see2think

thinking with pictures


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And then what? – chasing the luminous light

Almost every day I visit the day’s catch for landscapes at http://flickr.com/groups/landcape/pool/ and seem to find a few keepers to mark “favorites.” Like one’s daily bread, there is a hunger to satisfy with one’s eyes. Something about well made images (Ansel Adams’ quote: nothing worse than a sharply focused picture of a fuzzy idea), many of which involve a great deal of planning to get on site at the right part of the day and in the right weather or season. [click picture for full size]

collage of favorites as of 30 October 2015

collage of favorites as of 30 October 2015

But beyond the quest for scenes and subjects that ring of truth or delight, what more can be communicated by the person who first spotted the shot and then captured it well? What more does the collector/viewer hope to gain by repeatedly acknowledging greatness in this way. In a parallel way, great music and literature or film can speak to the viewer. The effect is to elevate one’s spirit and sometimes to create a larger frame to fit oneself into, thereby giving context, and by extension, meaning or perspective to one’s past; one’s present, and one’s aspirations. Other times it is a spark of recognition; a deja vu feeling of seeing in another’s work some memory or related experience with light and location in one’s own road of life. Perhaps the zest of recognizing and capturing great beauty to share with others, of inspiring viewers, and of producing a bigger frame to fit a viewer into is quite enough for photography to do. And yet, year by year collecting these trophy “favorites” leads to what: sharper distinctions and more well developed taste, and the ability to sense as well as express finer and finer points. As such it is less about answering a question, and more about quenching a thirst; an urge for beauty and wonder of the frozen moment, but also suggested to be part of time’s ceaseless flow, too.


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Time and motion – studying up on these things

backgroundsharp-subjectblurs

You are moving as the world stands by

Serious illness that puts you out of the daily routines, or grieving a death or other big loss tends to stop you. As a result it feels like the world is rushing past while you are standing still. The experience gives heightened awareness of change, flow of time, mono no aware – the Japanese aesthetic of seeing things “as they are in essence” not as you want them to be or pretend them to be. You, the protagonist, are surrounded by ceaseless change.

You are standing still as the world moves by

You are standing still as the world moves by

Health, routinization and normalcy are the opposite to the above departure from smooth and steady activity, meaning, intention, purpose and progress toward goals. It those times you, the protagonist, are moving and all else is background to your storyline. The experience gives a dulled awareness of change. Things seem to exist in a changeless present in which “things will always be this way.” And “death is for other people; I’ll go on youthful forever.”

How very different, and yet complementary, are these experiences: one of changeless present and one of relentless tension between death and birth, creation and decay. In one you are in motion and background seems to remain static. In the other you are static and the background seems to remain in motion. Yet, perhaps both are true concurrently – we ARE in motion in purposeful ways but also the background IS fluctuating in the seasons, in aging out, in incremental gains and losses.