An Artist’s Role

The world is a unified, integral, holistic reality. As finite beings, we necessarily see it fragmented and separate. However, we are empowered to look beneath the surface, along with the surface itself, and begin to perceive the complex network of connections and relationships which join together all.

This is more than merely noting trivial and superficial similarities, but develops over time as the perceptual and experiential and analytical and emotional and spiritual and intellectual processes weave and dance together.

Being irresistibly drawn to look at something, and then to feel almost a compulsion to capture that seeing through the camera, are initial steps as well as individual components waiting to be combined. Reviewing and choosing and and then solving all the puzzles of printing are yet more. Selecting and presenting bring my involvement to a close, at least for a while.

The viewer then brings his visual encounter and then his set of associations and thoughts and feelings and inspirations where they, along with my previous ones, the objects (i.e. these photographs) and the original objects themselves, recombine into an ever richer web of meaning and reality. Which merges with the experiences of others who will see this work and who will think about it and talk about it and, perhaps, remember it, and who will go on with their lives now incorporating at least an impression of having seen these.

My role, although essential in introducing these particular life processes, fades and shrinks, and finally disappears. This resembles, perhaps, the role of a stone after it has been tossed into a pond.

Nonetheless, it remains my role and function, as an artist and as a human.



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Why Create?

Why create art at all?  Hasn’t everything already been said, painted, photographed, composed, performed, written?  Who needs it and who will buy it, show it, even see it?

Unique vision is universal, but very few decide to develop and refine that vision.  Pursuing that process, you can direct yourself to the small, meaning one’s ego, angst and complaints, which ultimately wastes everyone’s time.  Or, you can move outward, to the infinite, and bring the beauty and complexity into conscious awareness.

My late painting teacher (strange, perhaps, for a photographer), the late Dr. Hisashi Ohta, who was at the time Living National Treasure of Japan in Sumi-e, taught that beauty isn’t always sweet.  Focusing on the positive, trying to enhance life and living, isn’t limited to pretty pictures of pretty places, although it doesn’t exclude them either.

True beauty is a unique expression of the energy which sustains all existence, filtered and refined through an artist’s life, experiences, training and temperament.  It lovingly adds links to the network of all life, insights and invitations to stop a moment to marvel.

I try to bring this true beauty to life.

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What it’s Not

It seems I can only describe my art and my aims by discussing what they’re not.  I think this is because art, either creating it or experiencing it, is a transcendental portal to the infinite and all descriptions of the infinite are, obviously, inadequate.

My work isn’t about my selfish self.  It isn’t about my pain, my causes, my angst.  It doesn’t try to make a point and it isn’t about what I think art is or should be.  I don’t try to force or shock anyone into joining “my side” of an issue.  “I” am just not that important in the  world.

However, I am unique.  Whatever insights I develop are mine alone until I, as best as can, share them.

Only the best and highest visions “make the cut” and are worth sharing.  Not all of these will be shareable.  None of them, also, are separate, but each is a unique insight into the ultimately non-dualistic universe.  Some can be expressed visually with my camera, printer, technique, experience, skill and luck.  Others come out only musically.  Others I can only use words, no matter how hard it is to find adequate one.  Perhaps all of them require partial expression from each of these channels I’ve developed over the years.

My photographs are beyond words, even if they depict identifiable, often commonplace, subjects.  If I could say it, I would.  They’re almost kinetic–when I do talk about them I can’t keep my arms from gesturing.  They hint at the dots that connect everything even though they don’t “fill in the dots”.

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Capturing Life

There is an imminent, transcendent, intangible but real essence of existence in all there is. Life adds a vital energy; human beings, able to contemplate and share abstract ideas, manifest an additional force.

The interplay of these forces–a human contemplating the three-way tension of himself examining the relationships between various forms in nature, both the animate and inanimate–results in a kaleidoscope of impressions.

We all live within landscapes. They are as known as the every day, as inscrutable as the other. The air, the water, and the earth contain elements of ourselves but, unseen, are themselves inhospitable.

The earth is silent, unchanging and ever-changing. Water pulses, cracks or flows as energy. Light filters through the air through our eyes to our hearts and minds.

Photographs are silent, motionless witnesses. Images dance within them. These pictures are to be contemplated over time. They, like the reality of which they are but a shadow, reveal themselves little-by-little. They illuminate the heroic joy of Being in all its complexity, the inescapable balance of the inevitable outcome, the beauty and awe of the experience of living.

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