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This is a large book, both in the
size and number of the pages; at nearly 300, it is has many more photographs
than most collections of the work of individual photographers. Most are monochrome, with a subdued hint of
dark brown. The grain of the
photographs seems coarse, and rarely do the people, animals, or objects
depicted seem to be in sharp focus. In
many, the photographer has deliberately distorted or processed the image; some
have two photographs put together into one, and in others imperfections are
introduced in the development process; the edges of the photographers are often
exposed, showing the very edge of where light hit the original negative; in
some we see small bubbles, brush strokes, or other irregularities which
photographers make sure that their viewers never see.
this playing with the form of the photograph, letting chance imperfections
enter into the finished product, serve as examples of the coincidences of the
books title. The form and the content
of the pictures come together to produce a single finished product. It is very likely that the photographer
experimented with the negatives in many ways, and selected those pictures that
she felt worked best, the happy coincidences.
Looking at individual pictures from the book, one may not be at all sure
what she is aiming at, but seeing the collection as a whole, the mood is
somber, playful, and a little pretentious.
Certain themes emerge; she seems fascinated by formal, geometrical
qualities of images; the abstraction of circles and lines dominates many of the
pictures; she also seems to love random intricate detail the twigs of a tree
in winter, or the blossoms of a tree in the spring, patterns of sunlight
falling on the ground through the leaves of trees, a field full of wild
blossoming flowers, the eyes on a peacocks fanned out tail, the ripples of
the sea in a cove, or the patterned imperfections she herself introduces into
are lonely too; people appear on their own, even in those images where they
appear twice, in a double exposure.
Rarely does she have people looking into the lens; more often they are
facing away, their face is not included in the picture, their eyes are closed
or their eyes are deliberately removed from the image through the introduction
of an imperfection. The picture with
the most faces is one of dead fish lined up in two rows more geometry
there. Because of the imperfections and
the dark sepia tone, even those images where a person looks open-eyed into the
camera seem to be from a different age, bringing to mind the possibility that
the person is no longer living. Indeed,
many of the animals she has photographed must indeed have been dead, perhaps
rented from a taxidermist.
perhaps mention that Moons photographs are wonderfully beautiful. The imperfections if anything enhance the
beauty, heightening the sense of formal composition, reducing the immediacy of
the people, animals or objects depicted, and drawing attention to how they are
represented in a two dimensional field.
(For me, they bring to mind the music of the band Portishead, who also
intentionally introduce imperfections to their recordings, taking special
effort to mimic the effect of scratchy vinyl behind the precision and power of
their soulful gothic dub.)
question how innovative Moons approach is; one can see echoes of photographic
experimentation by earlier masters of the medium, and I am curious to what
extent Moon does this consciously. But
she has her won, self-assured approach that makes these pictures interesting on
their own, and theres no reason to dismiss her work as derivative.
section of the book contains a different body of work of color
photographs. These are rather different
in style, full of saturated reds, yellows, and greens. They feature many more humans, often female
models dressed up in extravagant costumes.
Presumably much of the work in this section is more closely connected
with Moons work as a fashion photographer; she has published in Elle, Vogue,
Harpers Bazaar and many other well-known magazines. These pictures are livelier and far more
sensuous than the monochrome images, but they still betray a love of
geometrical patterns and an involvement in the form of the medium over the
any sense of message or meaning in these pictures, and Im not sure that there
is, it must be to do with the fragility of beauty, and the attempt to catch a
moment. In the prevalence of imperfections,
and the focus on them, one might even interpret a fascination with decay and
death. Many of the pictures have a
surreal quality, and if one were briefly to entertain a psychoanalytic thought,
one might guess that Moon is representing a powerful and destructive
unconscious force that we can detect at the edges of our experience,
threatening to erase the beauty that she finds on the surface.
© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.
Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College,
Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review.
His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry.
He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can
play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster
communication between philosophers, mental health professionals,
and the general public.