Voice Crying in the Desert

Voice Crying in the Desert

Photo And Video Workshop

During the pandemic self-quarantine period, I devoted time to developing new skills in photo and video editing. Over the years, I’ve uploaded plenty of work to my photo gallery (www.tmpcarol.com. )Much of the adulation I received came from family members and friends and the occasional surfer who might have stumbled onto my website by accident. But I desired the cheers by a far wider circle. I wanted my works to receive the applause of the global community.

Quixotic, I know. But when you are approaching 80, you refuse to let old age become a barrier to youthful enthusiasm. I sat down and worked on a creative task I intuitively knew would make a sensation. A delusional self-portrait.

I couldn’t stop applauding my effort. A brilliant piece of work, I shouted out in the emptiness of the living room. I made a Viber video call to my older daughter to share my creation with her.

“Can’t be bothered now, Dad. I’m cooking dinner.”

“Yeah, but it’s great! It’s my breakout piece. See?”

“Sorry, Dad. Later.” That’s when she called out to the grandchildren. “Hey, you guys. Take a look at granddad’s breakout piece.”

A piece of advice for those of you who are aspiring artists approaching 80. Never show your clever efforts to your grandchildren. They are light years ahead of us in the use of applications and social media. .

“Cool” my grandson shouted. His unrestrained enthusiasm lifted my spirits skyward on colorful balloons. “And you used the Frog Effect on your Photo Booth app on your iMAC!” my granddaughter cried out with unshackled gleefulness at having discovered my technique. I felt as if she had caught me in a deceptive act, like the time my mother caught me with my hand in the cookie jar.

“I can do one, too,” she crowed. “Watch!” She produced something astonishing. Something that eclipsed my ineffectual effort. Now I understood the mortification Antonio Salieri experienced when Mozart upstaged him in front of the Austrian Emperor.

Well, I followed my own advice never to ask my grandchildren to evaluate my works and asked a woman in my apartment block to view my next creative effort. She had just celebrated her 85th birthday. “Take a look at this!” I shouted with eagerness. She was a little deaf.

I was brimming with confidence. No easily identifiable apps on this job! Well, if Adobe Photoshop is identifiable, OK. Yes. I used the app. But the photo I took with my iPhone was of a scene of restaurants across the river near Yokohama Station. “What do you think?” I asked.

“Could you make it larger?” she requested and moved closer to the computer monitor. She wore glasses that magnified her eyes to the size of billiard balls. “Oh, yes. I can see the red. But what’s all that dark stuff?” She took a handkerchief from her bag and began wiping the monitor screen. “Oh, yes, now I can see more red. Lovely photo!”

Oh, Lord! I saw my dreams of global recognition dissipating like smoke from a crushed cigarette in an ashtray.

I chose a different approach with my next photo creation. I invited an old girlfriend to dinner. She was several years younger then me, but we hit it off like gangbusters when I was several years younger. We remained good friends over the years since. I showed her the photo on my iPad I thought she’d rave over.

“I call it ‘Music in the Night'” I said, proudly. She grabbed the iPad from my hand and gave it a hard stare with her icy blue eyes. “I’d call it crap,” she said and thrust the iPad back into my hands.

“What if I called it ‘Nocturnal Serenade?”

“Crap by any other name is still crap!” she barked.

“You always were incapable of appreciating the finer points of art.” My retort unfortunately tore away the scabs of earlier, half forgotten grievances in our relationship. We hurled salvos of accusations at each other until we stop shouting and started laughing at our silliness. “Just like old times,” she said. Then she picked up the iPad again and nodded her head. “Not bad, but you can do better.”

Fighting my descent into artistic depression, I kept working on producing and then discarding work after work. “Not bad, but you can do better.” After several glassfuls of Chardonnay, I managed to create a piece I could confidently say was my breakout piece. “

“This one! This one is it!” I screamed out through the opened window of my sixth story apartment. At that moment the doorbell rang.

I opened the door to find the Reverend Gerald, pastor of the Church on the Hilltop, standing with a Bible clutched to his heart. A frequent but bothersome visitor, he doggedly pursued his mission to make sure I was ready to board that chariot bound for glory.
Ah, here was a man who’d give me an honest opinion, I thought
“Come in,” I said. “I want to show you a work of art.”
“Ah, yes, the ark,” Reverend Gerald began. He spoke non-stop as we made our way to the living room. “God asked Noah to build an ark 300 cubits long, 50 wide and 30 high.”
“Um, Reverend, not ark . . . “
“And God told Noah to collect every species of every living thing.”
“No, no, Reverend, not . . .”
“You shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive and they shall be male and female.”
“Reverend, not ark. Art!” I shouted when he paused to inhale. “Take a look.” I pointed toward my artistic masterpiece on the computer monitor. “What do you think?”
The Reverend clutched the Bible tighter and squinted his eyes to focus on the image. “You’re right. Not an ark at all, is it? More like a baptismal font.”
“A wooden bucket hanging over a well,” I corrected. “Look how I manipulated the colors. And look at the earthen tones. What do you think?”
“What do I think? I’ll tell you what I think. It’s high time the parishioners got off their duffs to take up a collection to buy a new baptismal font. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:42.”
I gave a donation just to get the Reverend Gerald back out the door.

My photo artwork was not commanding the success I imagined it would. Maybe, I thought, I should try video art. Yes, that was the ticket to global recognition. I worked slavishly over a video project until my eyes grew blurry. “Yes, yes. This is the one!”

“This is the one what?” Ezekiel, my lifelong friend from our days in the military, said. He was the only friend I allowed to walk in on me without ringing the doorbell.

“I’ve made a video art piece,” I said, with pride oozing in the syllables.

A video art piece! Great.” His head was already in my refrigerator scavenging for a stray chicken leg and a can of beer. “There’s nothing to eat and all you got is this cheap crap for beer!”

“Never mind the beer. Take a look at my video artwork!”

He snapped open the beer can. “Oh, hey, nice! But all it does is go round and round. I mean, is that all?”

“It’s art, Ezekiel. It’s art.”

“Boring! Boring. Boring. You know what you need to do? You need to have one of the goldfish leap out of the pond and devour the little girl in the park in one gulp in front of the horrified eyes of her father.”

I shut down the computer. Ezekiel was a lost cause, and so apparently was the entire global community. Maybe I was too premature in thinking I could achieve reach fame, fortune and immortality by 80. Perhaps I should aim for my 90s. Yes 90. By then I am sure to create a breakout piece of art. An art piece that will propel me to the forefront of global adulation.

Yes, that’s the one I want!

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