30 April 2018
Taken in Camera+ and Polamatic. Edited in FX Photo Studio and Pixlr.
Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this collage. Prints are available upon request.
The emergence of each spring flower inspires a circular seeing, the seeing that was encouraged and taught by the British critic John Berger (1926-2017). As I examined every possible angle of the cunning red tulips from one of my gardens, the idea of truly seeing was central to my appreciation.
This variety of spring blooms incites a gasp and sense of wonder. When I began to explore every visible aspect of their outer petals and stems, astonishment rose and kept increasing. Each tulip head was closed, not quite ready for full disclosure. After arranging a handful of them, their immersion in water was set to reveal their inner secrets.
Berger’s own discovery of the power of seeing our external world through a complete examination is clothed in multiple parts: the way we see what is directly in view and beyond that initial glimpse. He became world-famous for one of the most critical parts of being human: our ability to fully communicate and understand our visual universe.
While one hopes that the camera’s lens and framing encourages such seeing, it really takes a core awareness to be completely attentive to the outer world. And that’s just from our own point of view. Each of us could still a flower, and results could be completely foreign to the next person’s interpretation. Seems obvious, but again most of us see what is directly in front of us.
And so Berger’s 1975 book Ways of Seeing burst the concept of personal observation. He gave the world a small tome that revealed how each of us can bring more of the outer world to our inner life’s experience, simply by moving and moving and seeing with a critical lens.
Berger’s philosophy about art and everyday life is part of art history and popular culture education, and the BBC production of Ways of Seeing can be seen on YouTube. Or get the book. It’s a lesson about our perception of our visual universe that helps to illuminate reality in one’s day.
His words radiate more today than ever. In an age of instant gratification and snapping every scene, much is missed in the rush to record and share. To slow the momentum gives an opportunity to see deeper and more comprehensively.
That’s, of course, my mission. Others move faster. It’s just a different way of living one’s life. It’s that simple and yet complex.
Here are marvelous examples of webcams that bring you up close and personal to wildlife. One of my favorites is the great horned owl nest with a family of mom and three little ones. Viewing each video takes patience, but it’s worth exploring one or all eleven.