Wednesday, April 15, 2009


When you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping and the mask falls so that the real person appears.

Photographer Philippe Halsman commenting on why he was in the habit of asking the folks he photographed (Dali, Monroe, Nixon) to jump.

Others he didn't ask, or if he did no record exists: Einstein. O'Keefe.

My search for photos from Halsman's iconic Jump Book resulted from a recent obsession with ideas about identity and the constructed self -- especially the self that we project online -- which was kicked into high gear by the swirl of ideas at the SxSW conference.

(No conclusions yet. Nothing to write about. If anything it's made it difficult to write at all.)

Halsman's idea behind the jump could be considered kin to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's ideas about Flow -- that state of optimal experience where one is entirely absorbed in the work at hand and finding satisfaction in it. The state of flow is also where, according to Csikszentmihalyi, where we find our true selves.

Curiously, at the same moment we forget ourselves.

Another thought that crossed my mind while I was googling Halsman images this morning: What possessed Halsman to merge Mao and Marilyn Monroe? And why can't I stop staring?

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails