In all of my work, the Threshold belongs in different forms to the images inspired by architecture. Reflecting upon the concepts of limit, absence and elsewhere, I explore the Threshold through metaphors of space, symbols of places and, ultimately, presence and absence of light.
In architectural images, I recognize the Threshold in transitional sites interpreted as models of reality: that limit between here and elsewhere, presence and absence unveiling a site’s potential for experiences and otherness. It connects and separates simultaneous visions of interior and exterior that are a border overlooking two worlds, of which one could not exist without the other: everything that joins, separates.
The places I represent are uninhabited, immobile and suspended in time, as if men were ingrained and contained in their spatial emanations, without ever being named. Each work results from a physical encounter and a direct experience. Following a perception and intuition, and the coincidence of a physical and mental position, there is a recognition of a given place expressed in time and space, rendered by means of light.
My predilection for the zones of transition seems to indicate that Photography, considered as a symbolic language, can be thought of as a Threshold between what is visible and its multiple levels of interpretation: the point of balance between material and immaterial, real and possible.
Photography is a means and an interface, a two-dimensional plane where two opposite flows of information meet and mutually shape each other. One is endlessly streaming from the outer world in its thorough and raw state, and the other from our invisible inner world where images are formed, processed and brought to light. The image plane is an active Threshold placed between the Subject and the Real: Us and It.
The architectural element depicted by this image is the most extraordinary symbolic model of space I ever encountered: the Myhrab the Islamic prayer niche. It represents a pure direction of the gaze, and in the worshipper’s eye, indicates the most sacred place in the Islamic tradition. The Myhrab is not significant as an object, but for the void identified by its presence: a void made visible. It is possible to read this photograph of a niche either as a concave or convex form: the former indicates an absence; the latter is the clear depiction of an illusion. In my vision, the Myhrab results from a double negation: it is neither a place nor a thing, being absent in the very space of its location. It always represents another place, which is distant and not directly visible: it is a void that indicates an elsewhere. I see the Myhrab as a symbol capable of giving man the power of ubiquity because it allows – the believer – to be here and there simultaneously, a virtual place and an act of faith.
The ‘Large Myhrab’ embodies a unique metaphorical value; it allows for seeing Photography as a Threshold that indicates a double virtuality. Accordingly, a photograph — is and is not — what it shows: we look and see through its surface, beyond and elsewhere: to see the image we think of the object. Like the Myhrab, the reality conveyed by a photograph resides beyond the image. Photography simultaneously is the illusion in the real state and the Real in virtual form.
Above the choir seats of a church, a large white stained cloth is suspended in mid-air. The photographic reduction of three-dimensional reality to a two-dimensional image reveals the perceptual ambiguity of planes, mutually conveying the idea of an interior or exterior space, either as foreground figure or background. Is the cloth suspended in front of the apse or is it a recessed space accessed through the two symmetrical edges of its aperture? This image brought to my mind the painting by Piero della Francesca ‘<em>The Dream of Constantine</em>’, in which the Emperor lies asleep inside a camp tent while outside two soldiers watch over him. The threshold to the inside of Constantine’s tent is marked by an aperture with a double curved edge. Della Francesca’s rendering of the tent’s entry resembles the ambiguous shape of the cloth in ‘Canvas,’ which appears inverted from the material and spatial reality of the place depicted. Is the problem the way things ‘are’ or how they appear to us? Can the image be seen as the active threshold between reality in itself, and what our thought can see and expresses visually in the form of an image?
The apse of a church built with white and grey stones discloses a surprising resemblance to speculative Islamic architecture through its re-presentation in a foreshortened and inverted photograph. This imagery also recalls Maurits Escher’s visionary architectures concave/convex and interior/exterior perceptual ambiguities. Once again, the photographic transposition of a three-dimensional physical place into a two-dimensional virtual space reveals a vision of reality undetectable by the naked eye, or perhaps only perceptible within the illusionary surface of an image?
What appears as a door is the foreshortened photograph of a skylight in the ceiling of the Revoltella Museum in Trieste, designed by the architect Carlo Scarpa. This image was rotated 90 degrees, so that the opening in the ceiling is transformed in a portal of light that allows neither the inside nor the outside to be seen, but only the immaterial presence of light and its crossing in a space defined by the limit between black and white, light and absence of light.
The Third Door
A wooden ladder placed diagonally across the steps blocks a portal to a steep ascending stone staircase. The open doorway and the closed passage seem to represent the possibility of crossing and an obstacle to its overcoming at the same time. To enter and exit, ascent and descent is impossible; only an in-between state can be experienced.
My work always indicates a process and an awaiting, but never a fulfilment. It solicits the choice of a physical and mental position that requires deciding where to be and how to see, standing on the threshold where two opposite polarities coincide on the two-dimensional plane of a virtual image. What I experienced then, in the presence of that door at the moment of capture, does not coincide with what I see in the resulting image. One is generated by the other; in the gap between the two lies an unstable fracture and a perceivable mystery. In my opinion the mystery lies not in the way things ’are’, an ontology we may never grasp, but how we see and, ultimately, experience them.