Monday, 30 April 2012

Pillow talk and Equivalents; Stieglitz and clouds

I have just been introduced to Alfred Stieglitz's  'Equivalents'; a series created when his mother was dying, with the intention of showing that it was not , as had been suggested, the hypnotic power of Stieglitz over his sitters that created the power within his photography. By photographing clouds, over which he had no control and which are free to be experienced by anyone, he hoped to disprove this theory. I described one of my images of chaos in the woods as self expression. A friend repsonded with a mention of Steiglitz and his series of clouds.

Abstract cloud photographs were created with the described intention of allowing the viewer to experience the equivalent emotion to that which the photographer experienced.

What emotions does the image below convey? And how can I know what effect it will have on different viewers. The idea that the viewer will experience the same emotion as mine is not something that I would ever have considered to be likely.

bed © caroline fraser 2012
I know that I felt angry about this discarded mattress, and a desire to express my feelings about the littering of my favourite place; but what makes an image powerful enough to create equivalent emotions in the viewer? Surely it depends on who we are and what we believe.

And why didn't I feel the angry about the abandoned pillow that I described in an earlier post?

the abandoned pillow story

I followed the changes to a pillow left in the undergrowth. It remained there for several weeks just off the path where I walk dog. Through rain and snow it lay undisturbed, and then one day, just as quickly as it came, it was gone.

 I am fairly sure that the kind people who do litter picking will have removed it to a more appropriate place, but in a way I have missed it and the chance to consider why it lay where it did. Nestling in the ivy it had a certain beauty of its own. Despite my indignance that someone would abandon it in the woods, I came to enjoy the flights of fancy that it triggered as I trod through the mud. I was unable to feel anger, only thoughts about what words I might use to describe it's presence ....

a place to rest © caroline fraser 2012

Pillow talk

If I were to rest,


in these woods,

my head on
cool cotton 
polka dot
remains of another's life

What dreams would ensue?
Would I dream differently?
What would I become?

Who would I be?

It seems to me that it is unlikely that another passer by will experience an equivalent emotion on viewing this image of the pillow. Does that make the image less worthy? The untold story remains untold; we can only create our own stories from what we see.


  1. I wonder about the Morris Minor - is it yours - is it a split screen model - why does the perspective on it look a bit weird - is it a Morris Minor - did the silver car arrive at the same time - the mattress, while repellant, puts me in mind of Stalker in Tarkovsky's film, when he lies down in the water and the dog runs past - who was there when you took the photo - where are the people from the cars - and all the while the thought I don't want to think - what would it be like to lie down and rest on that mattress -

  2. so many questions............ it is not my Morris Minor. what is a split screen model? the silver car didn't arrive at the same time.........the people are walking their dogs..................and it would be hard to lie and rest on that mattress.

    thank you for your thoughts. I have not seen Stalker, but it looks a difficult film to watch from the images I have looked at.