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Twilight is a collection of
forty photographs by Gregory Crewdson.
They are carefully staged with a strongly cinematic feel. They are all untitled, and Crewdson gives no
explanation in the book about his intent.
However, they have thematic unity, and give the impression that they are
all set in the small town nestled in the hills, probably in New England. The exhibition prints are 48"x60"
so these reproductions are much smaller than the originals, and lose some of
the power that comes with the large size.
But these pictures still strongly convey mystery and unsettled
feelings. Nearly all the images here
depict scenes of unusual events, with several seeming supernatural or involving
signs of extraterrestrial life. Plate 5
shows a young man standing outside a house, at the end of the driveway, just as
night is starting. He is lit by a beam
of light from a source outside of the picture, coming from high up in the
sky. He looks up trying to see what it
is. Plate 8 shows a number of young
people out in the middle of a secluded street at the end of the day, probably
having just come from their houses, all staring at a large pile of flowers that
seem to have appeared in the road.
Plate 16 shows a young girl in her back garden, looking cautiously into
her garden shed, in from which a powerful light is shining, and butterflies
come out from the shed. In plate 19,
which is also the cover photograph, a house is flooded with about two feet of
water, and in the center of the picture, a young woman lies in a nightdress,
floating on the water. Her face carries
a preoccupied look, as she stares into space, as if she were having a rapturous
experience. On the stairs are her
slippers, and it seems that she has got into the water deliberately,
unconcerned about the damage done to her home. Outside, the sun is very low on
the horizon. In plate 32, three people
sit around their kitchen table eating dinner.
According to the clock on the wall, it is 7:20. A mature man and a younger man sit at each
end of the table, looking at each other, while a younger girl sits looking
down. None of them are eating. In the doorway, a naked older woman has just
come in the room, holding something in her hands, and having dragged in a
considerable amount of earth and flowers onto the carpet. The woman is looking haggard, and she seems
to be paying no attention to the others, who in turn pay no attention to her.
These eerie pictures seem to tell a
story, but the viewer can only guess what it is. It would be about the interruption of small town values, the
tensions within families, the division between the young and the old, the
significance of pregnancy and the power of nature. The images are simultaneously unsettling and intriguing, with a
strong sense of the absurd pervading them.
They bring to mind the TV series The X-Files or movies like Close
Encounters of the Third Kind, but their focus is on ordinary people coping
with strange events. It is striking
that none of the people express fear or even alarm in reaction to the odd
circumstances -- they look curious, contemplative, sad, or resigned. This work is an extraordinary technical
accomplishment, and at the end of the book, the production notes and credits
give some indication of the many people who were involved in the creation of
these images. While there was probably
some manipulation of the pictures in the darkroom or possibly with computer
software, most of the special effects were achieved through creating them in
real life. Nearly every picture has
very distinctive sense use of light, giving what could have appeared ludicrous
an aura of wonder and realism.
It is hard to assign any particular
meaning to this collection, and Rick Moody's typically self-indulgent, although
entertaining, essay at the beginning does not shed much light on it. However, Crewdson's work is likely to have
popular appeal and naturally different viewers will assign their own
interpretations. Crewdson's forthcoming
book should be even more exciting, judging from a recent exhibition of his work
and the samples available on the Internet.
with Gregory Crewdson
Egg show on Gregory Crewdson
© 2005 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of
the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at
Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online
Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine,
psychiatry and psychology.