The image series What Nightmares Lie Beneath, Numbered contains images of an early-Summer morning dew caught on the web of a funnel spider. Irregular, somewhat-conical trapeziuses hung improbably between blades of grass read as white blotches throughout the yard, appearing overnight en masse; an ant-scale, ground level circus device. Overgrown grass suffices for improvised bulwarks with their blades skyward reaching in circular clumps fairly inviting the low patches of spidery doom.
Most humans walk respectfully past without a devastating foot destroying the arachnid’s sole effort to make a living, or even its life. It is a mutually-beneficial agreement that prevents any closer human-spider interface, and sometimes I am neutral enough about them to not even notice the temporary funnel nest metropolis during its mere days of existence. I don’t like spiders. They are welcome to live outside, but I chose to ignore them from my happy place. I probably appear as a massive shadow to them, if I show up on their spidery radar at all, perhaps reflected in their several pairs of eyes.
In fact, on the morning these images were made, the prolific funnel spiders populating the shaded, cool front yard were an afterthought. What initially charmed and drew in The Artist were the sparkly billions of drops of dew caught in each web. The web of this series contained an anomalous yellow reflective glob among the crystal-clear surrounding congregations of morning dew drops. The actual architect, the spider, was found only them when looking at the images onscreen. A suitably safe distance for us both.
It only occurred to me later that the yellow drop likely was the spider’s doing, a lure planted deep into the funnel trap. How humbling to realize that the spider’s enticement caught me, too!
It will come up again, I’m sure, that I don’t see or hear that well. My really bad astigmatism plus a youth spent at loud concerts has made a mole person of me. Each sense, sight and hearing, compensate for the other’s deficiencies. I can lip read a little, and read humans in their non-sound communications pretty well. For sight, as soon as macro was a thing on consumer-level, small cameras I was in. I could click happily away, enjoying that I wasn’t burning expensive film, and later see the spiders (like this series’ funnel spider lurking beneath the web) and other small features that escaped me in real life.
Bees laden with boulders of pollen regularly defy my belief by demonstrating not only flight, but that they can add more pollen to their hairy legs and still float about, making it look easy! I had no idea.
Cameras have always enticed me. This compensatory role in perception is a surprise, and a literal example of the alchemy image making brings. There is something else that happens, and I chase its definition. Something that opens the viewer to an unseen part of the image – a feeling, a memory, a forgotten mystery, a dream barely recalled. In What Nightmares Lie Beneath, Numbered, the Viewer is invited to dive in and look closely, face those dragons, make sense of the multiple reflections, find the spider – or not. The Viewer is the last step in the art process perhaps, making a personal decision on meaning or aesthetics. I go to spooky and don’t want to know more for the moment. How do you respond to the spider? Did you find it here?