Art and religion emerged together. The manipulation of objects to create shapes, forms, rhythm, movements and representations based on an expression of harmony – or lack of harmony but with desire to find it through the expression itself – is what we call art. It is the experience, search and expression of inner harmony where religion came from.
To sense this inner harmony we must have our attention to our body, which literally means "listening" or sensing your body. Here is where things become complicated. Our culture and education make us grow up used to the institutional idea that we are our mind, while our body is an object that we possess. Some news reports that a person "was found dead" while other news reports that "the body of" a person was found [dead] instead of the person itself.
We are not our mind; we are our body. The mind is a product of the body. Sensing the body means being aware of the reaction of your body to whatever is in the environment around it. Because the body is constantly reacting to all kinds of stimulus outside and inside our body – temperature, surface textures, light and shadows, sounds, colors, things that are moving and shapes of things that are still – no stop, even when we are sleeping. It is what characterizes a living body. The constant reaction to its environment as biological regulation for the preservation of its life (homeostasis).
This constant somatic reaction, for self regulation of the body, happens thousand times at once, every second and fractions of a second. For this reason it is chaotic. The body can sense a wormith temperature that makes it feels comfortable while sensing a surface texture that makes it feels uncomfortable, together with many other sensing happening at once. It is pure chaos. But eventually, these somatic reactions find a common flux direction of impulses, a chemical, hormonal and feeling working in harmony in a flow.
This is a way to say that we are not one, we are many. The body is composed of many living cells and organs doing their own work and trying to keep in constant harmony with each other. The same happens to our mind. Science has never found a place in the brain where the mind is located or generated. The mind is not a single thing. It is generated from processes happening in many and distinct parts of the brain doing their own work, often in conflict with each other. Eventually, they find a flux in harmony to one direction. This flux is what we perceive as an "I"; a singular mind.
Said that, the body has a life of its own, apart from the mind itself. We can consciously control our body in many ways but our inner function is autonomous from our consciousness, and they interfere in our consciousness. Our political, social, and individual opinions are more related to this process of inner and outer sensation of harmony or chaos with the self than conscious decision. The surfer is not in control of the wave; the surfer is only in constant search to find harmony with the wave and, once found, he feels in control of the wave when in fact he is not, he is only being carried by the wave flow which he found an harmony. What we call individual choice is an assumption that our consciousness is in our mental control. This assumption is convenient to blame people for things that are not their choice when they think it is, and as such, it becomes a justification to control and punish people, which is also based on an illusion of us being in control of not only ourselves but everybody else (the institutional power of society).
What does it all have to do with finding enlightenment?
People try to find enlightenment as if it is their choice. Many gurus or experts will tell people what they must do to become enlightened. In reality, enlightenment has more to do about the harmony you find in your environment in relation to yourself. You can not compensate for your stressful environment with meditation or the search for enlightenment. Meditation may help you to distract you from your stress but it is not a solution against the cause of stress. The environment has to change and such change may or may not be possible by us. It depends on the financial, social, mental, health, among other circumstances. In other worlds, we can not control our reality with our minds. The best our mind can do is the creation of illusions away from reality, turning the intolerable tolerable to our conscious mind, but not so much to our unconscious and body.
But even in a peaceful place, enlightenment comes to you when you become ready, not when you think you have the control over it (because the control is an illusion of the mind). When your attention is on your mind you become unaware of your body and what is around it. You become disatentive from your body senses. Enlightenment is about listening to your body and trust that it has a life of its own, in constant self regulation in harmony with its environment. This harmony makes you feel connected to the flow of everything. Once you connect with the flow around you, you start feeling the environment and yourself as one – the abolish the self-other boundary.
It starts by giving up the attempt of having everything under your control, through your mind, and just listening to your body. But it is not a meditation as an exercise you reserve 30 minutes a day. It is how you live your life (flowing). Giving up control requires trust, then you can flow without fear, without even trying. When you try you end up attempting control and you don't get it. It's about feeling it through your senses.
Art has always been a path to it. Not the kind of art that just follows measures and rules to fit in an industry standard but the kind of art that one feels and expresses it freely, in a flow with it as one. It feels original because it feels sincere to your own inner self – your other self, or others chaotic selves, but now as one in harmony.
On the other hand, people find this harmony when collaborating and acting in harmony with each other as one, like in a chant, in a play, in a dance, with synchronized rhythm in a combined flow. It is what makes us naturally solidary. Our solidary impulses created the environment, in human societies, that made possible the cognitive development of mutual understanding. But Institutions of power take advantage of our search for harmony by offering a strong disciplinary conduct that makes many people in harmony; usually as a relief for an inner feeling of chaos. People who feel chaotic inside fear the same about society. They like rules, order, authority, power and a sense of control as a protection from their own inner fears. Once they lose it for whatever reason, they express their inner chaos, being destructive, aggressive, untrustful. Impulses to create chaos and feel victimized as a help that It will attract a powerful force that will impose their order through their discipline – a ruler, a dictator, a father or God.
We all need a sense of harmony with ourselves, a feeling of belonging, the flow that makes us feel as one with our environment – which biologically means self preservation – but not through authoritarian rules because they are an illusion of order and control hiding their chaotic impulses. We need it through trust, art and solidarity.
Film photography is not better or worse than digital photography, they are simply different tools, different processes and, consequently, different experiences.
The difference of experiencing of film and digital photography are not only in the process of photographing, manipulating and printing the photograph but also in observing and appreciating the print result.
With technology, mobile apps and computer photo editors can mimic the appearance of film photography but the ink print from digital camera does not have the same visual feeling and experience of optic print on silver gelatin from a film negative. Of course that for one to really notice the difference, and experience the difference, one has first to become used with analysing them because the difference is not in something one can spot on the image and point at to someone else with one's finger; It is rather something one just senses with one's eyes and literally feel as experience. It is actually true about experiencing any work of art. We do not have the same experience of looking at a painting through a screen, for example, because on the screen we are not looking at canvas and ink – and so we can not feel its texture, mass and pressure – but looking at pixels on a flat screen. It is no wonder that people who are used to appreciating works of art tend to spend more time looking at them than people who are not used to it; They are seeing and experiencing something more they know the artwork has.
One of the most evident differences of experience filme photography has been the higher dynamic range of large and middle format film negatives. The larger the film negative the less the print is enlarged when printed, or shirinked when photographed, conserving visual feeling of tangibility of elements in the image – the spatial distance between elements in the image. In other words, it feels the elements in the image are more alive, more real, more tangible and less abstract. Digital photography has been trying to use technology to obtain similar experience of film negatives and in some aspects, like dynamic range, it has succeeded to a certain point. Nonetheless, at the end we still are not looking at the same thing, and so not experiencing the same, when looking at ink printed from digital photo and when looking at silver galating from optic print.
The process of photographing is another aspect that differs digital from film photography. This process is not only relevant to the photographer because the process is part of the message; in any communication. See the actors in a theater and compare their acting from a movie. Because a different creation process gives them different experiences, the way they express their experiences will be different as well. The artist's expression is the main point of a work of art, so his process of working – which includes the tools they use – is relevant for the understanding and experiencing a work of art.
What does photographing with film negative mean to me? It means spontaneity with my creation and being more connected to the subject I am photographing. The reason for both is because film photography has no instant result screens for me to check the result of what I am doing. Without the distraction and certainty of a screen showing me the result I am forced to rely on my senses and trust it, which means being more attentive to my senses, my body – emotion – feelings and the moment, as I become more connected to them. Screens and tools settings of digital cameras are a distraction from what I am photographing and my experience with it, because the attention becomes towards the instant result, towards the control, instead of the experience of the moment. This instant result and control kills spontaneity, in my experience, and I like spontaneity; it is when the other selves in myself emerge and express themselves. The result in the message means trust, honesty, exploration and discovery.
Photographers can focus on the subject, their feelings and experience of the moment with digital photography as well but the fact it is a choice it is very hard to remain focused once the photographer becomes curious about the result. Regardless of the capacity of the photographer with the medium, the medium itself interferes in the message. Colours have meanings and communicate things, as well as the material of a work: wood, plastic, ceramic, etc. Different mediums also have different capacities and limitations. As McLuhren said: "The medium is the message". Choosing film photography is a choice of communication related to the message the artist wants to transmit. I also photograph with digital photography but for different kinds or work.
This is all to say that film photography is not merely a nostalgia, if it is at all. Choosing between digital and film photography is like choosing between oil and acrylic painting. Oil painting is older technology and acrylic painting has many advantages, such as fast drying. Many painters still prefer to paint with oil painting, not merely for the nostalgia but because it has a different experience than acrylic. This is the reason film photography is alive among artists.
A friend of mine told me this pink Garden Cosmos look very girly, telling me it is funny to think of me, a beard man, photographing such "feminine feeling" images. On the other hand, my psychology never had such strong gender division. I agree with her about this photograph looking girly, because of the delicate flower shape and pink color, but what kind of flower don't look feminine? As a man I like to contemplate the "feminine" world which normally is associated to charm, elegance and beauty. What makes this particular image look girly is the innocence feeling transmitted by the flowers and their pink and yellow colors.
Otto Rank wrote that we all have both feminine and masculine psychology with one being more strong than the other. Siri Hustvedt said that she sometimes dreams she is a man, mostly because as a writer she incorporate the male characters in her stories. She says that she is a woman but sometimes she is a men (when she dreams and writes). So I guess that sometimes I am a girl when I photograph, letting emerge my feminine psychology in my dreams and work.
I once had a Brazilian flatmate in Dublin who had just arrived in Ireland. In one of our first conversations he told me about the “prostitutes” in the bohemian neighbourhood called Temple Bar. I was surprised because after couple of years living near Temple Bar I have never seen a sex worker. During the conversation I realized the women he was referring to, as sex workers, were just women wearing mini-skirt – which is a very common women outfit in Ireland and UK even in winter. For the new comer from Brazil women showing more legs than he was used to see in public had an automatic association to prostitution.
In my first couple of weeks in Freiburg, Germany, when I was looking for a place to live, I was eating in a bar with my mother when a group of 5 men joined our big table. During the conversation they learned we are Brazilians and they told us with a big enthusiasm that they were going to spend their holidays in Brazil. After a while I asked one of them, who didn’t share the same enthusiasm as the others, if he was going to spend his holidays in Brazil as well. He answered with a gesture of showing his wedding ring on his finger. I suddenly thought he was suggesting that his friends were going to Brazil with sexual intentions, specially because sex tourism in Brazil is very common and many people in South Germany have the image of Brazilian women as being easy to take to bed – Since Brazilians are often very attracted to foreigners. Maybe I misinterpreted his gesture. Maybe he was just saying that he is not as free to travel as his friends who are single, because of family responsibilities, but I could not help thinking about sex tourism through his silent message.
I think it is interesting the fact that among Brazil, Ireland and Germany the first is the more conservative and moralist when the subject is nudity, which is a false morality to protect them from their own dirty minds. Different from Germany with many parks and saunas where people can spend their time – on their own, with friends or with their families – completely naked. During summer in Germany toddlers are running and playing completely nude in their gardens while in Brazil parents are concerned about their toddlers private parts, or even underwear, being exposed in public. In Brazil there are some isolated beaches dedicated to nudity but in general nudity is not tolerated or allowed – not even women topless. In Brazil, nudity is automatically associated with sexual provocation. Ireland and the UK don’t have the open air or sauna nude culture as in the Nordic countries but nobody mind women showing their skin. Once a naked woman walking in the streets in the UK was stopped by a policeman, not to complain about her being nude or supress her but, to inform her about the law saying that her being nude in public is not an offense, but if somebody complains for feeling offended then it becomes an offense.
Any bath place is supposed to be a place where people don’t need to wear clothes. In South France, where it used to be common for people to be nude in the beaches, people, and specially women, feel less comfortable with nudity today because of the new generation of young men who automatic associate nude women as a sign of “available to sex”. Women, then, became more frequent victims of harassment.
When I started with photography, in Ireland, it was always easy to find people to photograph, especially women. Soon I had my first boudoir photo shoot which, to my surprise, ended as nude photo shoot. It was a woman who contacted me looking for sensual photos but during the photo shoot she felt comfortable enough to just take out her clothes and continuous the shooting naked. Thanks to her I had photos for my portfolio which brought me more women wanting nude photos, especially after I developed a classic visual language with film negative photos that people became attracted to. Most people associate nude photography with pornography – anything can be turned into pornography in fact, it only requires the viewer imagination and intention – but it is not how I see my work. As a man I am naturally interested in women's beauty and women's bodies but it doesn’t mean I have the sexual view about people I photograph for being naked, but the opposite; I have a big respect for people who trust me and my work since most of my photo shoots are just me and the model.
Some people, especially in Brazil, quickly ask me if I sleep with the models I photograp, because they can’t help associating nudity to sexual activity. Nudity, instead, gives people a sense of freedom. I only photographed a couple of nude men and it was more evident from them their enthusiasm for being naked – and for having a creative image of their body's expression. I first realised about this freedom feeling in nudity when I was photographing a woman whose body seemed stuck during my posing direction. I told her that she doesn’t look comfortable and that I could not get good body composition from her. She then asked me if I could see her private parts, to which I replied saying that I am too focused on the body composition, lighting, camera setting, framing , focus and the image narrative that looking at her private parts never crossed my mind. It seemed to me her worries came from the fact I was photographing her with an old manual film camera, with a slow focus ring in the lens; Because of the system it takes me a little extra time to find the focus before I press the camera shutter release. I tried to explain about the camera to her but she was satisfied with my first explanation; She didn’t want to hear about my camera but to go on with the photo shoot. Now she was feeling completely free with no worries about what in her body may be exposed, even if it appears in the photo. It is through people's eyes where we confirm who we are .
We fear people's judgement which makes us feel self-conscious. When we are self-conscious, we feel uncomfortable, dissociated from the place and people around us, alien to our surroundings, causing us to cover who we are looking for privacy. Being naked and being accepted as we are without clothes means self-confirmation and so self-acceptance. It gives people more confidence about their body and so about themselves, because they can do whatever they are doing and forget about themselves, feeling more connected to whatever they are doing, enjoying the moment completely and so feeling free. Many people ask me how I convince people to take their clothes off or how I convince women to have certain poses when naked. I never needed to convince anybody to do anything, it was all their decision in the first place, their self-disclosure, to the joy of appearing in the world and deed without equivocation and without self-reflection that are inherent in action.
In Germany it is much more difficult to have people who want nude photo shoots. Instead of paying me they want to be paid. Often it has to do with the fact that Germans are more cynic for feeling suspicious about people's intentions, especially those who they don’t know. German introversion makes them feel more alienated from people and so more self-conscious, which explains the awkwardness that often Germans have. But this cynicism and uneasy feeling among strangers is not the main reason, it seems. I believe the main reason is because they are more used and so comfortable enough with their naked body in public. Instead of photo shoots, for the creative expression of their body freedom, they rather go to saunas and nude public parks where they can enjoy the freedom of their body without the need of interaction with another person, but on their own or with their family in their introverted manner.
The ancient Greek had the Polis, the public space where people could interact and become equal to others [accepted in it], which separate them from their private life where people had their own individuality. This public space was for Theseus what enabled ordinary man to bear life’s burden, for providing the safe space for public interaction, but it was also where people hide their individuality in order to become equals and so respect each other . The medieval Christianity thinking and social tradition had no Polis separating the public and the private. People became equal to each other not through a political space designated for political interaction but through every individual, where God becomes ubiquitous in every person's eyes, turning their presence public and their action as action towards God itself . Consequently, people had to hide more of themselves in order to preserve their individuality. I feel Germans keep something of this separation of public and private tradition, with their closed friend circle as their Polis where they can interact and express themselves to each other as equal, while outside it they can be “naked”, with no need to hide their individuality in order to preserve it; Or as Germans like to say, “being direct”. The Irish, maintaining a more medieval Christian tradition (I suppose), have the public space on every individual eyes who they can interact and express themselves with, in order to bear life burden, but hiding their individuality in order to preserve it. The photo shooting seems to be for the Irish the private sphere where people can be free from the public “burden” but, at the same time, they can appear to the public by showing their individual expression through the photo results, since it is only through others’ eyes we can confirm ourselves. It also seems to be the reason the so-called “German directness” is interpreted as rudeness for most westerns. Politeness is in fact against directness; Hiding our true thinking and wish to act, our individuality, to respect those through whom we see ourselves as in the eyes of the public arena – God ubiquitous. Germans feel free to not hide their true feelings because what the Irish see as public for the Germans is seen as private, the space where people can have their individuality, action without the public “burden”. The German introversion seems to be a preservation of their individuality on what for the Irish is supposed to be public.
In today’s society there is no such thing as private space other than our own home . The patriarchal family was supposed to be the private kingship where one can have our individuality freedom apart from the public, the reason the Greeks, with ancestors that had a matriarchal society, created the Polis as contrast to the private patriarchal kingdom  (the family). God ubiquitous came to replace the Polis during Medieval times. The Equality among people is what is replacing God ubiquitous in today’s society. Universal equality invades even the patriarchal family – the private kingdom – in order to assure people’s basic equality rights.
Different cultures find their way to appear and to hide. In order to keep prolific with nude photography, after moving to Germany, I started photographing myself; this time with pinhole cameras that works with long exposure photography. I never felt completely comfortable being naked in public – especially coming from a judging and mocking culture that is strong in Brazil, where the public and the private are merged and confused as attempt to find their individual expression and, at the same time, afraid of losing both all together – but doing my creative work that now included my own body expression made me feel very good and more comfortable in my own body. Like a work of art, which we create from our own expression, the body then becomes a work of art – or it has always been - through which we find our individuality in our nudity and, at the same time, our public expression through the image result. The public where we confirm our own self narrative, which without we have no identity.
 HUSTVEDT, S. A Plea for Eros. Separata de; HUSTVEDT, S. A Plea for Eros: Essays. NY: Picador, 2006
 ARENDT, H. The Life of the Mind: The groundbreaking investigation on how we think. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1977.
[3,4,5] ARENDT, H. On Revolution. London: Faber & Faber, 2016.
 ARENDT, H. The Human Condition: Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018. Second Edition.
 RANK, O. Psychology and The Soul. Mansfield Center, CT : Martino Publishing, 2011.
When we are born is when our existence starts. When we die is when we cease to exist. We appear and disappear. From the beginning of our existence we develop to the best of our appearance then we deteriorate until our disappearance.
As alive beings we react to what appears to us. Every smell, shape, color, texture and everything else that is perceived by the body causes it to emote.  We may consciously or unconsciously notice our body emoting, still, everything that appears to us tells us something about our own existence. 
Because we perceive appearance we also want to appear. "Whatever can see wants to be seen, whatever can hear calls out to be heart, whatever can touch presents itself to be touched. It is indeed as though everything that is alive has the urge to appear, to fit itself in the world of appearances by displaying and showing, not its inner self but itself as an individual" (PORTMANN, 1967). 
As we perceive appearance and want to appear, our existence in this world presupposes a spectator.  It means, nothing that appears exists in the singular, it appears to something else who senses the other appearance; everything that is is meant to be perceived by somebody. Every subject is also an object. The appearance guarantees its objective reality. 
Emoting, the body reaction to senses stimulus as emotion, is an automated body activity. Feeling is the nervous system reading of emotion and association of emotions to memories. As Antonio Damasio explains, emotions work in the body field while feelings work in the mind stage. 
When something appears to our body, and we are conscious about our senses perception, it disappears to our mind. The contrary is also true, what comes to us as thoughts - mental pictures and words - ceases to exist as physical to our senses even if the object in our mind is still in front of us.  Our mental pictures - our memories and feelings associated with them - keep the image’s existence in the world of ideas, of what ceases to exist from our physical body perception. It is as if the physical world stops to exist when we are penetrated with thoughts. In the opposite direction, the experience of body senses makes the mind silent, and the object experienced with our senses feels real. Being capable to silence the mind, as in a meditative state, is to be willing to let go what temporarily appears to our body senses. 
From shocking experiences of surprise and fear to great pleasures, the most impressive experiences are the ones that make us speechless, unable to describe, because our body, and then our brain which works constantly reading and interpreting our body emotions generating feelings and memories , are still processing the information; or because the object that appears to us is still very present to our body senses.
It is said that great works of art are the ones that make us speechless by silencing our mind, even though we always attempt to talk about them. Eventually we turn away from the attention of our body emotion experience and we drive our attention towards our mind - feelings and memories of the object we sensed the appearance of.
The stimulation we call art characteristically require us both to look very attentively and to look "beyond" (or "thoughts") what is understood as impediment, distraction, irrelevance. (SONTAG, 1983, p.134). 
Just as the great love experience, it is the one we perceive through our body - the body emotion intensity that drives our attention to it and quiets the mind - when we experience the best of other person existence; the height of their appearance to our senses. When the love experience is through the mind it only makes our body to emote to our imagination and memories expectation instead of the real object or person. The very samey is true when contemplating and experiencing art (both as creator and as spectator).
To have consciousness means to appear to oneself, but appearing to oneself (our mind) is not enough to guarantee its objective reality ; only what appears to our body. Only through the eye of an other person the individual becomes an object to himself (HUSTVEDT, p.370) . Through artistic expression such as painting, writing, sculpture and photography we are always communicating to somebody, a spectator, to whom we want to appear; Even if the spectators is one's imaginary self, the individual self narrative (where is formed the person's sense of identity).  It is as if the urge to create is an urge to appear in another object through which our existence can be perceived beyond our own. The artistic work is also where the artist appears to themselves, this time not only through their self narrative mind but through a materialized self to be experienced through the body senses - the body emotion - in the objective world. As if it confirms our existence to ourselves.
The same is the people's reaction to our own appearance which confirms to us our own existence. When such interaction is lacking we feel invisible. The body feels angry to confirm its existence. It feels empty. It feels as disappearing, resulting in anxiety, apprehensiveness about its own existence, which can only feel rested again once the senses is fed with the interactive reaction of its appearance to another person, confirming then its existence.
In such a perspective, the dream which we always have when sleeping, regardless of our memory of them when we are awake, is a mental stimulation to our body emotion to confirm its existence; A mental self assurance to confirm the body is still reacting, still alive. 
The anxiety to create something beyond our own where we appear through, to guarantee our appearance and self perpetuate through, comes from the awareness of our own death, which is the great anxiety one can have as a human. We fear our disappearance. Because of such fear we create culture, traditions, society, family, mythology, religions and, along it all, art. 
The common scientific sense which is highly materialist understands appearance as a function to the body preservation and survival. What if our complex body function is what works for our appearance sake?
Despite the mind, the body has its own impulses, its own automated behavior, its emotion. Even mono-cellular and protocell life reacts by what appears to them as a bodily impulse. What Spinoza called Conatus; the power of existence.  What ancient tribal peoples in the east called Mana, the energy from which everything appears from.  To be, is to possess desires. Homeostasis is what defines life, the impulse to preserve, perpetuate itself and guarantee its existence, self-confirming through its self-display.
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 EDEL, L. Henry James: A life. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
[4, 9] HUSTVEDT, S. My Louise Bourgeois. Separata de; HUSTVEDT, S. A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Esseys on Art, Sex, and the Mind. UK: Sceptre, 2016.
[3, 5, 7, 11] ARENDT, H. The Life of the Mind: The groundbreaking investigation on how we think. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1977.
[8} WATTS, A. Tao: The Watercourse Way. New York: Pantheon Books, 1975.
 SONTAG, S. A Note on Bunraku. Separata de; SONTAG, S. Where the Stress Falls. England: Pinguin Books, 2009.
 HUSTVEDT, S. Embodied Vision: What Does It Means to Look at a Work of Art? Separata de; HUSTVEDT, S. Living, Thinking, Looking. England: Sceptre, 2013
 SACKS, O. The Lost Mariner. Separata de; SACKS, O. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. London: Picador, 2011.
[14, 15, 17] RANK, O. Psychology and The Soul. Mansfield Center, CT : Martino Publishing, 2011.
 SPINOZA, B. Spinoza Reader: The "Ethics" and Other Work. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.
Photographers have a big outdoor culture. Most people interested in photography are usually also interested in outdoor activities, which they combine with photography, such as travelling, hiking, sports, nature, architecture, street photography and so on. No wonder that most photographers, and so most photographs we see around, are about registering experiences especially now with the social media self exposure.
Because of the fact photographs register the appearance of physical objects in the real world it was popularised by people wanting to register the tangibility of others they feel attached to and places to keep as memory, and so experiences that are related to such memories. But photography didn't influences people on such tangibility registration alone. The publicity industry took a huge opportunity offered by photography to use the image tangibility feeling and image experiences to induce people to feel, and so desire such objects, and experiences they see on images. Since publicity images are everywhere we go, including in our homes through screens. We are all very much influenced and have the vision adapted to the tangible publicity language.
Such publicity visual language is so influencing that most people, including most photographers, use such language as reference of photography quality, with a lot of people trying to learn and copy the publicity image technique, to copy such language, and present it as skilled photographers.
The lockdown and social distancing caused by Coronavirus brought many photographers to share their innovative, creative and tutorials on how to practice photography without leaving home, as if photography indoor is something unusual. After all, most photographers are after new places out there in the world and new experiences in such places, expecting to obtain the new, the unusual or simply the experience. The good photo are often associated on "how good" a place is or how good the experience suggests the object's appearance, its tangibility.
I feel the photography [visual] culture lost a lot along its materialist and technician path. Despite the artistic feeling of the activity it seems most photographers lost (or are lacking) the most artistic thing one can have: the abstract vision.
"What the greatest minds have ultimately sought from art is knowledge, a true and metaphysical knowledge, capable of reaching beyond the external appearance of phenomena in order to lead us to their intimate essence". - 'Seeing the Invisible on Kandinsky' by Michel Henry.
Many of the greatest photographers from the past didn't have to go beyond their yards to find endless inspiration. Helmut Newton said once he could always find the perfect location and inspirations just around the corner. Georgio Morandi spent years painting nothing but bottles on plain background. But how can one find so many inspirations and be so prolific in a single place or even with a single kind of object and subject? The answer is Abstract vision. While most people only could see endless bottles in Morandi paintings, he could see his hometown's rich landscapes.
When we look beyond object appearance and tangibility we discover a new and wide world. With my still photographs I photographed the human feelings and vices using only bottles, food, candles and masks; pretty much the very same objects for hundreds of photographs, working only with light and composition to create new scenes, narratives and feelings. The same with self portrait works I did in a single corner in my apartment, using the same few objects and my body composition to create hundreds of expressions in photographs.
It seems the photography culture needs to rediscover still art photographs and turn back to the abstraction vision so photographers can discover they don't need to go far in order to find inspiration, to be prolific and to enjoy the most of the activity. It starts by enjoying one's own vision first, before looking into the viewfinder to find out how things look like from the cameras' mechanical point of view.
Nothing would mean anything if I didn’t have a life of use to others, says Angelina Jolie.
Oliver Sacks said we are our internal self-narrative, the narrative we describe our experiences, the experiences of our acting and the experiences of our feelings. Without an internal self-narrative we have no identity, we don't know who we are.
We become ourselves through others who we interact with, who we share experiences, feelings and emotions. It means the self is always touched by the otherness, it's about finding or identifying the self in the other-self, according to Susan Sontag, who we recognize their features, mood, feelings, culture, believes and acting in ourselves. We can literally say that plurality is the law of the earth, without the other we are left with our thoughts and living solely in reflection creates insatiable desires, the endless pursuit to fill the emptiness (a biological unbalance) and feed a starved self-image, says Hannah Arendt. An urge to act because only through acting we can feel real and fulfilled. Experiences nurture our senses and through it is born the Self, says Fréderic Lordon who describes it as the economics of joy.
Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in others shoes so we become kind and honest to others as if we were doing it for ourselves, because we are feeling how it is to be in the other's position. This causes the brain to produce serotonin, that makes us have a well-being feeling. The same when someone is kind and honest to us, we have the empathy to put ourselves in their shoes and we understand they putting themselves in our shoes, allowing them to feel good in such expression towards us. For our brain it means we are socially understood and accepted. It is the cause of a socio-biological harmony because from others acceptance and understanding comes self-reassurance and self-acceptance. But we can also call it as love (Agape love to be more precise, the highest form of Christian love) that you can have towards friends, neighbors and even strangers. But if people feel alienated from each other in society it causes an opposite feeling and reaction called cynicism.
Empathy, social confidence and play are strong related, Play is embedded not only in humans but in all kind of animals; Fish, lizards, spiders, birds, they all play. It was found that play is part of evolution and as important as sleeping and eating according to scientist Stuart Brown. Animals that grow up playing have more social confidence and social intelligence, more empathy even towards other species, becoming less aggressive by showing less sign of violence and more relaxed. Some animals, such as rats, become depressed if hindered of playing. On the other hand, when growing up without playing animals and humans develop social anxiety.
Play is universal, part of every human being’s creativity and the source of a meaningful life. The capacity to add something of one’s own to the common world is the most elementary form of human creativity. If such capacity is destroyed, which can happens for many reasons such as economic isolation, social isolation or cultural isolation, isolation becomes all together unbearable, according to Arendt again.
Happiness is found on joy. We have joy on things that make us feel a biological and social harmony. The biggest joy one can have is to appreciate oneself as the cause of joy to others, which gives the person a grate power of acting and interaction (socially acceptance or the sense of belonging). Unfortunately, in our society, there is a big competition for that power through glamour, popularity, money, fame, status, etc; Things that causes the monopolization of joy, of the acting power, of social integration and harmony. Consequently, from such monopolization comes hate, blames, humiliation, envy, jealousy and further distress people causes to others, including exploitation of others or submission to others since being social is a biological necessity. Aloofness is the bureaucratic self images, or illusion, of a social power of belonging, as well as the power of being a gate-keeping of the social belonging.
Acting and playing means appearing. To appear involves confidence and risk, both that comes from trust. Trust we find where we identify ourselves with otherwise the other feels alien to us. When the otherness appears as alien to us we feel judged, excluded, hatred, cynic and not being able to act because of anxiety caused to such feelings, consequently not being able to become; Not being able to build an "I", said Alan Watts. The monopolization of joy through money, aloofness and even culture alienate people, the cause of feeling excluded from the socio-biological harmony.
The conclusion is that have fun is a serious matte. Through acting and playing we develop imagination which is important for us to gain a wider perspective of our reality, from our senses nurture , which means less alienated or less averse to different things and people.
So love people for let you express your empathy and let them express their empathy. Feel the serotonin effect together. Don't take life and people too serious but play and then let them go, move on. Be grateful for the moment experience you got and the nice memories they helped you stamp in your self-narrative. Be grateful to have an other person who accept you for such exchange for your socio-biological harmony, because it demands trust above all. If you have nobody to play with, make art.
At the end we are all the same only in different circumstances. Thank you for your trust on my act, that gives me a self-narrative about who I am and where I belong to, which without I would not be able to find my Self and there would be no “I”.
It's ok when the average public criticises or doesn't understand some photographs' meaning, but it's strange when those who were supposed to be aware about photographs or visual language miss the aesthetic meaning of good representation on nude.
"Is nude necessary?" a photographer asked. "I think you can make a photo appealing without the model being naked" he said.
There are many kinds of nude photographs. Some are made to be sexually appealing and some are not. It is actually much easier to make a woman sexually appealing wearing accessories and clothes that help to extol their body features than represent them purely naked who can only rely on poses and their actual body shape to extol their body features.
Everything in a visual representation has a meaning. Through a dressed model you can tell, or at least have an idea, about the epoch, taste, age, culture, social class and even personality of the person photographed or of who the photographer is trying to represent, just by the clothes. The same with the make up, location and gestures.
When you want to concentrate only on the body form, texture and expression everything else becomes a noise, or a distraction. Even colours, in many circumstances give meanings and become distracting when you want to concentrate on shapes and texture. This is why black and white images are often necessary as well as nude images.
I don't mean that works focused on body expression and shapes have to be nude. There are many ways of trying to do it with appropriate clothes. But with clothes it will not be possible to represent and appreciate the full and natural body shape and texture.
It also doesn't mean it has to be a full body frontal nude, because the frontal nude are often a distraction too, depending on the level of appreciation, theme and the way it is represented. It will be a distraction for those who are not used to it.
In other words, not all nude or even frontal nude representation mean to be erotic or pornographic. We can also be sure that there are a lot of erotic and even pornographic suggesting images everywhere we look at in our daily life through advertises on TV, magazines and billboards that apparently sell services and products but after all they actually sell life style, which also include idealised sexual attraction and sexual power. Often it is too explicit to be true, so we accept it or just ignore it.
The naked woman holding a mask symbolizes where we come from and the birth trauma, which is the origin of all human anxiety, according to Otto Rank. The word “anxiety” comes from the Latin root word “angere” which means to choke or strangle. The first struggle of human life is going through the narrow birth canal, which squeezes and chokes the baby when coming through.
The experience of birth trauma is similar to other anxieties, with the same physical symptoms of a panic attack. Unexplained tachycardia, headaches, extreme pressure on the skull, a feeling of drowning or suffocating, etc.
The separation of mother and child, and its birth trauma, isn’t limited to physical sensations but also causes the loss of the ideal state. Such a first world experience has a serious impact on us and makes us especially sensitive to all kinds of losses, wishing the returning to the prenatal ideal state, normally reflected in the social human interaction and intimate relation, because every person is born twice. The second time is when you earn your place among the people, by being accepted by your community where you develop a sense of identity and belonging.
Rather than a sexual symbol for the male pleasure, this image of a naked woman means something deeper. The sexual frustration is often a social frustration, of feeling socially excluded, away from the ideal state.
Without the social interaction and fulfillment the person starts overthinking. Living solely in the world of thinking gives the person umberable desires. The desire to fulfill the starving body. An urge to act and fulfill the senses, which ground us in the contact with the material world, the sense of being alive and belonging.
Ideology; everybody has one if you understand that ideology is just a set of ideas and beliefs that is based on the individual or group psychology and behaviour rationalisation, and which is not necessarily good or bad.
Every country and society has many ideologies. Among them one emerges as the dominant one, which will impose its psychology and behaviour based on its understanding of what is acceptable and what is “normal”. It means what makes sense from the point of view of one’s own psychology (and which may not make sense to others’ psychology, since truth is only a measure defined by a set of parameters that allow us to interpret our own limiting understanding of the complex rich reality. Such parameters will vary according to different ideologies and their psychologies).
People in every society will tend to fit in the dominant psychology and behaviour, even if it is not originally their own psychology and behaviour, in order to fit in the social expectations and standards and to become socially accepted, politically recognised, economically successful (or finding more chances for such success). Those who have more difficulty fitting in tend to be excluded in a way or in another, depending on their group size.
Regardless of whether one adapts well or not to the dominant ideology repressing one's own psychology to fit in will always cause a negative psychological effect. These negative psychological effects are sometimes well noticeable and sometimes they are not. There are times it becomes the dominant ideology of a group, as part of their group identity often recognised by the group members, but they seldom identify their ideology as being based on a repressed psychology rationalisation.
An ideology and its physiology tend to see themselves as logic and rational while regarding alien ideologies (the ones they are apart) as irrational, stupid, inferior or mad. This is why many people in the past diagnosed with hysteria were sent to madhouses, especially women whose psychology tends to differ from Men’s.
"The game is played as if there is an objective reality that can be accurately perceived without implicating the perceiver." - What Are We? by Siri Hustvedt.
Despite the fact that men can have, and often have, some of the characteristics which are predominant in feminine psychology, and vice versa, our society, that has a patriarchal materialist foundation, is based most on the masculine ideology and in a conservative society with such ideological tradition many women will have psychological distress caused by their own feminine psychology repression.
In modern societies where women are largely emancipated we find a combination of women well fitting to the dominant social psychology as well as society adaptation to some of the feminine psychology. We notice for example some strong masculine psychological behaviour, such as walking, talking and spontaneous reaction to distress, in societies like Germany as well as the Nordic Countries that is distinct from what we notice in Latin societies.
I said at the beginning that every society has many kinds of ideology in their physiology. Among them all there are two kinds of ideologies that I will give a generalized example based on my understanding so far. The first I like and the second I dislike because of my own physiology.
The first group is the kind who is often questioning things and because of it they are often questioning themselves. Because of it they are more willing to listen to people and ponder about others' positions, even if they already have an opinion or believe about what the other person says, they are willing to still find out if there is anything else to know, if something new will come up, learn and perceive from others. So even judging others they respect others, and even when certain about their views and opinions they don't take things too serious because they know that eventually they might find out something else to learn about. In short they are not absolutist (not religious) about what they have as their understanding, so they are able to adapt to changes and learn through unexpected casual circumstances which they set free.
This first group is often perceived as insecure by the second group, and in fact when one’s question too often his understanding insecurity tends arises and becomes anxiety.
“The things that fantasy can do is to normalize what psychologically is unbearable, thereby inuring us to it. In one case, fantasy beautifies the world. In the other, it neutralizes it” - Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag.
The second group doesn't like to question their knowledge and believe because for them it is more important to have certainty, to be sure about one’s own, than to risk the uncertainty. For this reason they are less willing to listen and ponder what people say because they don't like their certainty to be shaken. For this reason there is less respect among them and they are less willing to adapt and learn things when changes come.
In other words, they are more conservatives. They are absolutists, if you propose another point of view they get offended, they tell you you are wrong, if pointed at a problem in their absolutist rules it is not the rule that has problems but you (for not fit in the rule so finding problems in it).
It's ironic the second group to perceive the first as insecure because the second group is often highly insecure. Because of their insecurity they are attached to their certainty and are afraid of those who question what they have as absolutely true. They need it in order to feel confident and secure about themselves and, at the same time, they fear others’ judgement about them if they don't show they are right and certain about their beliefs.
On the other hand, the second group is more organised socially speaking because their lack of questioning what they have as absolute true, moralistic and rules makes them follow and fit in it regardless what, regardless of circumstances. It means they are more bureaucratic, they also speak a more bureaucratic language, and they are less adaptable to what is not expected. But when changes come they are the ones who have the more difficulty to adapt to, for being socially conservative, bureaucratic and absolutist.
The reason I like the first group is because individualism is more accepted among them. It means being different (according to your own psychology) and still being accepted as you are, even if one looks and sounds weird because it’s of to express you distinctive side. But while there is a sense of socio psychological freedom in the first group it also has the side effects of a social crisis of belonging. Where there is pluralism and fast shifting of trends it’s harder to find out where we belong to. Such a crisis is less noticeable in the second group where people identify themselves in the social predominant psychology an absolute order and behavior which they attempt to fit in regardless of what. But even then, the second group has its psychological side effects which is well noticeable in their tendency to impatience, grumpiness, rage storming, social phobia and cynicism about wherever they don’t identify themselves with, the alien ideologies and their psychologies.
“The most part we call “irrational” is just the Natural; but our “rationale” has become so unnatural that we see everything natural as irrational. Hence our psychology as the climax of men’s self-realization is inadequate to explain change because it can only justify the type representing the existing social order of which it’s an expression” - Beyond Psychology by Otto Rank.
Both groups can be part of any political spectrum. It doesn't make the person more left or more right wing in politics and economics if they are from either of the groups described.
There are things we hide from ourselves but we are not aware of it, they are kept in our unconscious. At the same time we express it through or activities, speech and feelings that generate our thoughts but we still remain unaware of it. Even if somebody points it out to us we tend to not recognize what we are hiding from ourselves and there is an emotional reason for it. What people want to deny the most in a debate is the evidence they are being emotional rather than rational. As demonstrated by Antonio Damasio in his book "The Strange Order of Things", we are essentially emotional and not as rational as we like to believe,
Many people are starving for recognition. The reason of it is because identity is ephemeral in a society where we can dream of and pursue to become whatever we want to. Otto Rank describes the past civilizations with a strong sense of belonging and identity through their activities. Back then, people normally continued to live in the same community where their family had been for generations, working in the same field and business that their family had for generations as well, without ever think of or dream about to become an aristocrat or a noble. Each social group, and their relation to their jobs, had their own distinct psychology, mentality, behavior, fashion and culture where individuals tended to bound together. This distinct social characteristics is where they would always find their sense of belonging and identity. People were recognized by their work and community. David Harvey goes further by presenting how the community's land and landscape are so strong related to the individual sense of identity. It justifies the socialist worker unions in deteriorated industrial economy - conflicting with globalists socialists - fighting to keep their unhealthy jobs as well as polluting industries in their community. Because without it they feel they are losing something about themselves, the sense of identity and belonging that they get from such activities and landscape, because it's where and what their entire community have been living and working through all their lives. With the development of capitalism, and consequently the rise of the bourgeois psychology, as Hannah Arendt describes it, the nationalistic sense of equality as the dominant social ideology influenced people to move from their communities and from their traditional activities to cities, looking for better economic opportunities in different jobs - also losing their "know how" with the development of technology and specialization. The result is the crises of identity we find in society today.
Our identity is presented through our expression and every expression is a message to an other real or imaginary person (sometimes ourselves). Siri Hustvedt explains, there is no "I" without an "other" because the other feedback is what makes me perceive and know who I am. Because we can go after whatever we want to be, by chasing down the best jobs opportunities and neighborhood to live in, we need constant feedback about what we become. Or even worse, the confirmation that we are accomplishing the success of our personality, meaning archiving our dreams that is related to our identity, which is confirmed only by other people recognition. When a person still feel insecure about their accomplishments and recognition they pretend (to other people and to ourselves) they are successful and confident about themselves. The person pretends to have the recognition or accomplishment they don't have as a way to convincing everybody (and even himself) it's true, calling those who don't recognize their successful personality as envious, afraid of them to revel what he has been hiding their fragile image. By pretending the person can play it as if it is true and consequently he feels it as if it's true, often convincing people and even themselves it's true even if deep inside their unconsciousness they know it is not true.
John Berger shows how the glamour was born, the acquisition of the personality image that other people wish to have. The aloofness is the bureaucrat attitude of those who are the gatekeeper of the social recognition and consequently social integration (the group acceptance that gives the person the sense of belonging) through images, as described by Frédéric Lordon. The pretending is in order to not feel excluded, as attempt to protect oneself from feeling miserable for not feeling partially or totally belonging to a group recognized as successful by today's society.
The biggest fear of any bureaucrat is to lose their power. A power that is imaginary comes with insecurity. Certainty is the tool insecure people have in order to convince themselves about who they are. They have to believe that what they are is absolute. They need to believe in the absolute in order to overcome the insecurity.
In a debate we talk about our opinions, knowledge and beliefs but these three things are not just data that we put in and take out our mind, they are identity. Identity is related to people's cognitive experiences because the brain does not compute, it emotes. What we have as truth is from what we trust. Trust we get from what we identify ourselves with, as being from what we belong to or wish to belong to. For this reason insecurity tends to make many people to believe that opinions, knowledge and beliefs are absolute. Or even worst, it makes people believe that science is absolute. When the person believes something is absolute they don't need to question it ever, and they will not like if somebody else questions it. Questioning something the person believes to be absolute if for him as if you are questioning his identity. Changing opinions or point of view demands a changing of how you perceive and identify yourself with the subject, which literally means changing who you are. The person who looks for absolutism doesn't want changes because changes are the cause of the insecurity they are hiding behind their absolutist beliefs.
Many people want to believe that science and logic are absolute so they can convince themselves that their supposed absolutist beliefs are scientific and logical. So they can use personal attack on the identity of those who question them, and their absolutist belief, as no logic or no sense. But science is the opposite of absolute because reality is in constant movement and changes. So it requires the person to always question, challenge and change what they believe to be their knowledge in order to gain and grow their knowledge forwards. Certainty does not allows it. If a person questions the thing they believe to be "the truth" then they may not be certain about their "truth". They they may not be certain about his absolutist views and such uncertainty exposes insecure people to their own fears.
At the end, most people tend to research about what confirms their bias, what they strongly identify themselves with, often pretending they are looking for knowledge when in fact they are looking for their certainty confirmation. Absolutism is not for people who want knowledge but certainty, as the David Bowie 's "Law" song narrates.
Certainty is for the person looking for control (about themselves, about a group of people or about society). The faith of an absolutist rule that will not allows things to change (so people believe). Every search for control, morality and rules comes out of fear. The fear of the unpredictable spontaneity. The desire to force reality/nature to adapt to them instead of adapt themselves to reality and nature symbiosis, with the believe they have the absolutist knowledge and science to impose their wishes upon nature and reality.
Nothing of this is new. It is so old that the Greeks dedicated many of their narratives to it. It's called Tragedy. Stories about heroes who try to run from their fate but they can not. Greek Tragedies teach us about our incapacity to control the reality symbiosis. A symbiosis that we are not able to fully understand. More than that, it's good that we can not control it because it is the over control that breaks life and nature symbiosis, so shifting times come as the symbiosis own self regulation.
If we understand it we become able to stop blaming other people for the changes in society, in groups and in ourselves that make us so insecure. Then we better can recognize our insecurities and fears because we become more honest with ourselves and with other people. Through honesty we start to identify ourselves with people around us then and find comfort in them, feeling belonging instead of feeling the fear of social segregation (the losing of an image and its segregating privilege), the fear of a lack of belonging in a society of ephemeral identity.
This photo of a Japanese Anemone has a kind of purity on it. It is a very simple image and I believe the best visual works are the ones that can provoke strong feelings or assert deep ideas through simplicity, with no distraction.
The white petals certainly help bring this idea of innocence which is intrinsic in the color symbology itself - reason why traditionally brides wear white. But the string sensation of visual purity is highlighted by two other main aspects of this photograph itself.
The first aspect is the fact that it presents a few elements to look at and, by that, I don't only mean the flower alone but also the color shades and textures. Our eyes don't have to travel much beyond the flower and for very long to have the complete picture formed on our mind. Nonetheless, the two elements behind the Anemone flower, together with the flower stalk, form lines that work as trails to our eyes pointing them to the center of the image, to the main subject, when our eyes go beyond it. These elements drag our attention back to the flower in a pleasing and natural way.
A second point in the blurred green background. The green color brings the feeling of nature to our mind which is also related to the symbolism of purity. The green color tones in the background vary from dark to bright but not strong enough to become a distraction, not forming shapes and lines distinct enough to interfere with the main elements. Around the flower is almost an empty space feeling but with this purity tone of green color that makes the subject enhance as a pure and innocent element.
As a newborn we don't know that existed a world before us, we don't know that the things and people we see, hear and interact were there before us, we don't even know the concept of "before". When a newborn cries as a reaction of the uncomfortable or painful feeling of hunger their mother offers the milk from her breast, while for the newborn it is as if they have created the milk out of his cries, it is as if they have create the breast, as if it is appearing from nowhere; for the newborn even their mother is his own creation, as everything that there is out there and come in contact with them. Donald Winnicott explains it's natural for newborns to feel like everything comes from them. It's not a thinking, not a conceptualization in their heads (since they have none) but only a sensation.
If we feel people and things comes from us then it is as if they are us, it is specially true in relation with newborns and mothers who they experience the more frequency and intense touch, glance and care; who the newborn recognize the voice, the movements and the heartbeat when in their her womb.
The process of growing up is a phase of frustration because it is when we face the harsh reality that we can't have things as would please us and whenever we want all the time. It is when we start to realize that our mothers are an independent person with her own individuality, that things don't disappear when we don't see, feel and hear them anymore but they just go somewhere else, in an other place and reality that exist independent from us and was there before us came to the world.
Winnicott explains it is important for the child to express their frustration; The frustration expression happens in many ways, from associating people and things with good or bad personalities they learn from stories, by expressing and illustrating such associations in drawings, through playing which Winnicott described as a serious thing for the child, because it is through playing children try to make sense of the world and express their feelings; by expressing the act of love or hate and even destruction when the frustration feels unbearable, such as kicking doors and throwing things on the floor in anger. When toddlers are repressed, forbidden or punished, for being aggressive or destructive, they express their frustration in dreams, often as a nightmare.
All expression, of any kind, is an act of creation and destruction of our wishes and frustration even for grown ups. The act of building things, shape things, drowning and interacting are acts of creation that often help us to deal and overcome things in life that we can not have as we wished. In building and shaping things, or painting and drawing, in an aggressive manner or in an odd, freak, antic form can be an expression of destruction. At the end, what differ adults from toddlers other then becoming civilized, which means learning to repress and express our feelings of love (creation) and frustration (destruction) in a civilized way?
Depending on how we were allowed to overcome our unbearable frustrations is how we learn to deal with it in adult life. Not being able to overcome our natural frustration while growing up creates damaged adults who becomes little dictators, manipulative, aggressive, expressing their emotional pain with mean comments about people, through aggressive identitarian expression (such as football team support, nationalism or so) or through political and ideological position as representation of good and evil to be fought and imposed as they wish. The wanting of creating the world the way they want and the frustration of not being able to, which turns people nihilist.
Art helps us to deal with our feelings, it helps us to become civilized, it is the playing and the symbolic association we do to things, just like toddlers do which deep inside it is always serious for helping us to make sense of this world. Every act and interaction is an expression; From the little help we offer to a stranger, in mean comments some people do about others' appearances, in art, especially in confusing art, all is a form of expression.
Maybe because of its expressiveness representation people normally expect art to have a message, so they try to interpret what pieces of art say or what they are about, turning art into a utilitarian object that needs to have an explanation in order to be accepted and recognize as art. But as Susan Sontag says in "Against Interpretation", art is not about something, art is not supposed to have an utilitarian use for the public who appreciate and collect it, art is not about something. Art is a thing of its own, its only use is to experience it, sense it, as we are supposed to sense the world around us, shapes, sounds, colours, texture, composition pasterns and so. The same was a child kinking the door because of frustration is not a message but a sole expression of frustration, a something to be experienced in order to overcome the frustration, a hope that out of the destruction a greater figure will establish order. Reason why adults should not ask toddlers why they are misbehaving, they don't know and according to psychoanalysts such question only creates more confusion and frustration in their heads, which causes them to overthinking, leading them to mental stress and depression.
We can create and recreate meanings according to our own individual or collective understanding and experiences. Meanings are important, they are the associative representation we use to make sense of the world, consequently we use such meanings in our conceptual expression. But meaning and truth are not the same thing, so art is not about the message it carries (the meaning we give to it) but about the experiencing of its expressiveness, as creation and destruction, as overcoming our deep painful and unbearable feeling that causes us to overthink, so we can quite our mind and experience the fulfilling calm stillness behind everything, after the fulfilling act.
We photographers, or any creative and art lovers, have a lot in common with those in love with business and money. Despite the criticism and sometimes conflicting attitude among our differences, resulting the feeling of being against each other, we are looking for the same through different means.
Either if we care about it or not we can't deny that society is highly driven by money, status, aesthetics and so. Values, that are things related to the power of influence. The influence to create and the influence of attracting people persuaded to collaborate with us for our creation. Collaboration that others offer as an exchange of some of the access to such values, which once acquired enough gives them the power to create and to influence.
We know about people who believe that human interaction has only one meaning, and that would be money (which all other values are related to). In this particular perspective, money is what defines you. Your abilities, your brightness, your position in society, your level of access to goods and services and your level of creative power. There is a truth in it, not for natural reasons but for cultural reasons. The only way to survive with an healthy and integrated life balance in today society is through acquiring money (which ironically, the stress and worries related to money often scorn our health and life balance). The amount of money needed will depend on the values and views of those around you I suppose.
What I disagree in this view is about money being the means of every human relation. It's the meaning for social integration at certain level but not the meaning of human interaction. Humans, as any alive organism, strive for survival and according to Antonio Damasio such survival is measured by the organism balance. We have the perception of balance through emotion (visible or invisible somatic action and movements in reaction to something that provoked them), meaning that we perceive what causes us joy or irritability (and anything in between) and react according to it. In short, we build emotional defenses against what causes us distress and emotional attachment to what cause us joy in order to maintain a balance for life preservation and perpetuation. Simple living organisms such as insects, mono-cellular and even bacteria don't have consciousness of their emotions (which is not the same as feelings). Only animals who have feelings (mental images) can feel what they emote, which require a more developed nervous system. As Antonio Damasio simplify in a short quote, "emotions play in the theater of the body. Feelings play in the theater of the mind".
We can then conclude that the meaning of human interaction is Joy. Even if the job we work with is not joyful, we do it for the payment, normally through monetary earning. Money which bring us a joyful feeling, not because of the money itself but because of the joyful things (and people) we can obtain through it. And the most joyful thing one can have is to contemplate oneself as the cause of joy of others according to Lordon.
"Since this [joy] is renewed as man considers his virtues, or his power of acting, everyone is anxious to tell his own deeds, and show off his powers, both of body and mind." - Frédéric Lordon, Willing Slaves of Capital: Spinoza and Marx on Desire.
During my early adulthood I was often taking the buses in front of the building I used to live. As normally, at least for me, I had always been ignored. Not disrespected but ignored. At least until I started attending a flight attendant course that imposed on me the demand of a very formal looking and behavior. When I left home for the first time wearing suit and tie, in a such elegant and status symbol outfit, was when I noticed I had people attention, servitude and privileged treatment. Bus drivers welcoming with "good morning sir", shop attendants looking forwards to serve me first and women who usually would avoid contact and interaction with me were now smiley and approachable. I was the same poor guy as before only that I was in a fancy clothes going to, and returning from, a fancy neighborhood. The talk about the social prejudice in Brazilian society back then was still a kind of taboo among many people (despite today's obviousness), but it was a clear fact I deduced from my experience. Such experience made me feel good about myself, but I could not just ignore the fact that people was treating me based on a believe they have about me that wasn't true, based on my clothes symbolism. A believe on my power of acting, my power of causing others joy, biological and social harmony satisfaction, which they wish to acquire through me.
In 2008 I arrived in Ireland where I met great photographers and models who, thanks to them, I could learn from, build my portfolio with and get some jobs as photographer through. Over all, excluding some exceptions, we were not looking for money or status in a direct way but have fun, have joy. Models, makeup artists and photographers among other creators were happy to be part of projects for the creativity and joy sake, that consequently helped us in further opportunities in our respective industries. Enjoying and respecting each other's work without a snobbish attitude, aloofness, or competition about who has the privilege to be the joy provider to others but agreeing that we share joy among us, making we all feeling in harmony, working with each other, a biological (consequently emotional) and social harmony balance, all offering and acquiring the power of acting from each other, without the monetary gate keeping. Money? it always could be negotiated according to what we could afford. I was paying my bills working in a convenience store which was fine. My time in Ireland was the most joyful and prolific in my life, all that required little money but only trust. I found models searching among university students and I met many people through street photography.
Money is the value that gives us the power of acting, but we must not forget that the monetary value is not in the money itself but in the power of creation, of acting. This is the joy we are after and to truly obtain such joy it requires trust. Otherwise, the joy of monetary power monopoly creates envy and segregation, consequently social stress. John Berger says that the happiness of being envied is called glamour.
"Being envied is a solitary form of reassurance. It depends precisely upon not sharing your experience with those who envy you. You are observed with interest but you do not observe with interest - if you do, you will become less enviable. In this respect the envied are like bureaucrats; the more impersonal they are, the greater the illusion (for themselves and for others) of their power. The power of the glamorous resides in their supposed happiness: the power of the bureaucrat in his supposed authority.” ― John Berger, Ways of Seeing
I arrived in Germany with the expectation to continuous the photography life style I had in Ireland but I was wrong about it. Making contacts became rare, everybody is looking for money even though they don't need it. Being able to offer joy through my work became not enough, because people are not interested in sharing joy but in monopolize it through monetary status, using the money status as gate keeping, as trust symbol. Even among models and creators who look for no payment collaborative work, they often are looking for photographers who show to have fancy tools, a dedicated studio in a fix address. It doesn't matter to them the result and the joy of the activity unless it can be provided through monetary status, as the access to a monopolized joy which they can justify their aloofness and segregation.
It also results on a social fear, a distrust on people who look for joy sharing without segregation, suspicious of them as if they have second intentions, the intention to steal something from you maintained through the monetary gate keeping. Them seen as segregated from the privilege of your monopolistic joy, the ones who lack acting power and consequently have not much to provide as a joy, therefore desperate to take it from you.
Models and photographers seem to compete on their self importance, on who is the joy provider to the other, instead of enjoying it as a joy exchange though helping each other for a same result goal. People are not approachable because of the distrust that strangers attempt of interaction has either monetary or sexual (joyful) goal or is a mad person. The other human interaction attempt can only be about dubious intention of climbing and preserve the intrinsic joy of being the joy provider in a monopolistic status kept through monetary (and sexual) border.
I think the key is empathy and understanding of what really matters, what we are striving for. We are striving for balance that comes with joy. Through such understanding I suppose we can learn the importance of trust and honesty required for us to be able to enjoy life and society together. Because Being envied is a solitary form of reassurance.
This is a tower of a palace in Schwerin. One of the very few towns where the old German palaces and castles survived the wars. In this photo perceptive I combined four elements which makes the image stand out as harmonious and pleasing to my eyes. The main one is the the palace's tower which transmit a classic fairy tale feeling. Then the old bridge architecture that feels like matching and confirming the tower architecture and epoch, as if it is not the past that is being presented to us in our time but we who are travelling back in the past. Around it the nature, looking a bit wild, as if natural, transmitting the idea that the ambiance is not staged, is not purposely build to entretain people like a Disneyland, it is not a theme park with their perfect gardens and bushes, it is, instead, a real place around natural landscape with its real nature; A place with real long past history. The lamp post is the element that remind us that the scene is what is preserved from the part in a more modern time.
The contrast of colors has its charm as well, but the real pleasing visual feature that makes this photograph feel in touch with the past is the film negative grain and colors characteristic. It was photographed with real film negative around 2016 and I know that there are image editing programs that simulate the film negative look effect in digital made photographs, but believe, it is not the same. The film photographs, even the digitized ones we see in screen, has very different grain characteristics than the digital made photos. This difference is what makes film photographs transmit a feeling of more tangibility and craft. The digital made photos are beautiful and they have a quality of their own, but sometimes it feels too "electronic", specially when attempting to represent the past feeling and craft feeling.
There is a certain pleasure on execute things that is distinguished [here] in two categories. The first is the pleasure of archiving the end goal and the second as the pleasure in the activity itself. Both, or any activity we start or engage in, is caused by a mental inquietude. Every mental inquietude, according to Antonio Damasio, is caused by somatic experiences; the reaction when we experience irritation, pleasure and everything in between. Reaction as striving for life balance. We react (emote), then create a mental picture (icon) of the experience which we associate to a meaning, from which we create feelings. Feeling, then, connect us back to mental picture, activating our memories (of experiences). We like to believe we are rational beings when in fact we are emotional beings. We learn, remember, think and execute things based on our mental pictures brought by emotion associate to them, even when we believe we are being pure rational, like in science.
We don't perceive the world and reality as it is but as we are. As the mental picture we have from our experiences are, and meanings associated to them. Our five senses are not meant to reveal us the world out there but to help us keep our life balance regulation (preserve and perpetuate life), in finding food when we are hunger, in find shade when we are tired, in identify danger to avoid and pleasure to chase. The evolution presented us with our mental capacity in order to quick, or better adapt in the short term, to our environment changes, increasing our chances of survival and life perpetuation. Nonetheless, we use our highly developed nervous system to attempt the understanding of reality. We can't experience all, or many, mental pictures at once but one by one and consequently the feelings associated to each of them - although we can experience them so quickly that we don't realize it. - It means that we experience our mental pictures in a linear way, which allow us to experience what we call as train of thoughts. As we are the tool we use to give meaning to reality, we fall in what Kant used to call as The professional thinker fallacy. We perceive time, reality, history and even science in a leaner and progressive way because it's how our mind - and our verbal communication - works; not because reality, time, history and science is linear and progressive. It doesn't mean science does not progress. It means that progress is subjective to our mind.
The will is a mental activity inquietude. Will is not merely the power or choosing or making decision - it's not a mere desire, strive or wanting. - It is rather a conflict between two drives: yes and no, as Hannah Arendt describes in her book The Life of The Mind. The will, before become a concept or mental organ known by philosophers, was interpreted as a duality in one person, as a hidden person inside a person. It's as to have two "I"s, the "I" who commands and the "I" who obey, which the second one perceive both "I"s as a whole willing desire obedience anticipation. The first one is the will. The will is the commanding thought, as described by Heidegger. We Will as overcoming this mental duality conflict.
Every mental activity ceases the sense experience and our senses experience cease our thinking, meaning that when we are thinking (our attention in our mental pictures - train thoughts) we are unaware of our senses perception. If something happens to grab our sense perception attention, we then become unaware of our thinking. In order to fulfill the will we act through our senses (act in the world) which once completed ceases the Will and put us at a mental fulfilling rest (no mental conflict/inquietude but just being), because we cease to want things once we get them.
The first kind of pleasure from execution that I mentioned at the beginning, that means reach to it's end, comes from the wish against the activity itself, which we do in order to overcome it, as an obstacle to or real goal. It's like the Aristotelian thought that says the goal of work is leisure, as the goal of war is peace. Once you execute the activity and reach it's goal you feel fulfilled and at rest, without mental conflict/inquietude (at least for a while).
The second kind of pleasure we have from executing things, is not in the activity end but in the activity experience itself. Duns Scotus, one of the most original and important philosophers from middle-ages, called it as love. The transformation of the Will in love. It's the activity that doesn't need to reach it's end in order to bring a restful mind. At the same time, because it never reaches it's end it never ceases the will. So the activity causes temporary pause in the Will expectation for an end, and such temporary pause, during the activity, causes us a constant fulfillment, the pleasure in the activity and not on it's end. Or in other words, the goal of the activity is not to get something once it's end (like leisure we expect get from the end of the work or peace we are after when we do war), but the goal is the activity itself.
Coming from a religious philosopher it explains that the divine love, or true love, is the fulfillment one have for a desired object not through possession (which would ends the desire) but through pure activities interaction/creation around, or related, to such desired object.
While for Nietzsche the will is a destructive power. The goal of the will is to become it's master, but once events happened the will have no power. You have no power in shape the past, or as in Nietzsche words: The Will cannot will backwards. For him, as well for Heidegger, it's the source of our duality (the will) conflict. What is left for the will frustration of not being the master of past events is to destroy it, by willing new events to pass in which the Will can be the master.
Ancient Greek philosophers didn't know the will, but they had a parable about the best athlete being the one who is not looking for glory or fame (the goal to archive at the end of the sport activity), but the one who finds the pleasure in the sport itself. Something similar we think today about artists, photographers or creators in general. The true or the best creator being the one not doing it for money or fame, but for the art sake. The activity not as a gateway to happiness but the happiness itself. Or as the Greek philosophers described, one as both actor in the stage of life and spectator of their own act. The individual duality working together and overcoming it's internal duality conflict (inquietude).
The Oriental thinkers (Daoism) had a similar allegory about life being a stage, where we act, but through our act we forget who we originally are, causing a conflict between our acting character and who we are inside. The conflict is solved when we realize our acting character and, from such realization, we become our own spectator of our own acting in life, enjoying the stage of life both as actor and spectator - enjoying the activity by finding fulfillment in it, doing it for it's on sake.
In a modernist philosophy this duality is interpreted as the social self and original self (this second called Being). The social self hides the internal Being. The Will is the spontaneous and intuitive pulse of our internal self (our Being) emerging during activities focused on the pleasure of the activity sake, as if enjoying our internal self emerging.
What the Ancient Greek Philosophers and Daoism have in common is the perception of life not as linear but as a cycle. In the west, the linear view of life and reality gained space specially because the way we associate our mental picture and meanings to our linear verbal writing system. The concept of a willing-Ego is only possible through such linear view of reality. During Middle-Ages and Renascence, both linear and cyclical philosophical perception of reality developed parallel to each other; as Hannah Arendt describes, Descartes and Leibniz in one side, Hobbes and Spinoza in the other side. Kant somewhere else. Our scientific path during modernism was influenced by the linear perspective which brought the concept of the Will. Such influence was mainly because of a linear religious doctrine imposed by the Catholic Church as political institution in Europe. As Antonio Damasio narrate in his book Looking For Spinoza, he [Spinoza] influenced our great thinkers and discoveries but in a hidden way, behind the linear perception that creates the contradiction betwen free will and causative effects of a linear event of life. The Inquisition banned any kind of Spinozist philosophy to be learned, used or mentioned for more than one hundred years, consequently (and accidentally) giving more highlight to Descartes philosophy.
Cupid is the Roman god of love. He is the counterpart of the Greek god called Eros, the god of erotic love, the painful desire of what is not possessed, of what is somewhere else, inciting the imagination about the absent desired other.
Her eyes gaze at the void while she is deeply immersed in thoughts. Her hands as trying to reach and hold the pain inside. As Siri Hustvedt points out, the somatic experience induced by thoughts are no less real than a direct somatic experiences out in the world. Or as Hannah Arendt said, every emotion is a somatic experience. The source of our imagination and thinking are our feelings. Our feelings are the interpretation and meanings given to what our body senses experience. According to Antonio Damasio, the mind is a product of our body, not a distinct apart from it.
The image has a kind of movement, she is not still but moving, either in a bodily sense reacting to her feelings or in a mental sense of the dizziness, caused the mental travel.
Such movement in the image is not only suggested by her body expression and composition but also by the backdrop in a leaning position. The rugged backdrop is a curtain which suggest the scene is in a private setting. We look not as spectators of the scene but as a voyeur of what was supposed to be behind curtains. On the other hand, it also symbolizes a stage background of a performed act, like in a theater, like a fancy sculpture.
This photograph is from a time I used to go around with my middle format Bronica camera to photograph Dublin and around Ireland; This time in Wicklow. I took this photo in 2012 and in it we one of the medieval Irish towers we sometimes find in the country landscape. When one looks closer they find out these tower don't have a door on the ground lever but, instead, the door is on the high top of the tower with no stairs to it. They were build like this in order to be accessible only with a high ladder brought to it, which monks in the medieval age would do to take whatever is of high valuer to hide in the tower during unsafe times like in wars and invasions.
One of the main characteristic of the image is its kind of stony scenery, not only because of the rocks in the river and landscape but also because it is complementary to the stone building back in the scene. It is like the scene is saying that the building is in its right place, where it belongs to, a rough old construction in a rough landscape.
A second interesting aspect of the photo is in how it is framed, with the river crossing the lower half of the image vreating a diagonal visual line in it. Such line creates two visual perceptions: The first in the invitation it offers to our eyes leading it from the foreground to the back ground of the scene where we find the main subject of the image. Of course we eventually would extend our look to the image background and back to the foreground, but such visual like helps making this vidual exploration of the image a more pleasing experience. On top of that, river streams always suggest a travel to its course.
The second visual perception aspect of the river is the feeling of dynamism; the water in movement. The photo is a long exposure which gives this smooth water shape in movement - although the main reason for the long exposure was the dark orange filter on the lens which I used to create a nicer contrast and texture.
Finally, there is also the the elements balance between the big stones in the foreground and the tower in the back ground. They are the two spots point which incite our eyes to travel forwards and backwards again. They both leans a little to the right side of the image, and it is the river stream line in its diagonal position pointing to the left that compensate the weigh of the two main image's objects leaning on the right side.
The comedian Jim Carrey said in an interview that, with his comedy, he has realized what all people want: to be free from concern. Despite the fact people usually don't take him seriously I don't think he said it casually. We tend to believe through thinking we will find understanding of things, solutions to problems and knowledge but - the most likely - often we think to withdraw us from reality, without realizing it, so thinking becomes an addiction especially when we are going through stress.
We don't experience what is going on in our mind with our senses. It is as whatever we think about ceases to exist to our body senses once it's projected in our mind. We experience our thinking through meaning, ceasing to be a somatic experience. Or as Alan Watts used to say, those who think too much have nothing to think about other than their own thoughts. Hannah Arendt explained it in her book The Life of The Mind: "All thoughts arise out of experiences, but no experience yields any meaning or even coherence without undergoing the operation of imagining and thinking. Seen from the perspective of thinking, life in its sheer thereness is meaningless; seen from the perspective of immediacy of life and the world given to the senses, thinking is, as Plato indicated, a living death".
Plato's associating thinking to a living death wasn't his negative point of view though. While we are thinking we are unaware of our own corporeality, which Plato understood as achieving our pure soul quality. Plato's philosophical tradition was perpetuated through Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance by the Catholic church, influencing philosophers as Descartes who concluded "the soul can think without the body". This reflects the belief of a duality. The distinction between body and mind (soul).
Against the occidental philosophical tradition is the belief that we think because we have a body; the mind being a product of our body and not distinct from it. Again, thoughts arise out of experiences - from our body senses. As our experiences turn into thoughts the bodily experienced thing disappears. As Arendt puts it, "in order to appear in my mind only, it must first be de-sensed, and the capacity to transform sensed-objects into images is called imagination". The imagination deals only with what is absent to our senses. The mind deals with nothing other than itself. Perhaps we could say that the opposite of thinking is body experience - perceive with our senses.
On the other hand, as the Greek philosophers believed, only the spectator and never the actor can see and understand the spectacle of life, because the spectator is free from concerns. The spectator is not acting in the spectacle but only contemplating it. Different from the old occidental philosophical belief, something suggests this contemplation is not done through thoughts and imagination but only through somatic experiences.
I personally believe the best meaning we can give to life is leisure. As Aristotle understood it, not the free time we got after a day of work, not a play and not a recreation but the deliberate act of abstaining, of hold oneself back from the ordinary activity determined by our daily wants in order to contemplate it. This contemplation is the act of leisure, "which in turns was the true goal of all others activities, just as peace, for Aristotle, was the true goal of war" - quoting Arendt again.
While for the Greeks the spectator may understand the 'truth' of what the spectacle is about, but with the price of have to pay a withdrawal from participating in it, the oriental wisdom presented by Alan Watts suggests something different; that we can be both the actor and the spectator. As the Taoist story goes, imagine if you were god and knew all without surprises; how boring would it be!? So we play this theater of life for fun - just as children do their play sometimes taking it too serious and forgetting it's just a play - and as we grow older we forget who we are, we forget we are wearing a phony by taking it too serious and thinking it's what we are. The spectator is the one who can see the play and enjoy the spectacle while still playing it, only knowing now that it's all a play and people forgot about it. - Like actors playing in a scene for a movie sometimes taking it too seriously mistaking the playing character as themselves, or living the character but still knowing he is another person behind it.
As I understand it – or from my point of view which can be questionable – contemplation is the way we can experience what is around us with our body senses, until the moment we gain the awareness about the spectacle we are in, without our thinking distraction that alienates us from our somatic experiences. This is why I think art is important. The thing that makes us stop and listen, see, feel through our senses. Pay attention to our somatic experience and step aside from the vicious meanings in thinking.
Truth and meaning are not the same thing. Our thinking doesn't bring us the reality truth but meanings, because our verbal language, associated to words, is metaphorical and not analogous to the mental images created from our somatic experiences. "Most people have experienced the odd sensation of estrangement that comes from looking long enough at a single object", says Siri Hustvedt in her book Mysteries Of The Rectangle. She goes on: "for all of us there was a time before we knew what things were called, and then the world looked different. Cézanne's still life is a rigorous effort to return to a vision unburdened by meaning". In other words, Cézanne's attempt was to see in painting what was lost in language.
When we look, listen and feel hard enough, long enough, we contemplate and find a world beyond meaning which tell us something else and which our verbal language is too limiting to comprise.
I remember 15 years ago when I use to see people everywhere talking about the democratization of information and learning thanks to the internet, along with the democratization of expression where anyone can share their knowledge and opinions. The free information accessible to all. It's ironic seeing fake-news and conspiracy theory popularized nowadays.
When I was about 14 years old, in 1997, bullying and other sort of offenses was considered kind of normal, at least in my neighborhood. Often such kind of provocation wasn't taken seriously despite of verbal aggressiveness. This kind of communication was somehow the standard nevertheless, meaning people verbally attacking and defending themselves with further attacks. It was in Sao Paulo (Brazil) which I believe to have an aggressive communication culture probably because of socio-economic gaps, along or as consequence of social segregation and prejudices. Prejudices often disguised as jokes.
In a weekend when I was returning home, I met one of my friends arguing with a bunch of other guys a couple of years old than us. They were calling him stupid and laughing at him because he said Alberto Santos-Dummont was the inventor of wrist watch. This was an information that I also believed to be true but back then I would never waist time and get angry trying to convince others about what I believed to be true. Maybe because life seemed to be already too stressful back then that I would rather avoid any more of it. So I called my friend inviting him to hang out somewhere else, and somehow helping him to distance from the situation he was in. Still stupefied while we were walking away, he was explaining me the other guys didn't want to believe on him. I replied to him suggesting to let it go. At that time I had not conceptualized it but I felt that there are many people who are not curious and interested to know things but only in self-affirmation. I feel I am right so you must be wrong (It has something to do with identity that I will expatiate in an other blog post eventually). Without any real argument to explain they are right they rely on verbal violence by offending and making the opponent angry, in order to feel as the winner of the argument. Honestly, this kind of conversation and its violence is what I see being popularized the most in the internet.
Recently I have been wondering if we really can teach others. My thinking is that probably people only learn things if they want to learn (curiosity or duty) or if the situation is conducive to learning. If such thinking is somehow true the goal of teaching is not only providing information but also help to create the situation that is propitious for learning. And this may be the reason why the internet is dominated by fake-news and conspiracy theory believers. A place where everyone can spread ideas of any kind in a moment of economic and, consequently, social distress.
When I began with street photography I was apprehensive about people reaction. What would they think? What if they get angry? I then thought that if there are others doing it I can do it as well. It was in Ireland where I had the mostly friendly strangers experience ever but my first attempt of stop someone and ask if I could take a portrait of them was considered a shameful failure by me at the time. What my subject said that made me feel ashamed was a single simple word: "No". So I went home frustrated for not obtaining what I was expecting. I watched some videos about street photography and one hour later I was in the street trying again. This time I told myself to not expect anything. If people says "no" it's ok and there is nothing wrong about it. Actually, we are supposed to take risks in order to learn and grow, in order to see what is possible and what is not, and in order to loose ties to expectations that narrow our perception about things. With this twist of mind I endured a couple of other "no"s before hear a "Sure". From that moment on I felt there was nothing to worry about.
With experience I learned to improve my communication. Being more direct and specific, ask as a suggestion or as an offer and not as a expectation or demand. One of the main reason of violent communication is the thinking that what others are asking is an order instead of a request. People hate to do things when they are demanded to and the natural reaction is to reject. On the other hand we all like to feel useful and helpful. Antonio Damasio tell in his book Looking for Spinoza that our brain produce Serotonin, which gives us a well-being feeling, when we help or cooperate with others as a team. It's part of our empathy which make us place ourselves in others shoes, sensing others emotion and feelings as our own.
Marshall Rosenberg, who wrote No Violent Communication, tells a story about an interview with a Nazi war criminal, who was asked "Was it hard to send ten of thousand of people to death?", which he answered "No, it was easy. Easy because our language makes it easy". He then explained that his fellow officers had a name for this language: Amtsprechen, the bureaucratic language. A language that denies option, consequently it denies responsibility. It is interesting to know that there are many people who can not distinguish between rule or law and morality, which is the same as distinguish can and can't from should and shouldn't. When we try to obtain some kind of alternative collaboration for a solution which would help make all the parties happier or less stressed such kind of people are not able to do it, they start quote what they believe to know about the law and their rights, meaning "I can do it so I will not do what you what me to do". Basicly they view others request as demand and in return react in a defensive way. They don't understand the saying "Just because you can do it, it doesn't mean you should do it (in consideration of others)".
In Ireland, after I got used to it, most people I approached was happy to let me photographing them, which they saw as a request which they could help with. In Germany most of my attempts with street portrait result is rejection, some people even get angry with my approach and can become verbally violent. I see it as a social phobia, worry that I want do something bad with the photo such as judge them or use the image for commercial purpose. worry about what might happens with a photo someone took of them, where can it end and who can see it. Worry about my approach has a second intention such as sell things, demand money or sexual intention when I am approaching women. In short, a lot of expectations which place people in the fear zone.
I think the coolest Germans are in Hamburg, although I have not been in most German's region yet. It was in Hamburg that I met Lucie Nechanická. We used to meet and wander in the streets to photograph it together. When she saw me approaching strangers asking if I could take their portrait she looked apprehensive, saying that she would not feel comfortable doing it, which reminded me when I was attempting it for the first time in Dublin.
Even still doing it in Germany I didn't feel as confident and easy as in Ireland, so I approach people with less frequency. But have Lucie on my side was different because she is a woman transmitting other women a sense of safeness with my approach. They actually became more friendly thanks to her. It was most evident when I was waiting Lucie in a train station and around me there were other people waiting to meet their friends. I saw a woman with a cool outfit, nice hair and interesting tatoo on her leg so I came to her asking if I could take her portrait. She looked at me with doubt and unsure but suddenly Lucie arrived saying "you don't waist time" to me. After my subject saw Lucie and realized we knew each other, she readily accepted to be photographed.
Street portrait in Hamburg is much easier than in other places I have been in Germany, but people still have some kind of fear about other people reaction. It's a different world than in Ireland where I could talk and photograph most people specially women without any tension, and I think it reflects in the way people communicate, in their expectations and consequently in how they learn and perceive other kinds of experiences.
Unlike when I was a boy, I have recently engaged in useless argument with people who didn't want to believe on what I was saying (in the internet), consequently I was annoyed and offended with others provocation, calling me stupid and names. Later on I was wondering why I was behaving like this. What changed? Did I forget my youth knowledge? And the only thing I could think about was my reality change, which created different expectation and frustration, therefore changing my experiences and learning. I am now in a process of no violence redeem.
This image is from a walk among Switzerland mountains, a couple of years before moving to sought Germany. This was one of the experiences that convinced me to move to Sough Germany, not only because the fast travel to Swiss Alps but specially because I wanted to have more contact with nature.
This photo don't cease to please my eyes and I believe it is not only because of the beautiful white mountain in it. The contrast among colors - the blue sky, the white snow as well as silver color of the mountain and the dark green three in the foreground - is defensively a big factor for the visual pleasure in the image. The green foreground contrasting with a completely different landscape in the background suggests there is something beyond to be reach that feels kind of alien to us - to where we find ourselves. It is this feeling of strangeness, beyond and not accessible [yet] that generates the feelings we call passion - The curiosity and desire to access of what feels alien/mysterious to us. I believe this contrast of landscape, which suggest where we are and a place beyond and completely different, provoke a kind of visual - and so corporeal - memory of the passion feeling.
An other aspect is in the composition of the elements and framing. The diagonal line crossing the image and dividing its foreground and background is visually very pleasing to me. Not only because it creates it is the delimitation of the two different landscapes but specially because it separates the right (tree) and left (mountains) elements in the image. In short, it help our eyes naturally descant through through the image, the tree, the foreground landscape, the mountains in the background, the sky and back again. Such kind of visual "travelling" is the pleasure we aim through the work of framing and composition; A pleasing visual exploration and experience.
I took this photo with film negative, which I prefer because it doesn't distract me from the visual experience and contemplation of what is in front of me; No screen in the camera to check how the photo look like. The manual camera makes me pay more attention to light, texture and colour shades in order to better capture the image.
The photography field attracts many technology and machines enthusiasts who come with the technicist attention to it. I see it as one of the reasons for the commercial photography to be seen and used as standard or reference for quality among many people interested in photography (although the debate on preferences between perfectionism and rusticity has existed since Ancient Greece and probably even before). The other reason is the fact that commercial photography dominates our visual experience wherever we are through publicity. Commercial photographers are mostly technicians who create images based on someone else's ideas. Most of it is technical reproduction and solutions, even the advertised photography in fashion magazines that mimic conceptual fashion photography. Depending how alienated the photographer is in this approach to photography he may come to the conclusion that what goes beyond such technical and commercial standards is poorly executed or wrong.
Fortunately photography is not a black and white thing limited to right and wrong. The meaning of anything is in the context. When we talk about quality we have to think about the context and meaning the work has. Commercial photography has its context and language, its main purpose is the tangibility, making the product or service presented in the image as tangible to the viewers, as if the spectator can touch and possess the object in the photo with their eyes. The visual sense appeal. It could not be different when the goal of the image is to sell a sensual joy to people's eyes and stimulate possession desires. As John Berger says in Ways of Seeing, The publicity image offers an alternative for the public, a better version of themselves, that they can obtain for the price of the product.
Photography that has other purposes will, or should, use other languages. The language that fits its message and context and which can be many. None of them are better or worse than the other nor more or less correct. Each of them are only good and bad based on their own context, public and message.
Siri Hustvedt in her essay "Playing, wild thoughts, and novels underground" refer to writing in this quote but it actually applies to any kind of artistic work: "There are no rules for writing novels. Those who believe there are rules are pedants and poseurs and do not deserve a minute of our time. Modes of writing and various schools come and go: Grub Street, Naturalism, the nouveau roman, magical realism. The novel remains."
When I photograph I often stay away from the sensual appeal, which used to be called as “sense corruption” by Cicero in ancient Rome, because it works on provoking anxieties. Instead I like to express my feelings and experiences. Technicality is about having control, the technical control of a machine precision appreciated from automated tools, catching our attention for the tool settings and control for the precise control result. In order to better express my feelings and experience I rather let this technical control aside, I take the advantage of the manual control which comes with my spontaneous human touch and failure. Or even when using automated tools, trust the automated failure as my own human failure with the machine, assuming therefore my sincere experience and adding it to the narrative context where it belongs.
Brené Brown, who wrote The Gifts of Imperfection, explains that it's important to understand the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism. “Healthy striving is self-focused: "How can I improve?" Perfectionism is other-focused: "What will they think?”. And I think it's important to remember that we should improve in relation to ourselves in our own language, context and message. Not in relation to a predetermined standard or have somebody else as reference of improvement goal/quality. This is not the same as being inspired by other creators and their works, because we all get inspiration from other creators, even unintended, in any way.
At the end, I don't want the viewers of my photos seeing themselves transported in the image by provoking anxieties. I want them to take the image as a memory or dream that inspires their feelings and contemplative imagination. Or at least tell us what or who we are, or who I am.
We need rules as a reference or start point when we are introduced to new activities, when we have not much from ourselves to put in a new work but practice, get inspired through copy, to fit in looking for results with a pre-determined expectation. We can get great pleasure from reproduction, from the empathic recognition of other creators and social feeling, or only for the pleasure of tools manipulation and the transformation observation. By doing so we can develop our own feeling, voice and personal way to create when we have a voice to express.
I was watching a documentary a while back, about french soldiers returning home after the second World War, the war which France was the country that had more dead and injured soldiers, maybe because it was the country that sent more men to the war. When survivor and fit-to-work soldiers returned home after the war, looking forward to their families and the labour routine that was occupied by women during the war, they found themselves lost, as they lacked identity and purpose. As soldiers those men got used to following orders, giving themselves to the battalion rhythm for its greater performance, the fellowship was their identity. Later on in society, working in their family farms, shops and industry they found themselves on their own with their individual decisions for their personal life and activities, and especially their own rhythm. What was missing was their inner voice.
I can't help seeing some similarities in the cooperation teamwork culture especially in the 80's and 90's, when they wanted workers to see the business which they worked for as part of their family, where one finds their purpose and identity through the job and culture provided by the business and their people.
Behind it all there is the fixation, the focus which people become alienated from. As Frédéric Lordon describes, alienation is not loss but fixation. The more limited is your attention and experiences range (fixed) the more alienated you find yourself. Through alienation it is easier to drive a person or a group's attention, work and goals to a determined direction, the direction aimed by their leader or ruler which the followers take as their own.
The Teutonic (Germanic) tribes have such principles as tradition. The military and hierarchical rules in society culture by the Prussians for example, expecting people to give up their own personal goals and interests in order to follow their social hierarchy determinism, looking forwards the to the greater completion of their "nation" (society) as their individual aim, instead of looking towards climb the social hierarchy. Like this workers can focus on only improving their ability on their own work and behavior expected from their social hierarchy (like in the army), instead of the distraction of dreams, looking and expecting eventually to get somewhere else. It's alienation where people get attached to rules for their guidance, and which one deep alienated they get lost, disorientated, messy, when there is no leader and their rules to follow as their own goals and identity.
The opposite is the ability to listen to our own inner voice, our timing, have a wide scope to observe and react in accord and spontaneously to each situation by following our guts, when rules are not what give us direction anymore but what make us feel limited, limiting our experiences, our observations, or experimentation, our self learning and expression. When desalination becomes necessary because rules funnel us to the alien aim that we take as our own.
Listening to our own inner voice is not the same as individualism and selfishness because when we are listening to our inner voice we are listening to others around us as well, sensing the world around us and trusting our feelings. Then our expressions take others in consideration.
Rules are for reproduction, and for creators who can not feel or trust their inner voice [yet]. A true creative work is a work that has its own voice and rhythm. A sincere self expression and feeling.
...and the truth about reality is it boredom. Nobody wants to be bored or, at least, most people seem incapable of being bored in our vicious entertainment culture.
Being able to talk about events is the most effective way to distance ourselves from reality. Once we concentrate on events, events about us, about others, about here or about anywhere else, we are not conscious about reality. Events are not reality, they are lapses of time and thoughts. Based on this principle we can say that reality is eventless.
Here is where the contradiction lies. Most people will say the opposite, associating reality to events but which version, or point of view, of events they are associating to reality? Which one is the real one? We could say all are real because they are the different side views of the same thing complementing each other. But we could also say that none of them are real because they are analyses from thoughts and therefore language.
The problem with language, which we humans have highly developed, is that it is always a translation. It is never reality but the organised thought of our perception. Thus it is always a metaphor.
Our consciousness are never the feedback of our reality or of our existence in real time. It is a echo in a delayed time. And we get it by challenging reality because people don't believe in reality, everything has to be evaluated and giving a meaning because we can't stand a meaningless life.
We can then say that thought is not compatible with reality, which contradicts the discourse of reality and rationality. We rationalize to give meaning and objective. We create a illusion world in metaphors to push us to move forwards, to the next stage of objective and meaning. Language and writing are the illusion of meaning.
On the other hand, while we become seduced by all the joy and beautiful worlds of meaning, which creates addicting meaningful events, reality itself must become enigmatic. If not enigmatic it becomes too obvious. If it is too obvious it doesn't seduce. If there is no seduction, there is no meaning. If there is no meaning, people won't take it seriously. Like reality itself.
Photography is not an easier way to make art, it is just easier to have confidence with. We have a natural feeling to find it easier to do things we feel confident doing.
"While photography is the easiest medium in which to be confident it is the hardest medium in which to have a distinct personal vision." Chuck Close.
Photography is the easiest form of the art of mimesis "the copy of reality". And is the copy of reality on which people are usually more attracted to. And is the copy of reality most people will judge as good quality work.
But when trying to do something else apart from mimesis photography can be even more challenging than other forms of art. Because it quite completely copy of reality, especially now a days with digital cameras with most people don't even need to craft their work in order to have a image ready to print, so most people with a camera will be confident that they are doing a good photo as soon as they can see a good image quality (not good art) in their LCD screen.
When we want to go beyond mimesis, painting, sculpture, etc are easier than photography. It also means that self expression in photography may be more difficult because you have to work with real things that you photograph instead of creating images straight from the imagination. And that's why photography is the hardest medium to have a distinct personal vision.
You don't need much skills to press a button on the automatic camera or to throw paintings or mixing colours on canvas, or even to create shapes in sculpture, as far you can do it with good composition, harmony or even message. But photography and other media can demand more skills and craft if you want to make something else.
If you ask a child if painting is easy they will tell you that it is very easy because they feel confident doing so. Until they grows up and is told that the good stuff looks like tangible things.