unimportant fragment

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(Unimportant and uninspired snapshot from this afternoon, walking down the street — see how low the sun is; it sets at 2.45 pm now, and there’s barely time to get out before it’s already dark.)

I don’t have much time, and I beg forgiveness. (I’ll look closer at comments as soon as I can.) Have a glass of champagne, or perhaps some ice-cream. Wake Rudi up, talk about old times (but please don’t mention eurythmy).

I got to thinking about that topic again, photography. I don’t know that much about it, theoretically speaking. Which is funny, because that’s usually what I strive for: knowing. I don’t do things, I try to know them first; first seeking theoretical knowledge, and usually not getting much further. Or that’s my self-perception, anyway. With two exceptions: photography and writing. The drives that make me pursue these activities must be different. Somehow. So I don’t have the theoretical knowledge that would enable me to sort things out; I know practically nothing about the ideas that have been discussed in the context of photography.

But I do feel that the ‘art’ part of it might be, for example, to entice a half-hidden reality to emerge and become visible. And what it all is about, in the end, is light. More than toying with a machine, we’re playing with light or — actually — we’re acknowledging how light plays with us. It is about observing light’s playfulness with the entire world; and it is to attempt to see not only how light plays with the world and everything in it, but with our minds. I know it’s trite, but even physical reality means it has to be this way, and this ‘art’ is no different from any other visual art in that sense.

If photography were solely about pushing a button on (‘toying with’) a machine — depending on the kind of camera, it might be that simple, I suppose (though it’s not with mine) — and capturing what we see more or less exactly as happens to look where we happen to be standing — without exercising a sense for or judgment of light, angles, perspective, shapes, and so forth — it would probably be, as far as the end result goes, boring. I suppose this very plain, documentary modus operandi might be a virtue for certain kinds of photography, for example, crime scene photography. But a lot mor often it is about something else, or at least something more. It’s an inner activity as much as any art; what you want is to touch someone, in some way, with what you do. In a similar way to writing, it is highly addictive to manage to do this (and to believe you might pull it off again).

3 thoughts on “unimportant fragment

  1. Go on with it, as you are doing it so well. Give a wide berth to people who have nothing to say, but insist on saying it.

  2. “But I do feel that the ‘art’ part of it might be, for example, to entice a half-hidden reality to emerge and become visible. And what it all is about, in the end, is light.”

    This is certainly interesting in view of the fact that anthroposophy is all about “hidden realities” and Steiner, of course, said the world was made of light. Light is spirit, right? Though what you are trying to do is the opposite of Steiner’s project, in a way – despite some talk, I don’t think esotericists want “hidden realities” to emerge or become visible – they like the idea that they know about “realities” that other people don’t know about and I don’t think they really want to give up that feeling of having special knowledge.

    Probably this is an unrelated ramble (on the topic of photography, but probably a mile wide of the actual target …), but I’ve had some conversations with anthroposophists who insist that it is terrible to always be taking pictures because then you’re not “really seeing” the thing you’re photographing. Being a piece of (the dreaded) technology (thus ahrimanic etc etc), the camera is thought to interfere with your immediate apprehension of reality. (Of course it’s insupportable, to imagine that some unmediated apprehension of reality is possible anyway, but never mind.)

    Anyway, I thought that was interesting because my experience has always been just the opposite – attempts to frame something through the camera, or to compose a picture of different elements in the landscape or my immediate setting – greatly improve my ability to see things. I take lousy pictures, but I always learn from the attempt. Sometimes I can’t see a thing *until* I take a picture of it.

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