orison: (n) a prayer; a meditative prayer
alternative forms: oreison, oroison, oraison, oresoun
from Latin oratio (oration, speech)
“No matter what role we are in–photographer, beholder, critic–inducing silence for seeing in ourselves, we are given to see from a sacred place. From that place a sacredness of everything may be seen.”
–Minor White, Rites & Passages
Please subscribe/follow. Thank you.
ALL images on this site are copyright Juliette M Ludeker.
All rights reserved.
The broad category for my photographic work is macro/nature/abstract, which means my images fall along the range within these concepts. Some of my subjects are partially or fully recognizable, while others are squarely abstract or non-objective. Some are macro, some are not. All have an element that is organic or somehow naturally-occurring–or gives the impression of such.
I’m drawn to natural elements for two reasons. First, nature is abundant with curious wonders that exist whether or not any human ever pays attention to them; I want to find and capture some of those wonders so I can retain and expand a sense of awe when interacting with the natural world. Second, organic/natural objects are unique and temporary objects. No two leaves will change color or dry out in the same way. No two formations of ice will look identical. None of them will stay “as is” for long (or continue to exist at all). No two pieces of metal will weather and erode in identical patterns. Every subject is inherently different from the next. Discovery feels endless. If I don’t mark their presence here, who will?
Borrowing from contemplative photographic practices, I describe my approach to image-making as “finding the overlooked”. While I certainly seek subjects that fit the traditional criteria for pretty or beautiful (a butterfly’s wing, a rose), I more often find interest in subjects that would normally be considered ugly or throw-away (a moldering leaf, a rusted Dumpster panel). Curious wonders lurk there, too.
What will I miss because I do not think to look?
While not all of my images are macro, the macro lens helps me discover things I wouldn’t be able to know more fully without the aid of the lens. It sees details my human eye cannot. Even when I’m not using a macro lens my compositions regularly rely on a tight picture plane and shallow depth-of-field.
When possible I want to reduce references to specific locations or times of day. Commonly, I choose to shoot in light that either saturates the color and/or flattens perspective. These choices (can) contribute to abstraction, but more important they allow me to create images that ask the viewer to come closer: to study, to learn, to be amazed, to be delighted, to be moved, to be left questioning. Just as I am.
Generally, I divide my images into two categories: “found” and “made.” Subjects I consider to be “found” are ones that I’ve come across simply by looking for something to photograph. These things would exist whether I’ve photographed them or not—perhaps a weed growing alongside a pond—but photographing them makes them visible, known. “Made” subjects are ones I’ve had a hand in creating or manipulating but still contain naturally-occurring elements—perhaps a single flower petal I’ve laid on a sheet of paper.
I have named this site oreison (with a lowercase ‘o’) because each image I choose to post here is like a meditative prayer. For that reason I limit my use of text in the postings themselves. What words I do include are thought-out. Sometimes I choose titles that name the subject of the image, but frequently I choose titles that don’t readily reveal the object, and instead create another layer of meaning beyond the “documentation” of the subject. Not infrequently I leave a composition untitled until a time that the “right” one reveals itself.
Along with prayer, I find my image-making is a communion (with a lowercase c)–a reference not only the well-worn phrase “communing with nature,” but also a conjuring of ideas inherent in communion: intimacy, closeness, knowing, connection, prayer, meditation, transformation, remembrance, the divine. I try to capture what conveys any or many of those concepts.
Above all, I want my images to be ABOUT something, not necessarily OF something. Among my influences are the paintings of Marc Rothko and Georgia O’Keefe and the photography of Imogen Cunningham, Aaron Siskind, and Minor White. These artists all created works that ask the viewer to consider subjects beyond the expected. By following their lead, I hope to do the same.
–Juliette M Ludeker, 2018
3 thoughts on “Artist’s Statement”
I love this so much! So beautifully written. So much to discuss & unpack here…I’ll focus on the three that jumped out (though I also love the name and symbolic words too!)
1) I love the concept of “finding the overlooked” – a version of “beauty is everywhere” but we need to all notice/focus/pay attention. I’ve been trying to explain that for decades!
2) I also was particularly drawn to your concept of omitting locations. Sometimes I find I want to do the opposite – shout to everyone “It’s right here—go see for yourself! Here’s a map!” (See #1) But maybe you’re onto something… maybe it’s not about the place after all.
3) “Found” vs “Made” : Thank you for the terminology and differentiation! Yes, in nature, “found” is right on. Some of my architectural images are “about” the architecture (that I’ve stumbled upon). That would be “found” and just sharing it in a hopefully clean and often colorful composition what may have been “overlooked” (See #1), however, especially if it’s an artist’s or architect’s work, isn’t that really their work? And in those cases, I have to ask myself “How do I make this “MINE”?” In those cases, I try to combine the made and the found in the composition—including a light post, or a person, or a bus. Then the “found” is also “made” and it’s noy just the artist or architect’s; it’s also “mine”. 💕
PS love the influential artists. All so great! Yes!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for commenting, Laura! And for sharing your thoughts.
Knowing my words/images have connected with you in the ways you describe makes me want to shout YES!…So, YES!!
Specifically, I appreciate how the points you’ve made reveal you making connections across your own work and thinking–maybe even as you typed? I love that energy and excitement.
It’s also wonderful to have this “conversation” with someone else who Gets It.
Omitting or identifying locations both can have significance and meaning. I want to “erase” the references so that the images are about what’s in them as images…not about the location. Humans have a tendency to give words more power and authority than other forms of Knowing (capital K). So if I were to title something “Dumpster on Main St” then the viewer might only think I took a picture of a trash receptacle in town, whereas what I photographed was the patterns and colors created by scrapes, rust, water, time, etc. My goal, ultimately, is to try to prompt the viewer to start looking around herself to see what patterns/colors are “there” (wherever that may be) but overlooked–not to start hanging out by Dumpsters. Haha.
On the other hand, what you’re saying–Go! Look! It’s right there!–also makes sense. A building in town is probably something a resident-viewer thinks they Know (capital K); they’re familiar with it, know which building it is. But have they REALLY looked at it? Have they studied it? Have they thought about the architecture, the facade, the palette? That’s where YOU–Laura–have the opportunity to show the viewer aspects of a common thing in a way that reveals how Unknown it really is. By naming it and pointing to its location, you might urge the viewer to go look for himself! And SEE it!
As for photographing someone else’s “work” (like that of an architect) and making it “yours,” I will relate that to what I teach students to do when they borrow ideas from others: effective writers synthesize their own ideas with those from other writers but repackage all of it to present a new way of understanding, thinking, knowing. We also know to only borrow small amounts from others, because otherwise our voices aren’t there (plus that whole plagiarism thing…haha)
When you, or anyone, photographs a building, not only are you not photographing the ENTIRE building, you’re also not passing it off as YOUR building. Instead, you are making an image (already a different kind of text) of some PART of the other work (which then becomes a reference) because YOU have something to say or to add or to counter or to dispute…and so on. The image is yours. Making the image in a way that only happened because YOU–Laura–made it, allows for claiming the possessive word “mine.”
For me, categorizing the image as “found” or “made” has to do with how much of my own hand is involved in creating the subject matter. Anything I shoot in a studio-like space is “made.” I bought the flowers, I set up the lights, etc. Anything I stumble across–whether I’m actively looking for photographs or not–is “found.” Part of contemplative photography is the idea of being open and ready for images that reveal themselves. That, to me, is “found” even if what I’m photographing has been “made” by someone else.
I like what you’ve conveyed: a found subject of a made thing then becomes a made image when we decide to record it.
This exchange with you has made me think more deeply about the UNKNOWN and UNINTENDED collaborative work that is happening when we photograph things made by other human hands…maybe I need to reconsider that I’m also working in collaboration with Nature, Time, and The Elements in other image-making.
What is our own?
What is our own COMPLETELY and without influence or collaboration?
Hmmmm…so much to think about!
Your summation and clarification of your work has given me a deeper approach to each one you share. Colleen