Monday, November 21, 2005

Light Vanquishing Darkness

Given this photograph, I feel obliged to say that describing anything related to Disney, especially in conjunction with Frank Gehry's architectural style, necessitates an exercise in deconstruction.

In many respects, I have openly criticized Disney for--what else?--the disneyfication of important aspects of culture. In line with Critical Culture Theory, my observations about what the company represents are nothing but a group of multiple readings or discernments outside of mainstream society‚—or what Disney would like us to believe. If the status of progress in the world were as fine as this or other companies claim, their continued practice of using mass communications means to persuade us seems not only contradictory, but unnecessary, as it would be a given widely accepted. Yet, dissenting opinions continue to arise, a reason for which at one point I asserted that such persuading attempts were meretricious, in the symbolic and etymological sense of the word.

As an observer behind the eyepiece of a camera, however, I was compelled to deconstruct not the significance of the Walt Disney Music Hall, but its image, to the simplest form. Endeavoring to deconstruct its significance would have been nothing but an apology for my photographing of the building by claiming that it is beautiful and separate from what Disney stands for. That, in essence, would have rendered my rationalization, and the photograph itself, as meretricious. In fact, I automatically deconstructed the image of the building to its geometrical lines because, on the average, I do not believe the building is beautiful. Although acoustically laudable, it has proven to be impractical and, upon reflection, heatedly annoying, the reason for which its smooth titanium surface had to be scraped to perfection. Yet, that night‚—September 15 of 2005 and the second time I had actually seen the building‚—there was something different and beautiful about its image. I took several close shots, progressively retreating until I found myself on the opposing corner, wondering what the hell was so besieging about it. After several more shots, the one depicted here being the penultimate, I felt confused, questioning why my deconstructive and introspective exercise seemed to have turned into a holistic and gestalt-like realization.

Feeling like one of Koehler‚’s monkeys, a pair of guys interrupted my ruminations. They had been observing me but I was completely unaware of their presence, engulfed in the photographing experience. They were eager to see some of the images because they were the illumination technicians responsible for the enrapturing aspect I was trying to discover and they knew about all along. In fact, according to them, that night was the very first time the building had been illuminated and they were tuning the details to complete the task in the most aesthetically pleasing way. Although they did not like the photographs, as they deconstructed them to the simplest form of illumination, which, to them, left much to be desired, I felt grateful. I am not certain if I would have independently realized that the light was the culprit of the magic that night, but after their disclosure, I understood that the reflection of light on those metallic walls was what made the whole panorama interesting. That is why I chose to transform the photograph into black and white and still consider that, in spite of all, the deconstruction to the basic elements of light and darkness absolves me from having photographed something so meretriciously disneyfied, as my focus was not the flashiness of the complete product, but the balance of light and darkness in the randomness of existence.