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Transcending the Moment

Anticipation (2010)

Emotion, movement, and a willingness to take chances

BY CYNDI A. WOOD | PHOTOS BY ROBERT RECK

In Robert Reck’s series No. 8, the images are impressionistic, almost dreamlike, suggesting the capture of an elusive moment, the subject obscured in a painterly haze. “The series is mysterious,” Reck says. “It’s another way of looking at the world for me.”

With the appearance of soft brushstrokes, these images differ dramatically from the crisp angles and precise edges of the architectural work from Reck’s ongoing 40-year professional career. “They are divergent,” he says, “but they have a consistency in meaning that ties them all together. Working with line, and now working with random, curved lines—they’re still lines, yet they lead to a different visual conclusion.”

Reck began experimenting with images in this style years ago, but kept them to himself until they evolved into a satisfying, cohesive body of work. “The images use a method of childhood innocence to transcend the moment,” he says. “Even as a current means of expression for me that is extremely personal, the work freely allows viewer interpretation.”

Jasper Johns once said, “I feel that works of art are an opportunity for people to construct meaning, so I don’t usually tell what they mean. It conveys to people that they have to participate.” Reck agrees.

In this series, Reck is not so much interested in documentation, but rather in letting the image itself be the subject, and then allowing the viewer find a connection. “I want to present images that confront the viewer and give them the opportunity to look into their own experience and carry that image in memory.”

The images suggest that all vision is a kind of conversion of the real into the imaginary, capturing moments and converting them to artworks that have an emotional resonance with the viewer.

One of the photographs that launched this series was taken while driving down the highway, and it spoke to Reck emotionally and spiritually. “Collectively, the effervescent and transient nature of these photos has a qualitative impact on the awareness of and personal interactions with our surroundings,” he explains. “The images are a permanent trace of a very gestural response to sidelined information in the real world.

Shot in New Mexico and surrounding states, the images are all created in camera, with no more sophisticated manipulation than would have occurred in the darkroom of Ansel Adams—dodging and burning, lightening and darkening, and manipulating contrast. There are no color enhancements. The honesty of the data collection is important to Reck, as is the integrity of the final images, printed on archival watercolor paper and often mounted to float from the wall to further enhance their ethereal feel.

“This approach embraces a willingness to take chances and an acceptance that mistakes can be part of the process,” Reck says. “It’s a freedom of expression that holds a lasting peace.”