Jim Klein: A Matter of Time

Viewpoint member Jim Klein of Lincoln will present work at the Step Up Gallery at Viewpoint in March, 2012. The photographs are the result of travel to Utah, a place universally known for its ancient and dramatic landscapes and also its much newer remains of man’s presence.

Klein cites John Szarkowski, famed photographer, critic and historian, who, in his book The Photographer’s Eye, “included Time as one of the defining aspects of photography as an art medium. But his consideration of time had more to do with how much of time was captured by the camera’s shutter than how time is conveyed by the image.”

The two sets of images in this exhibit, a deserted motel on Highway 70 near Moab and abstracts of rocks from Utah’s National Parks, depict the effects of time, and, in another perspective, timelessness. Klein asks “Can one tell when these rocks were created, or how long it took for these patterns to emerge on their faces, or what the youngest or oldest detail of the rock is?” He continues, “The motel images, however, cannot be viewed without thoughts on when this place was built, and the changes time has forced during these intervening years. We certainly know this place is old, built in an earlier time; and we see that the activities spent by people here have, over time, taken a toll.”

The seemingly immutable and timeless patterns and shapes of the red-orange rocks from Utah are fascinating to Klein as abstracts, but they remind him also of the timelessness of Nature, especially in the National Parks. He loves these places because of their stunning beauty and sense of the pristine, but also due to their seeming immortality. “And,” he says, “more effectively than trees or rivers or deserts, the rocks in my images typify these traits well.”

“In contrast,” Klein says, “we know that this motel is not one we can walk into and book a room today. This place strongly suggests oldness, of being used and used up, in the process of decay: wall paper falling off and paint peeling; objects from an earlier era – a chair, a refrigerator, a bar sign – showing signs of wear and tear; items of clothing deteriorating; and vandals leaving their mark in creative ways. We can only imagine a time when families and others enjoyed these rooms as their home for the night, as a respite from their long journey, as their island of security and rest in their trek across the vast reaches of Utah.”

Whether photographers are conscious of it or not, Klein says that our images reflect not just a “decisive moment,” a slice of time; they usually – though not always – suggest time in many other ways, especially in contrast to the viewer’s place in time. Though taken in the present, Szarkowski suggested there might be strong allusions to the past, and even to the future. Klein adds, “This sense of time then infects the entire character of the image, shaping and deepening its message. When snapping the shutter, we certainly must be acutely aware of The Thing Itself, The Detail, The Frame, and Vantage Point (Szarkowski’s other defining aspects of photography), but we also must account for the matter of Time.”


Capitol Reef Wash


Abandoned Motel



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