I am a fan of architecture. Of line and form. Ryan’s work is simple, clean, and elegant. Looking more like line drawings than photography, the tension, ebb and flow of seemingly taut wires look more like sheet music than structure. To me, they are best experienced in groups – four, six even twelve. Not telling stories, but allowing us to weave ourselves in and out of the connections. These images fall off the edges, telling us as much as whats happening outside the frame, as whats inside.
In his own words:
Overhead wires are everywhere in our modern world – electric wires, telephone wires, tram wires, and power lines. While they can seem like mundane, utilitarian eyesores, when I look at them I see hidden mysteries, music, and the divine, which this series of photographs attempts to reflect.
I am fascinated by the simple crossing of two lines, by the complex rhythms of repeated wires, and by the graceful, lyrical curves. I am drawn to the purity and simplicity of thin dark lines silhouetted against the white sky, and feel a mystical awe when I stand beneath the vast sweep of long-range power lines. In the course of working on this series in the past four years, I have come to appreciate the wires’ endless variety of rhythms, movements, and moods – sometimes simple and austere while at other times lyrical, forceful, or whimsical.
The wires feel like music to me. Their rhythms are like repeated notes, their intersections like instruments playing together, their mechanical contraptions and sitting birds dotting the lines like grace notes. Music comes to my mind unbidden, like Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie solo piano pieces, John Adam’s Dharma at Big Sur concerto for electric violin, and other pieces that I know from my years of playing flute in orchestras and of being a passionate devotee of classical music.
In addition to the musical themes, these photographs explore the notion of intersections, the contrast between order and chaos, and the tension between apparent spontaneity and careful underlying composition. The simple white backgrounds let the range of lines and rhythms take the forefront, like a solo piano alone on the stage. I leave the scale and spatial orientation ambiguous, to accentuate the feeling that the wires are in a world of their own. The photographs also have a spiritual component, exploring the sacred mysteries hidden in the mundane manmade wires.
Most of the photographs in this series are from the San Francisco bay area, near where I live, while a few are from travels to other cities, such as Zurich. The images are captured using a medium-format Hasselblad camera, then scanned digitally and printed at 20” x 20” as archival pigment prints. I use a textured paper and float the prints in the frames, creating an end result that resembles pen-and-ink drawings. By blurring the distinction between photographs and drawings, between physical objects in the world and imaginary compositions that exist only in the mind, the prints play with the boundaries between external and internal reality. After all, they are also portraits of my inner space.
Ryan Bush received a Ph. D. in Linguistics from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2000. His article “Coniunctio: Images of Union” will be published in the Jung Journal, Summer 2010. He is represented by Modernbook Gallery, in San Francisco, CA.
All images copyright Ryan Bush. Used with permission.