We know more than we can say


Creativity and endeavour are often driven by a sense of frustration or dissatisfaction. The idea that 'we know more than we can say' is at least part of the frustration that lies at the heart of 'Photo-Dialogue'.

In Wendell Berry's 'Life is a Miracle' the line appears as he discusses the effects of scientific reductionism. HIs plea is that the context offered by individuality, time and place matters in a way that science often denies.  By thinking more contexually, he claims, we open up other ways of knowing that might offer us different ways of being in the world; 'we live beyond words, as also we live beyond computation and theory.' 

I made this picture among trees planted alongside the Tate Modern. The planting is deliberate, geometric and confined. The building is an industrial shell and the trees have grown within similar limits. Berry speaks to the nature of this kind of specific context: 'Even the trees are under this particularizing influence of place and time. Each one, responding to happenstance and circumstance and accident, has assumed a shape not quite like any other tree of its kind.'

As I worked, I found one of the trees, very specifically rooted into its context, was looking back at me. It seemed to hold a knowing that was more than I could say.

Steve MarshallComment