Terra Incognita

It is the job of the artist to plunge into Terra Incognita. This means exploring unknown country both literally and figuratively. When artistic territory seizes to be unknown and verges on the repetitious, then the work ceases to be exploration and becomes an exercise in marketing the known “trademark look.” It’s a sad fact that this artistic truth diverges with conventional advice for making a living as an artist—which is to find an iconic style, and to stick to it.

Burning off the Fog, Marin Headlands, CA © Harold Davis

Burning off the Fog, Marin Headlands, CA © Harold Davis

For me, plunging into the artistic unknown is like swinging on a rope high above deep water. When the leap begins it is both exhilarating and frightening, and part of what makes life worth living. I will not be shoe-horned into a narrow category. I will go “under, over and through” to discover the lands beyond, returning enriched with experiences and insights that I can bring into genres I have plumbed before.

Bamboo Forest, Kyoto, Japan © Harold Davis

Bamboo Forest, Kyoto, Japan © Harold Davis

On the eve of literal travel, these thoughts come to mind. This journey is a bit of a wild adventure as well, with stops in New York, Spain, Morocco and Portugal. The point, of course, is always the journey and not the destination—and it is a truism that neither I nor my imagery will return unchanged. My plan is to blog my photos, stories and adventures, so please “stay tuned.”

Saint-Roman, Dordogne, France © Harold Davis

Saint-Roman, Dordogne, France © Harold Davis

Children’s book author E. Nesbit got this right for art and for travel in one of my all-time favorites The Enchanted Castle, when she put these words in a character’s mouth: “‘I don’t understand,’ says Gerald, alone in his third-class carriage, ‘how railway trains and magic can go on at the same time.’ And yet they do.”

Today we have airplanes rather than Victorian carriages—but the concepts of escape from the mundane details of class structure and the struggle to make a living via art and magic remains the same.

This entry was posted in Photography, Writing.

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