The Collection

DECODE: The Tree of Knowledge

INTRODUCTION: DECODE is about giving viewers a new perspective on my work - more specifically my perspective. There's a certain level of secrecy in my work. The secrecy isn't on purpose but rather the result of my own personal ideas or feelings leaking into each photograph. The main purpose of DECODE is to share these hidden thoughts/meanings. Some photographs are meant to be taken at face value; others are comments on myself, thoughts I had while making the photograph, or allusions to things altogether different. Most of the time these things are all concealed within the title, but there are also cases where the photograph itself is the secret. 

I hope you'll enjoy this short project and find the thoughts on my work interesting and fun to read. Be sure to leave your comments and thoughts below on each post. Responding to everyone's comments is always enjoyable to me. So here we go...

"The Tree of Knowledge"

I made this photograph while watching the Grammy's. That doesn't necessarily play into the photograph, just more of a fun fact. The inspiration behind this photograph was a similar photo by one of my favorite abstract photographers: Ursula Abresch. I wanted to see if I could achieve a similar effect.

The problem with setting up this photograph was that I had (have) no professional lighting equipment. Instead I used a regular old household lamp for lighting. I knew I wanted a lot of color in the photo, but again I didn't have any backdrops so I used a really colorful shirt of mine for the background colors. I used a  macro lens to focus on just the ends of the pages - most of my work features a shallow depth of field, this photograph is no exception.

Like I said the original purpose of trying to capture this shot was to see if I could recreate the effect from the original - basically a technical challenge.  But like usual while shooting, my subject sort of developed a life of its own. Here it was the shape of the pages that became my subject. For me, they began to look less like individual pages and more like a singular object - I saw the shape of a tree. This is where the title comes in: "The Tree of Knowledge."

It doesn't take much to understand the title. The title is a play on the shape of the pages and how people associate books with sources of knowledge. I love to pair quotes with my photos. With this photograph I think this quote fits perfectly:
You cannot open a book without learning something.
                                                 - Confucius
But for me, there's more to the title than what's mentioned above. When I say tree of knowledge I'm referring to one source in particular, one book: the Bible. There's a reason I chose the book I chose to use in the photograph. It's not the Bible, yet I chose it to represent the Bible because of the type of paper the pages were made of. My personal Bible is made of very thin, flimsy paper. I wanted the pages to be thicker, more parchment-like, to give the book a more aged look and feel.


So there you have it. Part 1 of 10 of DECODE. I hope you enjoyed this first piece. Part 2 comes next week, but check back daily for even more art related news and articles! Don't forget to share this with your friends and a leave comment! Thanks.

- James Elliott
Here's a bonus shot from that same shoot.
"Pages of a Dream"

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