AJ MokshaRainy days featuring Kyotocat (2015)

The shadow-light interplay in this is masterful. Mid-tones appear compressed (the hallway wall in the left foreground is separated from the mid-ground wall behind it more by softening of focus than tonal variation) allowing for a great range of detail in the highlight areas. Alternatively, there’s little variation in shadow tones–used to staggering effect to separate Kyotocat’s silhouette from the mid-ground wall.

Unfortunately, the air return vent is an eyesore and detracts measurably from the image.

The dangling bulbs are a strange addition. Are they ornaments or are they those new fangled things with succulents growing in them. (Given the dim illumination, I can’t tell.)

I am torn between thinking their inclusion adds an unpleasant touch of kitchy contrivance–I mean they wouldn’t be hanging at that level in a hallway or whomever passed them would knock their head against them; thus they appear to be dangled like a puppet into the frame for the sake of the picture.

It reminds me of Jeff Wall’s After “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue–which was quoted nearly verbatim by the production designers for HBO’s terribly uneven but dumbfoundingly ambitious series The Leftovers.

Or–since these bulbs are not illuminated–it could be a reference to Amir Naderi’s Davandeh (one of my top five all-time favorite films). In it, the young protagonist lives on an abandoned ship, the roof of which is covered with hanging bulbs.

There’s also the matter of the image being some pretty flagrant #skinnyframebullshit. The vertical frame renders the proportions of the wall in the left foreground, the wall in the mid-ground and the pitch dark hallway at the right of frame. A horizontal frame would have required a definitive decision on how to use the size or each plan relative to the others as a means of unifying the composition. With the vertical orientation, the obviousness of the arbitrary way in which they are used is diminished–the to detriment of the work, sadly.

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