Remembering 9-11 Through Cracked, Digital Tea-Tones of Glass

A Cracked Memorial Metaphor for That Historically American Day. Polly Nance. Digital photograph. 10 x 8 inches.

It may be cliche and unoriginal to blogly post a series of photographs in remembrance of September 11th, but what United States citizen could forget the chills of that tragic day? It was unforgettable and incredibly unsettling… It was the first day of class for all of us, freshman Furman University students. I’ll never forget how I walked out of my first college-level English class (on Robert Frost) and turned the corner. At that moment, I noticed a group of students and professors staring intensely at a Tv screen. I then noticed that those same students and professors all had their hands placed in front of their mouths; in an emotionally gestural, but silent gasp. I stared back into the Tv screen and noticed a skyscraper on fire. At that second, I heard a loud bang and witnessed what was a plane crashing into the second tower. Horror filled the room and was accompanied by loud gasps. No one could believe their eyes. I felt helpless and fearful of the future. I was too young and naive to pay any attention to politics at that age; until that day. I remember shaking on the walk back to my dorm room. Classes were cancelled for the rest of the day. (It was probably an omen… telling me to transfer 🙂 HA! ). I was fortunate to be geographically displaced and indirectly affected by the vision I saw. But, I was uncertain whether or not more was to come. It was a day that no know-it-alls knew the answer. And I felt deep pain and empathy for those trapped and vulnerable. It did not even seem real. Yet, I felt strength in the community of new friends that shared this memory; the memory of crowding into small dorm rooms to stare in shock for hours at the television.

These photographs are metaphors for the emotional consciousness and awareness of a vulnerable nation that I felt as I stared into that Tv screen on September 11th, 2001. Normally, when I edit, I try not to make too many artificial adjustments that strip the photograph of truth. But, occasionally, I feel compelled to artily enhance and manipulate my compositions in order to evoke certain emotions. My Lightroom adjustments, therefore allowed me to edit as if in a darkroom. I love the process and technique of tea-toning film photographs. Since I am working in digital, I tried to aesthetically mimic the same tones I find nostalgically beautiful. I cannot believe it has been ten years. And sadly I feel as if the cracks and scars of this day, have grown deeper as the years have rolled on. I am proud to be an American citizen, but I had an ignorant  political and historical perspective of our world at that time. I was a child learning to age. I did not understand what would could possibly provoke one to cause such incredible devastation. I have learned over the years, however, how deeply complicated and intertwined the ties of our nation’s international involvement are. Most of our labor is outsourced… the world is a different place. I am only 28 years old, but I have seen a dramatic change and tension growing in our world since I was a child. So much anger and blame floating around. I feel as if this pane of glass, cracked but not shattered, represents the vulnerability and sting of innocent American citizens that sat together in disbelief that horrific day. Anxiety and uncertainty for the future are building within a country that has always felt secure. No one seems to know or be telling anything truthful on the news these days. It is hard to trust and figure out who to believe. But the scars have also provided strength and awareness… a chance to hopefully bounce back; but not forget. Right now, this constant bickering between republicans and democrats seems incredibly childish to me, when we all live under the same geographical roof. Let us hold hands and bind the cracks; fill them with comprehension and compassion. For we are all people. And we are all the same. It is we who allow ourselves to become divided. We control our actions and ability to let go of anger. As I tell my son, “isn’t it more fun to be happy, than to continue being mad? Being mad is no fun!” “It’s only going to cause you to get in more trouble.”

To all those who hurt and were directly affected… but not defeated ten years ago. Just damaged momentarily in spirit…

A Digitally-Tea-Toned, Cracked Division Day. Polly Nance. Digital photograph. 8 x 10 inches.

In Light of a Day When the American World Turned Upside-Down. Polly Nance. Digital photograph. 

A Standard, Targeted Flag Still. Polly Nance. Digital photograph. 8 x 10 inches.

A Delicate Ode to Those with Pain. Polly Nance. Digital photograph. 8 x 10 inches.

Cracked, Glass Veins Threaded Through an American Emblem. Polly Nance. Digital photograph. 10 x 8 inches.

A Chaotically-Blurred Remembrance of That Tragic Day. Polly Nance. Digital photograph. 10 x 8 inches.

A Cracked, But Not Shattered, Memorial. Polly Nance. Digital photograph. 8 x 10 inches.

A Black-and-Complicatedly-White Distortion of an Innocent Civilian’s American Memory. Digital photograph. 8 x 10 inches.

Digital Tones; Uncertain Reverence for America’s Future. Polly Nance. Digital photograph. 10 x 8 inches.