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Journey to a Landscape

Saint Paul, 31 May 2006

…despite the presumption of veracity that gives all
photographs authority, interest, seductiveness, the
work that photographers do is no generic exception
to the usually shady commerce between art and truth.

  ~ Susan Sontag, On Photography (1978)

Sold at an estate auction to an ill-advised bidder
An antique field camera with a bellows of pinholes
Coated collodion wet plates templates of brittle glass
Shipped forthwith from India in pink packing peanuts
From the padlocked studios of the freshly deceased

Paying the arrears of the previous owners (who switched
out the original optics for black market knock-offs)
This ruse is a chit in exchange for authentic experience
Why do we confound ourselves with instruments?

Lug encumbrances into the shadows of wilderness
Lure subjects to the hopeless debt of our landscapes
Then fool them with notoriety that seems spontaneous
Finally con them with the unfounded truth of the image
Should your subject matter unmask this betrayal
She'll shatter her likeness and demand just recompense