Gallery index

Leaf decay

01 02 03 04 05
06 07 08 09 10
11 12 13 14 15

This series of images resulted largely by chance.  I was outside raking leaves when I noticed a particularly striking red leaf. The leaf was “perfect” except for an ugly hole.  I thought it would be interesting to scan the leaf on my flatbed scanner, and knew I could easily “fill in” the hole on my computer using Photoshop.  After scanning the leaf, I zoomed in on the hole (with the intention of eliminating it) and was suddenly struck by the beauty of the image on the screen: an irregularly-shaped black hole surrounded by colorful, highly-textured, decaying leaf tissue.  Rather than eliminate the holes, I decided to make them the focal point of each image.

I went on to collect many other leaves with holes and became intrigued by the variety in the shapes, sizes and characteristics of the holes.  I wondered what event or natural process produced each hole.  I imagined that some were created by insects, while others were the result of disease or infection.

All of the holes were naturally formed, and most were less than a quarter-inch across.  The images were sharpened and the contrast adjusted with Photoshop, but the original colors and textures of the leaves were not significantly altered.  The holes, unevenly colored and marred by reflection artifacts in the original scans, were filled with pure black.

I have been intrigued by the variety of responses to these images.  For some viewers the black holes seem to function as Rorschach ink blots, their shapes inspiring all kinds of associations (including sexual ones).  Others focus more on the leaf tissue, seeing alien or aerial landscapes.  Still others see human or animal skin.  For me, the most fascinating aspect of these images is the tension between the empty, featureless black space of the central holes and the vibrant detail of the surrounding body of the leaves.  This tension is a metaphor for the continual struggle of every organism against the inevitable decay of the flesh.