I am Spirit, formless and free;

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by allen herbert, Mar 19, 2016.

  1. Is our photography a spirit , formless and free or a structure based on paths others have walked before?
    It is an endless path that we walk, mapped and given to us, to forever tread.?
     
  2. If you were blind at birth and couldn't see could you still photograph? And if you couldn't would you still have a spirit or conscience to guide you on your paths?
    Photography is just a way to record an awake state of being and how one feels about the world around them. Are blind people spiritless? What path do they walk since they can't photograph or even see to record their world around them? Can they still be curious? Ha! There's the connection! They can!
    Curiosity is a noble path. It's both an internal and external behavior that doesn't get judged unless it shows truth that someone doesn't want to see or want shown to others. The awake and wondering eye of curiosity is inextricably tied to photography.
    Yeesh! Am I full of it or what?!
     
  3. Allen, neither of the two (in a black and white all inclusive sense) I think, yet something in between the nature of which I am still exploring and defining. But we are in control to a large (enough) degree, and not spirit rather than approach, or maps created by others.
     
  4. could be
     
  5. endless path that we walk​
    There is no path, there are cycles, small ones enclosed in larger ones.
     
  6. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    http://news.yahoo.com/photos/blind-photographer-creates-captivating-art-slideshow/-reflections-and-abstractions--photo-1322614178.html
    OOPS!
     
  7. Allen wrote: "... a structure based on paths others have walked before?" Let's run a scientific experiment. We'll use Allen as our white rat. Describe the path you have already walked. Walk it again. Describe it again. Is it the same?
    Or, look at this picture:
    [​IMG]
    .
    .
    Now, without looking at it, tell me what you saw.
    Wait thirty seconds. Tick, tick, tick. Now look at the picture again. Look away. Tell me what you saw. Is it the same? [Hint: there are at least fifty things that have been digitally repeated in this picture.]
    If you ever find yourself thinking you're on "paths walked before" (not to mention by "others") you're not paying attention. Which is no surprise. Nobody ever really pays attention.
     
  8. At the risk of being a misguided contrarian I'm pretty sure I choose to make pictures out of light sensitive materials for very opposite reasons:
    Freedom from spiritualising, vaporising, flights of fancy. The photographs I make are reassuringly parts of the real world. They are a refuge from an overload of fictions plausible and implausible.
    Unlike monitor images which are literally formless unless there is a monitor to display them physical photographs have a native substance and a native appearance accessible by just looking. They are a blessed refuge from formlessness.
    Making physical photographs demands discipline rather than freedom. The work involved is uplifting and offers the satisfaction of doing a well defined something rather than an infinitely indulgent anything.
    I try earnestly to follow my own limited path. Failure is possible.
     
  9. For you, Maris, photography is simply a means for making pictures. For Allen, I believe, photography is a medium -- in every sense of the word.
     
  10. Both extremes are delusional. We can't help but inherit form and structure from our predecessors no matter how free we convince ourselves we are, and we are plenty free even with such inheritance. And there are lots of fictions even within the so-called physicality of traditional photography. There's also physicality in digital photography and in screen images. Younger people know this. Only old fogies don't get it.
     
  11. I am not we.
     
  12. Believe me, Julie, I know you think that. And I think there may be a pathology at play that walls you off. I'm not hesitant to see myself as part of something bigger than me.
    [By the way, I wasn't actually responding to anything you said, Julie, but rather to both Allen and Maris, though I'm open to hearing anyone's thoughts on the matter.]
     
  13. I am not we. I am not walled off. I can and do "see myself" as parts of many, many possible form(ul)ations. That's possible because I am not we.
     
  14. OK, so getting back at the subject at hand, I said that we inherit form and structure from our predecessors which still allows us to be free and I also said there are lots of fictions even within the so-called physicality of traditional photography and that there's physicality in digital photography as well. How does your being a "me" instead of a "we" relate to those ideas?
     
  15. I don't think I inherit. We inherit.
    Culture is hard work; even the best "I" can't keep up -- even while agreeing that "we" requires a culture.
    I always have choices, options. "We" doesn't.
     
  16. We inherit. OK. We agree on that.
    We disagree on "I don't think I inherit." I do.
    And I think we and I both have options.
    So there we have it. Yippee!
     
  17. In any case, what I'm suggesting to Allen is that it's not an either/or proposition and that one can pay attention to, learn from, and respond to what others have done without one's losing one's own voice. And what I'm suggesting to Maris is that traditional photography is not the only path to truth and digital photography is not the only path to fiction . . . and that there is fiction in truth and truth in fiction.
     
  18. I feel, 'standing on the shoulder of giants' applies not only to science, but to art as well. What we observe and learn can either refine or color our thinking. I try not to fall victim to the latter.
    I can understand Maris's feeling about film photography being tangible, vs digital which is made of formless bytes (I understand his message, not necessarily agree with him). However I don't understand "Making physical photographs demands discipline rather than freedom." . It is true that digital cameras have resulted in trigger happy tourists who snap everything and anything without discretion. However to serious photographers, 'freedom' is not indulgence, but a means of uplift.
    A small example: A writer can write something, review it, and throw it away and start fresh, and he/she can do it over and over until he gets it right. If every time, the writer had to go to a darkroom and 'develop' the piece of paper before reading his work, would that constraint uplift the quality of the work?
     
  19. I find some photographs inspiring, an example here from a Photo.net member, Alain D. who submitted it for critique. I don't mean to invite further critiques here, just sharing another person's picture that makes me want to achieve something like it and not necessarily in photography.
    As inspiring to me is Gordon Parks' American Gothic. Was Gordon Parks free to not create? I don't think he was. What does free mean? It means a lot of work involved and yes, Supriyo I suspect that a written piece destined for the printers is an example of a constraint that uplifts the quality of a written work and there is a lot of 'we' in that process.
    So I would ask, am I free to walk away from endeavors in photography that are sincere attempts to express something even if I don't know what? I think I am free to walk away from photographic expression if something can be expressed better elsewhere.
    I thought it was interesting that, in an interview, Werner Herzog said of his film Fitzcarraldo, that the central metaphor of that film was hauling a boat over land and Werner said in passing in the interview that he had no idea as to what the metaphor was, had no idea what it meant. I mean, the work he put into that film, to express, what exactly? No answer from Werner.
     
  20. I think, I have the freedom to walk away from something where I am not sure of the interpretation, but I probably wouldn't.
    As a photographer transforms reality into photo, the photo also transforms the photographer. I see art as an adventurous
    journey, where all the answers don't have to be known. The taking of the photo is just the beginning of that journey of the
    art and artist together.

    Sometimes a photo does not make any sense in the beginning, and it may take months, even years to obtain full merit of
    it, or never at all. Had I never taken that shot to begin with, there would be no journey for me.


    "I suspect that a written piece destined for the printers is an example of a constraint that uplifts the quality of a written work"

    Charles,
    I don't think the pressure of getting published necessarily uplifts the quality of work. It may force the writer to compromise for sure to make the piece commercially appealing. I have seen examples of that.
     
  21. The 1967 New Documents exhibition at MoMA is a model for Allen to consider:
    "Documentary pictures of the past -- particularly the pictures produced for the FSA and the Photo League -- almost always featured identifiable subjects that could be quickly apprehended: ragged children, defeated adults; joyous children, proud adults.
    [line bread added] The pictures were often made with considerable skill and formal competence, attributes necessary to convince viewers to swallow the alluringly clear photogenic facts. But the subject work of Friedlander, Winogrand, and Arbus [in New Documents] was often altogether mysterious and oblique.
    [line break added] There are few outright dramatic moments in their pictures, and virtually no clichés about human behavior. Their photographs seem to come out of a raw and direct apprehension of the world, each image a "document" providing proof only of a process of investigation, not an illustration of known principles or ideas." — Susan Kismaric
    There have been many photographers inspired by that MoMA show to further develop and expand that kind of aesthetic.
     
  22. Julie, your leaves and twigs remind me of photo constructs by Barry Frydlander and now also Bill Arons, only they repeat and sneak people in their pictures. Are you familiar with them? Frydlander works in Isreal and Arons in Los Angeles and New York. I admire the skill and thought it takes to pull it off.
     
  23. Barry, no, I haven't seen their work. I'll have to look it up. The word "sneak" makes my hackles stand up, though.
    Even though I'm guilty of it in the example posted above, I try to make all of my digital manipulations very explicit. I used the idea for that series (Erehwon / Nowhere ) to make patternings that would hopefully be pleasantly/enjoyably apparent after (if!) one looks at the pictures for more than a few seconds. I was thinking (very loosely, obviously) of something like the patterning of Islamic art.
     
  24. " We'll use Allen as our white rat. Describe the path you have already walked. Walk it again. Describe it again. Is it the same?". Julie.
    I would be a very bad specimen of a white rat having a poor sense of direction and a tendency to day dream. Fortunately there are other white rats, without these failures, who be far more helpful in proving your analysis.
    However, I do understand your thoughts and reasoning, that on any path there are different tales to tell....so, that path is not necessarily restrictive it is the individual walking it.
    But its a path. If we keep walking the same path we do not explore others...no matter the opportunities on that path seen by ourself or different individuals.
    I will respond to all posts but I need time to digest them all.
    Blue string.
    00dqdC-561898284.jpg
     
  25. " Are blind people spiritless? What path do they walk since they can't photograph or even see to record their world around them? Can they still be curious? Ha! There's the connection! They can!" Tim.
    Why would they be spiritless? eye sight is just one sense among others. Do you need eyes to feel the wind?
    " The awake and wondering eye of curiosity is inextricably tied to photography". Tim.
    Indeed.
     
  26. "Allen, neither of the two (in a black and white all inclusive sense) I think, yet something in between the nature". Arthur.
    But can we escape from black and white and paint the imagination with colour?
     
  27. "There is no path, there are cycles, small ones enclosed in larger ones". Thomas.
    Endless cycles without an escape?
     
  28. "Freedom from spiritualising, vaporising, flights of fancy. The photographs I make are reassuringly parts of the real world. They are a refuge from an overload of fictions plausible and implausible".
    A path you follow which offers many opportunities and enjoyment...I understand.
    But just sometime, just sometimes...would it be, perhaps looking around a corner to another place and being a explorer of different worlds. Would that not spike your imagination?
     
  29. "Even though I'm guilty of it in the example posted above, I try to make all of my digital manipulations very explicit".
    Why? its about the impact of the image.....why would the technical stuff matter? Your images fascinate me in the sense I've never been to that place....
    I am Spirit, formless and free....and am able to travel to other worlds of photography.
     
  30. "I see art as an adventurous journey, where all the answers don't have to be known. The taking of the photo is just the beginning of that journey of the art and artist together"
    A true statement for me.
     
  31. "In any case, what I'm suggesting to Allen is that it's not an either/or proposition and that one can pay attention to, learn from, and respond to what others have done without one's losing one's own voice" Fred.
    Logical. Does Art depend on logic? What others have done before; is the influence so great, that it will always be our crutch to depend on?
     
  32. " that one can pay attention to, learn from, and respond to what others have done without one's losing one's own voice" Fred"
    Your own voice? Or, a multitude of voices which you are just one.
     
  33. Each of us is only one of a multitude of voices, ever.
    Influence doesn't have to be a crutch, unless you make it that. Influence can't be avoided. It is part of the cycle of life. It's a matter of understanding it, paying attention to it, even honoring it at time, while also not allowing it to rule us to an unhealthy extent. Anyone who denies the role of influence is simply in denial and probably more prone to letting it take over their life than those who understand its ever-present role and deal with it effectively.
    Art may not depend on logic but creating understandable sentences about art can sometimes benefit from it. I recommend Bach's music, particular some of his fugues, if you want to hear logic at work in art.
     
  34. Influence doesn't have to be a crutch, unless you make it that. Influence can't be avoided. It is part of the cycle of life. It's a matter of understanding it, paying attention to it, even honoring it at time, while also not allowing it to rule us to an unhealthy extent.​
    I think I agree with Fred on this. Denying the existence of past influence actually makes us more vulnerable to such influences, may be in a prejudicial way.

    When photography first originated in the 19th century, the styles and compositions were reminiscent of paintings, but while walking in that direction photography found its own distinct path.
     
  35. Pushing a button to make a picture does not necessarily entail any influence whatsoever.
     
  36. But framing a composition prior to pushing the button does?
     
  37. "I think I agree with Fred on this. Denying the existence of past influence actually makes us more vulnerable to such influences, may be in a prejudicial way"
    The past is undeniable it is part of our culture in a sense our being. A serious of stepping blocks to take us into the future. However, many Artists/Scientists have escaped from those stepping blocks and found freedoms in being free from those restrictions...
    Those who have walked from the path walking a different path....history is littered with them.
     
  38. Julie, of course it does, because you didn't get to the point of when you chose to push that button in a vacuum. You inherited traits, your culture helped you learn how to see, your experiences helped formulate the moment when you push that button. Unless you set up your camera to shoot randomly at some unknown time in the future and in some unknown location, your many undeniable influences will be at work.
     
  39. How did you even know that pushing the button would take the picture. That knowledge just spontaneously generated from inside the vacuum-sealed bubble?
     
  40. Allen, no one here is arguing that history isn't full of people walking different paths. What's that got to do with your claim that influence is a crutch? All those of us who are being reasonable are saying is that influence exists and doesn't have to be (and doesn't have to be seen as) a crutch. We're not denying that people can escape it to varying degrees, that artists are free to the extent they can be, and that new ideas and ways of seeing are coming along all the time. We're simply not buying into some blind and mythical hyperbolic notion of absolute freedom.
     
  41. However, many Artists/Scientists have escaped from those stepping blocks and found freedoms in being free from those restrictions...​
    I am wondering, even when someone has broken free from these restrictions, is it ever possible to be completely free from any influence whatsoever. I am curious if you can provide an example.
    Past influence in one's work may not arise due to real influence, but merely as a coincidence. May be the path is so robust, that many artists follow it independently without each other's inputs. In that scenario, if one has to proclaim independence by rejecting such a path, wouldn't that be a restriction rather than freedom?
     
  42. "Allen, no one here is arguing that history isn't full of people walking different paths. What's that got to do with your claim that influence is a crutch?"
    Everything. We follow what has come before and build upon it. We struggle to escape from it.
    For example the next Mars mission will be built on technology from the 1940's. We follow the same path....we struggle to escape from that path and walk a different path...hide bound is the thought that comes to mind.
    We struggle to go somewhere else we just want to continuously build on the structures of the past...the safe and eaay way.
     
  43. "I am wondering, even when someone has broken free from these restrictions"
    Van Gogh just one name among many that come to mind.. They walked another path and were condemned by the excepted norms of their time.
     
  44. I am not an expert, but I think Van Gogh's unique style evolved out of the impressionist styles that existed at that time, like Renior and Monet? He was part of a movement, a collective effort of many individuals to break free of traditional styles. It was not like one person's struggle to break free of others' influences. I don't know, I may be wrong.
     
  45. In the past free and formless thought was the strength and the creative ability of humanity. Then the structures of building blocks happened and we just built open them. And that is what we do.
    Creativity and original thought was cast aside unless it was another building block on the same old building block.
    Traditional photography is the norm...different Hmm. We are creatures of habit and habit is comfortable.
     
  46. Allen, I suggest you spend just a little time (maybe an hour) reading about Van Gogh and his many influences, from the Japanes prints he collected obsessively that hung in his studio and which many of his paintings mimic and pay homage to to the peasant work of Millet which he also allowed to influence him greatly. The fact that he was condemned doesn't show that he wasn't influenced.
     
  47. Photographers have no idea what they're photographing when they'e photographing it. Whoever you are and for whatever reason you got there, you just don't/can't see what's in front of the camera -- for simple mechanical reasons or for psychological reasons. Here is Lee Friedlander on an early attempt at picture-making:
    "I only wanted Uncle Vern standing by his new car (a Hudson) on a clear day. I got him and the car. I also got a bit of Aunt Mary's laundry and Beau Jack, the dog, peeing on a fence, and a row of potted tuberous begonias on the porch and seventy-eight trees and a million pebbles in the driveway and more. It's a generous medium, photography."
    Most photographers keep trying ever harder, more carefully (harking to their influences) to get Uncle Vern standing by his new car. Some, however, turn to the strangeness, the dog peeing, or the seventy-eight trees and/or the million pebbles or whatever strange new world photography has offered to them (if they are paying attention). It's a gift from a "generous medium." In every sense of that word.
     
  48. Interesting that the quoter-in-chief is claiming photographic lack of influence. The irony abounds.
     
  49. "The fact that he was condemned doesn't show that he wasn't influenced"
    Fred, you keep stating the obvious as it was some wonderful insight. We need to move on from the obvious and common thoughts.
    Influence is unavoidable, but some escape from its total clutch, and find some light of their own. Ands that's where we advance as humanity.
    .
     
  50. Most photographers keep trying ever harder, more carefully (harking to their influences) to get Uncle Vern standing by his new car.​
    Most photographers won't earn their living if they can't make Uncle Vern pose with his new car. That is the biological necessity. After that, there is always room for creativity. Some people still won't feel the necessity to turn to the ""strange new world" and remain satisfied with what they are doing. That is intellectual lethargy, and they will probably perish.
     
  51. Influence is unavoidable, but some escape from its total clutch, and find some light of their own. Ands that's where we advance as humanity.​

    I think that urge to escape mainly comes when the current style is totally saturated, and people are bored. E.g. Van Gogh did not appear in the 16th century.
     
  52. Allen, I have to keep stating the obvious, because you don't get it. You keep asserting that it's either/or. We're either in the clutches (or crutches) of influence or we "escape from its total clutch." If you could stop talking in extremes for a moment, you'd see where you've gone wrong. We all do both. We absorb and honor influence and we escape it to the extent we can. Some do better than others. Some get stuck in the past. Some have no sense of history and come off as naive and lost souls. Your opening post was stated as an either/or and stated in the form of hyperbole: "is it formless and free" or is it "mapped and given to us." Many of us have been telling you they're not mutually exclusive and they don't have to be put in such ridiculously extreme words. Photos can have form and are not absolutely free and they can simultaneously be not mapped and given to us.
     
  53. formless and free or a structure based on paths others have walked before?
    It is an endless path that we walk, mapped and given to us, to forever tread.?
    The structure.....a 1940"s rocket to Mars.
    The photographer...
     
  54. It's probably helpful, when considering the more extreme and downright silly notions of freedom, to keep in mind that some photographers and some artists are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or their own egos which can make them feel totally free when in fact they're imprisoned by themselves and just don't see it.
     
  55. Humanity is about thinking out of the box...our success as a species.
    Following tradition, doing the same old....
    Its about a 1940"s rocket to Mars. How sad is that when we landed on the moon in 1969. Traditional, stuck in the mud, thought....the enemy and downfall of humanity.
     
  56. The same old.
    Building, building on the same old structures....and hopefully one day we will reach heaven with a flame up our arse
     
  57. The word "sneak" makes my hackles stand up, though.​
    Yes, poor choice of words, and you are too sharp to let that slide by:) and I know it took a lot of work to place objects. I think the guys I mentioned would take several frames of the same scene so they could have the inhabitants of the frame present in different relationship to the camera, and as the duplication or re-plication of the individuals takes a lot of work to make sure it fits in the final work and looks seamless. So no "sneaking" involved as these elements are at least to the artists I mentioned, central elements of their idea and needed to be meticulously executed for the concept to work. I suppose its interesting because the level of detail puts a responsibility on the viewer that even often we don't have as photographers. Particularly those of us that shoot on the street or walking around, you often don't see a lot of things in the photograph when taken, at least not consciously. I do harbor the notion that I can't prove, that there is "seeing" that happens above or below the threshold of immediate awareness that if we are fortunate to have some connection, helps frame the pic and press the shutter. Other times there's more conscious awareness in the process, and then if one is a certain type of fashion or portrait artist, for example, the process can be all about control of what the camera sees, not only in the frame, but precise control of lighting. So not one shoe fits all, and everyone is "correct". :)
     
  58. Building, building on the same old structures​
    My take is, building on old structures is not always bad, as long as there is room for improvement and exploration within the established framework. It is only when a field gets saturated, that people start thinking of escaping to new ideas or styles. Imagine if every new artist made it their religion not to receive any influence from others. How will the world look like? There will be only one artist in each genre. Everyone else will ignore and follow their own path. There will be no improvement, no nurturing of existing styles.
     
  59. Humanity is about thinking out of the box...our success as a species.​
    We were successful as a species without much change for quite a bit. For 190 thousand years we were knapping stones in various styles before our civilization started to evolve technically on a faster pace.
     
  60. Supriyo, you've communicated some very important ideas. I just finished watching Frank Capra's Platinum Blonde. It's an amazing early romantic comedy. Formula: poor newspaperman falls for rich beauty while plainer female friend gets left in the dust. Guess what happens? We don't have to, because it's a romantic comedy from the 30s. So we kind of know what happens. Guy realizes the error of his ways and winds up with the truer love, the plainer woman with whom he realizes he was meant to be all along. The beauty of this kind of film is not being surprised at what happens or discovering something new. It's in enjoying the ride, even when that ride has been taken before. Nothing new here. But beautifully done and having Capra's personal stamp on it throughout. Not all art is the art of Van Gogh. Not all art is original and not all art dismisses tradition. Some is steeped in it.
    Allen, thinking outside the box may just require not confining art to the "originality" box. That would be a stifling and one-dimensional notion of art. There can be much more to art than that. It may be also in understanding the importance of formula, tradition, and canons in so many great works of art. Chopin didn't originate the Nocturne. Just listen to the influence John Field had on Chopin. It wasn't originality or a lack of tradition or a lack of undue influence that made Chopin a great artist. It was his music writing skills combined with his heart and soul.
     
  61. Barry wrote: "... there is "seeing" that happens above or below the threshold of immediate awareness that if we are fortunate to have some connection, helps frame the pic and press the shutter." Yes. And also the thing we call "I" upon which influence tries to work is much more amorphous, slippery and fleeting than anything logic can take hold of and nail to any line of reasoning.
    It was one of the founding revelations to me about photography when I realized that the camera effectively allows me to escape the Rashomon effect: one assumes that all those different conceptions of the same scene were due to different angles of view along with different personal influences. But the camera collapsed that -- it was seeing exactly what I was seeing and it was seeing things very differently from what I was seeing. The proof was there in the hundreds in my proof sheets. This was a wondrous, glorious, magnificent realization, for me. It meant that I had the means to escape an influence-inflected view, to see things without "me." A great big, deliciously easy means to explore what I otherwise could not.
    The effort then required was to close the gap between the proof sheet and the time of shooting -- to learn how to let the camera's eye be the only eye -- and let that current run my show. Like plugging into a different kind of electricity.
    For me, this means learning how to mentally shut up and listen. Learning how to get out of the way. To be perfectly quiet and just (try to) be purely open. Blah, blah, blahing and bawling about beliefs is anathema to getting out/into what the camera can do for me. When I can do it, the rewards are marvelous.
     
  62. there is "seeing" that happens above or below the threshold of immediate awareness that if we are fortunate to have some connection, helps frame the pic and press the shutter​
    And yet, I look through your often very moving and insightful portfolio and there's a coherence and personal sense of vision that goes beyond whatever degree of awareness or non-awareness you experienced. For me, awareness is a different matter from influence. Influence can take place overtly and with awareness but, just as importantly, influence can take place with no awareness or planning. Avedon, whether in his fashion work or his portrait work, likely experienced just that kind of seeing you're describing, so I don't think it's limited by genre. But, again, awareness is not the point to me. It's influence. All those things that have seeped in and are at play even when we're in our most instinctual and spontaneous modes. One's life experience, one's general way of seeing the world, one's cultural associations with symbols and signs and gesture, even one's genetics will all still be at play even when one is in the state of whatever degree of immediate or non-awareness one can reach, even when one is in the moment or in the zone. As Julie made clear when she said "(try to) be purely open," there's no such thing as someone actually being "purely" open if "purely open" entails a complete lack of influence. The most they can do is try, but they will never ever achieve purity because their influences are already baked into the picture even when they're successfully avoiding them to the extent they can. That very avoidance has already framed their experience. And very often the struggle against such natural and human influence comes off as false and disingenuous.

    Van Gogh achieved what he did not because he set out to avoid influence or tradition. He achieved what he did in great part because he embraced them which helped him create as much influence and tradition as he benefitted from.
     
  63. " ... there's no such thing as someone actually being "purely" open ... "
    Sure there is. I do it.
    Sometimes I can't -- and sometimes I don't want to.
     
  64. Except, no, you don't. Your saying it doesn't make it so. You have never been nor will you ever be a tabula rasa. You are a human, a mere mortal always under the influence and there is . . . no exit.
     
  65. I do. Your saying I don't doesn't make it not so.
    I'm not talking about living my life, day and night, without influence. I'm talking about discrete spans of time. I'm talking about forgetting myself, losing track of time and place for one or two or three hours while I am immersed in an activity that I love intensely. Millions of people around the world experience this kind of "losing themselves" while engaged in activities they love intensely.
     
  66. Yes. I know. I do that, too. But that's NOT what we're talking about. Those discrete spans of time, where we forget ourselves, lose track, immerse ourselves in something are not free of the influences that have built up in and for us. They may be free of our thinking about them or being aware of them. But they are not free of them.
     
  67. Again, just look at Barry's portfolio which, even though he says, like you and I, that he has those discrete spans of time where he forgets himself, loses track of time and place, and shoots in the moment and sees "above or below the threshold of immediate awareness", there's a coherence and personality (personal consistent visual influence) at play throughout, particularly, much of his street work. His sensibility has been formed over time and it pervades his work, and that's a compliment. His ability, and I trust him when he says it's there, to let go and to see in the way he sees, means his influences don't get in his way and make his seeing richer and can be very second nature. It does not mean his influences suddenly vanish. If they did, his work would be visually, thematically, and emotionally inconsistent and much less coherent than it is.
     
  68. "They may be free of our thinking about them or being aware of them. But they are not free of them."
    I am sorry that it is that way for you. It is not that way for me.
    [I speak for myself, not for Barry. He described a different kind of self-experience than what I know myself to have had. I respect and believe his description about his own experience.]
     
  69. Julie, you needn't be sorry for me. I'm human. And you are, too, though you don't seem to know it. I believe that you are sincere and genuine in your perception of how it is for you. Unfortunately, you are simply wrong. To be clear, you're not wrong about your perception of how it is. I'm sure you do perceive it that way. You're wrong about how it is. That's OK, though. Just as humans can't completely (purely) escape their influences, even when they think they do, we are all wrong on occasion.
     
  70. " ... we are all wrong on occasion."
    Well, at least you are aware of the possibility ...
     
  71. Yes, I am. But that doesn't mean all this is a matter of individual perspective and subjective differences. Just like I use my influences as positively as I can and don't run away from them even as I might overcome them at times, I don't let the possibility that I'm wrong hold me back from learning, thinking clearly, and accepting certain things about what it is to be a human. I may admit to the possibility of being wrong about humans not being able to fly of their own accord, but that doesn't mean someone who sincerely claims to fly of their own accord isn't a nut job. There are actually some things humans share and cultural, biological, and experiential influences are among them. Everyone is entitled to feel whatever they want and even to believe whatever they want. But, clearly, a lot of the most fervently-held beliefs through history have turned out to be misguided at their most benign and dangerous at their most malignant. When I come up against beliefs I think are pathetic, silly, or naive, I'm not going to sit by and just chalk it up to subjective experience. I'm going to call it out as wrong if I think it is.
     
  72. Your beliefs don't concern me. Your assertions to know more about my experience than I do myself do. You are simply wrong on the latter.
     
  73. I think, what we are debating about was in some sense explored by philosophers centuries back. When we are proclaiming that we can absolutely remove the "I" from our artistic pursuits, aren't we a little over ambitious? Yes, I can convince myself that I am free, but what if that is just an illusion? We can convince our conscious mind that we are free, what about the subconscious? Can we claim any control over our subconscious within a short span of time? Unless someone can definitively prove that he/she has succeeded in removing the "I" from the subconscious, all these assertions about freedom from influence are blank statements. A victim of illusion by definition cannot realize the effect of the illusion.
     
  74. That argument works just as well in reverse, Supriyo. You could be the one who is a victim of illusion in claiming the persistence of influence. If you can neither prove nor disprove either case, you'll just have to take my word, since it is my experience of which I speak, not yours.
     
  75. Julie,
    True, if the argument is just between you and me, but my statement is backed by multitude of literature from psychologists and philosophers, whereas yours is backed at the moment just by your assertion alone. If you claim I have to take your word on this because it is your unique experience, then you also have to prove that you are entirely different from other human species, which is probably impossible. However I am open to your argument if you can convince me that what you are claiming is plausible. I am not disrespecting your position, I am just not convinced about your claim.
     
  76. You first. Show me your evidence that there can be no such thing as a few hours of un-influenced experience.
     
  77. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconscious_mind
    Sorry for the unprofessional citation of wikipedia, but there are lots of peer reviewed references there.
    I have never seen any source that claims the influence of the unconscious (or the subconscious) mind can be shut down for a few hours. If you can show me, I will be very interested to read.
     
  78. My unconscious mind is unconscious. It can neither prove nor disprove anything.
     
  79. The theory says, your unconscious mind is shaped by your past experiences, and it influences your conscious mind whether you want or not.
     
  80. you'll just have to take my word, since it is my experience of which I speak​
    I take your word about as seriously as I take the word of a religious wing nut who claims God speaks to him directly. Anyone would be a fool to take the word of everyone who claims authority over certain details about their own experience. The only authority you have is knowing what your experiences feel like. You have no authority over what they actually consist of.
     
  81. Supriyo, but you don't know when, how, why, or in what kind of way, etc.
    Fred, you're simply wrong.
     
  82. Yes, of course Julie. This is a theory. Some people accept it, some don't. But there is prior literature on this subject from specialists. Likewise, can you show me, if there is a school of thought that claims that the influence of the unconscious mind can be turned off under certain conditions. I can tell you, that Hindu philosophers believe that in a state of meditation, one can shut off all layers of mind and bring out the soul which sits at the root of one's mind, the atman. However the state of meditation is a state of physical inactivity. So that would not be relevent to your situation.
    You asked me to go first and show evidence. I have done my best. It doesn't matter if you accept them or not. They are just evidences from prior literature. Now I think it is your turn to show me literary evidence that reinforces your claim.
     
  83. Julie, you can keep claiming I'm wrong and keep trying to base that solely on my having to believe that you know everything and all there is to know about your own experiences. But that's not a dialogue or a coherent argument. It's just a child screaming in the dark. Supriyo and I have offered backups to our arguments which you either sidestep or ignore. We've given examples that you can actually look at. You, on the other hand, can only keep it masked behind your own wall of isolation, the things only you have access to. You want me to have faith. I don't. And aside from blurting out that I'm wrong, you've used no reason and make no sense.
     
  84. Julie, I think you are being betrayed by your own ego, which asserts "I am right and I know it!". Had you stated that this is how I feel, and I may be wrong, it would have been much more acceptable. If you can really shut down your own ego on demand, you can gain great advantage in this debate by doing so now, because we cannot do that even if we want to.
     
  85. Yes, and that is a hypothetical statement. I am wondering whether it will ever happen in reality, and how to know it has really happened except the photographer's assertion that it has.
     
  86. Phil, I'm sure you recognize that quotes of famous photographers are good indicators of how they feel but not necessarily good indicators of how things are. I like the quote of White, love reading what he has to say about photography and his experience, and like seeing how that plays out in his photos. But it's not (and I'm sure not meant to be) a description about the role of influence in human existence, spiritual or otherwise.
     
  87. OK, sorry for the misunderstanding, and thanks very much for sharing the quote. I think I saw a few works by Minor White before, but haven't read his writings. I would be interested to read them.
     
  88. I was simply using the Minor White quote as a response to the original post and thread title.​
    Got it. Too bad, though. I'd love to hear what your response would be in your words.
     
  89. Supriyo, I claim that I know more about my experience than you do. I can't help it if you find that alarming.
    You seem to think that the "unconscious" proves that I can't be free of influence. Earlier you claimed that the influences in question are cultural. It's my understanding that the unconscious and culture are generally at odds with one another. A liberated unconscious would be indication of that one has slipped the bounds of culture.
    If you claim that unconscious (raw! primitive!) appetites are "influences", I would say Yes! Exactly! When I say "Open" I mean open.
     
  90. I am not sure what "liberated unconscious" means. Is it ever possible to be free of cultural influences? Even an isolated human who leaves in forest out of contact with civilization bears a culture in my opinion.
     
  91. Supriyo, I claim that I know more about my experience than you do. I can't help it if you find that alarming.​
    It's as alarming as someone claiming they'd be as good an obstetrician as their doctor because they experienced their own birth. Experiencing something and knowing it are two very different matters. Understanding how experience works is not the same as describing or experiencing one's experience. That shouldn't be a hard distinction to understand.
     
  92. Photography, when done well, is a means of extracting images in the imagination and sharing them with others.
     
  93. Julie - "For me, this means learning how to mentally shut up and listen. Learning how to get out of the way. To be perfectly quiet and just (try to) be purely open. Blah, blah, blahing and bawling about beliefs is anathema to getting out/into what the camera can do for me. When I can do it, the rewards are marvelous."
    This doesn't happen to me very often, but when it does I take it as a blessing to feel free of something that Julie generously outlined for us from her interior-scape, to wit, "beliefs".
    In this, isn't, in some jumbled up sense of things, Tom Petty free from the very influences that produced him? (Neil Young, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton - My Back Pages) I feel it is so, honor Julie in expressing her sense of things and recognize that sure, Tom Petty isn't 'free' when all counsel is from our Rashomon sense of how the world works. How does the world really work? Anyone?
     
  94. And yet, I look through your often very moving and insightful portfolio and there's a coherence and personal sense of vision that goes beyond whatever degree of awareness or non-awareness you experienced.
    Why thanks Fred. I think I stated things in a way that was perhaps confusing. Its not just awareness or non-awareness. The aspect I'm talking about is inherently intelligent and cogent at whatever level it operates. And when it operates, its not like you are unaware, you don't pass out and walk around in a daze. Its just awareness has its own concerns and theres a deeper intelligence that sometimes happens at levels your normal awareness isn't tuned to, and every now and again, it seems to manifest itself when taking a photo. Its certainly not limited to that by any means.
     
  95. And yet, I look through your often very moving and insightful portfolio and there's a coherence and personal sense of vision that goes beyond whatever degree of awareness or non-awareness you experienced.​
    Why thanks Fred. I think I stated things in a way that was perhaps confusing. Its not just awareness or non-awareness. The aspect I'm talking about is inherently intelligent and cogent at whatever level it operates. And when it operates, its not like you are unaware, you don't pass out and walk around in a daze. Its just awareness has its own concerns and theres a deeper intelligence that sometimes happens at levels your normal awareness isn't tuned to, and every now and again, it seems to manifest itself when taking a photo. Its certainly not limited to that by any means.
     
  96. In this, isn't, in some jumbled up sense of things, Tom Petty free from the very influences that produced him?​
    No, he's not. I doubt he'd claim he is and I doubt he'd want to be. I hear the reverence with which Dylan and others talk about the influences that have had such profound effects on them. Your description or your thinking does seem to be jumbled up and that's the problem. With a more clear approach, one can see that one's own freedom is not dependent on rejecting all influence. Freedom doesn't demand that, unless you're talking about some untenable purity of freedom which would only be the purview of the myth known as God, and I'd just assume leave Him out of this.

    Listen to the song to which you linked.
    Lies that life is black and white
    Spoke from my skull, I dreamed​
    It's not EITHER influence OR freedom. Recognizing, honoring, and coming to grips with influence is part of our freedom. It's usually denial that enslaves us.
     
  97. Fred - "Recognizing, honoring, and coming to grips with influence is part of our freedom."

    I agree with that.

    At the same time, I recognize that influences can appear in my inner dialog as "Blah, blah, blahing", that is, as negatives that may get in my way at times to one degree or another. So when Julie writes "...to learn how to let the camera's eye be the only eye -- and let that current run my show.", I take that as her describing a "coming to grips with influence". And the result for her she writes as being "...forgetting myself, losing track of time and place for one or two or three hours while I am immersed in an activity that I love intensely." I read her as equating being free of some negative "stuff" as being free of "influences".

    I remember an interview with John Mellencamp where he said that at first, all he seemed to be able to write were songs that sounded way like Stones songs. At some point he realized that he didn't have to write a Stones song and things got better for him. So I interpret his statement as a coming to grips, but I'm sure he still likes the Stones songs.

    With respect to photography, say bird pictures I've done, I really couldn't get many high value 'hawk eating' photos, or hawk photos at all and thought, well, finches eat. It just isn't as dramatic for the viewer to see a finch with a seed. So part of it for me is to get the viewer out of my mind to better enjoy exactly what it is I'm doing and I got to appreciate finches more. If I had read a lot of photography books thinking that was the standard to work to, I'm sure with my personality it would have been deadly to enjoyment. Why did it take so much work to arrive at enjoyment?
     
  98. At the same time, I recognize that influences can appear in my inner dialog​
    Yes, but I've been saying all along it's not our awareness or lack of awareness of influence that I'm talking about. For influence to be influence, it doesn't have to be apparent to us or consciously at work. It doesn't have to be part of the inner blah, blah, blah dialogue. Of course we can put ourselves in position to forget about or consciously ignore influence, to lose track of time and be immersed in something. I'm not questioning that. But none of that means influence isn't still at play.

    Here's a way I might pose it. Any of us can let go of influence in the many ways you, Julie, and I have described. But I don't think influence fully ever lets go of us.
     
  99. Charles,

    I will let Fred respond, but will only add that by giving the example of hawk feeding being appealing to viewers, you are
    referring to prejudice. When I think of influence, I think more of styles or vision (although we are not always free of
    prejudices). Subscribing to prejudice is always a negative thing, but blending somebody else's style with your own can be
    synergistic and pathbreaking.
     
  100. No-continuity simply means accepting that continuity that happens. Continuity means the opposite: making that particular continuity that excludes all others. This is, of course, possible but not any longer nourishing for we have found that by excluding we grow thin inside even though we may have an enormous bank account outside.
    For some things one needs critics, connoisseurs, judgments, authoritative ones, otherwise one gets gypped; but for nothing one can dispense with all that fol-de-rol.
    When nothing is securely possessed one is free to accept any of the somethings. How many are there? They roll up at your feet. How many doors and windows are there in it?
    ***********
    The thing to do is to keep the head alert but empty.
    John Cage
     
  101. Ideas are one thing and what happens is another.
    —John Cage​
     
  102. Exactly.
     
  103. The way I take the quote about ideas is that his and your "empty-headed" ideas are one thing, but what's actually happening is that your heads are not empty at all, no matter what your ideas tell you.
    In any case, what's truly empty-headed is having a conversation through dueling quotes. Being able to google and find a quote really shows and tells nothing much at all, except that you can push buttons and kind of fill in a jigsaw puzzle. We all know that we can find a quote from some famous person to bolster almost any point we want to make. Making a coherent argument ourselves, however, requires more than an empty head and more than finding someone who once said something which, taken out of context, seems to agree with our ideas, no matter how naive and unsupportable they may actually be.
     
  104. This is a matter of belief, as you well know. I accept that you don't believe. You do not accept that I do believe.
    I am sorry you are intolerant of the beliefs of others.
     
  105. First of all, I suppose one could say anything and everything is a matter of belief. But beliefs are either supportable or not supportable, arguable or not arguable, and I give some more weight than others. Some people don't believe in evolution, some believe that Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster, some believe that climate change is a hoax, some believe that gays should all go to hell, some believe that women deserve to be beaten. So, yes, there are beliefs I'm intolerant of. I'm particularly intolerant of religious-sounding beliefs that just keep getting repeated, that are based on flaws of logic like "Well, you can't prove God doesn't exist", that are often "proven" by out-of-context and self-serving quotes from the bible, and that the believer thinks don't need some kind of coherent support for if she wants to be tolerated and taken seriously. Just telling people they are wrong because they don't have access to what's inside your head doesn't make me tolerant. It makes me skeptical.
     
  106. I really don't care about your personal theories about belief. I do care that you are intolerant, as demonstrated in this thread.
    If you don't like my beliefs, please don't read my posts. It's not hard to not read the posts of people who don't interest you. I do so -- or prefer to until forced to do otherwise, as is the case at the moment.
     
  107. Sorry, that's not the way it works. I'm just as interested in ideas I don't agree with as ideas I do. And I will engage whatever ideas are posted here that pique my interest. Your posts here actually interested me quite a bit, which is why I engaged them even though I disagree. You can't post things and then ask people please not to read them, this being an open forum. Really, the only option for you to control those you want not to read your posts would be not to post, an option I hope you don't choose. For me, turning a blind eye to beliefs I don't like or don't think are supportable is not an option.
     
  108. When nothing is securely possessed one is free to accept any of the somethings. How many are there? They roll up at your feet. How many doors and windows are there in it?​

    Julie,
    In your quote, John Cage is asking that we consider all paths, not stick to one and reject others. I feel that is different from shutting down all influences, as I was understanding from your comments.
     
  109. Supriyo, if you like that, you might enjoy reading more of Cage's writings (my quote is from his book Silence). Or just Google him -- I expect he's got a lot of stuff online.
    [I'm not going to try hammering my own message to try and clarify it; I hope it's there if you want to reread it in previous posts -- or not. But thanks for letting me know that I wasn't clear enough.]
     
  110. Julie,
    Thank you for referring to John Cage. I will surely look into his works.

    If you believe that one should be open to all ideas and not stick to one, then I agree with you. Is this what you were communicating to us? What I found confusing in your comment was when you said you can sit at your work for a few hours and completely empty your mind of all influences. I think that is almost impossible to achieve. On the other hand, if you say that you can sit for a few hours when you can open your mind to all related ideas instead of a preferred one, that is also challenging to do, but may be more understandable to me.
     
  111. I can be without preference. Un-rooted. Or, more prosaically, and sort of an opposite description, think of me as a giant blob of Velcro. Everything sticks.
    Does that work for you?
     
  112. Julie,
    I understand your velcro analogy, but the only problem is, you are not a velcro, a human being. As a human, one is bound to have preferences for somethings over others, may be in a subtle way, may be not always consciously. I do applaud you for wishing to be open to many ideas as opposed to one, for some people won't even entertain such an idea. However in recognizing that we are humans and hence not perfect allows us to have our feet on the ground. Since you are open to all ideas, perhaps you could also consider the idea that you may have subtle preferences for certain styles over others.
    I will describe my position to you. When I was new to photography about a decade back, I was more of a velcro than I am now. Now I have developed my preferences for styles, however I don't want to have the mindset that some styles always work and some never do. I can go back and consider a style or genre that I do not follow and learn something useful from it (which I frequently do on PN).
     
  113. You are a nice, normal photographer. I'm a compositor. I'll give you one small example of why preference isn't even possible:
    When I want to do one of my bird composites, I need a ground-level scenario. I have no idea what the world looks like three inches from the ground. So, I get down on my stomach and crawl around through (uncut, wild) grass, underbrush, mixed woodland, holding the camera to my eye and just letting the camera tow me along. If I don't hold the camera to my eye, I won't see three inches from the ground. When I do hold it to my eye, at a set focus (my birds were shot with a 300 at a distance of 8 ft.: the composite background has to "fit"). It's very, very strange, but also very wonderful. When I hear myself yelling "Holy smoke! Look at THAT!" I suspect I might have something I want to work with.
    Every part of every composite is "given" to me by the camera -- except for the lead players, and they are ... themselves (a bird in a composite never gives up his posture and attitude; I must bend to its needs). Even the stones and sticks had to give themselves to me -- I had no idea what I would use or how until they were just ... there and what they were told me how they needed to be used.
    Those are quick examples. I also do non-composite shooting that's along the same lines, but I don't work at it, just because I have chosen composite work as my first love.
     
  114. More about "blending styles" per Supriyo. Derrell Peart here has extended the Green and Green design/aesthetic features in furniture, where he solves Green and Green aesthetic problems arising in Green and Green 'inspired' new designs using the Green and Green style.
    I see viewer taste as an influence and not a prejudice. So Peart has his own ideas about aesthetic problems in modified designs and has some elegant solutions of his own that are original within a Green and Green feature set. That is, Peart's solutions look like they should have been in the Green and Green feature set all along.
    Regarding the influence v. free false dichotomy: just stating that it's a false dichotomy does beg the question: where does a new photographic idea come from, an expression that is more than it's influences? Since creative expression is a little understood phenomenon so too are artist's statements phenomenon that often don't make much sense.
     
  115. Yes, a new photographic idea is more than its influences. But it's not completely separate or different from them. There
    will be connections. So, when I add an apple to a group of three apples that sits on the table, I get more apples, four
    being more than three. But the three apples haven't disappeared. They're still there even though four is different. Four is
    different from three but it's not exclusive of three. More is more. It's an additive state. I'm by no means suggesting we do
    away with ideas of newness or creativity. I'm just trying not to deify them or approach new photographic ideas as if they
    come out of some vacuum or void. I also tend to emphasize authenticity and the personal in art more than newness. I think the role of originality in art is often overplayed. A few greats have achieved it (their influences well intact) but I see so many people go awry by obsessing over originality when being authentic and personal would be a perfectly fine way to make photos . . . and might well lead to more original photos anyway.
     
  116. Or . . . sperm + egg = new baby. Baby retains genetic markers of parents even though she's a unique individual. Neither baby nor grown-up has to feel this or know it or believe it for it to be true. Person may have an empty head about genetics and yet genetics will play a role.
     
  117. a bird in a composite never gives up his posture and attitude; I must bend to its needs​
    I think a nice normal bird photographer would say the same thing about his subjects, and besides the birds' posture, a regular photo will also not give up its background and the distractions in it.

    Julie,
    That was an interesting description of the method you follow, and it must be a lot of fun and excitement. I have a few comments about it. First of all, you must be taking a lot of bird pictures and then selecting the ones that 'work'. Aren't there some personal preferences involved in that. I have a feeling you will say, that your subjects lead you to the picture rather than you, but still aren't there any personal choice here?

    Secondly, when you say you want the background to be 3 inches above ground, I think you are envisioning the scene to be at the eye level of the birds. (Forgive me if I misunderstood) If thats the case, then several different backgrounds could be found (POV being at the birds' eye level) that all fit the birds and their lighting in your composite. For example, shooting the birds on a tree branch 8 feet away from a three story window. So when you want your background to be on the grass level rather than the tree branch, aren't you making that choice?
     
  118. I know I am a latecomer to this discussion, and poorly equipped to discuss the philosophical history of photography, but I feel very well founded in the concepts of creativity, and isn't that what we are talking about? As an Architect or Photographer, I have a set of tools and techniques that are founded in human nature, natural history, human history, technology, physical laws, and the norms and perceptions of the culture that raised me. I can no more divorce myself from these "influences" than I can change the order of my DNA. Yet, I have made my living for over 31 years through the application of creative problem solving to Architectural opportunities. For any artist, including photographers, the sign of the Master is the ability to un-consciously or sub-consciously apply the full range of knowledge, tools, and techniques to our creative art. The new Architect self-consciously applies color, patterns, rhythm, light, and volume to his designs, just as the new photographer must think about shutter speed, ISO, the rule of 3rds, etc. in the making of an image. The masters do this without conscious thought, and so free themselves to explore new and bigger ideas. Julie, in making the camera her eye, has freed herself from the necessities of conscious implementation, but she remains tied to all of the influences that placed that camera and lens combination in her hand. I believe her when she says she is "free", that is, free to use the camera in a way that is her own, but she still is bound by the history that created that moment in time. So, I agree with Fred and Supriyo in the very essence of their arguments. I also agree with Julie when she says she perceives herself as being free, because perception is reality for each of us, and will evolve constantly in a thinking, conscious being. But, that freedom is not without foundations and history, whether or not they are recognized in the moment.
     
  119. where does a new photographic idea come from, an expression that is more than it's influences?​
    Charles,
    My opinion would be similar to Fred's. I do think it is hard to do away with influences (and why should we, thats a related question) in art, unless we are looking at remote indigenous tribes. Julie describes her scenario where she claims that her subject shows her the way and dictates her style. Even there I am a little skeptical whether it would work that way.
     
  120. David, thank you for stating your feelings respectfully (and Supriyo, I hope this post can somewhat answer your last as well, as I don't have much time).
    How if I can convey the mind-set of the compositor ... Imagine a the blank white page. I am faced with building a world sui generis. In straight photography, the world arrives with its own inevitable logic -- which is infused end to end with influence. But the composite has none. It's up to me. Unlike the architect, there are no demands or needs or requirements upon which to base my construction. There is nothing but a bunch little incredibly animated, busy little creatures (yes, eye-level, Supriyo).
    It's all backwards and inside-out. What will the far look like? What will the middle be made of? Why? What is the angle of view (which must be strictly maintained for all parts -- and for what reason, that particular angle?) What colors? What/where blurred or sharp? Scale issues abound? Which? Why? And all parts have to do what the straight photograph does effortlessly -- cohere in an organic way -- the parts must need each other. There is no inherent reason for anything beyond the birds.
    I'm not in the composite -- my needs aren't there. The parts tell me the needs. As opposed to a 'real' picture, in which you, the photographer, are there and as everyone has pointed out to me, influence and are influenced by whatever and wherever you are. I'm short on time, but I hope this gives an inkling of the mind somersault that has to happen to do things in a without-me kind of way.
    Or, look at my Judgement Day series, which was one of my first. Look at how stiff, flat, lined-up ... how kind of silly the set up is. That's the best I could do at first. The more recent Now and Then, Slow Dance, and Criss Cross sets are getting there, but I have never been (so far) fully satisfied with the 'build.' I love the parts (wherein I find and shoot as described to this thread), but I'm still not getting what I find when shooting the parts to happen when I am putting the pieces together in a much more intrusive, intentional mode.
    I can round up straight photographers who do this kind of thing (escape influence), if you like. Uta Barth comes to mind, but there are more.
     
  121. Phil, mine is a bastard, a mongrel process. Unlike the painter, my parts have character -- the birds demand, I can't use them for anything other than that with which they arrive. Ditto for every stick, berry, rock and middle, far and near-ground. What they are has to be submitted to; if I ignore their needs, the thing simply does not hold. And the 'needs' can be very subtle. I've taken a part and shifted and twiddled and waited for it to settle into place to no avail. Relax myself, stop trying to force it to be what it's not, and sometimes just wait, wait ... then if I can hear where it needs to be (or I get another player and try again) it will go. I don't make my parts. They tell me what and where they will be.
    These are things that 1) are what they are -- will do or be or go certain places/ways and most certainly, absolutely will not go in most other places/ways; and 2) are, until I, most especially by taking my inclinations and assumptions and wishes out of the way, not going to play together to bloom into 'a' world. There is a glorious moment when I get all the lighting done when genesis suddenly occurs. It is an amazing thing to see. All the parts are there, bony and dry and suddenly the thing just breathes. But I wish I could convey that I don't get there -- I really don't get there if I try to dominate of force or 'know' what goes where. It's their world, not mine.
    This is a way of photographing that was very hard for me to transition to. I expect I would have been just as incomprehending as you guys if I hadn't done it. But having done it, I find my 'regular' photography greatly enriched, by being able to, by knowing that I can, listen in this very different way to what I'm looking at.
     
  122. "all the raw stuff as individual images that came into and comes out of the camera and then the feeling when some of those ultimately morph into some thing that couldn't be any otherwise: a narrative, a structure, a composite."
    Yes! [BIG smile!]
    But you arrive as you on a new planet that is quite naturally what it is: it is a working, breathing system and you are you in it. This can be done such that it makes/finds you (or not; it's one's own choice).
    But I, as compositor, get a bunch of meteorites -- from where? How do I land on that planet?
     
  123. Changing the subject, back to 'spirit' if I can ... because I have a question for Phil, if he's still here.
    Reading the new Minor White book The Time Between: The Sequences of Minor White, I find this:
    "What, if anything, happens between sequential photographs — after viewing one and before seeing the next — which makes them cohere as a sequence? What is the glue, so to speak, that holds sequential photographs together?"
    That last is what I want to ask — what is the glue?
    Also from this book, here is White: "With single images I'm basically an observer passive to what is before me, no matter how perceptive or how fast my emotions boil. In putting images together, I become active and the excitement is another order. Synthesis overshadows analysis. The poet says, the line is given, the rest is up to me."
    I'm not sure I agree with that, but I'd love to have the glue question considered as well as that quote if anybody is interested in sequences as somehow accessing areas not available to single pictures.
    [The photos in the book, given in their original sequencing, as you'd expect, are very interesting, but the text, IMO, is really weak. In case you're interested in the book.]
     
  124. All the metaphors in the world don't create a reality. I think Supriyo nailed that back when he made the distinction between a piece of velcro and a human being. That's not to take anything away from metaphors . . . or human beings . . . or velcro. Metaphors are great literary devices used to describe things and, more importantly, often to transport our imaginations, though their overuse usually starts to feel cloying and hamfisted, not unlike over-saturation, pushing the slider bar to 10 and beyond.
    None of us are that far beyond the comprehension of others.
     
  125. Series also can provide changes to context, even suggesting a context where one didn't previously exist.
     
  126. David, I wanted to respond to your post, much of which I agree with. But a few things to consider. When we're discussing photography, we may not always be talking about creativity. Sometimes, we could just be talking about documenting, in which case the subject may take primacy over creativity. There may, in fact, be instances where the best mode of documentary (if it's meant to reach people easily) might be to travel, as Allen said, paths that have been traveled before. Certain mechanisms for communication have worked before and there's no reason they shouldn't be adopted. That's not to say new documentarians won't also try to develop new styles or new looks, but I don't know that that will be of primary concern to many of them. It will be what information can be conveyed and a degree of authenticity that will often provide for a good documentary photo or series.
    Also, while I do agree agree and appreciate much of what you said, I can't let the statement go that "perception is reality for each of us." I do agree that it evolves for all of us. But I don't think perception is reality for anyone. It is a reality, to be sure. But there is a shared reality that goes well beyond each of our perceptions. There are plenty of misperceptions that do not hit on the reality of a situation or that lack a connection to the world.
     
  127. To summarize my understanding of Julie's claim about lack of influence, Julie thinks that the fragmented elements of her
    scene can come together in only one way, and that "one" way is solely dictated by the scene elements, not by her, hence
    she cannot exert any influence over the finished scene. My take is, the elements can come together in more than one
    way, or in none of the ways in some cases. Once Julie finds the first solution that works, she likes it and sticks to it,
    without looking further. This is what we call "trapped in a local minima", but there can be other solutions. Also, when she
    finds a solution that works, it implicitly means that it works for "her", which is associated with her persona. What works for
    her may not work for everybody. However I understand this is how she works, and her motivation in her work comes from
    her personal faith and beliefs. So I will leave it at that. It would be counterproductive to hammer down my logic on her,
    debating is OK.

    I cannot subscribe to the statement that a single image is static, and a sequence of images dynamic, when stated in an
    absolute sense. It depends on the context. A single image can be very dynamic, while a sequence of images can be
    shallow. I agree with Phil what he said about "glue". Also I want to point out that a sequence can be either a time
    sequence, or spatio-temporal. Hence the glue would also be anticipation of what happens next, like the bridge between
    adjacent chapters in a fiction. How much of the glue is order/structure vs how much of it is anticipation will depend on the
    sequence.
     
  128. Is our photography a spirit , formless and free or a structure based on paths others have walked before?
    It is an endless path that we walk, mapped and given to us, to forever tread.?
    " Are blind people spiritless? What path do they walk since they can't photograph or even see to record their world around them? Can they still be curious? Ha! There's the connection! They can!" Tim.
    Why would they be spiritless? eye sight is just one sense among others. Do you need eyes to feel the wind?
    " The awake and wondering eye of curiosity is inextricably tied to photography". Tim.
    Indeed.​
    Wow! This thread took off. Wish I'ld been around to keep up.
    Allen, curiosity about the world around us AND what it will look like photograph I think is the real driving force behind the freedom associated with photography. Curiosity is the spirit. It was behind the point I made about blind people. I just penned it more as a rhetorical line of questioning and as a reference that is out of the context of photography for comparison.
    I still get a kick looking at anything in my world and wonder what it would look like photographed because I've come to realize it will change my perception and feeling of it that may or may not have been their when I first saw it.
    I've photographed long enough now to become aware of this new freedom of looking at my world in addition to the freedom of my wandering eye that now no longer judges if something will or will not look compelling photographed.
     
  129. Fred; Two responses - First, I was speaking of creativity appearing to be the core subject of this particular conversation, that is all. Second, one individual's perception is that person's reality, regardless what any of the rest of us might see or believe, or what mathematical truth might hold sway. Sometimes perception on the part of a closed or diseased mind can be very different from what you or I would say is reality. Nevertheless, that is the perceived reality for that individual. I'm sure we both know persons who suffer from mental illness, a TBI, or perhaps just puberty. Their perceptions are frequently skewed, twisted, or incomplete, yet that is the the reality they respond to. It has been a revelation to try and understand the world as my teenage daughters see it, yet a virtual impossibility to change their minds about it in any given moment. As they have grown, matured, and added experiences, their views of the world have changed and evolved, along with my own, and now we see eye-to-eye on far more than we used to. I like to see myself as an educated, scientific, creative, and rational man, who happens to be married to a nuclear physicist. I truly can and do appreciate the reality of the physical, mathematical world. Even in my own case, that reality is bounded and colored by the breadth and depth of my own perception, and so it must be for all of us. One of our best features, if we choose to do it, is our ability as human beings to learn and to grow, thereby expanding and clarifying our perceptions, approximating our perceptions to truth.
     
  130. This reminds me of the "determinism vs. free will" debate in an intro to philosophy class. If everything is determined by what goes on before then where does complexity come from? How would anything ever occur for the very first time? On the other hand, if formless random free will is where the truth lies, then there would be no reason for anything to have continuity and consistency.
    I suppose Aristotle should have had a camera. This thread seems to be a flimsy pretense for sneaking a freshman debate about extremes, neither of which can be completely correct, into a forum where one would think photography would be most comfortable.
     
  131. David, the problem with equating perception with reality is this. If I'm under the influence or I'm a child who's so-called reality is my perception, then if my perception is skewed to where the edge of a cliff looks farther off than it REALLY is, I may well fall off the cliff. I understand you when you say the reality for that person at that moment is that the cliff is farther off, but a harsher reality (the physical reality, as you call it), that the cliff is closer than it appears to my perception, kind of trumps the perceptive reality when it comes to certain matters. Reality is as often known as it is perceived. I perceive depth in a photo but the reality is it's a two-dimensional representation. I do, as a matter of fact, know many people with mental illness and a lot of time, when they're being cared for in a loving way, in order to protect them and just help them with survival, their perceptions have to be dealt with by people who know how false and therefore dangerous a reality those perceptions are creating. My nephew may not perceive the dangers of crossing a road without looking for oncoming cars. The reality is, it's dangerous to cross the road without looking for oncoming cars. Parents have to almost constantly intervene with their children because the reality of situations is very different from their very young children's perceptions. A teenager may perceive that ingesting a whole bunch of drugs they've received from strangers is perfectly fine. A good parent will step in, if they can, because they are better acquainted with the realities of teenagers taking drugs.
     
  132. Fred; Thank you for reinforcing my point. I think we are on exactly the same plane regarding perception versus objective reality. To further expand: I, as is common with men, have a mild color blindness in the red portion of the visible spectrum. I will never perceive red exactly the same as my wife, or many other people. The reality of "red" is the wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation emitted by my monitor, or reflected off a print's surface. I know this, and attempt to adapt for it, but that does not mean I will ever experience red in the same way you do, and so my perceptual and experiential reality is different from yours. As a father, I have lived that life of trying to balance teaching, boundaries, and freedoms for my children in a combination that will keep them safe, allow them to grow and learn, and let them discover who they are. It is a very challenging synergy to achieve, and a constantly changing formula.
    Circling back to the topic of this thread: I think several salient points have been made. Allen's original question is, as Albert correctly notes, related to several basic philosophical questions, including nature vs. nurture. Your and Supriyo's arguments are absolutely valid in my opinion. Julie's points are more personal and subjective, but they speak, I believe honestly, to what she believes is her own creative process. She is not the first, nor will she be the last artist to assert that the subjects drive her, rather than vice versa. I'm a technically-oriented guy, so I tend to revel in the creative application of technical means. That does not make me less creative than Julie, I hope. It does mean I approach the creative process in a different way, as do you. I think the point has been well established that none of us operates in a creative vacuum; The simple act of picking up a camera ties us to the capacities and characteristics of that medium, just as the sculptor uses a chisel, not a brush, to extract form from stone. For successful photographers the tools become transparent and weightless in their hands, freeing their minds to indulge in their own creative processes. Just as Michelangelo asserted that "Every block of stone has a sculpture inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." it is the photographer's task to see, capture, and render images that express the meaning or feeling the photographer intends for that image. This can and should be as much a spiritual/aesthetic process as it is intellectual and technical in nature. The social/historical/technical/cultural/academic foundations will always and irrefutably be there, but it is the spiritual/aesthetic nature of human creativity that I believe fuels true artists. I humbly submit that attempting to measure the spiritual component for another person is an exercise in arrogance and futility.
     
  133. David, I don't know whether we're on the same plane or not, honestly. Because you brought up reality in relation to Julie's perception of her freedom from influence. You said:
    I also agree with Julie when she says she perceives herself as being free, because perception is reality for each of us.​
    Julie has not just been saying she perceives herself as being free. She's been saying that she IS free of influence in certain moments. She believes she is and most of us know she's not. If you want to make a distinction between Julie's perceived reality and the objective reality, I have no problem with that. I'm not sure Julie would agree, however, with that distinction. I've said all along that I believe Julie when she says she's free of all influence in those moments of shooting. But I don't think she is free of all influence in those moments of shooting, even if her reality tells her she is.
    Julie: It meant that I had the means to escape an influence-inflected view, to see things without "me." A great big, deliciously easy means to explore what I otherwise could not.
    Fred: " ... there's no such thing as someone actually being "purely" open ... "
    Julie: Sure there is. I do it.
    Julie: Show me your evidence that there can be no such thing as a few hours of un-influenced experience.​
    I think you're shortchanging what Julie is saying. She's not talking about just perceiving that she's free. She's talking about actually having a few hours of un-influenced experience. I think many of us are saying what you're trying to attribute to Julie. I have said there are times when I lose track of time and am not thinking about my influences, and so my perception at the time is that I'm uninfluenced. But then I am able to sit back and realize that, even in those times, I was actually being influenced by all the things we know we're all influenced by. Julie is saying something else. She is sitting back, even when out of that space, saying that the space was un-influenced. And that's where she's wrong. Just like a teenager high on acid is wrong when he says that car is miles away when it's really only a few feet away.
     
  134. There is most certainly a wrong or right, Phil. The teenager is wrong in thinking that the car is miles away when it's only yards away. I'm not questioning that the teenager perceives the car to be miles away and I'm not questioning that the teenager believes the car is miles away. But THE CAR IS NOT MILES AWAY. A simple measuring tape will tell us that. And I would tell the teenager that he's wrong and that the car, as an objective fact, is only yards away, in the hopes that I could save his life, assuming that he wasn't out to kill himself, in which case I'd have to decide whether he was genuine in that desire and whether I wanted to support him in doing that. In most cases, I would not.
    Supriyo provided some evidence and there is much literature out there on DNA as a persistent genetic influence as well as culture and other experiences.
    Like I said, people can deny climate science and suggest that it's all a matter of theory and opinion. But they're loons.
    Phil, I'm sure I don't have to tell you there's an entire science of mind and consciousness. Sure, there are many aspects of it that are debated. But there is also a lot known about how the mind works, what experience is, and how both consciousness and experience work. That's not to say I can feel what Julie feels or even know what she feels and I don't experience what Julie experiences, so, in that sense, yes, her experience is subjective. But I can know how human feelings work and, though Julie's experience is subjective, how her experience works and gets formed is NOT subjective.
    I think most of Daniel Dennett's writings are a good beginning to understanding the science of mind and experience, including the cultural influences that act not unlike biological ones.
     
  135. Phil, sorry, just reread your post and realize that my first paragraph above was unnecessary. You got that part already! The rest, though, seems pertinent.
     
  136. Here's a quote from Dennett (even though I'm not a big fan of out-of-context quotes). I just hope it might inspire you to read some of the science of experience. There's plenty of measuring going on. Like I said, I don't know Julie's experience. But a lot is known about how her (and everyone's) experiences work and what kinds of things influence it. Dennett relates actual scientific experiments and studies that are being done routinely and providing many objective answers to how experience works.
    Some cultural phenomena bear a striking resemblance to the cells of cell biology, actively preserving themselves in their social environments, finding the nutrients they need and fending off the causes of their dissolution.​
     
  137. Fred,

    When I think about it, that analogy holds to a great extent. Prejudices can be thought to survive as cancer cells do.
     
  138. A lot about human mind can be measured and quantified, so it is not as abstract as one would imagine.
     
  139. Fred; Perhaps, in order to achieve whatever degree of freedom in creativity that might be available, we must first believe ourselves to be free. This belief might even come with a heavy dose of self-deception. Even so, if it allows us to achieve levels of creativity that would not otherwise be available, is it necessarily a bad thing? For some reason I have the "vision quest" tradition of so many aboriginal peoples coming to mind. Participants in these traditions will swear to you that they have seen or discovered something in themselves that is apart from their normal experience and environment. These self-discoveries are frequently fueled by drugs, alcohol, or privation. Does this make them less valid for the person who experiences them? This is, perhaps, a bit off the creativity track, but I suspect there are many of the same psychological mechanisms at play. Again, I absolutely agree that we can never truly disconnect ourselves from all that has brought us to a given point. Yet, believing that we have overcome those constraints may be the genesis for new creative achievements. I agree that an artist, including Julie, cannot be completely free of prior influence, but I will not deny her the opportunity to apply her beliefs to her creative process. Just as the martial artist must first envision his hand passing through the obstacle in order to make it so, perhaps it is essential that she see herself as free in order to accomplish her goals. Sometimes "fact" and "truth" are more applicable to our tools than to our creative processes, though I would not encourage neophytes to adopt Julie's approach or assumptions.
     
  140. David: I agree that an artist, including Julie, cannot be completely free of prior influence, but I will not deny her the opportunity to apply her beliefs to her creative process.​
    I never questioned her applying her beliefs to her creative process. And I actually believe she probably does benefit from however it is she feels and thinks. All I did was question her actual assertion about influence and experience in this thread, which is part of a philosophy forum. Let's look at this way. I'm very glad Bach was motivated by his belief in God, as were many of the great artists throughout history. And I'm glad they applied their beliefs to their creative process. And I can feel their passion and belief in their work and it gets me to feel something, too. But it doesn't make God exist.
    Phil: That's a different issue than when saying that ones subjective experience is objectively wrong.​
    Phil, I'm not quite sure if your purposely obfuscating the matter or what's going on. I have never once questioned Julie's subjective experience. I have said over and over her subjective experience is hers to have. I have only questioned her objective assertion that her experience in those few hours is not influenced. What that feels like to her is not what I'm questioning. Her feeling and experience that she's not being influenced is hers to have. Her feelings, of course, are not wrong. Her experience is not wrong. Her CLAIM that she is, in fact, not influenced, is wrong.
     
  141. David and those parts of Supriyo's posts that mention his own process,
    I am loving your descriptions because they are very familiar. When I read Supriyo saying he started out like Velcro but learned to sharpen, or refine or ... get a better eye, boy, that's familiar. When I read David's enjoyment of the technical, boy that's familiar. I learned, worked with, loved 4x5, 8x10, the wet darkroom, and of course all formulations of 35mm (believe it or not, I really enjoyed sports photography).
    I would love to be guided by influence. I would love to have a "reason" to tap into, for what and how to do what I now do. Heck, I would love it if influence would just give me a hint of wanting ... anything in the kind of work I now do.
    I tried that. I waited. I floundered. I tried, I tried again. It does not work. To make something good without reason means letting other forces to be felt, other "reasons" if you can call them that. I didn't go this way because I, silly me, just had some air-headed this-will-be-very-cool self-delusional who-cares urge. I have gone this way because I found out that I had no other choice (except to give up; to quit). The condition of being an influenced being (as I am, day and night at all other times) is not the means (?) to do what I do, any more than architectural means are the way to do professional sports or vice versa. A chemist's mind-set doesn't work for poetry or vice versa, either.
    Phil, also, thank you very much for your calm posts. I think you know what I'm talking about, without needing to agree with or even know in particular about my own area of exploration.
     
  142. For Allen:
    Mars
    Mars
    Mars
    From the HiRISE camera orbiting the planet. Minor White would have been proud.
     
  143. Minor White
    From Phil's earlier posted link (https://theawakenedeye.com/pages/minor-white-and-the-quest-for-spirit/)
    PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY

    THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION

    CARLOS CASTENADA AND ANIMISM

    TAOISM

    ZEN

    CAMERAWORK, EQUIVALENCE, SPIRIT AND PRAYER

    TRANSCENDENCE OR INTERPENETRATION

    OCTAVE OF PRAYER


    Quite a journey.
     
  144. While I greatly admire and enjoy thinking about what Minor White did and wrote (and I think it is very relevant to this thread), what I do is not what he did. My criticism of White is that, to my eye, he strained after some goal, he wanted some resolution or revelation. His work seems forced to me, even as I find his efforts incredibly admirable and even inspirational in their courage.
    I'm more interested in Cage's 'nothing.' Not going after 'something.'
    Sartre wrote of Alexander Calder's work:
    "Valéry said the sea is always beginning over again. One of Calder's objects is like the sea and equally spellbinding: always beginning over again, always new. A passing glance is not enough; you must live with it, be bewitched by it. Then the imagination revels in these pure interchanging forms, at once free and rule-governed.
    "... his mobiles are at once lyrical inventions, technical, almost mathematical combinations and the tangible symbol of Nature, of that great, vague Nature that squanders pollen and suddenly causes a thousand butterflies to take wing, that Nature of which we shall never know whether it is the blind sequence of causes and effects or the timid, endlessly deferred, rumpled and ruffled unfolding of an Idea." — Sartre
    ... or neither of the above; "we shall never know... "
     
  145. "Schopenhauer could actually write" That is so important. There are amazing people of all stripes whose ideas I would love to learn more about but who can't put two words together.
    Awakened Eye and Schopenhauer are places where I would find more to agree with than resist. I actually get the most from photographers whom I, at the same time, think are very good, but find strangely repulsive. For example, I'm trawling through all the writing I can get my hands on by or about Jeff Wall, whom I think is the best, most intelligent, most creative of the arranged-scene photographers (as compared to, for example, Crewdson, who does nothing for me). Wall's stuff is, IMO, very well done, and I almost love it, but there's something poisonous in it, and I'm trying to sort that out. If you've never read any of his writing, it's worth a look. He's good, and that's why his not being good enough is so interesting to me.
    Another that causes a similar strongly conflicted reaction in me, is a photographer that's been almost forgotten, Jan Groover (about whom sources are rare: I paid way too much to get a short video of her). She both really fascinates and really repels me. That kind of simultaneous strong reaction is really compelling to me as far as needing to know more, or find out where that powerful reaction is coming from.
     
  146. My (very simplified) feeling about Wall -- and Groover, though applied differently -- is that their pictures are like chess games: there is perfect, often delicious and deeply complex logic, but the pieces are inert; their bodies have been snatched; they serve, they are without any 'color.' There is no possibility or room or access to or from anything beyond that perfect, closed logic. Wall implies, via titles, stuff beyond the frame, but it's simply the rest of the 'board,' the other squares in the chess game, IMO. I don't even think he notices all the other 'stuff' that's going on (just extrapolating from what he thinks Winogrand et al are up to).
    What I would like, instead, is the feeling of visiting, like I walk into someone's kitchen. They (whoever, whatever; they are not of my making) are there before I arrive and they are there after I leave, and I could always discover more about every single thing, and (non-thing) that is sensible in that 'visit.' Snorkeling through rich, strange, seen-with-fresh-eyes worlds.
    [Wall has a series, Blind Windows, that I was thinking about against your own picture of a window that you've posted to various threads. Similar things; very different effect.]
    OT comment: why does Eauclaire (New Color) need to be so snarky to all color pre-New? There's room for both ...
     
  147. It's not even ambiguity. Wall, to my eye, seems genuinely blind to what does not fit his logic (which is to say, he's blind to almost everything that's not obvious). Though he plays beautifully, cleverly, in a sensitive and nuanced way, with what that logic allows, it's a small, narrow, closed, willed system.
    I haven't watched the SFMoMA videos, but to the question, "Is Photography Over?" I would answer, only if you need it to be.
    Photography makes a big hole (effortlessly, for anybody) in socially constructed vision. Most people don't 'see' what that hole reveals because most people don't see most of what they photograph, most of what is in their pictures. They didn't 'see' it when they shot it. One either learns to never see it, before, during or after; or one notices, is astonished at the riches, and goes exploring.
    To those who never see it or are so invested in socially constructed visual arts, photography may seem genuinely useless or nonsensical or simply trivial.
     
  148. A lot about human mind can be measured and quantified, so it is not as abstract as one would imagine. Supriyo.
     
    And most of it cannot hence your countries funding for research. The simplistic view is the human mind is just a super computer which can be uploaded to a another super computer. The reality is its not a super computer but something far more complex which works in very different ways. A little understanding is very misleading hence the simplistic thoughts, not so long ago, that the earth was flat and we would fall of the edge if we sailed too far. Look at the latest research into the human mind. The more we think we understand... the workings of the human mind/universe the more we come to the conlusion we really know very little and are barely scratching the surface.
     
    Thanks for the links Julie.
     
    Amazing photos of another world taken by a remote camera.
     
    "I am Spirit, formless and free"
     
    We are a spirit, formless and free if we allow our imagination to take us on that journey.
     
  149. A lot about human mind can be measured and quantified, so it is not as abstract as one would imagine.​

    Allen,
    I stand by my statement. I think you are confusing observation with understanding. They are not the same. Observations have to be interpreted to lead to understanding. I never said, we understand all the workings of human mind. I said many aspects of human mind can be measured and quantified (so mind is not abstract), which is true, and I did look at the latest research into human mind before making that statement.
    When you talk about imagining yourself to be formless and free, you are referring to your personal faith, not hard reality. You are describing your own home within your mind, where you can wish to be whatever you want. Thats fine. However when you produce art in that state of mind and let others review your work (others who do not trust you to be formless), they may not always find that work without influence. They may as well see the effect of your unconscious bias, likings and desires reflected in your work. This is my (and possibly Fred's) point of view.
     
  150. Question [Katherine Kuh]: Léger once called you a realist. How do you feel about this?
    Calder: Yes, I thnk I am a realist.
    Question: Why?
    Calder: Because I make what I see. It's only the problem of seeing it. If you can imagine a thing, conjure it up in space — then you can make it, and tout de suite you're a realist. The universe is real but you can't see it. You have to imagine it. Once you imagine it, you can be realistic about reproducing it.
    ****************************
    The ancients figured out that the earth was round via geometry. Flat geometry.
    [​IMG]
    Euclid's proposition 15
    Is geometry influenced? Is geometry natural? Is perfect, ideal geometry natural? Are what is logically developed by Euclid (his propositions) natural, influenced, or eternal?
    ******************
    Sunday geometry counter-intuitive for non-geometricians (who already know this one): if you add ten feet to a belt that is snugly encircling either the earth or your own waist, the width or height of the gap (distance from earth or waist to expanded belt) created by that ten foot addition will be exactly the same in both cases (about a foot and a half).
     
  151. Sunday geometry​
    Yes. This is all very Sunday school.
     
  152. My Sunday school comment was inspired specifically by Julie's questions about logic, geometry, and eternity and more generally by the religious (spirit and formless, purity of freedom) tone of the thread.
     
  153. Allen,
    I stand by my statement. I think you are confusing observation with understanding.Supriyo.
    Not really, it is the imagination and the creativity of the imagination which advances understanding. Merely observing the Sun and Stars is just observing the Sun and Stars.. it is the imagination which questions.
    "Not sure what your point is Allen" Phil.
    My point was, and is, that the percieved truths of today are not necessarily the truths of tomorrow. I also become very cautious when religious groups support a certain Historical context as they have their own agenda to support their beliefs.
    " Earth myth, which was only made to further create some artificial divide and 'war' between science and religion where there wasn't one." Phil.
    There has always been a divide between religion and science echoed down through the centuries....that divide still exists.
     
  154. "it is the imagination and the creativity of the imagination which advances understanding."

    Of course, whatever is observed and measured about the human brain has been used to understand some of its aspects.
    A lot more is yet to be known. You are the one who misinterpreted my original statement (about measurement and
    quantification) as understanding (see your previous comment), which I never meant. So you did confuse between the two.

    While imagination does lead to creativity, I have to remind you that when it comes to interpretation of observation,
    imagination has the tendency of filling in the gaps in logic to generate a complete mental picture. While imagination can
    lead to the knowledge of arrangement of carbon atoms in a benzene ring or structure of the DNA, it can also lead to the
    conclusion that Earth is supported on a giant tortoise. All of these came from a mix of observation and imagination, by the
    way. Hence I think it is important to know the boundaries of knowledge, and when to stop imagining further.
     
  155. "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
    - attributed to Einstein as well.
     
  156. "Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors."
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson
     
  157. So, we're all in perfect agreement on the need to exercise discrimination and judgment about whom we listen to and whom we ignore. Good.
    Phil, I read through a few of the pdf transcriptions from the SFMoMA gathering (the videos were too hard to follow) and I didn't really get much new from it. I think part of it is that I've read the writings of almost all of the panel members and they're not ones whom I have found to be particularly perceptive or insightful. Not saying I disagree with them, just that they are saying what's already been said more than once.
    I doubt we can have any kind of discussion on this stuff in this thread -- just wanted you to know that I did look at the stuff. Thanks for posting it.
     
  158. So, we're all in perfect agreement on the need to exercise discrimination and judgment about whom we listen to and whom we ignore. Good.​
    My takeaway is slightly different. It's that we quote people prejudicially. And we can get some well-respected person or other to say almost anything we want. Here's another one I found in addition to the Emerson quote above when I did my google search for "famous quotes about quotations" (which took me all of a minute and a half to accomplish). The point being, for me, that the quotes themselves are often much better and more worthwhile than their usage in threads, student book reports, senior theses, or average conversations.
    “He wrapped himself in quotations - as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors.”
    - Rudyard Kipling​
     
  159. Phil, you're being way too defensive. Chill.
     
  160. Debater A: Mr. famous said this. So, shut up!

    Debater B: Mr. famous also said this. So, you shut up!

    Audience: Why would Mr. famous say both these things? Doesn't make sense!

    Debaters: How would we know? Go ask him.

    Audience: But...but, he is dead!
     
  161. Why would Mr. famous say both these things? Doesn't make sense!​
    Supriyo, it actually does make sense. I find many instances of artists especially but also other great thinkers saying things (in isolated quote form) that seem to say the opposite of what they said on another occasion. I think that's because context is everything. And, also, when humans speak, they tend not necessarily to do it single-mindedly. So, on one occasion, it will make perfect sense to take a particular position or come from a particular point of view. And on another occasion, given a different set of circumstances, the context and setup will be very different so what may well be or may well only seem like a different position might be appropriate. Artists especially are often being tongue-in-cheek with their quotes, feeling that they can't really capture in words what they're thinking or feeling, so they often just play little word games and often tend to obscure with their quotes as much as they enlighten. Even some of the great philosophers who pride themselves on verbal acuity and consistent reasoning can appear to contradict themselves in the same work, given what they may be talking about at a given time. It often takes quite a bit of hard work to reconcile what seem like contradictory statements. Finally, I don't know that what THEY meant by the quote is as important as what it means to us. Which brings us back to photography. There's a sweet kind of tension between how each of us interprets a photo and what the photographer was trying to say (or if he was trying to say anything in particular). I do feel I get to know photographers through their bodies of work while at the same time realizing how much I might be projecting onto them. Case in point. Phil linked to THIS photo of mine above and then made some claims as to what it seemed to show about my beliefs. The tension, as I see it, is to what extent Phil was seeing his own beliefs represented in my photo and to what extent he was correctly reading what my own beliefs are.
     
  162. This thread reminds me of why I quit the camera club.
     
  163. Fred,
    I totally agree with you. The context is the most important thing. An isolated quote doesn't help much. Thats why I responded to Phil's Einstein quote with another one to show what you said before "we can get some well-respected person or other to say almost anything we want.".

    I think viewing art is as much a dialog with the artist, as it is with oneself. So the question of influence or lack thereof is relevant to the viewer as well. Since I believe, nobody can be completely free of influences or beliefs even if they imagine that way, each viewer is likely to walk his own distinct path, even if they all come to the same basic interpretation.
    Looking at the discussion of your linked image, a handful of the comments are centered on the point of spirit or spirituality. Even then each viewer has his/her own distinct interpretation within the realm of spirituality. I also see that you did not rule out the influence of Francesca Woodman even when you only briefly saw her work before taking the shot. Although I think Woodman's images (I just browsed through her portfolio) have far more tension in them that would preclude any direct influence on you, I appreciate your openness and awareness about hidden influences that are unavoidable.
     
  164. Wow, am I glad that I wasn't around to go through all the 180 or soposts on this very unelaborated, metaphysical, perhaps existentiel (or whatever) quote:
    I am Spirit, formless and free
    That's it. No effort to place it in a constructive context. Why did the OP not present his context for this, rather than read his mind (maybe that was what he wished? something palpable or related to him or his work or that of someone else that might have provided some intellectual anchor or reference position. The quote can apply to anything and is a sentence that begs some qualification to allow more directed response That would direct responses in a more organized and possibly linear manner (brick on brick). Maybe that is not what some free spirits want to see or discuss?
    The few posts on this page are worth reading, and within their own context, worthwhile to hear, but let's sometimes have some more directed and anchored OPs that might take us in a direction of cumulative benefits (again, brick on brick, without having to realize a full height pyramid of thought).
     
  165. Arthur,
    We discussed and debated at length on this topic, and yes, at the beginning the concept was quite obscure (it still is in some respect). However, through questions and counter arguments, Allen's POV is more clear now. I will try to compile the salient points from this rather noisy discussion.
    Allen and few others (Julie e.g.) contend that they can be completely free of all influences (cultural, ideas and schools of thought) and let the camera guide them to their image. By doing so, their photographs can be completely free of any personal bias. Julie did provide example of her situation where she produces composites of birds and backgrounds shot separately. According to her, the elements of her scene come together spontaneously without any influence on her part, and she cannot and should not influence the process.
    A few others including me and Fred are of the opinion that such a position (without any influence) is purely idealist and impossible in practice, since no matter what, a person is bound to have some hidden bias or influences how subtle they may be, and it is impossible to entirely get away from such influences. After all, we are all human beings.
    So, here we stand. Anybody, feel free to correct me if I have missed something or the above description is misleading.
     
  166. Found one! "We have art so that we shall not die of reality." - Nietzsche
     
  167. "While imagination can lead to the knowledge of arrangement of carbon atoms in a benzene ring or structure of the DNA, it can also lead to the conclusion that Earth is supported on a giant tortoise." Supriyo.
     
    First there is imagination, the spirit, formless and free. Then observation, knowledge, and perception. The followers dependent on imagination. Look at the photograph, the big picture, in its entirety...
    Thank you Phil for the quote.
     
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."

    Albert Einstein
    Just says it all.
     
  168. "Wow, am I glad that I wasn't around to go through all the 180 or soposts on this very unelaborated, metaphysical, perhaps existentiel (or whatever) quote:" Arthur.
    Wow, Arthur in the hallowed halls of Academia a mere 180 posts of scripting..
    "I am Spirit, formless and free"
    Let your mind /imagination go into free fall and let go.... without that secure and safe anchor to comfort and caress you.
     
  169. I respectfully disagree with your sequence of your events.
    I think:
    Observation --> knowledge --> imagination --> perception.
    Can an individual born without any sensory reception imagine? Can an empty brain without any observational memory imagine?
     
  170. My wife, who teaches physics at a major university, explains to her students that science is all about curiosity: First asking, and then answering, questions. This process indelibly links curiosity to imagination, and thence to inquiry and finally discovery, closing the circle between knowledge, precedent, and imagination. The scientific process is founded in imagination (creativity), and realized in inquiry (experimental testing of hypotheses, which hypotheses are the product of creative imagination). It is this endless round of inquiry and testing that makes scientists some of the most creative people on the planet. They first must come up with a meaningful question, develop a testable hypothesis, and then figure out how to test that hypothesis, whether mathematically or experimentally. The reality of this creative process makes our photographic efforts pale in comparison. For myself, my creative process attempts to mirror the scientific. This is my techie proclivity. Then, I try to add the perceptual/emotional component. Sometimes it is the other way around. Still, we do a disservice to ourselves and others if we discount the creativity required to make discoveries in any field. I think this is how one might apply the last Einstein quote to whatever discipline one pursues.
     
  171. i"individual born without any sensory reception imagine? Can an empty brain without any observational memory imagine?"Supriyo.
    Think again. An animal can be aware of its surrounding, acquire knowledge, and observe. However, they lack the imagination our species has. It is that imagination that questions and asks why.
     
  172. "Found one! "We have art so that we shall not die of reality." - Nietzsche" Charles.
    Science/Art are birds of a feather they both require that ingredient "Imagination".
     
  173. David:
    They first must come up with a meaningful question​

    To come up with a question, they first need to observe, right. The question usually relates to some unexplained phenomenon. Thats why I think observation comes first, followed by imagination.

    Think again. An animal can be aware of its surrounding, acquire knowledge, and observe.​
    When I said "individual born without sensory reception", I obviously meant human beings, not animals. I am not undermining the power of imagination or creativity. As a scientist, I know how important creative thinking is. At the same time I know how important it is not to engage in wishful thinking with a set of data and see things that are simply not there.

    Allen,
    one's imagination is not entirely free, but connected with the sensory experience. I think imagination gives one the ability to expand the range of mental exploration to a great extent, but not without a subtle anchor to one's past experience. That anchor never gives way.
     
  174. Supriyo; Are you confusing my posts with some others? I didn't make any statement regarding animals, though I agree with yours. Insofar as the scientific/creative process is concerned, I guess we could break it down into innumerable finite parts. My point remains that observation/curiosity/questioning/postulation/inquiry/testing/evaluation and thence back to observation is a potentially endless round, whether applied to science or art. As Arthur, you, and others have suggested, each turning of the creative wheel is founded and inseparably tied to the turns which have gone before, and builds upon them. If not, then we are doomed to repeat endlessly without learning or progressing, a fate I hope most sincerely to avoid.
     
  175. Sorry,
    That part was from Allen's post. Sorry for the confusion.
    I agree with you, it is a feedback process for most of our life. Still I feel somehow, it is the observation of the world as a little child that first arouses curiosity and imagination in us, hence my comment. Thank you for sharing your thought with me.
     
  176. . "The question usually relates to some unexplained phenomenon. That's why I think observation comes first, followed by imagination."Supriyo.
    Without the imagination the question would never have been asked. Allen.
    At the same time I know how important it is not to engage in wishful thinking with a set of data and see things that are simply not there.Supriyo.
    Wishful thinking leads to creativity...have a think about all the inventions of humanity...if only we could do this or that.
     
  177. Came across this unattributed explanation in my reading on the subject . . .
    In various spheres, however, even imagination is in practice limited: thus a person whose imaginations do violence to the elementary laws of thought, or to the necessary principles of practical possibility, or to the reasonable probabilities of a given case is usually regarded by mental health professionals as insane.​
     
  178. "As Arthur, you, and others have suggested, each turning of the creative wheel is founded and inseparably tied to the turns which have gone before, and builds upon them. If not, then we are doomed to repeat endlessly without learning or progressing, a fate I hope most sincerely to avoid"
    So, we are endlessly tied to the wheel there is no escape. The same watering hole the same place. We restrict our imagination, hold it down unless it follows the turns before it...seems sort of sad.
     
  179. http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/flemingpenicillin.html#alexander-fleming-penicillin
     
  180. Wishful thinking leads to creativity...have a think about all the inventions of humanity...if only we could do this or that.​

    Wishful thinking to some extent lead to motivation for discovery, however extreme wishful thinking leads to delusion also. Scientists are highly creative people, but they are also some of the most practical people on Earth. If there was a "journal of failed experiments", I could have given you a few examples of what wishful thinking can do. Unfortunately it doesn't exist. Also, we advertise our successes and hide our failures. So no matter how many examples of success you cite, there will be several more orders of magnitude worth of failures that never get reported. The ones that succeed do have the right combination of imagination and practicality in them.
    We restrict our imagination, hold it down unless it follows the turns before it​

    This is where I think we are misunderstanding each other. Learning from ancestors is not simply following, it is also enriching and showing new direction if only one knows how to use such learning.
    I am not saying imagination should be bounded, but there should be some awareness of what is possible, and what is impossible.
     
  181. +1 to Supriyo's comments, above. Allen's example of the discovery of Penicillin is actually an excellent illustration of the principles and processes I was trying to describe. A scientist observed something unexpected in his experimental results. He was curious about it, and then set about answering hypotheses developed from his observations. He would never have been in the position to do so without prior experience and knowledge, or even the experimental activity that provided the anomalous condition. The eternal rounds I describe are neither repetitive nor bounding. They are constructive and expansive, with each round adding to the knowledge and synergy available to the next cycle. If one finds it constraining, then it is because that person has failed to see or value what has gone before, and thus limits himself or herself to their own organic capacities. Now THAT is a depressing constraint.
     
  182. "This is where I think we are misunderstanding each other. Learning from ancestors is not simply following, it is also enriching and showing new direction if only one knows how to use such learning." Supriyo.
    I would not disagree, however, it is easy to path follow...a simple path which eventually ends. A bigger and bigger 1940s rocket.....until the technology culminates
    "delusion also. Scientists are highly creative people, but they are also some of the most practical people on Earth."
    Delusion, often lost around corners, but just sometimes....
     
  183. "an excellent illustration of the principles and processes I was trying to describe. A scientist observed something unexpected in his experimental results"
    There was nothing unexpected in his results....it was a mistake not cleaning his dishes.
     
  184. Delusion, often lost around corners, but just sometimes....​

    Is there any real world example of the "sometimes"? I would be curious. All I can think of is that, highly creative (but also mentally ill) people started off well in their work, but then lost touch with reality, their mental health deteriorated and their work suffered. Finally they ended up in depression and tragic loss of life.
     
  185. Supriyo, in the real world of humanity, it is those who have expressed their imagination, who have enabled us to move forward whether in Art or Science.
    You understand...need I have to say more.
     
  186. Whatever the cause of the unexpected outcome, the principle remains the same. Merriam-Webster provides the following definitions of delusion: a : something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated. b : a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary; also : the abnormal state marked by such beliefs.
    A strong case can be made that Adolf Hitler was delusional. We know where his delusions took the world. We can only hope that those who act on their delusions are, at worst, harmless, and at best creatively entertaining. Lending credence to delusional individuals frequently encourages anti-social, even destructive behaviors, and should generally be avoided. I have watched beloved members of my family be captured by delusions which have led only to self-defeating and enormously self-destructive behaviors. I don't know why one would encourage acting on delusion, per se.
    However, if we are speaking of the ability to imagine in enormous and creative ways, well outside the bounds of what most people experience, then that is something to be encouraged. Even the most imaginative of artists, such as Picasso, built his knowledge and abilities upon a strong, traditional foundation. He knew and implemented the "rules" and tools of art to a very high degree. Once mastered, he let his imagination run with them and over them. But even Picasso was first founded in the basics. Just review his development as an artist and you will see this principle in very high relief.
     
  187. Allen,
    I do understand, I think everyone here understands the importance of imagination and creative thinking. The problem is the extreme that you are proposing, to throw away all and everything that our ancestors came up with and follow a new direction, as a principle. I will do that if the existing path does not lead anywhere, or the existing path has been explored to saturation. I try to experiment with new ideas and perspectives sometimes (examples: here and here), but not always, not as a principle.
     
  188. the real world of humanity​
    You mean the one you're not describing in your posts? Because if you were describing the real world of humanity, you wouldn't be stressing such a one-sided view of it, to the detriment of influence and tradition, which are not just important but necessary to all science and art.

    The trouble is that so much loose talk about ART is just so much mythologizing of it.

    Learning from the past and being influenced by it and evolving beyond it is not an "easy" path, it's the ONLY possible path for a human to take. All the great artists and scientists as well as everyone else who's ever existed have done it.
     
  189. "The problem is the extreme that you are proposing, to throw away all and everything that our ancestors came up with and follow a new direction, as a principle"
    Really, is that what Im saying? What Im saying is that it should not be a burden to endlessly follow....we should put aside sometimes and let our imagination take us on a different path.
    "Learning from the past and being influenced by it and evolving beyond it is not an "easy" path, it's the ONLY possible path for a human to take. All the great artists and scientists as well as everyone else who's ever existed have done it."
    The only path for humanity to take? The creative path is the path of imagination which all science/art is based on. There are NO restrictions to humanities imagination only those self imposed. Why be so obsessed by influence? Whether the creativity of the imagination can escape from influence is a mute point..and why would it matter other than some obscure debating point.
     
  190. we should put aside sometimes and let our imagination take us on a different path.​

    Fair enough, I agree with you that we should all try something original and creative from time to time, but that was not your original question, was it? That would be a very cliched topic. What you asked was, whether it is really possible to be formless and free.
     
  191. "What you asked was, whether it is really possible to be formless and free."
    Indeed. And the answer is yes.
    The imagination formless and free.
     
  192. Wow! I can't believe that this conversation has lasted so long. It's asking too much for me to actually read the whole thing.
    I do wonder, with all the quoting and posturing, why don't I see more evidence of actual experience making things? Purposeful problem solving, if you will. If wheel-spinning is going to do some good, you need to get the car on the ground first!
    I believe that wishful thinking leads to daydreaming. There is no requirement whatever to link it with anything a person might have inherited from his elders, finds in the world around him, or might expect to experience in the future. Don Quixote had his windmills. Wishful thinking suggests futility. Imagination gone sideways - to nowhere.
    Wishful thinking requires imagination, but it is not the same thing as using one's imagination to grow. I don't want to be maudlin or sentimental about this. I'm not talking about magical thinking. Some people understand how their imagination can help lead them into new things they might grow to appreciate. They can apply their imagination to things that hit them where they live. To make stuff. To explore their lives to create things such as fiction that tells the truth about us. Some people can challenge themselves to make really interesting photographs, as another example.
    I simply don't understand how these conversations get so screwed up. Everyone has his windmills I suppose.
     
  193. Whether the creativity of the imagination can escape from influence is a mute point..and why would it matter other than some obscure debating point.​
    Then why did you call this a mute point? Is there any difference between "escaping influence" vs "formless and free"?
    "What you asked was, whether it is really possible to be formless and free."
    Indeed. And the answer is yes.
    The imagination formless and free.​
    OK, Allen. Here is a dumb question. If you are confident of the answer, why did you ask us in the first place?
     
  194. Anyway, lets change direction a bit. Do you have an example from your portfolio where you have tried to be free of influence, and we can see how much you succeeded. I think this one has a creative perspective, but is it formless?
     
  195. I can't be the only one to remember Timothy Leary and "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out." The benefit to be obtained by applying a blank mind to itself - experience modified through drugs - is not a new idea. There are human zombies who, but for their imaginations, would be in a perpetual coma. Is it imagination to live only with direct sensory experience?
    I believe that Allen's line of argument leads to an absurd situation where one has emptied his mind to have the full benefit of his imagination at the cost of not being able to figure out what to do with it. There is no such thing as "Rational Alzheimers." A deliberate attempt to do nothing at all except experience one's immediate surroundings in the hope that something concrete will come of it. It seems that I have heard experiences like this described as being on heroin without the high.
    I believe that it is hard to tell the difference between doing nothing at all to dream of wonderful endings and the genuine experience of people who have their minds destroyed by disease, drugs or some disastrous accident. You can imagine explanations that try to assert that nothing is something after all, but I cannot understand how you might demonstrate the validity of any of them.
    Allen, where there is no past, there is no future either. Be careful of putting too much credence in the benefits of limiting your mind to the "here and now" world of immediate experience only. It is a trap. You might not even be able to experience the continuity of living from one moment to the next. There must be a more useful approach to creativity than yours.
     
  196. There are NO restrictions to humanities imagination only those self imposed. Why be so obsessed by influence?​
    I'm not obsessed with influence. I simply recognize its importance and ever-presence.

    I suspect that if you had more of an imagination it would be less difficult for you to imagine influence and tradition having endless possibilities rather than being some sort of restriction.
     
  197. Acid trip, anyone? Take some snaps along the way perhaps. No influence of the past here. It's hard to tell what role training and experience might play in these snaps. Perhaps a person might develop a kind of muscle memory for composition and camera handling simply by taking a lot of photos. I'm sure you would agree that there is a lot more to the human mind than imagination alone. Nevertheless, if it were possible to remove everything except imagination, one should not be surprised to see crummy photos in the end. Or would you prefer to remember the skills you have developed through past experience to get a better result? I do believe that you propose to lose yourself in your imagination without the encumbrance of knowing what you might be doing to make a photograph. Are you sure that you can actually identify what the influences of the past are in your mind. How do they affect your photos? Can you even tell? Can anyone?
    There is an important thread in Eastern Mysticism that emphasizes releasing the mind from sensory stimulus and concern for worldly things in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Meditation and strict discipline applied in a variety of ways are tools used to effect a more spiritual existence. I will tell you that I have a profound respect for people who are able to follow a path such as this.
    Let's suppose for a minute that the monk somehow loses his concentration for a brief moment to press the shutter button on his sophisticated Canon or Nikon camera. Let's further propose that either you or me happens to be touring the monastery near the same time. We take a photo of the same scene using our sophisticated Canon or Nikon camera.
    Would anyone be able to tell which photo is which? To be sure, the monk is not in his trance for the purpose of liberating his imagination, but then a trance is a trance after all. Let's go on to add the notion that you are there in a deliberate zone of creativity where you let your imagination run wild, and I simply push the shutter button because I don't know what else to do with it. Now could anyone tell the difference between all three photos of the same scene?
    If you cannot offer a testimony for the actual beneficial result of your position that unencumbered imagination is the root of the best creativity, then what's the point of making such a fuss about it? Although Don Quixote was demonstrably mad, he didn't make himself into a pompous ass about it.
     
  198. Now sanity has become the straight jacket. This is the best thread ever. Only on PN!
     
  199. It's a state of mind.
    But it's not a state of mind. It's just a claim, influenced by all the hyperbole and mythologizing Allen has heard about art. It is not borne out in his many writings or his photos. This is about the many things he's read and heard about the wonders of "Art" with a capital A. It's completely superficial, simplistic, and is honestly really a bore.
     
  200. Sanity is only a state of mind, after all!
     
  201. I'm trying to decide if I should invest any further brain power in this thread. I find it rather amusing, really. Those who believe their creative process can be completely free of knowledge and precedent are unlikely to be swayed by rational argument, since, clearly, they are not rational thinkers. (Before choosing to be offended, look up the definition of rational.) This is NOT intended as a criticism, simply an acknowledgement that rationality and irrationality are incompatible. Creativity, as it relates to art, need not be absolutely rational or logical (it frequently is neither), but it does not and cannot occur in a vacuum. In order for any form of expression to be considered art, it must be capable of communicating something, whether a thought, a feeling, a memory, etc., from one being to another, and of being perceived, if not clearly or fully understood, by the receiver. This presupposes a level of common understanding between the originator and the receiver, upon which this communication is based. Thus, the impossibility of art in a vacuum. Even if the sole beneficiary of the art is the artist alone, he/she will still be speaking to his or her own perceptions and understanding, which is manifestly NOT a vacuum if the artist can conceive his/her own art. Truly nonsensical expression cannot count as communication (hence as art), with oneself or with others, since, by definition, it is devoid of meaning. In the instant that art obtains meaning (or, the ability to communicate from artist to viewer/receiver), it becomes bound to and founded upon some commonly understood precedent. This remains true even if that precedent exists only at the subconscious or sub-cognitive level for either participant. OK, now I'm done. (Picture me folding up my soap box and stowing it away, until the next time...)
     
  202. David, please post a rational photograph to this thread. Thanks.
     
  203. OK, one last spasm for Julie: Please note how the artist has so carefully manipulated the source components in this composite image, so as to maintain a consistent DoF, lighting, and seamless connections between the original component parts. Clearly this artist is very skillful in the use of post processing tools, and in selecting the subjects that comprise this composite. I find it to be impressive in both its technical and artistic execution, and is clearly the product of much insight, effort and practice.
    00ds7w-562192484.jpg
     
  204. How is that picture rational?
     
  205. Supriyo - "The problem is the extreme that you are proposing, to throw away all and everything that our ancestors came up with and follow a new direction, as a principle"
    Allen responding to Supriyo: "Really, is that what Im saying? What Im saying is that it should not be a burden to endlessly follow....we should put aside sometimes and let our imagination take us on a different path."
    What Allen is saying, then, is that all and everything preceding us should not be a burden to endlessly follow and that sometimes we should put that all aside and let our imagination take us on a different path. That path produces in him a feeling that he poetically describes as 'formless and free'. Can we be generous enough to just give him that?
     
  206. I did not say the subject or source images of Julie's composite are rational. Far from it. The knowledge, insight, vision, and technical skill required to execute and deliver this heavily manipulated, even constructed, image are absolutely rational. (This goes back to that Theory of Representation class I was forced to take for a Master of Architecture degree. Reference Rene Magritte and This is Not a Pipe.) I noted just a small part of the rational and technical qualities in my post. This is the gist of the whole discussion: That being creatively "free" to see and capture an artistic vision does not translate to freedom from all of the other stuff that empowers and prepares us to do so, and to communicate that vision. (I'm gonna lock the soap box in my trunk now.)
     
  207. The lure that motivates and guides my overall aim and all of my editing decisions is as described in all my earlier posts. The way that every part is used is dictated by 'listening' to that what that part demands from me. The content guides its own use; I listen. That I am a good craftsperson is irrelevant to my submission to the needs to which I submit that crafting ability. The framing, post-shooting, and in response to where that 'listening' takes me, is what you see in my composites. That last framing is me 'meeting' that strangeness that I have found. And I realize that you will have no idea what that last sentence means, and will probably be unwilling to try to understand it. Oh well.
    I suspect, but would never presume to assert, that all photographers listen to what they find in their pictures when they sit down to edit. The lure to their decisions, however, is beyond my presumptions.
    Photographs are neither rational nor irrational. Given that, whether or not the motivation of their button-clicking maker was rational or spiritual is a private matter; ascribing it to the photograph is just hand-waving, or wishful thinking.
     
  208. Julie,
    Just think about it. If you were a cavewoman with a computer and a camera, would your content have guided you in the exact same way that they do now?
     
  209. I don't know. That's the point. I am open. I listen.
     
  210. Julie,
    Why do your birds always have their feet on the ground, never flying? Isn't that your choice?
     
  211. Supriyo, you're badgering about an obvious point that everyone concedes. Except that it doesn't always feel that way, influenced, doesn't feel all wrapped up and logical. Have you no sensitivity? To what end is the condescending praise of a David, his knowingness delivered with a patronizing little pat on the head.
    What is it that Allen pushes out of the way to get beyond? You want to contemplate that for a moment? We have no idea, on that we are all uncomprehending and that alone should be humbling when recognizing our own defeats. Are you so secure in your adaptation that your powers of logic have never been defeated by the cold, unintended consequences of your own behavior? The problem is, you're not hearing that Allen, and Julie perhaps, write about how they feel during their creative process. Of what use, however well intended, is logic? It just isn't respectable to endlessly drive home a point, seems egotistical and cruel. What you seem to be doing is to just crush inspiration with logic that everyone agrees with anyway - including Allen, to some extent Julie too or so I gather.
     
  212. I asked a humble question, in my quest to understand. The question was not directed at you. What are you, a policeman? Why not let Julie answer and help us understand her point of view.
    Julie,
    I am not trying to prove you wrong. I am trying to understand what you feel, no matter how much Charles W yells at everybody.
     
  213. Because I don't like to see bullying going on about someone's declared 'beliefs.' Why don't you talk about you're own inspiration and enthusiasms and where they come from instead of probing Julie uncomprehendingly.
     
  214. Fred, are you happy? You sound like an old crab.
     
  215. Thanks Phil. I now love you.
    Supriyo I will love you too if you agree with me. And apology to David for what I said about him.
     
  216. You know, Charles W, the only one bullying here would be you. Just look at your last three posts. In any of my posts, did anyone ever see me condescending towards anyone, mocking or disrespecting anyone, or calling names, or yelling? If questioning one's ideas and beliefs is bullying, you don't live in the real world. Nobody is obligated to respond to my questions.
    Feel free to ignore me if you feel I am bothering you.
    Supriyo I will love you too if you agree with me.​

    That is the bullying!
     
  217. Julie,
    Why do your birds always have their feet on the ground, never flying? Isn't that your choice?​
    I've noticed the same thing, Supriyo.
    Just my own interpretation but think along the lines of taxidermy. That's the mojo IMO that makes Julie's images so compelling. There's a unique weirdness I sense on how she views the world and expresses it the way she does with the bird composites. It makes her work unique in that respect. Even if she included birds suspended in air to look as if flying, I'ld still get the same feeling from it.
    I doubt Julie was going for the taxidermy effect and I hope she isn't offended by my interpretation but that's the whole point about being free to express one's self without concern over being judged on how others may interpret the work. If Julie decided to pander to what looks good to others, there's no freedom and thus no uniqueness. It just becomes a copy of other's idea on what looks good or what's considered meaningful expression through art.
    I hope Julie continues to freely explore and push the boundaries in her depiction of birds. I feel there's a need for more of the beautifully weird in photography.
     
  218. [laughing ... and, Tim, you're there ... ]
    I was so tempted to post something incomprehensible like a Rimbaud poem ("Il y a une horloge qui ne sonne pas / Il y a une fondrière avec un nid de bêtes blanches ... " ] but that would probably be too much fun.
    Thank you Charles, Phil and Tim -- and Supriyo for being the perfect straight man.
     
  219. "Just think about it"? You called for her to think, not to express her feelings.
    "Just think about it. If you were a cavewoman with a computer and a camera, would your content have guided you in the exact same way that they do now?
     
  220. Julie, if it's any consolation I do think your birds are alive looking enough that I would begin to think I might have spotted one moving if I didn't pay close enough attention.
    I once asked a taxidermist if I could photograph some of his work in his shop and he refused on the grounds that it might hurt some of his human customer's reputation due to ridicule from my posting the images online.
    Ah! sweet paradox! The animals are more alive than the humans that killed them. Julie, I'm sure you'll find an ornately worded poem or quote that is more cerebral in expressing what I just said. Be gentle, please.
     
  221. There's a unique weirdness I sense on how she views the world and expresses it the way she does with the bird composites.​

    Tim, thanks for the interpretation of Julie's work. I was genuinely curious about it, and wondered how she manages to let her scene components lead her to it without making any conscious choices.

    - "Feeling formless and free"
    I have long accepted thats how Julie feels and that I am fine with it (see page 14 of this thread). However it was never very clear by reading the posts, that this is just about 'feelings'. if it was purely about somebody's feeling, then we would not have any analogy with 1940's rocket technology and other 'tangible' stuff' introduced by Allen. I think those who talk about their 'feelings' have the responsibility to make it clear to others that it is their dream, not the reality. Otherwise, like any 'real' idea, they are subject to debates and counter arguments.
     
  222. Supriyo, I do believe everyone has the capacity to be creative operating from both the right and left side of the brain, just not simultaneously. It can be done but it takes a lot of concentration to keep thoughts organized, at least it does for me. And yes, I've Googled that this is a myth. I'm just using it here to explain a complex human condition.
    In discussions of this sort it's often not clearly delineated from which side is being referenced when expressing intentions. The best way I can explain and understand it is to compare it to my high school days learning to play the trombone from sheet music where I had to rely on and cling desperately to analytical thought using math to understand time and key signatures, a whole from a half note, octaves and chords. Makes music seem quite simple and easy to remember starting out.
    I never learned to improvise in order to play a free form jazz solo on the trombone because I was very dependent on that way of understanding and playing music. That's the left side of the brain where scientists get inspiration using thought experiments as Einstein did. He still had to come up with the math to make it real.
    I started just listening to and feeling a lot of jazz solos and melodies that inspired me to where I was able to scat sing to them without sheet music and in key. No off notes. That's the right side of the brain. No analytical structure to get in the way. I use my exuberance created from what I was hearing to drive my feelings to make my voice make the sounds and not worry about off notes and broken rhythm. It just flowed freely and I didn't stop to analyze why.
    Another example of these two ways of interpreting reality analytically verses intuitively that got way too close to home was when I was home schooling my son on math back in the '90's. I tried to explain the difference of the concept of the number line verses the representational symbols of each number to my son and nearly went mad because he just couldn't separate picture language from actual objects that are counted. He counted the picture symbol of the number as an individual object to be counted no matter what the number read. The number line got my son to view numbers as individual pictures but not as a series of increasing amounts. I think I had the same problem when I was his age.
     
  223. Now sanity has become the straight jacket.​
    Wasn't that what Blake was about? And after WWI, Also the Surrealists, Dada, etc.? Art movements that were reacting from the horrors of WWI that came about as a result of the so-called"rationalists", at least in the thinking of those artists? Of course what I just said only applies if one assumes sanity=rational:)
     
  224. Being rational is different from being a rationalist. So, a reaction against rationalism doesn't have to amount to dispensing with rational thought. Rejecting rationalism doesn't mean I have to accept someone's claim that unicorns exist, or that they themselves are free from all influence for hours or minutes at a time.
    [And, again, I'm totally on board with someone not focusing on those influences or not being conscious or aware of those influences. What I'm not on board with is the more extreme claim that those influences actually are not happening. I mean, our DNA does not stop functioning because we're having an artistic breakthrough, nor does all the culture we're steeped in suddenly disappear, even when we close our eyes to it.]
     
  225. Oh, look! Tim asked for a poem ... :) I especially like the last line of this one by Anne Sexton:
    Consider Icarus, pasting those sticky wings on,
    testing that strange little tug at his shoulder blade,
    and think of that first flawless moment over the lawn
    of the labyrinth. Think of the difference it made!
    There below are the trees, as awkward as camels;
    and here are the shocked starlings pumping past
    and think of innocent Icarus who is doing quite well:
    larger than a sail, over the fog and the blast
    of the plushy ocean, he goes. Admire his wings!
    Feel the fire at his neck and see how casually
    he glances up and is caught, wondrously tunneling
    into that hot eye. Who cares that he fell back to the sea?
    See him acclaiming the sun and come plunging down
    while his sensible daddy goes straight into town.​
    or, maybe this bit by Theodore Roethke about the living dead?
    [ ... ]
    And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions,
    Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica,
    Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium,
    Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows,
    Glazing the pale hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.​
    ... as compared to this bit from a different Roethke. Sensible daddy's not going to like it:
    [ … ]
    I keep dreaming of bees.
    This flesh has airy bones.
    Going is knowing.
    I see; I seek;
    I’m near.
    Be true,
    Skin.​
     
  226. "Srinivasa Ramanujan FRS was an Indian mathematician and autodidact. Though he had almost no formal training in pure mathematics, he made extraordinary contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions."
    Where in a play Harding's character describes Ramanujan as having had 'numbers' dancing in his mind, 'pure form' that I conjecture to have been uninfluenced by human history, culture, etc. Uninfluenced pure form that however did influence Ramanujan and subsequently the rest of us due to Ramanujan's great efforts.
    The play reminds us that Mozart is said to have heard 'whole symphonies' in his head and I note that the relationship between mathematical gifts and musical gifts has been to some extent explored. Regarding Julie's claim, note that Julie has called our attention to her appreciation of geometry and its having some relationship to her photographic work.
     
  227. It's not just about art. It's also about science:
    .
    "... The animals of the Burgess Shale are holy objects -- in the unconventional sense that this word conveys in some cultures. We do not place them on pedestals and worship from afar. We climb mountains and dynamite hillsides to find them. We quarry them, split them, carve them, draw them, and dissect them, struggling to wrest their secrets. We vilify and curse them for their damnable intransigence. They are grubby little creatures of a sea floor 530 million years old, but we greet them with awe because they are the Old Ones, and they are trying to tell us something." — Stephen Jay Gould
    .
    we greet them with awe because they are the Old Ones, and they are trying to tell us something
    He's not talking about Aristotle.
     
  228. Icarus is a figure from Greek mythology. I love mythology and I love reading all kinds of fiction and letting myself suspend belief while doing so and living in fantastic worlds when I do. What does that have to do with what we're talking about here? FICTION is fiction. I'm not questioning the wonder and power of fiction. Though, maybe it sheds some light. Maybe what Julie is putting forth in this thread is just fiction. A sort of philosophical poetry. Like I said long ago in this thread, it's metaphor. That's all.
    ______________________________________________________
    If you've read enough about Mozart, you'll also know that his father was a master musician, though not near as renowned or as memorable as his son. Mozart grew up surrounded and influenced by music. I suspect that's important.
     
  229. Fred:
    I do protest classifying Greek mythology as fiction, unless we agree that all religious texts and stories are fiction.
     
  230. "Mathematics is merely mental abstraction that serves useful purposes"...
    What purpose does fiction, free form thinking, intuition or daydreaming serve?
    From what I've examined from history it usually depends on who's funding the research to find out.
     
  231. Phil, I understand what you're saying and it has merit. I'll grant you, then, that Julie's shedding all influence for periods of time has the same reality as unicorns. I'm absolutely fine with that.
     
  232. Also, to be clear, I think fiction (while not necessarily factual) can bear important human truths, though it can also not.
    Thomas, I wouldn't go quite that far. I'd say that many of the stories found in religious writings of all stripes are fictional, again, some of those fictions challenging us to important deeper levels of thinking. And while I think many of the well-known stories are fictions, there are great religious texts that are not a matter of the telling of these stories but are instead moral treatises or ritualistic or behavioral practicums which I wouldn't see as fictional. And, of course, while some of these stories challenge us and reveal important aspects of humanity, some are clearly used to foster hatred and division, whether they were intended to do so or not. Fictions can be created and used in all sorts of very different ways, some productive, some ultimately of great benefit to us, and some counterproductively, coming from states of denial or ignorance, and not being of much benefit.
     
  233. Phil, everything may, indeed, be a human construct. But within those human constructs, we assign different truth-values (and if not truth-values at least usefulness-values) to various constructs. Take lies, for instance. They are a reality and they are a human construct. But many of us know that when politicians lie, there's no reason to believe them and we think about those politicians' claims accordingly. All real and all human constructs. Doesn't mean we drop discernment about the claims completely.
    I don't want to get too political about this, but I'm living in a country that I think is very much in denial about science, about influence, and about culturally-inherited biases. Many in the U.S. accept the notion of absolute freedom and rugged individualism to a fault. We have a sizable portion of the population denying science on evolution and climate change, claiming that any opinion on the matter should be accepted as equal to any other opinion on the matter. We have strong groups of voices advocating that the influence slavery had on this country is over and done with. We have probably about half the population not believing there is institutional bias at play.
    For me, it's an important topic, whether at the political or the individual level. And I'm loathe to accept the kinds of claims being made here because I think they foster an ignorant and potentially nefarious sensibility, whether applied to art or sociology or political matters.
     
  234. I didn't equate them. What I said is that the ignorance and scientific denials embedded in Julie's claim can help foster a greater ignorance. Political and institutionally-sanctioned ignorance about influence and bias is fed by individual's doing it. While I wouldn't equate them, I also wouldn't separate them completely. I think there's a symbiosis.
     
  235. And, I do recognize that I have biases. As I think I said above, to me freedom is wrapped up in the recognition of our influences and biases, not to mention prejudices. I'm also aware that I don't really know or at least am not aware of all the biases that are probably at play in me. One of the reasons I don't think I'll ever be purely free, which I don't think is possible so it doesn't make me feel at a loss. Just human.
     
  236. I would be willing to wager that I have a far greater knowledge and appreciation of science than any of my critics in this thread.
     
  237. Supriyo, I do believe everyone has the capacity to be creative operating from both the right and left side of the brain, just not simultaneously.​

    Tim, you brought a very insightful aspect into this discussion that I wasn't thinking before. Thank you for that. When we first start practicing any form of art, we undergo a lot of conscious learning, but ultimately it all gets embedded into our instinct. Thats when we can let the right brain take over. I have experienced it myself, during painting and photography. When I mix colors, I don't deduce that yellow+blue is green. Likewise, while taking a picture, I don't always consciously place the main subject on the corner 1/3 of the frame. It comes naturally. However I still think my training and practice made these things seem natural to me.

    [Currently, the discussion seems to be focused on gifted geniuses to whom things come spontaneously. Prodigies are a mystery, may be they are a glimpse into future human evolution, may be they are something else, nobody knows. One thing that I know is, I am not one of them. So to me, when things come naturally, there is training and experience behind them.]

    When I saw Julie's Icarus poem, I smiled to myself. Many times in this discussion, the analogy with Icarus came to my mind. It is also interesting to see how the mode of thinking differs among individuals, and I respect that. All I can say is that, Icarus's sensible daddy got to live, and he did not, and that is lesson enough for me not to be inspired by his attempt.
     
  238. I didn't say I always place subjects at 1/3 as a rule, but in many cases it comes to me naturally, and thats because in
    many cases it just works.
     
  239. Fred - "Mozart grew up surrounded and influenced by music. I suspect that's important."
    Sure. And music isn't pure form in the way that mathematical equations are pure form. Music has content and structure, music distinguished from a content-less mathematical equation, the latter being an expression which is structure waiting for content. For example, Ramanujan in his final illness wrote some functions that much later were used to help explain the entropy of black holes. I don't think of music as pure form. Consequently I don't see how it would be possible for musical compositions to be free of influence. Perhaps it's only in mathematics that pure form exists.
     
  240. Consequently I don't see how it would be possible for musical compositions to be free of influence.​
    I don't either. Same for photos. Which is what I've been expressing since day one of this thread.
     
  241. Agreed, same for photos or any personal expression.
    Yet a Ramanujan confronted uninfluenced structure rolling around as independent objects within his mind, objects that had nothing to do with his personal contexts. Those objects weren't him, were in him, and influence him. If an objective mental process can move numbers around in the head, why not that those processes move little birds and branches around that also exist as mental images in the brain?
     
  242. If an objective mental process can move numbers around in the head, why not that those processes move little birds and branches around that also exist as mental images in the brain?​

    Is this analogy going anywhere? Mathematics is absolute. Art is not absolute. There can be multiple ways of arranging birds and branches and yet each one of them will produce some distinct personal truth evident to it's creator.
     
  243. Phil, it would be helpful if you could start being honest about what's been said here, instead of subtly changing the terms of the discussion as if no one's going to notice.
    Here's a couple of the claims Julie has made, and she wasn't talking about them in the context of pictures taken by a security camera. She was talking about her own methods and work:
    Pushing a button to make a picture does not necessarily entail any influence whatsoever.
    FRED: " ... there's no such thing as someone actually being "purely" open ... "
    JULIE: Sure there is. I do it.​
    There is no qualification and Julie hasn't allowed for a single qualification to her unqualified statement that she can have a purely open mind and be completely free (for moments or hours) of influence. Julie hasn't spoken of a choice of whether to "submit" (your addition) to influence or not. She has spoken of being completely free of it. One can choose not to submit to influence (and will, of course, fail) without being completely free of it. They are two different things and Julie has claimed the latter.
    Speaking of qualifications, DNA and heredity have been brought up numerous times in this thread and Julie hasn't once said that's not the kind of influence she's talking about. She's had ample opportunity. Instead she prefers the unqualified, pure approach. So please don't supply for her qualifications she has not in the hopes of making her position sound plausible.
     
  244. A photographic composition ( not a reading ) can be free of influence on the moment of making if its purely a record. Pictures taken by a security camera, a google street car etc,...​

    Also, how come sorting through numerous frames captured by a security camera and selecting the ones that appeal to you without influence?
     
  245. Supriyo "Is this analogy going anywhere? "

    I'm suggesting that uninfluenced mental processes exist as evidenced by Ramanujan's self descriptions.
     
  246. Julie H [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Apr 07, 2016; 04:04 p.m.
    The lure that motivates and guides my overall aim and all of my editing decisions is as described in all my earlier posts. The way that every part is used is dictated by 'listening' to that what that part demands from me. The content guides its own use; I listen. That I am a good craftsperson is irrelevant to my submission to the needs to which I submit that crafting ability. The framing, post-shooting, and in response to where that 'listening' takes me, is what you see in my composites. That last framing is me 'meeting' that strangeness that I have found. And I realize that you will have no idea what that last sentence means, and will probably be unwilling to try to understand it. Oh well.
    [bold added]
    I do not claim that the 'framing' is without influence. Quite the opposite. It's my response to what I found while being open.
    Photography is different.
    Julie H [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Mar 24, 2016; 05:07 a.m.
    It was one of the founding revelations to me about photography when I realized that the camera effectively allows me to escape the Rashomon effect: one assumes that all those different conceptions of the same scene were due to different angles of view along with different personal influences. But the camera collapsed that -- it was seeing exactly what I was seeing and it was seeing things very differently from what I was seeing. The proof was there in the hundreds in my proof sheets. This was a wondrous, glorious, magnificent realization, for me. It meant that I had the means to escape an influence-inflected view, to see things without "me."
     
  247. Phil, I wanted to stop long ago. People kept pushing me so I kept responding to them. Stupid, I agree. So I am now done. There is, as you say, no point, and nothing to be gained from this. Just please note, that you have been as fervent in trying to make your points as I have been in mine. To me, this is not about Julie specifically, but rather a discussion about ideas. And yours is another transparent game. Engage in heated discussions on a philosophical/photographic topic for weeks and then accuse your mate of being too wrapped up in winning. One of the oldest tricks in the books.
     
  248. I'm suggesting that uninfluenced mental processes exist as evidenced by Ramanujan's self descriptions.​

    Of course it does, and I agree. Thats why I gave the cavewoman analogy. But I suppose we are discussing in the context of the contemporary world where most people are raised in some sort of a culture. Moreover, what is very easy to achieve in Mathematics (2+2=4 always), is it that easy in art?

    You are the one who discouraged me from pursuing whether it (uninfluence) is possible and instead focus on what to achieve out of it. And yet you are the one who is now bent on proving whether it exists.
     
  249. I don't think that sorting through the frames and selecting ones is without influence. I said a photographic composition ( not a reading )...


    Phil,
    I see your point, and perhaps a randomly taken image without human intervention is without influence. However what is the purpose? Can such an image be called art? Any example where I can appreciate such a photo that was randomly taken, then randomly chosen all without conscious sorting? Again, to whoever it concerns: this is not to prove my own agenda, but to learn what I don't know yet.
     
  250. And not that an emotional investment is bad but those who are going on and on about 'fact' and 'logic' and 'reason' ( which I'm not at all in disagreement with ) argue the most emotionally when constantly trying to prove a point or when trying to prove the other one wrong. It's a manner of argument that also comes across as intolerant.​

    Although this was directed at Fred, I think I will respond.
    Phil,
    I am not trying to prove anyone wrong. It comes naturally in the course of a dialog. You know the problem: In most cases the other person starts the conversation providing his own logic. Then I try to pursue his line of thinking hoping to learn something from it and stumble upon a pothole. I let him/her know that and that person takes it to heart. Then someone else comes and lectures me that all along the way this was just about feelings, logic should take the backstage, and that I am being insensitive by being rigorous. Can you please advise me, what I should do? How do I know at what point a person switches from 'logic' to 'feelings' in the course of a dialog?
     
  251. Your link doesn't show.
     
  252. I think the pointing to ("look at this") is akin to selecting, but feel free to ignore my comment. I think the problem is, all of us want to have the last word, and I will refrain this time.
     
  253. Supriyo, you have nothing to apologize for and you've added a lot to the dialog.
    Speaking for myself, Phil, yes I have intolerance for certain claims. When an argument is founded on "no one else will understand me", I grow not only suspicious but weary. You seem unconscious, though, of the fact that you've done the very same thing, if not here then look back on some of your threads with Anders and with Allen from last year. Please don't bother to defend yourself. I find no objection to your behavior in those threads but it was no different than my own in this one. Or, we could go even further back to a different universe under a different guise. But let's not. I just would like you to get off the holier-than-thou stump you've erected for yourself. It doesn't suit you. It's not a fit.
     
  254. Fred,
    thank you very much.
    Phil,
    That is an interesting link. I suppose an ideal Bohm dialogue is impossible in practice among ordinary humans without a fair moderator.
     
  255. I found this thread from last year: http://www.photo.net/philosophy-of-photography-forum/00dVJS
    I have to go back and read it in detail, but the ideas and discussions presented there seem much more reasonable than the radical claims proposed here that starts all the heated discussions. In this thread, the central idea that came up was, it may be possible to free the mind of noises and make it more free and receptive (freer but not absolutely free) for increased creativity, while acknowledging the constraints of human mind. It also discusses what Minor White could have meant, while referring to a "blank mind", that it is a state of mind which is actually very receptive, similar to Julie's analogy of a "velcro" where everything sticks (I am not convinced about the extreme nature of her claim though).
    I suggest we all take a look at this thread and catch up from there.
     
  256. The only thing that started the "heated discussions" in this thread ( both threads indeed seem to ask the same question ) is the mention of spirit in the OP, alluding to soul and spirituality​
    No, I don't think thats true. Its mostly the radical, extreme nature of the claim that came up all through this thread, that somebody can really brush off all cultural and historical influences and be really free, and also the failure to admit that it is personal faith than absolute reality, furthermore attempts to justify such claims using rational logic.
     
  257. the mention of spirit in the OP, alluding to soul and spirituality ( the horror, the horror ) which must be offensive to those who identify with its illusionary opposite.​
    You say "illusionary opposite" like you know what you're talking about. Why not be intellectually honest and cite a position of Supriyo that you find illusionary? He's been decent enough to tell you specifically what he had problems with in the claims made on this thread. You, on the other hand, are now trading in stereotypes.
     
  258. Yes. I know you're listening to music. La-di-da and all that. We got it. That's no excuse for stereotyping things said here as illusionary without backing it up. Play as cool as you want. It doesn't make your claims sober.
     
  259. That you won't back up your claim about Supriyo's supposedly illusionary positions tells me all I need to know. You were just faking it. Your evasiveness and attempts to change the subject come in loud and clear.
     
  260. Phil,
    you should drink a few more glasses of whatever you are drinking right now, and then may be you will become formless
    and free. Just remember to tie yourself to a tree branch or something so that you don't jump off a cliff.

    Oh, and don't write anything now that you will regret tomorrow morning.
     
  261. Humming to myself. Eating some delicious scrambled eggs:
    .
    [​IMG]
    .
    And toast:
    [​IMG]
     
  262. @My wife, who teaches physics at a major university, explains to her students that science is all about curiosity: First asking, and then answering, questions. This process indelibly links curiosity to imagination" David.
    Science/Humanity is foremost about imagination animals have curiosity.
    "The problem is the extreme that you are proposing, to throw away all and everything that our ancestors came up with and follow a new direction, as a principle." Supriyo.
    That's your words. Did anyone else say that?. You are lost in "I am Spirit, formless and free" despite the efforts to pull you out. Sort of like, I cannot see beyond what is in front of me, Im lost among the trees...where is the damn path.
     
  263. t@o throw away all and everything that our ancestors came up with and follow a new direction, as a principle." Supriyo.
    Just a thought....maybe, just maybe, on occasion, perhaphs we should throw away our ancestors thoughts...they are not written in blood..... they are just our ancestors thoughts. Scary thought for you.....
     
  264. Yah! You missed out that "may be" part for most of it that made you look like a fanatic, Allen. And you know what! You
    missed the train. I wonder where you were when we were discussing this yesterday, or the day before. You always stirr up
    the dirt when all seem to settle down by referring to 3 days old comments, and start a bloody battle all over again. Did you
    read the rest of the thread to find something constructive, for instance the part where I suggested we recall the thread
    from last year that discussed similar ideas more sensibly? You need to come back with something that will be useful,
    otherwise I am not falling for this again.
     
  265. I feel ethereal, form-able and unencumbered.
     
  266. Regarding Bohm's take on intelligence try a different take: Sir Roger Penrose - “Consciousness and the Foundations of Physics” where as a materialist Penrose offers the conjecture that "intelligence" is in quantum mechanic's wave function collapse, intelligence is something non-computational going on. Penrose is taking the 'woo' out of discussions of consciousness and if his conjecture is ever confirmed, intelligence would become a fundamental property of matter and not a product of evolution per se.
     
  267. An excerpt from Reality and Knowledge Considered as Process by David Bohm, where he speaks about thought as memory ( conditioned ) as compared to intelligence ( unconditioned )​

    That excerpt is interesting food for thought...
    The author essentially identifies intelligence with the power that drives thought into creating knowledge. The author asserts that intelligence is more than the mere sum of heredity and experience, and to prove his point he has given example of epiphany, a flash of perception that (according to him) is independent of prior knowledge. However, is such perception truly independent of a man's experience? Do we really understand that much about human mind to make that assertion? If truth is the peak of a mountain, I like to think of intelligence as the power that allows man to climb that mountain. Yes, one can get stuck on the side of the mountain, and a sudden flash of perception can show him a new way, but the path still follows the mountain edge, cannot tunnel through it. Moreover, I cannot get myself to believe that a flash (flashes) of perception can drive a man from the base to the top of the mountain. I tend to believe that a large part of that 'climbing' has to rely upon heaps of experience and learning, while making leaps of perception along the way.
    A related question, is there any such thing as absolute truth in art? Isn't that truth personal to individual artists (and viewers for that matter). Science on the other hand does strive for absolute truth (absolute for our universe only if multiverse exists). The only reason theories get superseded by better ones through centuries is to come closer to that absolute truth.
     
  268. But one could ask of the man who believed in hereditary determination whether his own statement asserting this belief was nothing but the product of his heredity.​

    A related question would be, is it possible to design a truly intelligent machine capable of independent thought, or is it possible to write a computer algorithm to create new algorithms? Both answers are equally unknown. However my point is, if intelligence is not inherited through heredity (or experience), where does it come from (besides God or Roger Penrose)?
     
  269. Penrose makes a common category mistake. The mistake is in thinking you get an 'inside' from things having only an 'outside.'
    .
    The alleged emergence of subjectivity out of pure objectivity has been said to be analogous to examples of emergence that are different in kind. All of the unproblematic forms of emergence refer to externalistic features, features of things as perceived from without, features of objects for subjects. But the alleged emergence of experience is not simply one more example of such emergence.
    [line break added to make this easier to read] It involves instead the alleged emergence of an "inside" from things that have only outsides. It does not involve the emergence of one more objective property for subjectivity to view, but the alleged emergence of subjectivity itself. [Emergent properties such as] Liquidity, solidity, and transparency are properties of things as experienced through our sensory organs, hence properties for others.
    [line break added] Experience is not what we are for others but what we are for ourselves. Experience cannot be listed as one more "property" in a property polyism. It is in a category by itself. To suggest any analogy between experience itself and properties of other things as known through sensory experience is a category mistake of the most egregious kind. — D.R. Griffin
    .
    ... physical science gives us true knowledge of the world, but this knowledge is exclusively external, structural, and relational. Physics can help me know what someone else is thinking, but it is powerless to explain what I am thinking. And the most hard-edged contemporary philosophy of science indeed insists on this distinction. — Steven Shaviro
    ... inner mental states such as sensations and experiences are not reducible to discursive language for the same reason that they are not objectifiable as "facts" that can be observed directly in the third person. "What is it like to be a bat" is not a Something, for it is not specifiable as a thing at all. But the bat's inner experience is not a Nothing either. This means that it is indeed "like something" to be a bat, even though "what it is like" is not a Something.
    [line break added] This distinction is not a mere play on words but a basic ontological condition. The mentality of a bat cannot be displayed objectively, but it also cannot be simply dismissed or explained away. A bat's experience -- or a human being's for that matter -- is indubitable and incorrigible, but at the same time, it is spectral, impalpable, and incommunicable. — Steven Shaviro

    .
    "Experience is not what we are for others but what we are for ourselves."
     
  270. "Experience is not what we are for others but what we are for ourselves."​
    So sad and lonely. I cry for you.
     
  271. By the way, spirit, as forced as it's put forth in these threads, seems as "mechanical" if not more so than thought. It is trying so very hard to be not so and failing so miserably.
     
  272. What is really cause for laughter here is the supposed authority of "ourselves" and yet it takes several paragraphs of quoting another to authorize that point! You gotta love it.
     
  273. .
    .
    [​IMG].
    . .
     
  274. I don't see from Penrose the category mistake attributed to him by Julie. Starting with Bohm: "Consider, for example, an attempt to assert that all of man’s actions are conditions and mechanical." That is, consider the assertion that all people's actions are 'computational', derive from heredity, environment or both heredity and environment combined. So when Penrose suggests instead that there is something 'non-computational' going on in quantum mechanics, he takes Bohm's point that intelligence is not merely conditioned. Consequently, I read Penrose as agreeing with the notion that intelligence is in a category of its own, Penrose terming that category 'non-computational'. I think that Penrose's conjecture implies that our environment and our heredity aren't entirely conditioned and mechanical, that at a fundamental level, something non-computational is going on there too.
    Penrose, in the Q&A, leaves open the artificial intelligence question. Despite his 'non-computational' conjecture, he leaves open the question of whether or not a submarine could swim as opposed to just following an existing algorithm. That's fair of him since, after all, the answer to that question, as Supriyo points out, is not known.
    Are all of a tree's actions conditioned and mechanical? German Forest Ranger Finds That Trees Have Social Networks, Too
    PRESENTING scientific research and his own observations in highly anthropomorphic terms, the matter-of-fact Mr. Wohlleben has delighted readers and talk-show audiences alike with the news — long known to biologists — that trees in the forest are social beings. They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots.​
    If we knew that a tree had subjectivity, we would divide into two camps: those who regard the offerings of sugar to an old stump as motivated from either self-interest of the offerers or as motivated by love.
     
  275. So just to be clearer, as Fred has shown us photographically that to be human is to love, perhaps Mr. Wohllenben has shown us that a tree also loves.
     
  276. 'Truth' isn't the peak of a mountain, it's a continuous process of knowledge as thought. There's no mountain top to reach, neither in science nor in art.​

    In the broader sense, no. I agree. However I was referring more to concrete short term goals, like solving a scientific problem or creating an artwork. [Veering a little off-track, is knowledge (or wisdom) really infinite, or can it have a bound, a destiny?]

    The analogy of mountain top is less important to me. More importantly, what I wanted to say is, in most cases the process of gaining wisdom involves a combination of intelligence and experience. Even if a flash of perception can show one a fresh new direction, still the history of failed prior attempts (what Bohm refers to as conscious logical/mechanical process) is relevant to that perception. So is the knowledge gained from ancestors.
     
  277. PRESENTING scientific research and his own observations in highly anthropomorphic terms, the matter-of-fact Mr. Wohlleben has delighted readers and talk-show audiences alike with the news — long known to biologists — that trees in the forest are social beings. They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots.​

    I am not discounting it, but I am skeptical of the claim that the above description is evidence of non-mechanical consciousness. Non-mechanical consciousness, I would argue is associated with irrational choices that cannot be explained or predicted by logic alone. Social networks and all associated skills like counting and learning can appear due to evolutionary pressure. Feeding sugar solution to a dead companion could be vestigial remnant of an earlier era where it was necessary to keep these stumps alive for a long time to spur new growth at a later era.

    Related question: Is love really non-mechanical, or is it being non-mechanical an inspirational feeling?
     
  278. what it's like to be human​

    Fred,
    Thank you for your humble and sensible portrayal of humanity. I find it very touching.
     
  279. Supriyo - "I am not discounting it, but I am skeptical of the claim that the above description is evidence of non-mechanical consciousness."

    I agree, and Penrose's contribution to the study of consciousness/intelligence is to offer a few interesting observations, raise some questions, and suggest areas where there might be empirical evidence.

    Supriyo - "Related question: Is love really non-mechanical, or is it being non-mechanical an inspirational feeling?" And hence, mechanical after all since inspirational feelings have a purpose in the mechanism??

    Another way of asking that question, if I understood it correctly, might be "Is love an irreducible?"
     
  280. I've followed this thread from the beginning. It's been an interesting ride thus far. I'm a firm believer in the notion that all knowledge is integrated, and that while it may take awhile to get from Kepler's Laws to scrambled eggs, eventually that connection might be made. Well, you've gone from philosophy, to scrambled eggs (and even toast!), to the nature of love, and onto fungal ecology. Well, OK, and I mean that in a sincerely good way.
    In an off line exchange with Charles W, I mentioned that I photograph the "wood wide web". Fungi are my thing. He'd like to see that. Here it is, mycelium, the web itself. It's not abstract. Relationships between fungi, plants, and animals are old and complex. Many of these life forms have evolved together. Mychorrhizal relationships, of which the German forester speaks, are mutually beneficial. Yes, biologists have known about the basics of these relationships, but just how complex they are is new and amazing. Is any of it "love"? I'll leave that to the philosophers to discuss. I'll go back to the forest and hug a Mother Tree.
    00dsTj-562319984.JPG
     
  281. Laura wrote: "I'm a firm believer in the notion that all knowledge is integrated ... " [emphasis added]
    I agree completely.
    I'm tickled that you've posted. Gorgeous picture (I have a complete weakness for water droplets, never mind spider webs ... ).
     
  282. Self Comes To Mind – Constructing the Conscious Brain by Antonio Damasio. Excerpt: Page 269 paperback, [Damasio is on Ted Talks and gives an outline of his book there for anyone interested.]
    When We Feel Our Perceptions
    Anyone interested in the matters of brain, mind, and consciousness has heard of qualia and has an opinion regarding what neuroscience can do about the issue: take it seriously and try and deal with it, or consider it intractable and table it, or dismiss it outright.

    In the text ahead, qualia is treated as a composite of two problems. In one, qualia refers to the feelings that are an obligate part of any subjective experience – some shade of pleasure or its absence, some shade of pain or discomfort, well-being, or lack thereof. I call this the Qualia I problem. The other problem cuts deeper. If subjective experiences are accompanied by feelings, how are feeling states engendered in the first place? This goes beyond the question of how any experience acquires specific sense qualities in our mind, such as the sound of a cello, the taste of wine, or the blueness of the sea. It addresses a blunter question: Why should the construction of perceptual maps, which are physical, neurochemical events, feel like something? Why should they feel like anything at all? That is the Qualia II problem.​
    Dennett dismisses the Qualia I problem outright and I didn't see where he addressed the Qualia II problem. Damasio writes on page 272 that "although the qualia issue is traditionally regarded as part of the consciousness problem, I believe it belongs more appropriately under the mind rubric. Qualia I responses concern objects being processed in the mind and add another element to the mind. I do not regard the Qualia I problem as a mystery." As to the Qualia II problem, after exploring some properties of neurons [specifically not those neural quantum effects pursued by Penrose] Damasio uses "evolutionary reasoning":
    If perceptual maps of the body are to be effective in leading an organism toward avoidance of pain and seeking of pleasure, they should not only feel like something, they actually ought to feel like something. The neural construction of pain and pleasure states must have been arrived at early in evolution and must have played a critical role in its course.​
    Evolutionary reasoning is strong, yet can we fully explain a sense of self-existence by its functions? And to the layman me it is intriguing to look at Laura's rendition (photo in her post) of what amounts to nature's solution to the traveling salesman problem (TSP) where I can't help but side with those who suspect that quantum effects may be involved in the solution. Again, as a layman I can't help but analogize a 'wood wide web' to our own wiring. All those connections and fibers in Laura's photo: we might as well be looking at a nervous system in an animal.
    Laura, in a separate exchange provided a link Dying Trees Can Send Food to Neighbors of Different Species - No tree is an island, and no place is this truer than the forest .
    To my surprise, I discovered when researching this post that it has been known for a while that trees of different species can communicate with and support one another via their mycorrhizae. I had already known that plants can communicate with unrelated species through the air; plants getting chomped by herbivores release volatile chemicals that are sensed by neighboring plants, who up their defenses pro-actively. But communicating — and even sharing resources — through mutual root fungi was news to me.
    ----
    This amazes me. On the face of it, it appears as if the douglas-fir is acting altruistically (without expectation of return) to help neighbors of a completely different species in light of its own probable demise. Even without the altruism, that trees as widely unrelated as douglas-fir and ponderosa pine can transfer resources to each other for any reason through fungi from a completely different kingdom is a shocker to me.
    Did the douglas-fir “intentionally” and altruistically send food and defensive signals to the ponderosa pine, or did the fungus act to take them there? It’s possible that it is only a passive effect of a source-sink scenario, where the douglas-fir dumped food into its mycorrhizae for safe-keeping in light of severe stress, and the excess resources simply moved from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration (the growing, resource-hungry ponderosa pine). It’s also possible the douglas-fir is behaving somewhat altruistically and somewhat pragmatically, since exporting carbon to its root network may benefit nearby trees that are close relatives (offspring, even?), and any spillover to trees of completely different species that keeps them healthy may also benefit these same relatives by keeping the entire forest system healthy.
    Finally, it’s also possible the fungus played the more calculated role of a broker with its own interests in mind and “acted to protect its net carbon source,” in the words of the authors, “by allocating carbon and signals to the healthy, more reliable ponderosa pine.”​
    Fungus in the calculated role of a self-interested broker versus motivated by love, confirming what I wrote earlier "If we knew that a tree had subjectivity, we would divide into two camps: those who regard the offerings of sugar to an old stump as motivated from either self-interest of the offerers or as motivated by love." Of course, we still don't know if a tree or if a fungus has a sense of itself, has a lived experience of itself. That's a big if, a real big one. IF IF IF IF for emphasis to those who might see nothing but 'woo' in such speculations.
    In other words, I can't help but suspect that Damasio's argument as to the origins of consciousness proceeds upon lines I imagine as objectionable to Griffin, who Julie quoted "It involves instead the alleged emergence of an "inside" from things that have only outsides." That's termed a category mistake and I tend to agree with Griffin's view. I do think generally, in asking allowances from a resistant reader, there's a natural tendency to overstate one's case.
    Damasio doesn't in that book find, as I do, a problem in regarding consciousness as originating in exclusively evolutionary/mechanical processes. The way I state that problem is in terms of relative motion where my view is that an organism's (which ever Kingdom) adaptive motion can't occur without a fixed point of reference from which to measure motions of bodies relative to it. When a single celled organism with a tail moves it tail, it isn't random motion, it's advantaged motion. William Jame's statement that to an infant human, the world is a blooming buzzing confusion is also a description of the world that a single celled organism inhabits within its 'skin' and Damasio apparently doesn't see a cell membrane as intelligent despite that a cell membrane evolved into the nervous system he respects in animals as housing a protoself, at least beginning with the jellyfish which I take is the first organism with a persistent nervous system, sea sprites eating theirs all up when they set down roots. But if a sense of itself is a sense like a sense of touch, taste, hearing and if a single celled organism has to have a sense of self for adaptive motion to occur, then consciousness starts looking like a fundamental property of nature, provided Penrose's non-computational is ever fleshed out more fully.
    Bernie Krause finds a qualia type response in a sea anemone in a Ted Talk. I tend to take a sea anemone's feelings seriously, not dismissively.
     
  283. Speaking to the dogma about plants is Stefano Mancuso, a founder of the study of plant neurobiology, a Ted Talk.
     
  284. I'm not sure about attributing motivations to the tree, or to Julius offering a helping hand to Emily in that photo of mine. Was it love? I don't know. Maybe it was duty. Maybe being in the right place at the right time. Maybe something else. But it helped get her past the puddle and to where she was going!
    Now, in my photo work in this farming community I have other photos that show people being more solitary. Just like in my San Francisco work in addition to the photo of me seeming to step out of myself in the studio I have much more corporeal photos. I don't feel as though I'm shooting my beliefs. Often, I feel like I'm shooting questions . . . or dialogues.
     
  285. I'm not sure on those points either, if motivation attribute to trees and where motivation does attribute, as in Julius, what the motivations are. As to trees, quoted above: "It’s possible that it is only a passive effect of a source-sink scenario, where the douglas-fir dumped food into its mycorrhizae for safe-keeping in light of severe stress, and the excess resources simply moved from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration (the growing, resource-hungry ponderosa pine). " Pure mechanism - something like osmosis - or not? Who knows.

    Here's Arthur Zajonc v Michael Mccullough, the latter mechanistic, the former makes his case for another category. Mind and Morality: A Dialogue , introvert v. extrovert in a familiar sounding dialogue since some of the predispositions toward either point of view surface in this thread where introvert and extrovert are less about behavior (action v. bookish) than an attitude. Mccullough lives well without the category that Zajonc can't live well without.
     
  286. The thread has now reached its end...
    So.... thank you, to all who have participated; I felt that ALL posts were informative....yes, including you, Supriyo.
    I particularly enjoyed Charles postings, which to my mind, went to another place of imagination and understanding.
    Cheers.
     

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