I have an ongoing informal photo project of documenting the abstract harmony of messes. I'm tickled by the way disparate objects unexpectedly connect physically in a prescribed space, effortlessly telling a story or posing a question. Big messes can contain arrangements of colors, angles and oddities that are striking. Having never been much of a housekeeper, this subject matter constantly renews itself for me. Magic! Dishes were my steadfast muse before the advent of this house project, the Mother Lode of messes.
Contrary to reasonable assumption, the hot, hard, and filthy work of rebuilding this house has been a therapeutic luxury, one I would prescribe as an antidote to a certain strain of fatalism. Making order out of disorder taps a basic human instinct. Literally wading through the disorder to create an ideal order of our own design, we are mimicking life, and the action of the project is cathartic. Every inch of the space has become intimately familiar, representing triumph, challenge, hope, fear, creative tension, or fantasy. Moments of an indirect, tilted kind of beauty arise that have as much to do with the passage of time as their physical presentation.
In the beginning, these visual moments were melancholy, even scary. The wrecked personal treasures of the previous occupants were gaslighting us, taunting the future. Reflections of mortality were sharing space with plans for the Dream Kitchen. Gradually, the aesthetic temper of the space calmed down, and the pockets of chaos gave way to clearer palettes.
Ironically, the hard lines and sparse colors of a construction site are an uncomfortable place for me. The blank canvas is a daunting hurdle. This middle phase is technical. The beauty is more cerebral, by degrees, as in the form of a perfect square angle or a clean path for circuitry. The soft animal side of my nature is relying on scraps for satisfaction, like slim, uneven shims hammered into place that make all the difference. Those "beauty moments", when perfection relies on the chance of imperfection, are a balm.
Tilted Beauty, Passing Time: The Abstract Harmony of Messes