PhotographerAlan Chimacoff
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

The title of the series of photographs, EPHEMERA, implies the fleeting impermanence of each image, regardless whether the image is of something impermanent or something physical and tangible. Every photograph captures a moment and arrests it in time. Some of these EPHEMERA vanish in a fraction of a second--the internal explosions of fireworks--while others are physically real but only appear to be momentary and impermanent--a suspended sculpture in a building atrium--the headlight of a vehicle. Simultaneously, they are what they are and they are what they are not.


Alan Chimacoff EPHEMERA Photographs are instants in time, arrested and trapped. Whatever is captured—however transitory it might be in reality—exists for all time, and in a poetic contradiction, is seen as if it were meant to be so. Originating with the aptly named May Fly, which has a one day life span, ephemera are essentially transitory things or conditions intended for a brief life or usefulness. Ephemera are those fleeting moments when a view or glimpse or idea slips from the momentary grasp of the eye, ear or mind—the evanescent shadow or tune—quick to vanish, and called ephemeral. For their short useful life, pamphlets, notices or tickets for events are ephemera, and it seems ironic that libraries and museums would have collections of ephemera. Metaphorically, things that look impermanent, frail, flimsy or vulnerable, and seem destined for a short life span even if they are not, are considered ephemeral. These photographs are part of a growing portfolio of images that are true ephemera—conditions that last barely fractions of a second—as well as images of things that look frail, fleeting or impermanent but are actually quite substantial. Inexplicable things of unusual visual intrigue; the deep explosive innards of fireworks seem to be things that we know; the physical construction of a work of sculpture looks like it might vanish in its own cloud; the striated glass of an SUV headlight shimmers mysteriously. Absent conventional social content, these abstractions shed the obvious trappings of the comfort zone of figural art and pictorial composition. Instead they command attention to visual phenomena: composition, proportions, line, tone and shape as a primary visual challenge of photography. But they are not devoid of social meaning: they exist as direct or indirect products of the human mind. Confounding conventional conceptions of reality, simultaneously they are what they are and they are what they are not.

About Photographer

I am an architect and a photographer. My buildings are on major campuses around the country including Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Arizona State Universities and my photographs are in institutional and private collections.