Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yes ?
Can something be beautiful and haunting at the same time ? Sure. Most definitely.
If you were to look at something, not knowing it’s history or circumstances of how or when or why, would you still feel it is both beautiful and haunting at the same time? Guess that would depend on how you perceive things, in general.
Go into a museum and take a look at some of the artifacts there. If there wasn’t a little plaque depicting the history of what you were looking at, would you see it as haunting while seeing it as beautiful? You might see it as old and beautiful. You might not see it as beautiful. But would you see it as haunting if the plaque didn’t say it came from some battle site during WW1 or WW2 where many lost their lives?
Could you drive one of the highways in Northern Ontario, for instance, where there are many rock faces within a couple feet of the roadway, where one wrong move on your part, or someone else’s part, would have you being rudely introduced to that rock face and still see the beauty? What if one of those rock faces had a small cross at it’s base, where someone carefully and lovingly wrote out the name and date of the person that died in that spot one day? Would it still be beautiful, while haunting?
The online Free Dictionary web site defines haunting as …
1. (of memories) poignant or persistent
2. poignantly sentimental; enchantingly or eerily evocative
I’m a big fan of black and white still photography. You’re not predisposed to thinking one way or the other because of colors assaulting your eyes. And I don’t mean the pictures of grandma and your dad as a young boy, even though they would bring about a bunch of questions, my imagination, and wonder. I mean the pictures that were taken at a moment in time and you might see it differently than I do.
Look familiar? Not anybody I know, but think somewhere in the family photo archives, is a picture similar to this. It’s beautiful, funny, cute, and one sees the clothes and the camera box and thinks about what that time in life might have been like (if one isn’t old enough to have lived it, that is lol) But haunting? Not to me it isn’t. Just a real neat black and white photograph of a time gone by.
Now what if you were told the history of those three kids, and it was such that brought out an emotional response from deep within you? Would you still see that picture the same?
What about this one ?
Just a street on a rainy day ? Sure. We don’t know the history of why that particular street on that particular day was taken. The emotional response we get from it is that we like the look of it, the composition of it. Might imagine ourselves walking along an intersecting road, camera at hand, turning the corner and having this catch our sight. What a great photo it would make! you think. So you stop and take the picture. But having come across it in your thread or an image search, where no profile of it is available, would you see it as haunting? Maybe. Maybe not. Your past experiences, your life up to the point you see this picture, might determine that.
While I was perusing the web this morning, I went to Yahoo Canada for a peek at the latest news. No, I’m not interested in the Paris Hilton’s, the Kardashians, or the like, so I’ll skip over those. I’m not up on baseball or football, so I might skip those articles. Nascar? I mostly will stop and read anything about them. Hockey? Usually. Especially if it involves any of my son’s favorite teams or players. The WWE? Yes, also because my son is a big fan. Politics? It depends on what the headline says. Person of interest stories? Maybe. News around the world? Maybe. All depends on the headline.
Then I came across a headline that really caught my eye. It had the word ‘beautiful’ in it, while mentioning a recent storm. The quick caption of the first couple sentences made me click the link. Hauntingly gorgeous? This I have to see !
It’s a video that two men had shot in their neighbourhood. If one was to take the video as is or to break it down into still black and white photo’s, it would remain beautiful. But if you didn’t know the circumstances of why these two men took this video, would you still see it as haunting?
Nadine Bell of Yahoo Canada News says … The words “beautiful” and “hurricane’ are rarely used in the same sentence, but footage taken last weekend of Hurricane Irene ravaging a Manhattan neighbourhood is undeniably beautiful, it not haunting.
How often is a Manhattan neighbourhood this empty of traffic and pedestrians? I couldn’t say as I’ve never been there. But I do think it doesn’t happen often. Not even in the dead of night. The video shows an emptiness on the streets and in the subway stations. A cop slowly cruising down a street. A lone pedestrian off to the side. Very, very empty. If one didn’t know it was taken during Hurricane Irene and not knowing it was filmed in Manhattan, one might just see a city experiencing a rainfall. The rain hitting the drenched pavement. Droplets off a metal railing. The wind fluttering plastic, signal lights, and signs. Just another rainy day somewhere. It’s when you are told it was taken in Manhattan during Hurricane Irene that might cause you to see it differently .. see it hauntingly.
(Nadine Bell’s words) Credit goes to Felix Thompson and Brandon Roots of Buffalo Picture House who shot the remarkable scenes from their neighbourhood, capturing New York City from a point of view we may never see repeated.