Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Simple documentation: The moment before cake

What classifies a body of work as a documentary? How does one determine whether the negative time lapses inbetween photos are insignificant enought to constitute a sequential documentary and not just a series?
I’m not sure myself and realised that most of my photographic work constituted of fragments of time accidently within my magic box’s grasp. Each photo rested on it’s own solo flight.
Thus I thought it appropriate to tackle this task (even though the reasoning followed after, it was more play than plan).
Does documentaries necessarily have to imply action/movement? Even though baking is an action, this sequence of photos still contain a quiet, a silence. There is the absence of the baker, you have all these ingredients that with each successing photo mix with another. You see there is baking, but the baker is absent. Who is he/she? It is a documentary, not a manual with step by step instructions. And some things are left to mystery.
Still with the simple life in mind (the beauty of everyday things which the art of photography - should rather be called the art of looking - opens to you once you start hunting...) I chose the simple act of baking cake as my subject.
Firstly it challenges one to look at overtly familiar objects again as if anew - flour, water, eggs... How does one re-invent the egg? Maybe one doesn’t have to, because it can be beautiful in its simplicity.
It made me realise that our life could be a metaphor of baking. Almost everyone love cake, we want the cake, but we do not want to wait for the ingredients to mix. Unfortunately the society we live in today reward only results (results = success). The world is not to keen to stop and appreciate the ingredients - the feel of flour on your fingertips, the smell of vanilla essence, the sound of the eggshell cracking on the rim of the bowl... The world is only interested in cake. But how you make cake is just as important (and possibly adds to the enjoyment thereof).
A lifespan cannot be measured in the speed or success at reaching the finish line, because that’s when you die (and even though the world might on a slim chance marvel at your successful life, you won’t be around to enjoy it). So I say, thank goodness I don’t have all the ingredients yet. I’m still admiring the multi-coloured hundreds and thousands. How are they made? What do they really taste like?
And of course it’s part of the fun to anticipate the end result. Cake!

Monday, 21 April 2008

Why blog?

Recently I saw a bird’s eye view of the earth at night taken by a satellite orbiting around this blue planet. The earth was aglow as though lit from within. Uncountable fireflies mapping the edges of the continents.
So many lights, so many people, each with a voice, a yearning to be heard. Inadvertedly it brought me back to blogging. With so many people posting their private chambers on the internet, why join in the phenomena? What makes one believe that in this overflow of media/images/voices that ours will be adhered to, that it will have something unique to say?
Postmodern belief advocates that all text/imagery/ideas are intertwined, interrelated, in communication with eachother, subtext to one another and therefor no original/unique idea exists. So why speak? Why create(oops, is the inherent meaning of the word create, not connected to making something from scratch, bringing something into existence where there wasn’t something before)? How many nudes have you seen? How many clouds in the sky? Pictures of a sunset? We know what the anatomy of a human looks like, without even looking, right? We know clouds, and if we want to be really smart we’ll even list their different names - cirrus, stratus, cumulus, pileus, polar stratospheric...
No wonder artists go crazy! What a strange world we live in: we repeatedly attempt to describe (whether in words or imagery) that which has been eloquently described already. So the question again: Why even try to create?
I think this world and all its troubles successfully convinces us of the inhumane, cruel and brutalness frequently evident in its wake. We’re actually bombarded with 24 hour news images of hunger, starvation, riots, political injustice, natural disasters, abuse to humans and animals and the list continues... Our eyes are desensitized, gradually our hearts are turned to stone.
But beauty, in all its vulnerability, needs to be harbored, nurtured and protected. Because of all the brutalities in this world, beauty surprises us, the fact that it is here and can survive. It is so rare we cannot help but seek it. Beauty is what keeps us human, what prevents us from becoming brutes as well. Beauty, as the contrast to ugliness, sharpens our senses and reminds us that ugliness is still ugly, pain still hurts and we are vulnerable to it.
Yes, I have seen countless sunset photos, but I haven’t seen this one. I have seen a zillion photos of clouds and storms, but I haven’t looked up at the sky today. I have seen many reproductions of nudes. I am the voyeur peering into the pages of poor reproductions. But I’ve never seen a naked woman such as the ones Rubens encountered, or Freud (Lucien), or Picasso, or Degas’ bathers. Artists remind us that beauty exists, that the mundane is beautiful when we really stop and look at it. Art gives us hope(among other things), it shows us that beauty is still here to be found, if only we will look and forget the preconceived ideas imprinted by successful media campaigns and block buster movies.
I blog because I have a voice and I need to sing (and just maybe this voice will say something worthwhile to hear).

Monday, 14 April 2008

Introduction - Why this name?

the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles,
of what is beautiful, appealing or of more than ordinary significance

to begin to grow or develop into a plant or individual, as a seed, spore or bulb
to sprout, pullulate
to come into existence; create

When in doubt, look in the dictionary, right? I wouldn't necessarily agree with the thesaurus law on the matter of art as only elevating that which is not ordinary, hence beautiful, but anyone attempting to define this word deserves a listen (at least because of their valiant attempt to try).

The quest for what is inside our heart, that ambivalent art we seek and the call to arms to sprout, create, begin!