In the alleys of the old city~ Shanghai
So much of what we base our lives on and let influence almost every step of our daily goings on lies in realms we cannot touch, see, feel or even comprehend. We eat because of ‘hunger’, we sleep due to ‘exhaustion’, we give because of ‘care’, we sacrifice because of ‘love’, we run because of ‘fear’, we procreate because of ‘passion’, we create because of ‘art’, …
All of these qualities, essences, emotions, we are not able to fully comprehend let alone define. I read somewhere (I think it was in the book ‘a brief history of everything’ ) that it is creativity that causes cosmos and not chance. If we were to be really creative as we were meant to be and to be instrumental in bringing new realms from the universe to where we are for human race enhancement, then shouldn’t we be using our utmost creativity, mind, soul and honed skills to do that rather than just being and hoping it will happen by itself, by chance?
Weren’t we gifted with our faculties in the hope that we would use a bit more than 10% of this incredible human machinery?
For the love and search of Art…
Chou Maily, 14 years old when I met him at CCPP, painted with so much love and so much dedication, that those qualities radiated out of his handsome face. I was invited to his family home for an interview during my stay and there I was awed to see evidence of his passion adorning the walls of their humble and lovely home.
A dog can fetch a twig, sit when asked, place its paw on our palm when asked and we are amazed at its intelligence. A dolphin can jump through loops, head kick balls, follow instructions and demonstrate amazing intelligence compared to other animal species and this stuns us. Yes, we are so impressed by animal tricks and their abilities to follow instruction. But the most miraculous, stunning, amazing and wonderful skill at multitasking in us humans we seem to take for granted or not even stop to think about. These abilities set us at a different level to other planetary inhabitants, not that of superiority but that of responsibility. Were we given these abilities for a reason, and were we supposed to use them for the benefit of the planet and to care for other creatures that live here with us?
This man was riding his bike with one hand, carrying a large bamboo ladder with the other, using his senses to dodge Shanghai’s mad traffic, and his mouth for inhaling his smoke, as well as carrying a conversation with another rider next to him. Incredible what a human faculty is equipped to do and more incredible is how little we use it for what is what meant to really do.
the state of the artist
When the world quiets down, when the mind expands, when time gains elasticity, when the hands buzz and tickle, when peripheral vision activates, when a strange kind of awareness attends you, when you become so focused on the task at hand, when you are transported to a dimension you can only call ‘other’, when you feel the process of being a vehicle for art, an instrument of art, when ‘you’ step out of the way for ‘it’ to do its work… then perhaps you are living the state of the artist.
photo taken: a man sketching in the very busy yu gradens in shanghai totally unaware of the chaos around him.
As a photographer, the eyes are as important a tool as the camera. To find a subject, a moment worth freezing and capturing, we first have to ‘see’ it. It is a special kind of seeing. The eye becomes the lens zooming in, zooming out, composing, measuring, evaluating and discussing options with the brain, the imagination, other senses… a magical theater of composition. And then at some moment it all feels right, and the hand goes to click the shutter. But none of that could happen without the initial orchestration of the eyes. I have so much value for my eyes when I follow my passion in photography, which makes me constantly aware of the incredibly complex and sophisticated machine we humans are lucky to live in here on Earth.
Where to next?
196 days ago I started this 365 journey with photography and it has been a very intense one. The commitment, the daily dedicated focus on photography, the self inspection, the writing, the editing, the extra weight of the camera on my shoulder, the long hours spent behind a computer screen…
And it has all been worth it. What a boot camp training of skill and what a wonderful detection tour of the world around me. But on some days like today, it begs the question : where to next?
photo: self portrait in a mirrored room, Southern Spain.
Did you ever entertain the thought of taking out a lounge chair, carrying it out to the pavement of a busy street of an densely populated city, opening it up and stretching there to chill? Chinese people baffle me with their ability to just let it all hang for a half hour when they need a break, as if they have an on/off switch and they can just power off to recharge just about anywhere!
For me to take a nap, I need to have the right pillow, one of the 4 on my bed, not the one that’s too hard, or the one that is too feathery, or the kind of not so comfy one, I need the one in between and I know exactly which one it is. The noise levels have to be close to mute, and the temperature of the room has to be right. I have to be wearing no constricting clothing items like socks and the other stuff women wear and I need to silence all my phones and deal with any pending issues that might keep my mind active and stop me from relaxing into a nap… how complicated is that?? In the meantime, the locals are dozing off on the pavement, in the bus, on restaurant tables, on shop counters, and in the middle of loud and hectic traffic!