Images of the Subconscious Mind



One week ago today I found the photograph at left in Death Valley Junction, California (just east of Death Valley National Park). I instantaneously saw the caped and hatted man in the broken pane of glass, assumed it to be Sherlock Holmes, and photographed it and moved on. I thought it was neat – end of story. Upon arriving home, I shared the image with my good friend, Johnny, who emailed back the word(s) “Darkman”. I recalled that there was a film of this name, so I did what we all now do: I Googled. And I was floored.

I barely watch television (I’d rather kill it) and see only one cinema film or so per year; sorry to say to you Darkman fans, it apparently never made my important list of films to watch. But somehow, somewhere, the image from the film stuck with me for nearly twenty years (Darkman was released in 1990). And despite not having seen Darkman, I found him in Death Valley Junction last Monday. I find the similarity uncanny.

It doesn’t end here. If an unimportant twenty year old image can lay dormant in my subconscious for this long, what about direct photographic inspiration from other photographers? Have the images of others inadvertently come out in your own work?

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.

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4 thoughts on “Images of the Subconscious Mind

  1. Not just photographic inspiration from photographers, but also paintings. Just as your image was inspired by a character. I think we all build a visual memory bank in our subconscious, which helps us to create images.

  2. “Have the images of others inadvertently come out in your own work?”

    Absolutely. Often times I don’t actually recall the specifics of an image, more a feeling or overall theme/pattern/idea that sticks with me – an ‘essence’. Sometimes it’s a theme that emerges from seeing a series of different images by different photographers that eventually lead me to see something of my own.. so I can’t directly attribute the inspiration to a single artist or work of art, but rather a blend of several similar images.

    Besides Darkman himself (which is of course just awesome), the rest of that shot works quite well too 🙂

  3. Beate: you are right, we all have visual memory banks. But I don’t believe that we should be creating images directly from the content of these banks, instead drawing inspiration from them without outright copying (as is often the case).

    Thanks for the comments!

  4. I highly agree with you Michael, you’ve got to give something a twist if you’re going to recreate it. Use the inspiration for fuel and motivation for your own creativity.

    Speaking of Darkman, I just the Watchmen recently and I wonder if they got the idea for one of the characters from Darkman?

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