Enig­mas in art

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - Paul Wei­de­man

For the se­ries An Ex­per­i­ment in Per­spec­tive , Har­vard en­gi­neer John Chervin­sky turned to the world of art to play with forms and ideas and to pose “ques­tions with­out easy an­swers.” Shot with Po­laroid Type 55 film against black­board back­grounds, his still-life tableaux jux­ta­pose in­ter­est­ing giz­mos with en­er­getic pat­terns drawn in chalk. A se­lec­tion from the se­ries can be seen in an ex­hibit open­ing on Fri­day, Feb. 20, at Photo-eye Book­store + Project Space. On the cover is Hand of Man , an archival pig­ment inkprint from 2005.

FWhat brought the kin­dred spi­der to that height, Then steered the white moth thither in the night?

— from “De­sign” by Robert Frost

ew of the black-and-white pho­to­graphs in John Chervin­sky’s An Ex­per­i­ment in

Per­spec­tive se­ries breathe to us a clear mes­sage. But 2003’s De­sign — show­ing a maze­like, chalk-drawn fig­ure over a black box — con­tains fairly di­rect ref­er­ences to a 1922 Robert Frost poem with the same ti­tle, and specif­i­cally to what the poet in­tu­its may be a “de­sign of dark­ness.”

Chervin­sky said that in the poem “there is a spi­der that spins a web around a moth and kills it. The poem ba­si­cally sug­gests that if there is such a thing as some kind of grand de­sign, it seems like a sin­is­ter thing rather than the world be­ing a beau­ti­ful place en­tirely for our ben­e­fit. The box is sort of a dark, coffin­like shape, and the chalk maze refers to the spi­der web.” The print is one of nine from An Ex­per­i­ment in

Per­spec­tive , show­ing at Photo-eye Book­store + Project Space from Fri­day, Feb. 20. The shop also car­ries Chervin­sky’s book ver­sion of the se­ries. Limited to an edi­tion of 15 copies, it fea­tures gor­geous inkjet prints made by the pho­tog­ra­pher, which were cut and hand­sewn by stu­dents at the North Bennet Street School in Bos­ton. Chervin­sky did the book project with the non­profit photography or­ga­ni­za­tion Light Work, in Syra­cuse.“I was re­belling against the blurb­ifi­ca­tion of books, but it ended up be­ing a tremen­dous amount of work,” the pho­tog­ra­pher told Pasatiempo . “It was a

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