Hide and Seek

An archaeological excavation of memory

by Diane Fenster





When I was a small child, I had a persistant interior vision of myself as looking out at the world from behind the panes of an attic window. I could see the world down below, yet I was somehow removed and disconnected from the life I saw. Then when I was a little older I was told that my last name "Fenster" meant "window" and that our family had originally been "Fenstermacher" or "windowmaker." This paradigm of looking through a window (and looking through myself as window) has carried through into my later life and my current artistic explorations vis a vis the use of the camera and computer as technological doubles of the window that I peered through as a child. And I am also the windowmaker in that the images that I create are the windows that others can look through to see into my inner world and perhaps even perceive their own reflections within that world.

Unlike most photographers who come to the computer after they had already established their art with the camera, I learned the computer first as a graphic design tool. Several years later I began the first forays into creating images on the computer by utilizing "found" vintage or family photographs as a starting point for the final photomontages.

In 1992, I began to photograph as a new source for the images. My experimentations with photography have opened up a far greater realm of possibilities than had previously been available and has strengthed the "finding of my own voice" through the presentation of "personal landscapes" that are charged with symbolism and emotion.

I have always perceived of the picture that I take with the camera as a means to an end...a starting point of the story I am trying to relate- not as the final print. Perhaps this is because my approach to photography has been "digital" right from the start. I had taken up the camera briefly when I was in my twenties but always found that the images never told enough of what I wanted to express whereas by combining the two tools of camera and computer, my art is more complete.

On the technical side, I work with a Macintosh computer and Adobe Photoshop. The images for "Hide and Seek," the series I am exhibiting were taken with an Olympus OM1 camera then scanned into the computer using an Epson 1200C flatbed scanner. Limited edition 34" x 47" Iris prints on Arches 356 paper are produced by Urban Digital Color in San Francisco.

The Hide and Seek Series:
An Archaeological Excavation of Memory

"The story I am going to tell comes from a place deep inside of myself, a place that perceives all that I have irredeemably lost and perhaps, what gain there is behind the loss. If some people forget their past as a way to survive, other people remember it for the same reason." of Water and the Spirit by Malidoma Patrice Some

I have forgotten and now I am remembering.

This body work is my most recent and addresses issues of self, gender identification and intimacy. In these images, the animus figure approaches my symbolic solitary environment. The ambiguous nature of this male/female form in relation to itself and its circumstance is the beginning of both my journey and my longing. It is a search for an identity that is not obscured by memory or dream anymore than by sonambulistic living. It is a game where what is known and understood plays with what is only suspected. It is a night that ends in wakefulness

My starting point in each piece are lines of poetry by Vicente Huidobro, the Chilean Surrealist poet. Using the Surrealist poetic concept of the "cut up" as a model, I am creating a new poem from the selected fragments of Huidobro's work. The images in the series are numbered and when placed in order, create a new poem which is autobiographical in nature.


Diane Fenster can be reached at: fenster@sfsu.edu