Calling photographs “poetic” has its dangers. Some words have been hijacked and are difficult to set free again. “Beauty”, for example, seems to exist mostly in advertisement and or in combination with the female form. As in beauty pageant.
The same has, unfortunately, happened to “poetic” and “lyrical”, too.
A while ago I mentioned that are ways to extend the meaning of a picture beyond its obvious content. In providing certain clues, which I called “trigger information”, the artist hopes that the viewers mind will do the rest of the work by unfolding new layers of meaning to the picture. Symbols are one of the better known types of such trigger information. Some of them are so strong that we quite automatically expand their underlying meaning in our mind. In the Western world, at least, the cross as symbol for Christianity has such an effect. While, therefore, symbols can be incredibly powerful, there are problems, too.
The business of photography is often, actually, hard work. We landscape photographers also like to highlight the long hikes, the heavy backpacks with gear, the early hours, the long hours and so on. Does this make our work miserable? No, not at all. Often, it is a bliss.
But in physics, it’s dangerous to assume that things ‘exist’ in any conventional sense. Instead, the deeper question is: what sorts of processes give rise to the notion (or illusion) that something exists?
A Western school of thinking from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus to the English mathematician and philosopher Alfred N. Whitehead (1861-1947) has maintained the idea that reality is better viewed and understood in terms of processes than in terms of substance, objects and things. This school, loosely termed “process philosophy” has implications on visual art, so let’s have a look.
When the novel by Sten Nadolny with the same title as this post first was published in 1983, slowness was still mostly a synonym for mental retardedness. The value of slowness indeed needed discovery. Since then slow has become hip. We have a slow movement encompassing slow food, Cittaslow, slow parenting, slow gardening and even slow fashion. And, of course, we have slow photography.