Jake Shivery, Contact

The camera salesman Mr. J. Shivery reveals his meditations on vision and community in this eloquent commingling of first-person text and second-person imagery. Contact, the book’s title, assumes both literal and metaphoric implications. Literal, in the sense of contact sheets: these pages reproduce 8x10 inch negatives, the photographer’s choice medium, at a 1:1 ratio. Metaphoric, in the extraordinary way in which his vision contacts spiritual essence that speaks of both individual and communal truths. Qualities of place and relationship flow between people, photographer, and final image.

To label the work in Contact portraiture is too flat an assessment. One of the photographer’s dreams, recounted in his soul-baring, modestly profound afterword, described a large-format lens that has abandoned precise measurement and quantities in favor of symbolic suggestion. For me, this imagined instrument called to mind the alethiometer of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series—a mechanical instrument that utilizes intuition and insight to construct a truth educed from images. Which seems an apt characterization of the artist Jake Shivery’s oneiric, radiant records of singular individuals, including himself, in his Pacific Northwest realm.

(And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to learn that Daisy, the hobbling black labrador, was in fact Jake’s daemon.)

—George Slade, re:photographica, and executive director, TC Photo, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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