Sunday, August 13, 2017

Upcoming Online Photography Workshop - An Update

"Be still with yourself until the object
of your attention affirms your presence."
- Minor White (1908 - 1976)

This is an update on (along with a few more details about) my upcoming Shanti Arts sponsored "Cultivating the Art of Simplicity in Photography" online workshop (scheduled for Sep 11 - Oct 23). I just learned that the 8th and last available slot has been taken. For for those of you who have signed up - thank you! - and I look forward to meeting you all (virtually), and engaging in what I hope will be a fun and stimulating couple weeks' worth of discussions and picture making :-)  For those of you who wanted to participate, but were unable to sign up on time, I am sure there will be future possibilities. In the meantime, my email inbox and comment box are always open; and if there is one thing I'm always ready and eager to engage in a dialectic about, it is art, photography, and the creative process in general (well, that, and a bit of physics thrown in once in a while ;-)

There will be six sessions in all (one per week), where by "session" I mean a main topic-of-discussion that will be further elaborated upon, mused-about, and generally used as a basis for follow-up interactive engagement with other workshop participants on the ("secret") Facebook I've set up. Here's how the sessions have broken out:

Session 1 (Sep 11 - 17): Introduction and Preliminary Musings. An overview of what “cultivating simplicity in photography” really means, a discussion of various aspects of photography on which “simplicity” depends, and a few easy exercises to get us started. Introduces key themes of this workshop, before taking a deeper dive in later sessions.

Session 2 (Sep 18 - 24): The “Eye” – Seeking Simplicity in the Environment. This session will explore the idea that cultivating simplicity is synonymous with achieving an expanded awareness of place and time. We will explore how our state of mind determines what is visible to us and profoundly influences what we most strongly resonate with in our surroundings, and provide examples and exercises to heighten our powers of observation and perception. 

Session 3 (Sep 25 - Oct 1): The “I” – Seeking Simplicity Within Oneself. Session 3 expands on a theme introduced during the last session, namely that all of our outwardly directed efforts to find simplicity and beauty “out there” in the world will come to naught if we cannot find the calm center in our own deepest selves, and from which all creative works naturally spring forth. 

Session 4 (Oct 2 - 8): The Medium, Part I – Toward a Visual Grammar. Sessions 4 and 5 focus on the practical side of image making by introducing some of the key tools that a photographer can use to direct and sculpt a viewer’s interpretation of an image; i.e., the essential elements of a visual grammar. We will discuss the basic elements of composition (e.g., the frame, light, contrast, tone, form, texture, etc.) and how they can be combined for a specific purpose, “seeing” the world in color vs. black-and-white, camera position, focal length, depth of field, and shutter speed.

Session 5 (Oct 9 - 15): The Medium, Part II – Abstraction as simplification. Session 5 will expand will expand on the practical lessons introduced in Session 4, and focus on the art of abstraction as, somewhat paradoxically, a concrete method of "simplifying" photographs. 

Session 6 (Oct 16 - 22): Photography as a Path Toward Self-discovery. The workshop concludes by exploring how (in the purest spiritual sense) the “cultivation of simplicity” while doing our photography - indeed, how art and the creative process, in general - may all be be viewed as paths toward self-discovery. 

While the workshop is ostensibly a photography workshop (after all, photography is the core theme, and both the stand-alone essays and embedded exercises all stress image "seeing" and image "creating"), my hope is that the interactive part includes an equal part philosophical dialectic about the meaning of photography. If there is anything my 45+ years of "seeing" the world with a camera has taught me it is that the most meaningful images appear only when the "I" behind the "eye" ceases making distinctions between what is felt and what is seen; when inner and outer landscapes become one. It is a theme I eagerly look forward to exploring - through images and discussion - with workshop participants. Hope to see you online soon :-)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Announcement: Upcoming Online Photography Workshop


"We do not see things as they are,
we see things as we are."
- Anais Nin (1903 - 1977)

For those of you not immediately put off by the (seeming absurdity) of a "complexicologist" (one who studies "complex systems" for a living, which is what my physics Ph.D. has opened the door for me to do during the times I'm not wandering around with my camera) leading an on-line workshop on "simplicity" in photography, I'd like to announce that that is precisely what I will be doing from September 11 to October 23 under the kind auspices of Shanti Arts. The title of the workshop is "Your Inner Gift: Cultivating the Art of Simplicity in Photography," and you can read a summary of it here.

Though details are still to be determined, the logistics will work roughly as follows. There will be a dedicated site (which I'll host on my personal website, and provide usernames and passwords to whomever signs up) on which, at the start of each week, I will post a new page of links for an extended essay (between 12-20 pages in length), exercises (some to ponder on, some to actually do), and an audio intro by me offering a "bird's eye" view of what a given week's topic is about. There will also be a private Facebook page that everyone can post images, make comments, ask questions, get feedback, etc. Depending on the number of people who sign up, arrangements can also be made for a private chat at mutually convenient times. It is designed to be informal but informative and, I hope, fun. Except for a weekly time of posting (which will see a new page up on the same day each week), and whatever mutual agreements are made for 1-on-1 voice sessions, the interactivity will be dictated entirely by the predilections and schedules of individual participants.

Perhaps some of you who have expressed an interest in my particular "style" of images and posts throughout the years (and have sent in many kind thoughts and wishes in that time) may be interested, or know someone who might be interested, in signing up for the workshop. I'll be posting additional thoughts and details as they self-organize in the coming weeks.  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Other Point of View


"Science is a second-order expression [of the world]. Science has not and never will have by its nature the same significance qua form of being as the world which we perceive, for the simple reason that it is a rationale or explanation of the world.... Scientific points of view according to which my existence is a moment of the world's are always both naive and at the same time dishonest, because they take for granted without explicitly mentioning it, the other point of view, namely that of consciousness, through which from the outset a world forms itself round me and exists for me. To return to things themselves is to return to that world which precedes knowledge, of which knowledge always speaks and in relation to which every scientific schematization is an abstract and derivative sign language, as in geography in relation to the countryside in which we have learnt beforehand what a forest, a prairie and a river is."

- Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908 - 1961)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Tiny Little Database


"The beauty in the genome is of course that it's so small. The human genome is only on the order of a gigabyte of data...which is a tiny little database. If you take the entire living biosphere, that's the assemblage of 20 million species or so that constitute all the living creatures on the planet, and you have a genome for every species the total is still about one petabyte, that's a million gigabytes - that's still very small compared with Google or the Wikipedia and it's a database that you can easily put in a small room, easily transmit from one place to another. And somehow mother nature manages to create this incredible biosphere, to create this incredibly rich environment of animals and plants with this amazingly small amount of data."

- Freeman Dyson (1923 - )

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Eerie Order


"It turns out that
an eerie type of chaos
can lurk just behind
a facade of order;
and yet, deep inside the chaos
lurks an even eerier type of order."

 -  Douglas R. Hofstadter (1945 - )

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Wonder


"When the first encounter with some object surprises us... this makes us wonder and be astonished... And since this can happen before we know in the least whether this object is suitable to us or not, it seems to to me that Wonder is the first of all the passions. It has no opposite, because if the object presented has nothing in it that surprises us, we are not in the least moved by it and regard it without passion."

- Rene Descartes (1596 - 1650)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Unbroken Movement


"There is a universal flux that cannot be defined explicitly but which can be known only implicitly, as indicated by the explicitly definable forms and shapes, some stable and some unstable, that can be abstracted from the universal flux. In this flow, mind and matter are not separate substances. Rather, they are different aspects of our whole and unbroken movement."

- David Bohm (1917 - 1992)