I See What You’re Saying

Until recently I had a difficult time communicating with people. Words have always been a big problem for me. I assumed that the issue was linguistic in nature. What I have come to understand is that this was more the result of a lack of proper socialization. Socializing is where language skills develop. Social anxieties, Asperger’s Syndrome, being homeless and more, were obstacles preventing me from developing adequate social and communication skills.

Through the years, as I struggled to find a way to interact and communicate with the world, (before the advent of the World Wide Web), I discovered the benefits of the arts. I found that, not only were the arts something to appreciate for aesthetic reasons, the arts were a form of non-verbal communication. Something that was within my intellectual grasp. (I tried reading books, but I lacked the ability to concentrate on that task.) I saw each painting, photograph, sculpture, etc as a message from the artist about the way he or she felt regarding the subject within the artwork. Though a one sided conversation for the most part, I felt as though I was connecting to other people, these artists. This gave me at least a modicum of validation as a person, more than I had experienced up to this point.

From time to time, I attempted to make a bit of art myself. But I failed to make anything to my own satisfaction. The images in my mind never matched what evolved on paper and canvas. It wasn’t until I learned how to operate a 35mm camera, in a 9th grade visual media class, that I was able to exercise some control over my “art” work.

Photography has always been an expensive project to undertake, so I have rarely been able to exercise my “art.” Whenever I could not afford to take photographs, I poured over art books in the public library. I often did not read the text, instead I focused on the pictures and studied their visual makeup. Understanding color, contrast, shading, the composition of an object within the overall composition of the artwork, etc., was my goal. If not at the library I would visit galleries, museums, and talk to artists when I could.

Though I did not have the language required to accurately label these aspects of art, I was drawn towards them when taking pictures. I was applying these foundations of art to my photographs unknowingly. I recall learning about the rule of thirds for composition. I took a sheet of transparency paper, the same size as my photos, and drew a line grid on it in thirds. I then placed this paper over each of my photographs. To my delight, I found that nearly every one of my images incorporated the rule of thirds in one fashion or another.

Throughout my life as an adult I have struggled with homelessness, about 14 years of which I have lived literally on the streets. Severe personal limitations and lack of useful resources have prevented me from making much of what I know about the arts. And my appreciation for the arts far outweighs any practical application I can make with my knowledge of the arts. But, during the times when my life became very thin, the arts were all I had, they were my life line keeping me from losing it all.

Back in 2002 I started writing a blog about my homeless experiences, using computers at the public library. Despite my issues with verbal communication and language in general, my blog gained some notoriety, and it has since enjoyed a steady following. Some readers of my blog have been very supportive. When the library changed policies about computer usage, hindering my ability to write, those readers responded by gifting me with a laptop. I have owned a laptop ever since, and have learned more and more about computers ever since.

Recently, I have discovered a unique way of creating artistic digital images using my laptop. No standard computer programs are involved in its creation, no photoshop or anything like that. It is difficult to explain the process, so I will dispense with the technical aspects of it. I call it, “Digital manipulation photography in a virtual environment.” I know of only one other person to use a similar technique, and our images still look vastly different from each others. Within this article are some examples of some recent creations. I will continue working in this medium and see where it takes me. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to have a gallery showing of these new works.

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About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless
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