ANTHONY J MASTERS
By Matt L. Rohrer
Anthony says he takes pictures “to remember how (his) brain shapes moments.” His photos resist the subjective shifts that our memories create. No that’s not quite right. Anthony’s photos organize and then collect all of the subjective shifts that our memories create in one permanent image, a reference point to go back to. His photos document the futile attempts we humans make to “wrap our arms around a moment.” In other words, Anthony, with a solid dose of psychological awareness, records the mind’s attempts to shape events or moments into shiny, containable narratives. I read his photo of his chums on a hike, surfboards under arm, as: this is how I really wanted to feel that morning when I had hiked through five miles of poison ivy carrying a heavily glassed surfboard with my good snacks and kind friends and the water is so cold and I'm scared of sharks and why is there a dead elephant seal on the beach.
Anthony’s father once posted a video on Facebook of himself riding a bike down a dirt mountain, talking to himself in the voice of Anthony, about how crazy he was for filming himself while riding down a dirt mountain and talking to himself in the voice of Anthony, and then he falls hard and laughs into the camera. Anthony’s father was born stoked.
Psychologists talk about there being a rational brain and an emotional brain. Therapy is supposed to be about strengthening that rational brain and bringing its awareness to the the emotional brain, so that it can keep our emotional brain in check. The problem is that the emotional brain beats the rational brain every time. Anthony’s photos embody the moment when the emotional brain just beat up the rational brain. The emotional brain is stepping over the rational brain and walking out of the ring, walking out of the arena. All the images in the crowd are screaming for more but the rational brain is so tired and bloody and humiliated. It is filled with admiration for the emotional brain. But the emotional brain is already too far gone to care. It’s across the street crying into a bowl of phó, laughing at a cup of Vietnamese coffee.
Anthony Masters and I once fell asleep on a piece of plywood in my van on the side of Highway 1 in Big Sur. We both dreamt that the Pacific was after us and it was. We woke up with a park ranger banging on the window and he recorded our names. We are legendary. Anthony drank two jars of cold coffee and never stopped talking. He was born stoked. It’s why he always has words. It’s why he always has pictures.