All the infinites

All the infinites

To die without regret is to have lived 10000 lifetimes or a single lifetime without imagination.

Here is an image that isn’t finished. Not that anyone else looking at it would know. It is what it is but for now let us pretend it is art. It should be okay to do so because it’s aesthetics or artistic qualities are not the point.

The image is made up of numerous photographs. On their own, each photograph is unmemorable. They are correctly exposed photos of things and possess no artistic merit or emotional value whatsoever. What is more, the photos were taken days or even months apart in unrelated locations. The only interesting thing about them is that I took them at all. I am not the kind of person who randomly shoots things. I have little interest in seeing what something looks like as a photograph (unless it’s taken by someone else). For the most part, when I walk around with a camera I capture what I see as an abstraction of a thought or idea that is itself triggered by what was just seen. A kind of closed circuit loop.

The fact that I took these inconsequential photographs is not the only strange thing about them, but also that I kept them at all. But keep them I did and eventually, for reasons I do not know and by a process I do not consciously perceive, these images are viewed collectively, or somehow remembered, and brought together as if linked by a thread of cognition running through them which suddenly becomes visible. A vision starts to form and the photographs are merged as one.

As the final image develops, certain elements come as a surprise. Such as the red tones in the above example. Surprising because the predominant colour in each of the individual photos was blue.

I don’t know how this happens. I don’t know why I take such photographs when I do and I don’t know what prevents me from deleting them when I clean up my drive and I don’t know what makes me link them together into a single picture. I don’t know. Not really.

Art is not a means to an end because the end goal is achieved immediately at each step of the creative process: Art nurtures the spirit.

Art does not deal in facts and figures. It does not seek to prove its worth or fit into preconceived moulds or genres. It is what it is. It does however, require an element of faith; first in myself but ultimately in life itself.

As I see it I can describe my life as having two parts: My inner life and my outer life. The outer life demands the most attention, it’s loud and brazen and beautiful and weird and ugly and scary and promising and so full of things; lots and lots of things. Even art appears in the outer life. My inner life on the other hand is quiet, almost silent. Beauty here is ethereal as are emotions. Truth is felt here at times though it is easily obfuscated by the harsh glare of the outer life the way the sun obfuscates the stars in the day sky. Art also exists here in the inner life. I suspect art (or in my case, the appreciation of art) is born here.

When I live the outer life I feel overwhelmed by information often times passing itself off as knowledge; knowledge about things. Buried under facts and figures I feel obliged or perhaps just tempted to find meaning in that knowledge or even in the things themselves. Sadly, if it is there, it escapes me. Meaning in the outer life seems elusive, fleeting, mere shadows.

Living the inner life however, is far simpler, more fluid and less demanding. There’s clarity and acceptance and the promise of answers even though the questions themselves seem unimportant. Even the question that asks for meaning loses relevance. And yet it is in this inner spiritual life – the source of art – that I feel sure of finding meaning.

And therein lies the trap. With the impression that meaning will be more readily found in the inner life, a disconnect happens between inner and outer, a kind of detachment between the two. The separation of inner and outer makes everything appear separate from everything else. Everything co-existing in a fashion but doing so chaotically without any apparent purpose. However, that sensation of separateness between me and everything else, between inner and outer, does not make sense to me.

Just like each of the separate photos that were taken to make this final picture. Individually, they made no sense. It was only when they came together that their purpose, their meaning, was found. And due to their apparent lack of connection, abstraction was the only way to relate them.

For me, abstraction provides a way of objectifying the outer life in a way that is independent of subjective reality thereby uniting the inner and outer views of reality. What I am trying to say is that while abstraction is often described as a departure from reality or as imaginary, for me, abstraction actually provides a clearer view of reality and a clearer understanding of life’s purpose. Imagination is, after all, what made this image possible; even if I have no idea where imagination comes from in the first place.

I doubt this makes much sense to anyone else. I’m having difficulty finding the right words but if I was to summarise it I would say that for me: Art and life are inseparable.

Yeah, I know… still no clearer. Sorry.

One last try: Imagination points to all the infinites that life has to offer and art is its language.

Ends and beginnings and other random time events

The boogie boarderSo 2015 was perhaps the slowest year for me in terms of photographic output. Almost non-existent really. Perhaps 2016 will provide me with a bit more impetus to get out there and shoot something. A return of some creative mojo would be welcomed. Of course that will mean buying a camera which is a shame because I don’t enjoy the process of shopping especially when there are too many choices.

Anyway, while on the topic of new cameras let me direct you towards the Light L16 camera which is due to come out this year. Some of you may already be aware of this camera as it was announced in October or November last year. I only heard about it yesterday. This camera has yet to prove itself but I am delighted to see a camera company dispense with the traditional film-camera body.

It seems to me that the camera industry is far too nostalgic about making modern, digital cameras look like film cameras. This may well be due to the market insisting that it be so but I can’t help but wonder how restrictive and inhibiting such thinking might be. The L16 incorporates some clever and innovative uses of modern technology which would not be possible in a traditional camera body. I’ll be interested to follow the launch of the L16 and I hope that it is a success; if only to encourage other camera manufacturers to think outside the proverbial and traditional box.

On a different note, I recently received the yearly report from WordPress which presented a bunch of stats for Plop over 2015. All the numbers were small and unmemorable as expected but there was one that stood out, namely the total number of posts for Plop. The number, by my reckoning was about 300 short. I’m not sure where all the posts have gone (and I doubt this will impact anyone) but I should have a look into it some time.

Also, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all the readers of Plop, especially all the regulars who’s comments makes it all worthwhile by injecting some wonderful insights, inspirations, encouragements, questions and levity into this blog. Many thanks to you dear friends.

Lastly, I wish us all, the strength, the courage, the sense of humour, the creativity and the wisdom to take on whatever life decides to throw at us this year. May we all have the best, and failing that, may we all make the best of what we get.

The unified field

The unified field

The unified field. Where all things and events are merely interconnected differentiations in form.

In a comment to a previous post, Ted Byrne wrote that the concept of “now” was itself not a thing. I agree with him when viewed within the context of this reality made real by thoughts and senses, opinions and ego. But perhaps within the context of a unified field where space and time become space-time, where all that exists is not there and then but here and now, eternity might simply appear as being made up of infinite nows. No pasts, no futures, just infinite moments in one immediacy.

The unified field. Where life flows timelessly.

∼ § ∼

As I am still without new material, I have here an image I made some time back. It is a loose and somewhat philistine interpretation of the Unified Field Theory (UFT). To be frank, I applied a large dose of creative licence to my representation of the UFT. Albert Einstein would not be amused, I am sure.

I won’t go into any explanation of the image (the opening blurb along with the caption will have to do). And I won’t go into the making of it which took more time than I care to admit due mostly to my incompetence at digital manipulations but I will state that at least, I was able to do some justice to the vision I imagined at the time of making the original photograph. Too many times I don’t even get close to achieving that.

∼ § ∼

Which brings me to the third part of this post.

Before Christmas I read an article that compared photographs and paintings – I would provide a link but I’ve been away since and I cannot recall where I saw it. The article made numerous comparisons many of which seemed rather strange to me. If my memory serves, one particular statement was along the lines that painting was subjective while photography was objective and neither should try to be anything else. It’s possible that the author was being funny or sarcastic – it’s difficult for me to read tone in an article – but at the time it read like a serious proposition. The suggestion, as I understood it, was that painting is for abstract representations of a subject while photography is for realistic representations of a subject.

To limit art, in any of its forms, is for me, incongruous, amiss and just plain wrong. As I see it, art needs to be free of limits. Certainly this can be abused at time but that’s a small price to pay to ensure untethered human expression.

I’m not suggesting that I view painting and photography in the same light. They are, after all, different crafts and as such I can, and usually do, judge them using different criteria. However when it comes to artworks, irrespective of their form, I tend to judge them simply as art; that is, in terms of feelings and emotions, meanings and sentiments, intents and expectations.

The image above was a photograph of the sea and of breaking waves but in this final state it is not a realistic representation of those elements. The image is now a photograph depicting an abstract representation of the Unified Field. Does this mean I should have used paint as my medium? I imagine it would look rather nice as an oil painting on a large canvas but would that change the intent? Would that provide a deeper or even more obvious meaning? Is this image a farce because it is a photograph that does not represent the sea and breaking waves?

I have no idea and will never know since my painting skills are far worse than my digital-manipulation skills. However, as it states in the caption below the image: I see all things and events to be interconnected differentiations in form. As such, I find that it’s best to leave limits out of the equation.

Especially where art is concerned.

I find that doing so provides me far richer experiences.

The silent witness

Consciousness is the thread in the fabric of spacetime

Consciousness is the thread in the fabric of space-time

When I wrote “Some place in between” I thought I was posting my last photograph. Having not handled a camera in months and being extremely frugal with the shutter before that, getting to the last photo was expected. This photo on the other hand, was a surprise.

I took this shot in 2008 and misclassified it with family snaps. And there it stayed, completely forgotten until recently when I was in the process of moving family shots to the Cloud.

It’s not an especially good photo but it will serve the purpose of this post.

I have a strong attraction to blur in photography because I am fascinated with motion. After all, it’s an attribute of all things in our reality. From the smallest quantum particles to the largest galaxy, there is unrelenting motion.

As I sit here at my desk in Brisbane Australia (latitude 27º 30′ 00″ S), the rotational speed of the Earth is 1487.9 km/h (924.6 mph). The Earth’s orbital speed is 107,200 km/h (66,600 mph). Meanwhile, the Solar System is moving around the Galactic Centre at 828,000 km/h (514,000 mph). And if that’s not fast enough, the Milky Way is moving at a ridiculous speed of 600 km/s which is around 2.16 million km/h (1.34 million mph) towards the Hydra constellation. Amazing right? I mean, imagine being a navigator on an intergalactic spaceship and having to find your way home after being away for a couple of years. That’s some pretty freaky maths you’d have to do.

Anyway, there’s an allure to putting units and numbers and labels on things: kilometres per second, miles per hour, light speed, light years, E equals m C squared. Anything to make this seemingly crazy world seem more orderly, less chaotic, less frantic, more still. Of course all these units of measure are all arbitrary as Lucien Poincaré tells us all too clearly in “The New Physics and Its Evolution”.

But what does the universe care that two plus two equals four or that there’s a maximum speed limit or that Fibonacci worked out a cool sequence of numbers?

The best reason I’ve heard for humanity’s incessant need to measure and codify comes from a movie that came out last year. As the protagonist Lucy – in the 2014 movie of the same name – says in one scene: “We’ve codified our existence to bring it down to human size to make it comprehensible. We’ve created a scale so that we can forget its unfathomable scale.”

Motion everywhere, never stopping. And yet …

… there is this one thing; so intangible that it can easily go unnoticed, but for all its elusiveness it’s everywhere I turn my attention to, perfectly still, completely unmoved by anything. I’m not sure what to call it but the best I can come up with is presence.

In the caption under the photograph I wrote: Consciousness is the thread in the fabric of space-time. When I first wrote this I was seeing consciousness as the element that separates space from time, the thing that allows duality to be perceived. I thought of consciousness as knowing or what allows us to measure and codify. The thing that is forever searching for answers, seeking understanding, wanting to create. Now however, I don’t see consciousness as the thread in the fabric so much as the entire fabric itself.

When thoughts are silenced and I am as still as I can be,  when I let go of all my ideas, my beliefs, my labels and anything else that I consider self-defining, in those always-too-short moments – moments I have so often associated with making photographs – I become totally present.

Presence: the silent witness to everything.

And in that presence I sense that I do not have consciousness so much as consciousness has me.

Living vicariously

If anyone was wondering what my camera has been up to since I stopped using it some months ago, then let me say that unlike me, it has not been idle. My daughter who recently turned 16, has been putting it to good use.

I’ve written about Stef and her still photography before but she has since developed a taste for making films and I am more than happy to encourage her in this endeavour. In that vein, I have given her my Sony which isn’t ideal as a movie camera but is nonetheless better than her older Olympus. Not to mention that it is also cheaper than buying her a Sony A7RII which is what she would really like but like all crafts, the gear only becomes important when the skills are well established and she still has plenty to learn and practice in the art of filmmaking.

She is strongly inspired by nature. Her experience of the Grand Canyon and Yosemite last year, opened her eyes to the beauty of the natural world and she is determined to go back some day and film those places along with a number of others that she has read about.

In the meantime, she is happy filming places closer to home. Places which hold their own beauty and which present worthy challenges to her budding desire of filmmaking.

Stef shoots, edits and scores her own movies. With only one more year at school she hopes to study Film & TV at university but for now she would be encouraged just seeing the number of views go up so if you have a couple of minutes please have a look. And she’d also be happy to get any feedback, good or constructive, if you have any to offer. With school and all her extracurricular activities she doesn’t have much time for this passion of hers but she hopes to build up her portfolio between now and when she leaves school so if you like what you see and you like to subscribe to YouTube Channels then I am sure she will be thrilled if her channel subscription count goes up along with the view count.

As for me, I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll be able to say to people that my daughter is a director of photography. I guess that makes me one of those parents who lives vicariously through their children. And you know what? I’m totally fine with that.

Thanks for reading and for watching.

Some place in between

In the movie Inception, DiCaprio and friends use technology to infiltrate dreams and plant ideas into the mind of their target. There are lots of topsy-turvy scenes in the movie which are quite trippy and disorienting but which create an absolute feast of surrealism.

There is a good chance that I was influenced by that movie when I created this somewhat unoriginal idea. At least on some subliminal level since I only made the association once I finished working on it.

I watched another movie recently called Ex Machina – my favourite Artificial Intelligence movie yet – in which the creator of the AI, Nathan, talks to the protagonist, Caleb, about Jackson Pollock.

Nathan: You know this guy, right? – Jackson Pollock. – Jackson Pollock. That’s right. The drip painter. Okay. He let his mind go blank, and his hand go where it wanted. Not deliberate, not random. Some place in between. They called it automatic art. Let’s make this like Star Trek, okay? Engage intellect.
Caleb: Excuse me?
Nathan: I’m Kirk. Your head’s the warp drive. Engage intellect. What if Pollock had reversed the challenge. What if instead of making art without thinking, he said, “You know what? I can’t paint anything, unless I know exactly why I’m doing it.” What would have happened?
Caleb: He never would have made a single mark.
Nathan: Yes! You see, there’s my guy, there’s my buddy, who thinks before he opens his mouth. He never would have made a single mark.
Nathan: The challenge is not to act automatically. It’s to find an action that is not automatic. From painting, to breathing, to talking, to fucking. To falling in love…

Not deliberate, not random, some place in between…

Making pictures can put me in that place. Sometimes.

I like to imagine doing all my actions in such a way: not deliberate, not random but some place in between. Acting independently of my brain’s programming. Acting in the spirit of mushin no shin, mind without mind. Coming into direct contact with reality without any intervening belief systems, dogmas or philosophies.

Not deliberate, not random, just some place in between.

Twenty thousand days

To me, most Rorschach inkblots look like sand islands surrounded by azure seas.

To me, most Rorschach inkblots look like sand islands surrounded by azure seas.

Today, I am exactly twenty thousand days old. Seems like a lot of days and yet the only one that feels real is today.

As I sit here at a desk typing these words, watching the sun set, I realise that I don’t truly remember any of the past 19999 days, at least not clearly. My memories are disjointed and full of gaps. Even yesterday cannot be recalled in full details from the moment I woke to the moment I went to sleep. At best, I remember past days much as I remember a dream upon waking up. Only today feels truly real. The rest of the 19999 days feel like a notion, an idea. Or dare I say, an illusion.

Maybe that’s the great cosmic joke that I’ve read in those Zen and Buddhists stories, the one that makes people laugh out loud upon enlightenment. Maybe it’s all just a dream and yet we spend so much time worrying and fussing and planning.

Maybe. Who knows? Certainly not me.

Anyway, twenty thousand days… that’s a lot of days and yet it feels like… just one.