the other way round - into Photoshop's sophisticated Merge feature. It spat out one of them as superfluous, or unnecessary, or just plain unmergeable, and pieced the others together almost seamlessly (I had to do a little cosmetic work with the blur tool to get rid of some obvious patching on the window ledge), using the building in the background as its touchstone for what needed joining together. But I left the ghost vase bottom: it signaled both my original experience of thinking that I had seen something that was in fact illusory, and deliberately points to the artificiality of the digital construction. It's an image that's based on the "real", obviously, but equally obviously refuses to behave like documentary evidence.