Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Mona Lisa North Shore Drive

As we headed up the North Shore's Scenic Highway I couldn't help but think of William Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive, my introduction to cyberpunk back in the late 80's. (Hence the title of this blog post.) The main character is Mona, a girl with a murky past and an uncertain future whose life is on a collision course with internationally famous Sense/Net star Angie Mitchell. In Gibson's world you go places you don't expect, with threads that unwind, sprawl and eventually return you to your own main storyline. And so it goes...

Sunday afternoon I took part in a Mona Lisa photo shoot featuring Ramona M in front of the lens, under shooter Dan Pugleasa's adept direction. As in Gibson's thrill-ride there's an international character in the story, and ours was Umm-e-Kulsoom, a young woman here in the States as part of a July exchange program involving journalists from Pakistan.

Umme from Pakistan played a role in the saga.
There are some people who will rush off and do an adventure with less thought then they would give to crossing the street. I used to be that way. Because I’ve become less inclined to impulsiveness over the years, perhaps making me a little stale, I accepted this invitation to tag along and write about this Mona Lisa photo shoot, Ramona Marozas modeling the iconic subject who appears in DaVinci's painting. Dan Pugleasa -- Less Traveled Photography -- believed he'd found the perfect location. As in brick-and-mortar retail selling, photographers also have a "location, location, location" mantra running through their heads.

The scene he envisioned turned out to be a secluded point where the Sucker River spills languidly into Lake Superior just North of the New Scenic Cafe. The privately owned waterfront property welcomed us warmly, as did its owner who was giving his dog a workout by flinging a toy out into the lake at regular intervals. As it turns out, he himself had been to Pakistan in recent years on international business.

Warm, but not yet mysterious.
After a short exchange, Dan, Umme and our Mona Lisa scoped out setting, selected a backdrop and proceeded to get down to business. It was something of a play in three acts. In the first act, Dan focused on capturing the Mona Lisa reproduction. Mona had come dressed for the part, wearing a crown of flowers. She had clearly been practicing "the look" and getting the hands lined up right, fingers laced over the wrist just so. The DaVinci Mona Lisa did not have one of her hands decorated with Henna, but no matter. It was not a detraction.

It was apparent Ramona had been working on how to capture the mystery in her expression. It was as if she were disengaging herself from herself on the inside, becoming removed from herself as it were, the grey-blue eyes becoming distant, perhaps lost in time while Pugleasa's camera clicked and snapped.

The second act took place in the lake itself, as both cameraman and model became immersed out by an outcropping of rock thirty yards from the shore. Act three involved our Pakistani guest who with great enthusiasm took control of the camera, directing her subject into various postures and positions.

Lining up the money shot.
After a timeless interlude, the four of us hiked back through the forest and up the trail to the car, soon heading back into town. As in William Gibson's story, the Mona Lisa will be jacked into cyberspace... to be enjoyed by fans in her new iteration.

Here are a few of the shots that were captured... each a story.

As long as we're being capricious, whimsical and wry, we might as well close out with a poem about that chimerical smile and the look mirrored in her eye. 

Mona Lisa Smile

She has a mysterious smile
Folks wonder what it means
It’s been written in the text books
And envisioned in some dreams

Nat King Cole crooned a song
About Mona Lisa’s smile
Folks have wondered curiously
And studied her awhile

Did she smile because of love?
That wistful little grin
A thought perhaps in her mind
As she remembered him?

Did her face appear in a dream
Her talented artist had one night?
Or was it, in fact, the face of the man
Who sketched his own mirrored sight?

Of course no one will ever know
The true story of the smile
But it’s great fun, don’t you think?
For she truly could beguile!
Marilyn Lott

EdNote: For the record, only the three high caliber photos at the end are Dan's. I can only take credit for the inferior work that precedes it.

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