'HEART' AT THE TOWER OF LIGHTS
By Sara Pentz
Southern California Photographer Cliff Wassmann's stunning
photograph of the Tower of Lights taken on the last
day they lit up the sky, has been chosen for a dramatic
"Remembrance" poster honoring the one year anniversary
of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center Twin
was a chance encounter by a printing company (PSG Printing
Services of Greensboro, North Carolina) executive that
made the poster possible - an East Coast meets West
Coast encounter made possible by the Internet.
searching the Web for the 'perfect' photograph to illustrate
the commemorative poster, PSG's marketing director Teresa
Yeager discovered Wassmann's photo at his Web site,
Yeager immediately knew the picture illuminated just
the right spirit and emotion her company, and other
cooperating printing companies, were searching for to
grace the historic poster. Wassmann, a native of Hackensack,
NJ, gladly scanned and graciously donated his photo
to the commercial printer on the other side of the country.
collection of printing companies led by PSG, Printing
Services of Greensboro, North Carolina, is now offering
the poster free to the public, and Wassmann has graciously
donated his photograph.
a photographer ever put his heart into a work, this
photograph reveals the emotional passion experienced
as he waited through the dark of night to capture this
charismatic last photograph of the tribute lights. Shot
in an early morning mists, the Tower of Lights reached
toward the sky and somehow magically carved a heart-like
figure against the clouds overhead.
Wassmann traveled back to New York in April to photograph
the twin beams of light that had been illuminated for
the six month anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he wasn't
expecting to create an image that was any different
than those done by thousands of other photographers
who sought to preserve the event. But on the final night
the lights were illuminated - and the only night they
stayed lit all night - a light rain began falling and
by 1:00 a.m. beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, Wassmann found
himself alone waiting for the right moment to click
his shutter. The clouds and rain helped form the stunning
image, with the faint shape of a heart at the apex as
the lights gently caressed the clouds. "When I saw the
image," says Wassmann, "I found it deeply poignant.
It became a doubly symbolic final tribute, allowing
our hearts to reach out and communicate love to all
those who suffered in this tragic 9/11 event."
lights made a powerful statement on several levels,"
adds Wassmann. "During wartime cities were told to turn
down the lights and what does New York do? It sets up
the brightest lights in the country, a beacon that could
be seen from 20 miles away! It was, at once, a defiant
gesture and spiritual recognition of the lives lost.
I believe it was the most important piece of public
art ever installed."
sets Wassmann's photography apart, in general, are the
spectacular locations as well as his keen eye for using
composition and color to lure the viewer into the scene.
Years of studying painting at the nation's oldest art
school, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in
Philadelphia, have given him a different perspective
on the photographic process. He is known for the stunning
clarity of his scenes of vast Southwest expanses and
rich landscape imagery. Rocky beaches, soaring sandstone
cliffs. It is these dramatic vistas that have become
the past 10 years Wassmann has been traveling to the
places that linger in our imagination, Easter Island,
Itza, Chaco Canyon, the lost civilizations and sacred
sites that pull us in for reasons
we can't explain. "Perhaps it's an ancient memory trying
to awaken. It's not hard to imagine our civilization
collapsing the way so many others have in the past.
When I wander alone though some of these ancient ruins
I can feel the ghosts of those that came before," he
limited edition supergloss prints can be found in collections
around the world. These coveted photographs include
the exotic terrain of Easter Island, the Seychelles,
Christmas Island, Antarctica, Chechen Itza, the Ancient
Americans, Hidden Canyons, Stonehenge, and other mysterious
images of Easter Island and Antarctica, places where
most won't go to the trouble to take the bulky view
camera, are astonishing in the depth of color and detail.
There are moments so fleeting, however, when there isn't
time to set up the 4X5 camera. In these cases Wassmann
relies on the Canon A2 35mm camera. This camera has
been the portal for some of his most famous images such
as surfing dolphins, rainbows and spectacular lightning
strikes over the Pacific Ocean.
Wassmann created www.mysteriousplaces.com
he never envisioned that it would attract such a wide
and diverse audience. Since its inception the Web site,
featuring sacred sites and ancient civilizations from
Easter Island to Chechen Itza, has elicited bravos from
such self-described enthusiasts as a 12 year old from
Wisconsin and a prominent UCLA archeologist.
come from around the world, thanks to the Internet.
Owners of a software development company in Ottawa,
who chose an Easter Island statue as their logo, purchased
Wassmann's photos. Others who have marveled at his artistry
include the Discovery Channel Canada, a French software
company, the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco,
Earth Magazine, the Travel Channel, and Microsoft, which
used the Web site to illustrate a book on Internet Explorer
3.0. Wassmann has received reams of email messages calling
his site 'the coolest.' Teachers across the United States
to teach about these exotic locales. "They put my site
up on the monitor in the classroom and go through it
page by page as part of their lesson plan," he adds.
Wassmann captures light, color and images on film favoring
us with the majesty of his creativity. Pictures are
memory records. "Rembrance," the poster, brings our
hearts together at a time when we will feel the pain
and remember our own memory books of 9/11.
to Wassmann and a group of businesses and printers in
the Greensboro area, PSG will print some 80,000 posters.
The posters will be offered through September 11th or
until the limited quantity is depleted. The "Remembrance"
poster will be available at Wassmann Fine Arts, located
at 34118 Pacific Coast Hwy. #1, Dana Point, CA. Visitors
may pick up a poster beginning Aug. 15 and see Wassmann's
exquisite collection of photographs of the memorial
at his studio/gallery. Digital copies of the image can
be down loaded by the press at http://aku-aku.com/download.
(Newport Beach, California-based
Sara Pentz is a writer with a background as a journalist
in TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. )
© Copyright 2002 Sara Pentz.. No unauthorized duplication
without written consent.