Tim BarberUntitled [rain/shower] feat. Kaya Wilkins (2013)

I’ve probably seen this image at least three dozen times but today is the first time I noticed that it’s raining.

A good part of why I’ve never noticed is that the most circulated version features compressed contrast and lower resolution.

As a result, I checked out Barber’s work and discovered that not only is it of an especially high quality, it’s also categorically interesting. He’s rigorous about formality of composition while showing a rare ability to make color vs. absence of color integral to the image.

Further there’s something about his work that transforms rather typical, nearly-prosaic scenes into something that feels autonomous, distinct and thoroughly singular.

The above image was included in a 2014 show at Capricious 88 in NYC’s SoHo.

In relations to that show, Barber claims:

I’m interested in the slippery
narratives that my photos can communicate, and a good narrative always
involves relationships of some kind […] Photographs can be so literal, but I’m
more interested in them as entry ways rather than finales; windows on a
wall, question marks. Another way to put that is I’m less interested in
what they are about then what they could be about.

And while I don’t think he has an especially good grasp of what narrativity actually entails, there is a strong sense that this image “could be about” a sort of Thoreauean search for existential vitality.

In the same breath, however, there’s an undercutting of that notion: the absurdity of showering in the rain; the out of order sign on the cabin–a sort of winking glance toward the ‘backwards-ness’ inherent in the proposition.

I could never abandon the hustle and bustle of big city life but there is a part of me that craves departures, ruptures and disjunctions with that life. Is it too much to want to stand naked on your front porch drinking coffee and staring off into the forest or to bathe in the falling rain?

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