One of the deepest and strangest of all human moods is the mood which will suddenly strike us perhaps in a garden at night, or deep in sloping meadows, the feeling that every flower and leaf has just uttered something stupendously direct and important, and that we have by a prodigy of imbecility not heard or understood it. There is a certain poetic value, and that a genuine one, in this sense of having missed the full meaning of things. There is beauty, not only in wisdom, but in this dazed and dramatic ignorance.
– G.K. Chesterton, Robert Browning, 1903
I came across an interesting article about how technological advancements in photography are changing how reality is captured. The author suggests that the "decisive moment" made famous by photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson will be replaced by the notion of a "constant-moment" of visual recording. Not sure what I think of this prediction, but I did like the quote that finished the piece:
Technique is important only insofar as you must master it in order to communicate what you see... The camera for us is a tool, not a pretty mechanical toy. In the precise functioning of the mechanical object perhaps there is an unconscious compensation for the anxieties and uncertainties of daily endeavor. In any case, people think far too much about techniques and not enough about seeing." -Henri Cartier-Bresson
Here's an excerpt from an interview with filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola -- his advice to artists to be true to their vision and who they are:
Always make your work be personal and you never have to lie. If you lie, you will only trip yourself up. You will always get caught in a lie. It is very important for an artist not to lie, and most important is not to lie to yourself. There are some questions that are inappropriate to ask, and rather than lie, I will not answer them because it’s not a question I accept. So many times we are asked things in our work or in life that you want to lie, and all you have to do is say, “No, that is an improper question.”
From an interview with photographer Jeff Jacobsen in the April 2013 issue of Photo District News:
I'm fascinated with the world and what we call "reality." I think it's what photography does best. I think it's the only thing photography does that is unique as a medium. It renders a still image from a specific moment in time and space. That's it. But that's, to me, endlessly fascinating. So I'm less interested in conceptual stuff that's set up. I'm always interested in photographs made in reality but [that] have a certain ambiguity about them that allows me - the viewer - to wander around emotionally within the picture.
Came across a fascinating piece in this week's NEW YORK TIMES about ultra-distance runner Kilian Jornet. His feats of athleticism – running hundreds of miles at a time in mountainous terrain – are a testament to the machine that is the human body.
What's equally fascinating, though, is the spirit with which he accomplishes these challenges. While most of his peers are focused on finishing an event in the fastest time possible, Jornet is observing and admiring the natural beauty of the landscape through which he's running – finishing first, which he often does, is merely a side benefit.
From the article:
What are you running after? I asked Jornet. Having beaten men, do you now want to challenge the mountains? He gently corrected me. You don’t beat the mountains. You go when they permit, he said. The speed records and “firsts” aren’t important except for motivation, he insisted. Then he mentioned the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Hughes Galeano, who once likened the ideal of Utopia to the horizon — goals that retreat even as we chase them. “The important thing is not to catch something,” said Jornet, "What matters in life is the pursuit, and everything we learn along the way. “The important thing,” he said, “is moving.”
I'm enjoying the book "Being Wrong" by Kathryn Schulz – a wide-ranging exploration of how we think about and interpret the world around us. Sprinkled liberally throughout are excerpts from the disciplines of science, philosophy, epistemology…etc. that she uses to deftly compare and contrast differing viewpoints.
Here's one I found especially interesting, and in keeping with one of the themes of this blog, namely: can a visual language, e.g., photography be adequately described or translated into written or spoken form?
"The Enlightenment philosopher John Locke thought that error seeped into our lives from the gap between the artificiality of words and the reality of the things they name – from the distance between an indescribable essence and the nearest sayable thing."