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  The Adirondack Heart 

The Adirondack Heart

The Adirondack Heart

 

128 pages

11½ x 9¼ inches

60 full-color images with accompanying writings by John Radigan

Foreword by Elizabeth Folwell

Essay by George DeWolfe

Designed by Bob Aufuldish

Published by Adirondack Photography Institute

 

Suggested Retail Price - USD $39.00 $19.50 (for a limited time, tax and shipping* included)

 

*shipped via Media Mail, which sometimes adds a few days to delivery time


 

 

 
"I feel that the partnership of these two forms of expression best describes my reality, my truth, of the Adirondack experience in all its concrete and unknowable beauty." - from The Adirondack Heart
 

Media Coverage of The Adirondack Heart

 

Read the review in The Weekly Adirondack here: First page, Second page

Listen to John's interview with Todd Moe on North Country Public Radio

 

Companion Video

 

There is a companion video piece to The Adirondack Heart. It can be seen here. 

 
   

 
"The moments he depicts are small, as is the way of all great things." - George DeWolfe, from The Adirondack Heart
 

Q & A with John and Bob Aufuldish (the book's designer)

 

Q: What made you decide to publish a book?

John: It started out as just something to work on, something to keep me occupied during a very lonely and introspective time. I never did set out to make a book. I thought it would be fun to set down some of my stream-of-consciousness reactions to one of my own favorite photographs. Other than some journaling I hadn't written creatively since high school, but I thought it would be interesting to try. Over a period of a few weeks I accumulated about a dozen photo/word pairings. It was about then that I thought "If I get better at this maybe someday it could be a book!"

Q: How long did creating the book take?

John: At the begining I was spending the winter in the Adirondacks, doing an engineering consulting project during the day, working on the photo project text most nights. I would go to the local tavern for some people-time, which is kind of a misnomer, as there's so little activity there during the week in the dead of winter, but I found it a great place to jot down ideas.

After that short period it was fits and starts, every now and then, for the next five years. I'm pretty sure it would have gone a lot quicker if I had known I was working on a book!

Q: What is the origin of the title?

John: When it became obvious what was coming out of the work, which was visual and verbal imagery portraying the exchange of ideas, or feelings if you will, between myself and the forest, I started thinking about a phrase that would accurately portray that. My heart, and the figurative heart of the Adirondack woods; they are one and the same. In the images that I feel are my best, we are a single entity for a moment in time. This type of connection with Nature is our birthright, although most of humanity lives wrapped in a collective illusion about that. I am very lucky to have access to this aspect of the world.

Q: The book features both your writings and your photography. Why both?

John: To my mind, the message emanates from the combination of the two mediums. Something that doesn't exist with either alone. To paraphrase the great photographer Minor White, not just what's there, but what else is there.

One viewer of the earliest pairings vehemently objected to including the writings at all, voicing the often heard cliché that the images should be able to stand on their own. I feel that the images stand on their own very well, but the message I am interested in uncovering does not appear without the inclusion of both elements.

The writings are inspired by my viewing of each image over a period of time; a period of deepening understanding. Eventually, I started to have certain feelings related to them. It's important to point out that none of these feelings were in evidence while the images were being created. Not while I was out in the field making the photographs. Nor when I as back in my studio making the first prints.

Q: Does the inspiration for both the writing and the photography come from the same place or from very different places?

John:
The inspiration for both images and writings derives from the same well, so to speak, the universal fountain of ideas. The terms of the creative process derive from the different facets of my life experience, and the resulting effect on my perceptual abilities. Imagine a Rubik's Cube, where each color represents some facet of your perception such as lingual, musical, tactile, etc. It is difficult to arrange the cube so that each side consists of a single color, in the same way that is difficult to create using only one area of perception at a time. All of them play together, ebb and flow.

Q: What is the significance of the book being split into two sections?

John: The two sections, Certainty and Mystery, are meant to represent the two ways in which we experience our relationship with Nature, in my view. There are things we know and understand, or think so. But there is also a large part of the relationship that we experience on a level unrelated to our five senses; it is non-verbal and intuitive, another reality.

The images I chose for the first section fall into the category of traditional American nature photography of the kind that most of us are used to seeing on a daily basis, hence Certainty. In the second section, I chose images that I consider to be more expressive, as opposed to documentary. I used various techniques to make images that manifest what I was feeling, rather than seeing. All of these techniques were performed in-camera, out in the field, as opposed to on the computer in my studio. Some of the effects are very subtle, others quite noticeable. I am encouraging the viewer to place more weight on their aesthetic and emotional response to the images, rather than their ability to identify the subject matter, which is why we also placed the location info in an appendix.

Q: As much a poetry book as a picture book, did that present challenges in creating the design?

John: Yes, it did create challenges. But I was very lucky to be able to work with a designer who was able to manifest my vision in such a unique and beautiful way. The book is a true collaboration in this respect. The fact that we have been friends since childhood added a whole other aspect to the creative process.

Bob: The challenges in making a book like this are pleasurable ones. There is a long history of artist’s books that combine image and text that provided the underlying inspiration for the design of the book. There is always a tension between which should take precedence—the text or the imagery. For John’s book I wanted there to be three ways to go through it—by reading the poetry; by looking at the sequence of images, and by looking at and reading the spread as a unit. Each way of reading gets you to more or less the same place.
In the first part of the book the arrangement of the poems is quiet (and traditional) and the typeface (Jensen) chosen to help underscore John’s intention of investigating certainty. In the second part of the book the poems are more visually active and their arrangement sometimes plays on the edge of legibility. The type in this section, Mr Eaves Sans, was chosen to make a subtle texture change from the first part of the book. Throughout, the images vary in size to create a rhythmic sequence as the viewer navigates though.
When John showed some of our initial studies to people not many of them noticed all of this, and
when they did they tended to fixate on the less traditional aspects of the poems in the second section. But our point was never to have them explicitly notice everything anyway. The point of all this is that it has a cumulative effect—that in the end it feels right whether you notice it or not.

Q: Why the Adirondacks as subject matter? What is your connection?


John: I think many artists working from Nature tends to gravitate toward certain places of great inspiration and work there repeatedly. There are some well-known examples. Edward Weston spent much of his later life working in one small area of the California coast. Claude Monet painted images of the same pond in France for many years. The central Adirondacks hold that sort of fascination for me.

My Adirondack experience began on a family vacation when I was eleven years old. My connection to the place was instantaneous and permanent. There is no limit to the inspiration I find there.

Q: There are many photography books dedicated to the Adirondacks. What differentiates your book from the others?

John: Most of the existing books tend to be documentary in their approach, using text to provide geographical, historical, or some other informational context. As I said, I didn't really start out with the idea of producing a book, but the one that resulted doesn't really concern itself with any of this. It deals more with our relationship to Nature, with the Adirondacks as example.

Q: Do you feel pulled to explore other parts of the US/world?

John: I would love to have some in-person exposure to the ancient cultures in which Nature plays a defining role. We have good examples right here in the U.S.

Q: What does this book say about you? After reading it what do we know about John Radigan?

John: it should be apparent that I think about things deeply, and that I have real concern for the well-being of my planet and my species. Probably also that I have hopes and dreams, proud moments and regrets, just like anyone else, even though the things I do to make my living are not mainstream by any accounting. Hopefully my love of all things Adirondack comes through loud and clear.

Q: Do you expect those who buy the book to consider themselves readers or viewers? What do you want people to take away from The Adirondack Heart?

John: I would like to see them become participants. Leave the cellphone, tablet, GPS behind. Go to a natural place that calls to them. Sit there for a while. Watch, listen.

Q: Are you pleased with the finished book?

John: Oh, yes. It was a very instructive and satisfying journey. Viewing it now is an experience unto itself, as it is still revealing things to me.

 
   
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