Bruce Hall: Jack Knows Water
This week, Lenscratch explores the work of 4 fathers interpreting life with their Autistic sons…
Bruce Hall is a legally blind photographer, teacher, and Autism advocate. As Bruce states: My photographs are collisions between a photographer with just five percent of normal vision and my profoundly autistic, frenetically kinetic twin sons, Jack and James. I am hungry for vision and connection with my boys. Jack and James, meanwhile, endure a sensory onslaught and communicate in inchoate ways.
Bruce lives in southern California and exhibits internationally. Bruce and writer and wife, Valerie Hall, are collaborating on a large-scale, extremely personal project examining their twin sons’ profound autism.
Bubbles, spray, droplets, alternating still clarity and blinding colors. Nothing else can do this. It is truly magical. When is it that we cease to be amazed? And when do we stop noticing it altogether? Perhaps the disregard begins in the moment that we know its name. In the moment that the millions of unique shapes, colors, and sounds are reduced to one simple and mundane sound — “water”.
It is a great adaptive skill, to be able to name and classify things. Because then we can move on, supposedly to greater things, with our ability to cognitively retain and manipulate the concept of water. The name itself is reductive, and perhaps we lose something wondrous when we make this leap, but the understanding of the single multi-faceted concept of water—or of any concept—is a mental miracle.
Jack doesn’t know the word “water,” but he must have his own concept of water, unrestricted by a single word, or by any number of words. As hours pass and daylight fades, he continues to effect and perceive the many startling ways that water can exist. And he may never move on to “greater things,” but he knows more about the truth of water than most of us will experience in a lifetime.
Someday, Jack may know the word. Water. And as the connection between the word and the thing locks tightly into place, I can’t help but wonder… When he knows the word “water”, will he then cease to know all that water really is? –Valerie L. Hall, Autism In Reflection
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