Michael Murray, an unknown, pioneering New York-based artist (originally from the home of Kodak, Rochester, NY) was selling his work at a kiosk on Poet's Walk in Central Park when he was discovered by Gideon Bosker who then presented his work to 21st Editions.
In Worlds Apart, Gideon introduces us to Michael Murray's presentation of the world, John Stauffer tells us more on the myriad places where he created his images, and John Wood completes the story with an eloquent poem.
GIDEON BOSKER from Worlds Apart
Long before I knew Michael Murray had photography wriggling in the helices of his DNA, or that as a young boy he spent family day each year feasting on Nathan's Famous hot dogs with his father in the Eastman Kodak commissary on Lake Road in Rochester, New York; or that the dreamlike, elliptical beauty of such films as Thin Red Line by Terrance Mallick "changed everything" for him; or that the murky interface of quantum physics and spirituality is consistently in his mind's eye as he conceives, pre-visualizes, and manufactures his photographs-long before I knew these and all the other things about Mr. Murray and his iconoclastic life, I knew the first time I glimpsed the photographs he was hawking from bins on Poet's Walk on a frosty, skin blistering November day in Central Park, that the images this photographer had spent years perfecting were digging deep into unchartered territory...
It took only a few minutes of scouring through his images that day in the winter of 2012 for me to conclude that, in his lens, Mr. Murray had the whole wide world...
Under the influence of new technologies, from the first pinhole camera to the razzle-dazzle of digital photography, the camera has always been poised to enrich our engagement with the world. It is on this trajectory, that Murray's ingenuity stakes its claim. His photographs are testimonials to the power of photography for introducing a new perceptual framework: one based on the melding of technology with the camera arts for the purpose of remaking the world so we might engage it; and so it might stir us and so we might dream about it in new ways.
Aside from the sheer density of information these photographs extract from a single coordinate of longitude and latitude, there is a seething undercurrent of spirituality in Murray's work: a dimension-call it a portal to another world-that provokes what can only be described as reverential impulses. Perhaps, this is not surprising, since geometric configurations linked to centralized space have deep religious roots and have been used for evocative effect for centuries...
JOHN STAUFFERfrom Worlds Apart
Cathedral Gorge, a state park in Nevada, is in Lincoln County, about 160 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Standing a little less than mile above sea level, it looks primordial.
The gorge was created millions of years ago, when volcanoes erupted and deposited massive walls of ash. During the Pliocene epoch (5.3 to 2.6 million years ago), a freshwater lake filled the gorge. By the Pleistocene epoch (2.6 million to 12,000 years ago) the lake had drained. The continual erosion of the soft volcanic ash made plant life difficult but created beautiful patterns on the walls of the gorge that resemble tessellations. Since it was not good farmland, scientists in the mid-nineteenth century began referring to it as "badlands." Yet for hundreds of years it was also the home of the Fremont, Anasazi, and Southern Paiute tribes. Bison bones were recently discovered in the gorge that are between 400 and 850 years old.
In Murray's dramatic rendering, turbulent chiaroscuro clouds surround the desolate gorge. There is no sign of plant or animal life. And yet the rocks themselves seem alive. The tessellating cliffs seem like gates of an elaborate kingdom, breathing hymns of the gorge's history.
Wallace Stevens provides a poetic echo of Murray's gorge in "Forms of the Rock in a Night-Hymn":
The rock is the gray particular of man's life,
The stone from which he rises, up-and-ho,
The step to the bleaker depths of his descents . . .
The rock is the stern particular of the air,
The mirror of the planets, one by one,
But through man's eye, their silent rhapsodist.
Through Murray's eye, we see Cathedral Gorge as a silent rhapsodist.
A Seasonal Meditation on the Grace of Michael Murray's Eye
Small black shafts rise
in the surrounding snows
and lean back into the past,
into forgotten dancing days
hard on the ice of ponds
swirling with skaters
in the cold afternoons
of painted near memories.
Smoke rises from the red house
beside the swirling shallows
of the river. There is no sound
but the quiet of silent cold.
Winter will still last longer.
Nothing is yet finished
until the bounding crocus agree
to arise into his eyes.