Joe Pintauro

Einstein Dreams

This unremarkable house exists in a most extraordinary location, relative to its quadrant point on the earth. The house is anchored by potato and corn fiends to the North, after which there is eventually the wide Long Island Sound and the rest of the United States. To its South are ocean dunes, the Atlantic ocean and what lies beyond . A compass places the house at 162 degrees South, South East, a line, which uninterrupted, crosses the equator. There is no other structure behind it that does not exist in a foreign country. But this is a small farmhouse on a tree lined Main Street in the United States of America. It has, a cellar door, a back pantry, a back year, and then the mighty Atlantic ocean.  It’s rooms have not changed in over a half century. The back door pantry has been invaded by ivy clinging to interior walls, as if the house is trying to marry itself to nature.  And yet, it provides a cozy welcome to it’s inhabitants. The curtains on the first floor are simple, the kind that used to be washed and dried on stretchers; white, translucent, reminiscent of the 1930’s. Wax fruit sits in a decorative bowl on the dining room table. A round washing machine on wheels is in the dining room corner. Its inhabitants have asked me why I have photographed their house from one identical angle over many years. The owner invited me in to photograph him and some of the rooms.

My first photograph of the house was an attempt to catch a flock of geese flying over head but looking at the print, I saw that the house was set low between two tall maples, which like spires, book-end the house to both the east and west. Between the trees and above the house, there is always a great stretch of sky which changes by the hour and often, by the minute depending on the wind and the changing seasons.
(* Note two winter photos printed on Kozo rice paper created the title for the photo project: Einsteins’s Dreams.)  I try to mark the movements of the earth with  these photographs of the house as the trees and the house go through various diurnal and yearly photoperiods. The two trees are for me, barometers of planetary activity.  Suns, moons and stars appear over this house which measure the passing of time and suggest for me, cosmic riddles of one kind or another. The house in that sense is a sun dial, covered in cedar, pine and paint, facing wind, rain, snow and sun, it’s past, present and it’s future.  

This is hardly comparable to smashing protons in search of new particles. Far less dramatically, I’m marking surfaces surrounding the subject.  Each day the question is: what became of yesterday’s light? What is happening in this new day, this new hour, this minute that never took place before, and how contradictory and magical is it, that within the house nothing seems to have changed in many decades while outside its rooms. everthing is in a continuing flux from one second to the next? Why do it’s inhabitants, which go back generations, hold the rooms so dear and constant, even welcoming nature inside?  But then Boticelli made of ivy, speech, emerging from the lips of an allegorical character representing seasons. We persons endure the same seasons and age and since we are small parts of the cosmos, even in our bodies, we wonder how alike we are to this house? In psychoanalysis, dreams of houses are often about the self.

One  hundred years, or two, from now, what will have become o the house and its two trees and ourselves?  What will hurricanes, tornadoes and the rising seas make of  the lawns around the house and of our selves and our planet which is rapidly warming? The tree on the left is already in trouble, defoliating more and more every year, far ahead of its sister on the right, but it loses it’s leaves much later in autumn, when the sister tree is almost bare.  

Snowy owls, Canada geese, migratory swallows, foxes, deer herds which surround the house  now, will survive in generations, if we help them. It seems that they, along with the house endure the seasons without any extraordinary protection, in nests of grass and straw, and like them, we live, and huddle in our own lairs and wonder about cosmic riddles we can barely only imagine, like this house and ourselves, all figures in what might have been, Einstein’s dream.

Joe Pintauro, 2016.