Monday, August 06, 2007

Odd Memorial

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About the Pictures

I shot these two photographs just minutes and a few feet apart on the Deception Pass bridge in Washington state.

Why I choose these - Philosophically

The subject of suicide is something for which I have no expertise nor desire to become acquainted. When I took this photograph, I assumed that there was no foul play, nor a loose correlation in which the surviving relatives or friends chose this spot for its beauty. Upon seeing the memorial, I felt saddened by the thought of a stranger's untimely loss. As I thought about it some more, there were elements of this particular memorial that struck me as odd. First, I was struck by the age. The deceased was less than 28 years old at the time, younger than I am today. At age 28 most Americans have finalized their academic studies, engaged in a career (or two) of their choosing, and have either begun or have sought the start of a new family. For many, that age is one of confidence, of status, of knowing one's place in society, and accepting the attendant responsibilities. At 28, at the brink of a new century, I saw the world as complex and beautiful. I wish the circumstances had existed for the deceased to have seen the world from a similar vantage point. Gazing to the horizon just steps away I captured the blue rippling water lapping against the islands below. I wonder, did this person catch this perspective?
Another odd aspect of the memorial, which is the principal reason for my photographing it, was the chosen point of view for the plate. Whomever looks at this memorial must look in the very same direction as the deceased did in his final moments. Is this what a family member would choose to see? As you read the memorial, you must confront the unease of looking down at the perilous emptiness below, which is anything but comforting. Perhaps then, this memorial is more than sentimental; it is instructive, cautionary. Its placement warns those that lean over the edge that death can happen here. More importantly, its chosen location might offer someone the chance to look slightly away, to see the beauty of the nearby vista, and conclude that one's view of life can improve dramatically with a slightly different perspective.

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