Timeline is among the most creative photographic projects to emerge in the art world in years. Many of us, historically, have turned to the photo album as a way to preserve memories of personal and family events that are worth noting, worth saving: birthdays, trips, ceremonies, the house where we were raised, child's play in the garden outside the kitchen window, our pet animals, family reunions, and even dark times caused by recovery from a serious illness. Each album becomes an archive, if you will, of who we are as a person, as a family.
Tom Young has taken this old idea and created an entirely new genre: visual fiction. Here, in each picture, he offers an assemblage of personal life that could very well be yours, and he has intertwined it with the interior and exterior places that can surround us: trees and rocks and windows and showers and fields of grain. The accompanying titles convey not only a direction toward meaning for each image, but also a declaration that each image is a work of art. Here, then, is a narrative of landscape and portraiture that suggests not only the photographer's life, but also, through the power of memory and shared experience, the reader's.
When Young was only ten years old, he had a medical procedure that left his eyes fully bandaged for weeks. Without sight, all of his other senses changed. Despite the darkness, he would imagine the world around him and the power of light as it relates to memory. In Timeline, one senses that the artist is seeing his entire world as if a life is being recollected in a split second. One image leads to another, building in nuance and subtly until we come to understand, as if by way of a sixth sense, how the little details of life create a larger retrospective. "If pictures could talk, what a tale they might tell." That thought lurks behind every image of Tom Young's masterful visual story of a life; Is it his? Or yours? (See the publisher's website for further information on exhibits and to view a slide show: http://gftbooks.com/books_YoungTom.html ) See a wonderful video from the team at Photo-Eye about the book: http://vimeo.com/67147795
About The Author
Timeline: Learning to See With My Eyes Closed by Tom Young is a fascinating photography book like no other. You could spend days, weeks, years pouring over each image and trying to understand whether it represents pleasure or pain or a combination of years. Tom Young damaged his eyes at age ten and spent some weeks with them bandaged and unable to see. With this experience he learned to use his other senses more fully and could imagine various images. He has translated this experience to most unusual images which appear to be some sort of digital collage of totally unrelated pictures that somehow in the recesses of your mind come together in some supernatural comprehension. They are mystical and you sense them as much as you see them, each provoking a strong feeling deep within the viewer, making you wonder what the photographer experienced and how much he is trying to convey or hide. It is a very unique and mystifying photo book you'll want to own so you can spend hours studying it and solving the mystery while being moved by the unusual images.
A (darkly) Delicate Balance In Tom Young's superbly designed and printed new book, "Timeline: Learning to See with My Eyes Closed," he presents a series of images that incorporate the fundamental elements of both photography and design. Color. Scale. Balance. Proportion. In the 60 images included in the book, Tom combines his objective and nonobjective photographs into a single, harmonious composition, displaying his refined mastery of the visual language. That said, Tom's images are not just examples of striking design; they are visual tone poems that possess an abundance of emotion. To me, this emotion is markedly dark and pensive. Many of the images (even though they were shot in color) give the immediate impression of being rendered in black and white. The greens and blues are minimal, often hidden in large areas of black and grey. The palette is dark, but the images have an intense, otherworldly beauty. The images are mostly vertical in format and give the viewer a sense of gazing out (or in) a window. His framing of the photographs with solid black heightens this impression. Tom plays conspicuously with the scale of the photos. Some photos command a large portion of the overall image, while some are hardly noticeable at all. In each of Tom's pieces, the photos are expertly composed to create an elegant balance of image, design, and introspection.
The sophistication of his photography and the personal nature of his work combine to great effect. When you spend some time with Young's book, the takeaway is a feeling of unhinging from time, a simultaneous awareness of past and present, like nostalgia and mindfulness all at once. It's not clear exactly where that comes from, but, at least for Young, the source seems plain. "Once you've had a life-threatening illness, it's with you,” he says. "It's in how you see everything, the world, even the clouds.”
Timeline: Learning to See with My Eyes Closed is a sensual exploration of the act of seeing and how we grapple with the world around us in the face of adversity. The photographs are carefully collaged to reveal a loose narrative about the photographer's life and early memories of a surgical procedure that left his eyes bandaged for several weeks when he was a small child. The photographs in Timeline are sensual and visceral. As a viewer, it is easy to transport yourself to the site of each photograph — one can feel the weight of a small child in your hands. Reach out and run your fingers along a patch of foxtails, smell the musky, damp earth, and feel the warmth of light drawn in through the windows. Young illustrates the power of the photographic image; memory is tangible.
It is with some joy that we meet works that can arouse amazement through the research of beauty and form. That's what happens to feel when discovering Tom Young's latest book. Try to travel inside this gorgeous book, one of the most beautiful of the last years, together with the music of the composer Max Richter. I listened to one of his records in particular, Blue Notebook, while vibrating Young's compositions through my eyes. Timeline is not only a superb photo story where memory, light and life mix, but a work signed by the presence of a renaissance. When he was a child, the author wasn't able to use his eyes for weeks because of a medical practice, a sensorial experience that changed his way to perceive himself in the world. The work becomes the answer to a series of questions that did not leave the author, from that moment onwards. Being only apparently a progressive story, Timeline is a circular story where each photo represents a space-time limit composed by several images and where, internally, the centrality of a wider image reflects in the satellite or in the following ones. We watch the story, between absence and presence of colour, not only of the story teller's privacy and of who tells his own intimacy, but, page after page, we watch the creation of a small world which we take part of. We should take care of time traveling more and more inside its pages, we could do it choosing different starting points, the book has a lot of entrances. At the beginning it will be the beauty of the compositions to attract us, then the discovery of the warp of the stories that multiply and in the end we will understand that Young's compositions have another type of strength that dwells in their fragility. The images in fact seem to arise around the consciousness of surrendering to time, that they witness just in evading, a certainly impossible action, the illusion that photography always takes with it, that is to tell truths stealing moments to time and therefore to the final dissolution. This one, as the photos of the book seem to reveal wisely, exists after all "only to eliminate the complacency of the possess that humiliates things”.
At age ten, Tom Young had a medical procedure that left both his eyes fully bandaged for some weeks. During that time he explored his other newly heightened senses, and when it was time for his bandages to come off, he was struck by the power of light. Timeline: Learning to See with My Eyes Closed is a collection of photographic assemblages and collages that capture the power of light as it relates to memory. Memories, dreams, and imaginings all come together in Young's images to form a timeline in which everything merges and yet still has order, much like the way memory functions in reality. These photographs document Young's life — his wife's pregnancy, family members' serious illnesses — and yet are universal, allowing viewers to share the memories and images personally. Young's images are mysterious and evocative, requiring the viewer to look deeply at each photograph in order to understand and fully experience all that is portrayed.