In a recent TED talk forest ecologist Suzanne Simard explained the science that shows that forests are not mere collections of trees but living, interacting networks of plants and fungi. With its nodes, hubs and interconnections, this network indeed has a lot of similarity with the Internet and thus the term “Wood Wide Web” has been coined for it. The research further shows, that through this network, trees support their offspring, share resources or communicate dangers and insect attacks.
With Sesshū (1420-1506) we leave China and enter Shogun-era Japan. We also have a richer set of biographical data about the artist and Zen-monk. Foremost, we know about his journey to China in 1468/69.On this journey Sesshū seemingly learned about the Southern Song Masters, especially Ma Yuan and Xia Gui. While no works from that time are preserved, it is said that Sesshū immediately started to copy their style – and we can see a strong influence of these masters all through Sesshū’s later works (see for exampleSesshū’s most famous work: The Landscapes of the Four Seasons.
I am a rock. I am an island.
The line from Simon & Garfunkel song is full of irony. As we all know, no one is an island. Our ways are the sum of our education, learnings and experiences. We all stand on the shoulders of others. Still, many photographers seem hesitant to talk about their influences, maybe from fear that their own contribution is undervalued or that they are accused of unoriginality. But as one might have noticed by now, I like to reflect on why and how I do things. So let’s talk about influences.
Continue reading “On Influences”
When I for the first time saw a Finnish forest I was struck by the difference to what I had known about forests in Germany. Finnish forest seemed so light, fragile, transparent and for a long time I was wondering, how the experience of it could be communicated.
The summer is short and most of it is washed away by rain anyway.
Song by Tomas Ledin
Headlines in Finnish news outlets during June were about as cheerful as the lines from Tomas Ledin’s song: “Harvest catastrophe caused by rains”, “More mosquitos than usual”, “July will start wet”. But even when the rain stops, the headlines don’t lighten up. Instead, they turn towards issues of spreading ticks and how to detect skin cancer. Unless there has been a recent epidemic outbreak of clinical depression among Finnish journalists, one has to ask: “What is wrong with the Finnish summer?”.
Muqi Fachang (Muqi)
As I try to keep the length of each post to about 600 words (not that I easily would succeed), I might have to split this part about Muqi (1210-1269) in two. This is not because he would be more important than the other four painters, but because he is a kind of pivot between Southern Song painting and later Japanese zen-influenced art. Living as a Zen monk in the later part of the Southern Song dynasty he shared the fate of Ma Yuan and Xia Gui to being, after a short period of fame, first belittled and then forgotten in China. His work only survived in Japan. But there, the “Six Persimmons” are revered as a first pinnacle of Zen art and is kept at the Daitokuji temple in Kyoto.
Photographer Thomas Peter recently published a project at Reuters on the Japanese minimalist movement. There are some interesting photos there, even though the project as such suffers from “explainitis“. That means, the photos hardly hold their own without the text.