The word photography was coined in 1839, combining the Greek words meaning ‘to write’ and ‘light’ and this is what photographer, composer and entrepreneur Murray Hidary does so well. Hidary’s artistic journey began with the documentation of people and places in a journalistic fashion (Series 1 – 7), but rapidly evolved through Series 8 – 10 to explore his subjects—all the more deeply—through their abstraction. Today, a studied lack of focus (not to be mistaken for an absence of focus) makes him fluent in a Platonic language made up of light, color and form.
From fishermen casting their nets to moss and lichen (Series 1 and 4 respectively), viewed at such close range that they lose all context or a cumulus-studded sky that tilts wildly, unmoored from a sliver of land visible in a corner of the frame, Hidary began to use radically diagonal framing accompanied by blurred depth of field in Series 7. This gives way to vigorous movements of the lens (indeed, of the whole camera) under the influence of which flowers become radial whooshes of color and ghosts of images are layered over fainter ghosts amidst calligraphic sweeps of light. At this point, motion begins to sway the viewer to the edge of emotion.
Hidary photographs familiar subjects in familiar but environments, by using extreme perspectives, by placing himself close to or at a distance from his subject, confusing macro with micro (is it a burst of fireworks or a dandelion?). He favors foreshortened depths of field and motion to create glowing wells of color and, unexpectedly, lens movement to communicate a thrilling stillness. Hidary’s is an active meditation, work that examines the alternate meanings native to ordinary objects instead of the meanings that we impose on them by using or viewing an object mechanically, without thought or examination. Whether Hidary’s subject—a chair, a violin, a street sign—is recognizable or not, the camera becomes the medium through which he reveals the mystery inherent in everyday things that we take for granted. In this sense, his work challenges the limitations that physical form imposes on perception (and thereby, on reality). He dissolves material and form and with it our assumptions, associations and imposed meanings dissolve too. In this way, he uses light to penetrate the essential core of matter, and matter’s meaning to us.
Varick Street - Before
Varick Street - After