These images form a whole ordered in a particular sequence under the concept of an unfolding visual narrative titled “Island Story in 5 Images.” Together, the images reveal a history of islands intersected by “the Age of the Sail” and the transatlantic slave trade. I obtained the photographic images by stirring water around in a small bowl and photographing the interaction between sunlight, fluorescent and incandescent light, and the moving water. These photographic images are primarily abstract with uncannily evocative figurative elements. The images are not manipulated. They result from the camera’s freezing of patterns in the water swirling too quickly for the naked eye to capture. In this sense, these images constitute a sort of optical unconscious, what surpasses our ability to see in the moment, but that is, nevertheless, there, as the photographic process reveals. However, what is “there” involves continual acts of interpretive perception on the part of viewers. The titles suggest a way to view them, but the images also exceed their titles with their polyvalent indeterminacy.
María DeGuzmán is a conceptual photographer and a music composer / sound designer. Her photography has been exhibited nationally and internationally (including at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston, MA). She has published a creative nonfiction essay in Callaloo, photography in the North Carolina Literary Review and Map Literary (forthcoming), poetry in Empty Mirror (forthcoming) and The Cape Rock, and short stories in Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas, Huizache: The Magazine of Latino Literature, and Sinister Wisdom. I am also a scholar and have published two books, Spain’s Long Shadow: The Black Legend, Off-Whiteness, and Anglo-American Empire (University of Minnesota Press, 2005) and Buenas Noches, American Culture: Latina/o Aesthetics of Night (Indiana University Press, 2012). She has in production a third book about writer John Rechy’s oeuvre (University of South Carolina Press, 2019). She has published many articles on Latina/o cultural production, and writes and teaches about relationships between literature and various kinds of photographic practice.