On (not) sharing an interest

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Photography

For quite a while, some time in the nineties, I took an interest in experimental film. In a relatively short period of time, I acquinted myself with American structuralist films, abstract films, found footage based films, early European avant garde cinema, conceptual films etc. I remember watching Michael Snow, Bruce Conner, Maya Deren, Alain Resnais, Paul Sharits, Derek Jarman, Germaine Dulac, Dziga Vertov, Jonas Mekas, Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage and so many more. My friend A. was a big influence and driving force. He introduced me to many of these filmmakers, taking me to rather obscure screenings and festivals all over the place, at home and abroad. Viewing, scouting and selecting short films for our own festival that we were running with a bunch of other people. An exciting time, providing a lasting influence on my appreciation and perception of lens based arts. When I moved to Rotterdam, broke up with A. and left the festival, I saw this interest fading away pretty quickly. I sort of moved on to feature length art house film, and started writing about it. I don’t think I have seen another experimental short film since. Strange really, because my interest was sincere and deeply felt. But apparently, it couldn’t stand on its own. It needed other people, I needed their enthusiasm to feed my own. Sharing this interest was, I guess, as important to me as owning it.

When I got to know Th., I was only beginning to find out what I could do with a photo camera, technically and otherwise. Unlike me, he was a trained photographer. I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly that I learned from him. We didn’t even talk that much about photography. I always felt he was way out of my league when it came to photo talk. No, it was something else. I had immersed myself in photography blogs, sharing sites and online magazines, and found many talented photographers, but his photos immediately stroke a nerve. They felt close to home, I don’t know how else to put it. I recognized something that I had not seen before but instantly related to. I wasn’t even surprised that the man who had taken these pictures evoked a similar feeling himself. For me, he was a solid value along this path of experimenting and learning, failing and doubting. Not by interfering much, but as a continuous source of inspiration and motivation, on many levels. When the friendship stranded on.. well, the complexities of life, I was afraid that I would loose my interest, my joy, in taking photographs. But I didn’t. Or perhaps I did, for a while, out of sadness and disappointment. But I soon found out that this would not have a lasting effect. I don’t think I can go back to not doing this, to not looking at the world around me from this new perspective. This interest can and will stand on its own. It’s nice to share it with other people, and I loved sharing it with him, but it doesn’t depend on it. It doesn’t need other people, and therefore I feel it’s something I can rely on.

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