'I felt that I breathed an atmosphere of sorrow.'
Edgar Allan Poe
Each and every time I immerse myself in the imagery of Michael Styles I am overcome with an overwhelming feeling of melancholy laced déjà vu. It seems the winter brings this out more. I didn't realize when I contacted Michael again this January, but while piecing together Light Of Day, I realized it is unintentionally the third part of a trilogy.
In November 2013, I did a piece featuring Michael's work entitled Where You Sleep. I followed this up in January 2014 with a story I called Winter Blues. It was not a conscience that was a dark winter's day that drew me back to a folder that had been dormant on my desktop since last year. While putting together Winter Blues, I put aside a selection of window images that brought the natural light of day into the rooms of the men Michael captured.
As I thought of a way to present these saved moments, my mind again went back to that room I spent much of my teenage years growing up in. Maybe part of the reason is that Michael shoots so many of his models in their own homes. One of my first pieces featuring Michael's work focused on one of his visual themes, The Apartment Project, which featured models in their own surroundings, increasing the comfort level and intimacy Michael's subjects had with their surroundings.
One of the other main reasons for the melancholy feel of déjà vu is the power my teenage bedroom had in forming who I am today. So many things happened in there from my first sexual experience, both with myself and with another, to it's four walls absorbing all of the joy, laughter, sorrow and pain of moving from one's twelve year on year through their eighteenth. It was eighteen that I first moved out (briefly though, I was destined to return for another year).
I was home visiting my family earlier this week and something hit me that I had never fully absorbed before. It was something I always knew, but never quite connected with my current writing and love of window theme images until now. It is only my parents left in the house, all of my siblings and I have been gone for at least 12 years. In the last few years, my mother has shoved our belongings at us each time any of us visit. They seem determined to have every memento and memory we ever owned extracted from the house. They claim it is to clear the clutter, but I think in truth it is to make it easier for us, leaving the house tidy and in order after they are gone.
My teenage room is now vacant, make that desolate. The room is in the basement, a floor of the house rarely used any more except for laundry and occasionally when a tool is needed from the furnace room. In the room There is nothing left of those years I spent in there. There is a new bed, rarely slept in for company, an empty dresser and night stand and not one poster picture or mirror on the walls. Those walls at one time were full of movie and celebrity posters and pictures of all my friends and I> The closet is full, but of empty suitcases and toilet paper and paper towels bought in bulk from Costco. The walls have long ago been repainted, covering up the scars of my youth.
'Melancholy is sadness that has taken on lightness.'
I love that Michael's work continually transports me back to those feeling I had in that room. Writer Calvino is correct that melancholy maybe have elements of sadness, but it is pain-light, covering the worst of the damage with a filter that makes it easier to return to and accept. Melancholy can even be enjoyable. With the right frame of mind, the right piece of music and the right glass of wine it can be something to actually look forward to.
I think I return to Michael's work more in the winter as it is the season that has kidnapped the natural light we all crave and need. Winter holds this light close, giving us just small amounts each day until once again Spring is able to steal it back. Through the windows in Michael's images, the light is always let in, it is always bright and always strong. It is always hovering, illuminating and freezing each and every moment within the room it watches over so that we can return to that feeling whenever we need that emotional fix.
Most of you know this image, it is one of my all time favorites, and has become the image used to represent the Artists Who Inspire link at the side of FH.