2.0–2.2 Output: Transform Awareness

James Grady
3 min readJun 19, 2012
Shadow of the Photographer, 2011

2.1 The Gap
There is a gap that drives awareness in my work. It’s the phase in my process where I transform my awareness of places, things, and people within my surroundings, from my observation to an edited piece of communication. I believe it is possible to accumulate inspiration everyday, 24 hours a day. Awareness and being present-minded is critical within my process, but it is more than just being aware. It’s a transformation that begins typically with a camera, both still frame and moving images. I attempt to capture what my eyes see as well as what the camera’s eye sees. I feel there are actually three parts to seeing and capturing: first, what my eye sees; second, what the camera sees, and finally how the environment looks at me once it’s captured.

If I am looking at an inanimate object, it has a certain presence-it looks back, and again I can understand that as the echo of my gaze. — James Elkins

I relate to historian James Elkins, who describes, “…as I look at someone or something, it looks back, and our gazes cross each other. My gaze finds its answer in the person I see, so that I can see its effect in her eyes. If I am looking at an inanimate object, it has a certain presence-it looks back, and again I can understand that as the echo of my gaze. I see and I can see that I am seen, so each time I see also myself being seen.” Observing my footage that the camera captures is the part of the transformation that bewilders me. When I look at the still or sequenced images, I feel places, things, and people are not only looking at me, but they are also speaking to me. These images are telling me a story as if I’m watching a movie or reading a book someone else has created. My relationship to these images, and this gap in my process is a strange one for me.

As I separate from my own captured footage, I see with fresh indeterminate eyes, but I am still unclear how this transformation occurs. Elkins continues to describe, “…we want to be pictures, not just to be in them, and so when I look at a picture I am also looking at myself, at a way that I might be. I want the relationship between my self and my world to be like the relationship between the parts of a picture, and so I look to pictures for advice on the ways that might happen.” The relationship I have with my captured footage in terms of transformation is a process just like navigating and adapting to our daily life. Typically, we are not actively out in search of finding something particular. Most days we passively move through life, letting our environment present itself to us, and we adapt accordingly. I feel the latter is how I relate to my captured images’ transformation in order for me to form a dialogue with it. It is how I choose to transform the information presented to me, and that is the key to this gap in my process.

Originally published at http://jamesjgrady.com on June 19, 2012.



James Grady

Principal, Design Axl & Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, Boston University