My daughter, who is only 25, seems to be concerned recently with the question of death. Death is a complicated subject for everybody, and it will be interesting to observe what happens, when humans will have the opportunity to extend significantly their lifespan, and perhaps even transfer the content of their brains into a computer, before they die.
There are two faces of death though: what my death means to me, and what it could mean to other people.
Since I’ve started meditating, a sensation started creeping in, that it is possible to observe oneself from within one’s stream of consciousness, as if your body and even thoughts were making part of an external world, with not very clear boundaries. For example, the feeling of the weight of your body on a chair, and the pressure your body makes on that chair become one. In this light, death would simply mean to me to remain part of the universe, with my consciousness switched off for a good night’s sleep.
As to what it could mean to others, there is only one good choice in life: to give. If you spend a selfish life, nothing remains.
Switching from the mystery of the universe to the mystery of a feminine body might appear a long travel, but the mystery remains. Nude photography is something I’ve never really tried, if not for else, because of lack of opportunities. I think it is quite a difficult domain, because the topic has been explored very extensively, and finding a fresh view would result difficult.
One of the types of portraiture I’d like to try, is a close up combination of human body with decorative surroundings – something that would form a self contained image. Perhaps in this case some modest piece of a nude body could be easier available.
One of great contradictions of modern times, is that the unbelievable advance in science and knowledge, instead of leading to simple, clearcut and easily comprehensible answers to the most pressing questions man has to pose, is actually uncovering everywhere an increasingly complex web of processes and relationships, that influence each other on various levels constantly and defy a quick and once for all conclusion.
We intimately want a skeleton key interpretation of reality, which can be used to guide us in any circumstance without need to verify, interpret and update our beliefs. We look for simplicity and find complexity instead. This is perhaps the explanation, why even today, the majority of people on the planet claim to believe in religious interpretations of the world.
Bertrand Russell has touched on this theme partially, by presenting his Celestial Teapot theory, although he was mainly concerned with the burden of the proof in religion. In my opinion, the more relevant cue to untangle this riddle, should be found in understanding better the phenomenon of “change”. Change is both at the origin of biological life and physical processes, but then, one might ask, what caused change in the first place?
This might always remain an unanswered question.
I recall the fundamental maxim I was taught when first facing the FX market :
In an article titled “Is There a God?” commissioned, but never published, by Illustrated magazine in 1952, Russell wrote:
Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
This little shiny statue, at first reminiscent of a gesture of diving, caught my attention, because of the expression of the face. It radiates the kind of happiness you see in people who have just fallen in love, and suddenly in my mind the dive transformed into a flight among the stars.
If there is ever a chance for a man to fly to the moon, it will have to be when he is in love.
Have you ever had an impression, as if you saw something for the first time in your life, even if it makes part of your everyday surroundings?
– I bet yes. It was because you thought about that thing in a different way. Lateral thinking and lateral looking are twins.
What do you think these artefacts have to do with the 21st century humans?
If you look at the oldest found carvings – dated at least 35.000 years ago, the style appears somewhat similar. The oldest human artefact has been dated between 70.000 and 100.000 years ago. Why this is continuing to happen? Why people don’t settle on just buying dolls, Ray Bans and Panama hats?
I believe, it is because humans find the essence of who they are in the act of generating abstract thoughts. Transforming the imagination in an artefact is a signature of genus Homo. This is also why visual synthesis is such a powerful concept in art and design, the source of all “classics”.
Most photographs I see on Flickr, are from the “nice landscape” type. It’s not surprising, as nature often gives us “awe”, when we measure ourselves with it’s vastness and beauty. Awe is even being studied now, as one of the phenomena that can significantly contribute to our happiness. I like this kind of picture more – it is motivational and reminds me what can be achieved in life with purpose and insistence.
I find awe in nature, but more often I find it when I think what is possible, and what I could still live through if I take my chances and follow my dreams. Above all, I wake up every morning hoping to know something new by the time the night sets in.
The following tune is dedicated to an ex jazz concert photographer, whom I met last Saturday at Mike’s vernissage – I hope it will be appreciated.
It is the light that makes the shapes of things come alive. If you are blind, you can “see” the shapes of things using touch. In photography, the light is our touch, without light, distant world would always remain unknown.
The primary task of a photographer is to subtract. Unlike a painter, who starts with a blank canvas, we start with a multitude of ready images, out of which we need to select only the one we are interested in. In B&W, this is further reduced to form, geometry and light.
John Szarkowski, a late long term director of MOMA’s photography department, organized once a compendium like exhibition of photographs under a title: “The Photographer’s Eye” . The exhibition’s catalogue, subsequently enriched by his comments, eventually got published as a book, which should find it’s place in every photographer’s library.
The first chapter is titled:”The Thing Itself”. It is about the primary attempt of photography – to show us how things ARE. Pictures motivated by this urge often result in banal photographs, but at times, it takes a photographer’s eye to see something interesting in a common object. In a way, the scope of photography as art, is to show the ordinary in an extraordinary way. This the first post in this new series.