Wabi Sabi Mon No Aware

May 15, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

One of the challenges in writing about your own photography is to give expression in words to ideas that lie deep within you, which you perhaps do not understand yourself, but which find their way to the surface through the imagery you create.

 

But the act of writing, can contribute to the gestalt of image, and so, I have been searching for a literal idea which would help frame a series of photos I have been taking for a long time. These images cut across a range of subject genres, but all embrace a hard-to-nail-down concept, but one which I can feel is common to this series of images.

 

I have been taking photos of what I see as decaying beauty for as long as I can remember. The challenge with the razor sharp lens and unforgiving quality of digital technology is to go deeper than just the surface of what you are photographing, to access its soul.

 

Antiques develop a unique patina over time from the combined effects of ageing, the elements and the hand of man. This patina is a sensory experience, and what I am endeavouring to capture in the photograph of that object or scene, is something of its essence.

 

In looking for a word that could best describe that aesthetic, I came across the Japanese concepts of Mon no aware, which translates broadly into a description of the pathos of things, and wabi sabi,  broadly translating into wabi - subdued, austere beauty,  and sabi - rustic patina.

 

That these concepts are heavily embedded into Zen philosophy gives it even more impetus for me. In Zen philosophy, the emphasis is on the subjective nature of beauty- the idea that beauty is not a skin, but rather, something deeper.

 

And so, I have added a gallery to my web-page, which I have titled Wabi Sabi Mon No Aware…


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