Intuition and photography

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by ajhingel, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. We have discussed at length photography from the point of view of the viewer often leaving aside the initial creative act of the photographer. The central question in all it's simplicity is how to make good photography.
    I have found much inspiration in exploring the question in other fields of artistic expression. Painting and sculptures have been discussed by many widely in this forum, but making of potery might be the most revealing.
    Many of us have had the experience of seeing, and in privileged moments maybe even touching, ancient Chinese pottery and especially that of the Song dynasty of the XI and XII century, as for example this example. The perfection and beauty of such ceramics is astonishing and, for me, deeply moving.
    In the field of making pottery there is one text that has become a reference text worldwide, that of Bernard Leach: "The Unknown Craftsman - A Japanese Insight into Beauty".
    Leach explores "how to make good things in the present state of society" (beginning of last century, but could maybe, with some right also refer to today's world) and argues for the ancient Song principles of "striving towards "unity, spontaneity and simplicity of form". In my eyes these principles can be highly relevant for photography and implies the act of shooting and seeing scenes, composition, framing, under-statement/over-statements etc. In that tradition form and content is one.
    Each of these principles I see as relevant for photography but the one I would invite to discuss is spontaneity.
    Leach argues that spontaneity cannot be taught and related to the relationship between "seeing" and "knowing":
    "There are many ways of seeing, but the truest and best, is with intuition for it takes in the whole, whereas the intellect only takes in a part". ​
    and Leach employs this to the importance of forms and patterns by the following:
    "Pattern is born, when one reproduces the intuitively perceived essence. When the intuition weakens, pattern becomes no more than a formal design. Design as such is no more than an intellectual composition


    Pattern is not a realistic depiction. It is a "vision" of what is reflected by the intuition.


    Pattern is a picture of the essence of an object, an object's very life; it's beauty is of that life"
    Behind this approach to the importance of spontaneity and the creation of 'good artistic work" (no discussion of art and hopefully no discussion of "essence" either - we have been there!) is the bouddist inspired rejection of excessive self-contiousness which Leach denounce as the opposite of spontaneity.
    I have found these discussions and the principles of Leach extremely inspiring for not only reflecting on what we have discussed in previous threads but also inspiring when considering my own approach to shooting photos and making photography.
    What do you think?
     
  2. There's a lot to chew on here. Thanks, Anders.
    The relationship of content and form is significant to me. While I can separate content and form for the purposes of discussion, I often don't when photographing or looking. If I talk of a photo having a visual narrative, that narrative is housed or even unleashed by form. Construction uses light, shadow, shapes, colors, focus: form. This is a portrait of my friend Jim in his living room: content. Often the elements of form overlap and are indistinguishable from the elements of content. Light can easily become photographic content as it reveals that content. Same with texture and focus. It's like most dichotomies. We are stuck with them in language and analysis but often the "job" of the photographer is to blend, unify, contradict, harmonize, create counterpoints with and the blur the lines between those very same things the analyst is trying to get straight.
    There's a lot of "truest," "best," "perfect," and "beauty" in your OP. It is laden with absolutes, making it for me a photographic mine field. The OP is also introduced by assuming that the central question is about "good" photography. I get a little hung up there. Does that mean challenging, inspiring, curious, palatable, pleasing, politically effective, expressive, representational, accurate. Photographs I or someone else think I should make or photographs I'm driven to make?
    I don't generally strive for spontaneity and simplicity, although sometimes I do. I like complication, tension, and multiplicity. Many have commented about distractions in my photos or wanting me to crop for greater unity or simplicity. I usually think they just don't get it (and occasionally have been persuaded that a crop more effectively yields what I'm after). That being said there is often (always?) spontaneity at play even in my more deliberative approaches. I will get a sudden feeling even while setting up a shot, a subject will glance a certain way or get a look on his face that might seem to break through all the intention, a ray of light will come in through a window that I will gravitate toward, a subject will say something seemingly unrelated that prods me a certain emotional or photographic direction.
    I don't mind self consciousness (and seek it often). I can sometimes get involved in that circle of paying direct attention to what I'm doing while doing it, stepping back and forth between observer (of myself) and being observed (by myself) and letting go (of myself). Some recent significant photos of mine came when I was being very self conscious both about myself and about the photographic process, being intentionally focused on exactly what I was doing.
     
  3. Each of these principles I see as relevant for photography but the one I would invite to discuss is spontaneity.
    Leach argues that spontaneity cannot be taught and related to the relationship between "seeing" and "knowing":​
    Spontaneity is learned. Learned through our lives from the onset of memory (age ~4-5) to childhood, adolescent, adulthood and constantly evolving though less as we age. It is, in short, the result of our culmination of knowledge and experience. Our likes, dislikes and everything else (like what we choose to see ((or ignore)) etc...)
    So, it is not "taught" as in a university course or private lessons but learned in every experience we encounter and how it relate to every other experiences, knowledge we culminated...
    Good day, Anders;)
     
  4. I am not sure any of it matters if you don't have anything to say in the first place.
    I know this sounds funny maybe, but I think it might be the most missed point of making photographs, you have to have something inside that is meaningful/powerful or nothing is going to come out--an empty container is just empty. You might make well composed images but everything is probably lying on the surface.
    (I will ignore the "actual" definitions of content and form here, Fred!)
    If I had any beef with the premise here in the OP, it would be this idea of spontaneity as what is important as I believe the words quoted hit it more succinctly using the word intuitively. Finding a way to work intuitively does not always mean spontaneity, it might mean more like not thinking or judging or reacting, but doing what you hear from inside. When you do that, any ideas or goals spontaneity, complexity, tension, serenity etc are irrelevant, what is inside can freely express itself and that may be any of those things--and more. Generally, I think it is easiest to do this when one can find a way to let go of any expectations, of worrying about whether this or that will work or fits with what I am doing, my style or whatever--when you just do it, it always fits--and maybe something you aren't ready to see as yet. The thinking about what you are doing, how to do it and trying to figure out what you want to do has to be left at the door as you walk out with the camera, that part is done, now it is time to just let it happen.
     
  5. The concept of intuition you're using here makes an interesting comparison to the basic categories of
    understanding and relating to truth from Aristotle: Craft (techne), Knowledge(Episteme), Judgement
    (phronesis—pretty close to intuition), Wisdom(Sophia), and Intellect(Nous—also pretty close to intuition).

    It's really a shame this is no longer taught in school. Every time someone writes a self-help book or one
    about artistic inspiration acts like they're the first to discovered that craft and inspiration aren't the same
    thing when the discussion is as old as our culture. And few people if any have ever topped Aristotle's
    clarity on the subject.
     
  6. How can intuition/spontaneity be separated from self-consciousness? For me, they're biceps and triceps; quad and hamstring; tick and tock; difference and repetition.
     
  7. Julie are you referring to something other than the definition of self consciousness? "Feeling undue awareness of oneself" is certainly not the same as acting intuitively or spontaneously, although I find those latter two concepts as different.
     
  8. "The thinking about what you are doing, how to do it and trying to figure out what you want to do has to be left at the door as you walk out with the camera, that part is done, now it is time to just let it happen." --John A.
    I know many people think this way. I don't.
    Sometimes (often?) it happens for me precisely when I am thinking about what I'm doing and how to do it and working hard and intentionally at what I'm doing (with the camera right there in my hand and the scene in my scope). Letting go for me sometimes means addressing all these things, considering them, and letting go of the idea of letting go. I see a lot of photos where either the letting go or the striving to let go is obvious and, instead, a little more deliberateness and thoughtfulness (right there in the moment) would have helped. Onc can get hung up and therefore lost in searching for the photographic orgasm rather than just doing what's in front of you, which may include a plan.
    For me, it's counterintuitive to say that only the emotion has to be at the point of impact and the point of impact has only to be emotional, spontaneous, without thought or consideration. Besides which, it's a matter of degrees. We think and feel, not one or the other. I can be thinking about myself (unduly so, according to some and even to myself) and still be spontaneous, which is unpremeditated. That I may be at times overly self aware does not mean I'm planning at those times. Stuff happens that's out of my control, even when I'm obsessing about myself or a photograph I'm making.
     
  9. Fred
    The relationship of content and form is significant to me. While I can separate content and form for the purposes of discussion, I often don't when photographing or looking​
    I would fully agree with you on this, Fred. For me what I see is form that speaks, or shouts as it has been said earlier. Form without content becomes as Leach writes: "pattern becomes no more than a formal design. Design as such is no more than an intellectual composition". The form, the pattern is a "vision" where "the essence of an object comes to the fore". I don't know if it is possible for us to discuss these subjects without going back to a discussion of "essence", but I hope it is enough here to write that certain forms are viewed by the photographer as having content, others not.
    Of course when Leach discusses the relationship between form and content he refers to a a very specific type of object, mostly a porcelain bowl, which although having multiple elements which constitutes its form, cannot directly be transferred to the understand of form in photography. And yet, at least what catches my eye when it comes to form in photography are very basic broad features that builds it's form which often can be marked by "simplicity" - another of Leach's principles. By reflection and analysis I can point at a complexity of multiple elements that support this basic form of the photo and which in fact are essential for it's "unity" - yet another of his principles. The job of the photographer is as you write Fred:
    to blend, unify, contradict, harmonize, create counterpoints with and the blur the lines between those very same things the analyst is trying to get straight.​
    I chose not to open the discussion on the principle of "unity" because it might be even more complex to discuss but all the elements you mention are elements creating "unity" of the form in a photo - or dis-unity.
    I agree with you that there are many terms like : "truest," "best," "perfect," and "beauty" in the OP and it is indeed a photographic minefield . Such absolutes are fully coherent with the philosophical and religious background of the analyses of Leach. When you are in front of a bowl of the Song Dynasty you sometimes have the impression that you are confronted to (divine) perfection. I would, as you I'm sure not transmit directly such experience to photography, but I would believe that we all have had the experience in photography where you have a deep feeling of having succeeded not only a "good photo" but a photo that approaches a perfect images expressing what you feel a/the photo should express. There are indeed good and bad photos produces by us all. What Leach tries to do in his discussion is to communicate the principles of the term "good". "Good" as felt by the photographer and not necessarily shared by the viewer.
    John wrote:
    I am not sure any of it matters if you don't have anything to say in the first place​
    I would not be that arrogant and proclaim that some people don't have anything to say. All have. Some try to say it in photography, others don't. Some succeed brilliantly. Others fail miserably. So for me it all concerns anyone that tries to express him/herself in photography or any other of the arts.
    When John further writes that
    you have to have something inside that is meaningful/powerful or nothing is going to come out--an empty container is just empty. You might make well composed images but everything is probably lying on the surface.​
    it is almost as quoted from Leach as you can see above, and I would fully agree.
    When it is mentioned that "intuition" cannot be taught, the message is that it is not based on "knowledge". It is, as Lesley writes - by the way good day to you Lesley, too ;) - surely based on "learning". John questions whether "intuition" is not a more appropriate term. I don't see the great difference between the two (my linguistic limitations, surely) but I fully agree on John's outlining of what that means for the photographer. Even spontaneity (or intuition) as an conscious intention would threaten "intuition" in the act of making photography..
     
  10. Fred - "One can get hung up and therefore lost in searching for the photographic orgasm rather than just doing what's in front of you, which may include a plan"
    That seems like a ridiculization of other kinds of thinking than your own, or imposing your way on others. One can work in other ways than yours, and they aren't necessarily better or worse than the way you have chosen. There are many other ways of working (and being) than yours -- or mine. They are not more or less legitimate, nor are they guaranteed to produce better (or worse) work. They just are, and they are no more lost than you are.
    Fred - "For me, it's counterintuitive to say that only the emotion has to be at the point of impact and the point of impact has only to be emotional, spontaneous, without thought or consideration."
    It is a mistake to see intuition (and ensuing spontaneity, not impulsiveness) as only emotion w/o thought let alone consideration. Everything that contradicts our thinking is not counterintuitive per se. It's just different, and it doesn't have to be that way.
    Julie - "How can intuition/spontaneity be separated from self-consciousness?"
    What is self-consciousness? Can anything be separated from it? How do you know you have it, say, as opposed to consciousness? Are you self-conscious all the time? Or does it come and go? If so, when is it at a minimum? (No, "when sleeping" is not an answer!).
    Anders - "The central question in all it's simplicity is how to make good photography."
    I'm sure that is true for Anders, Fred, John K, Arthur and others, but it is not for me. The central question for me here is, as the forum charter states, about the philosophy of photography, the why. The prevailing Oprah principle of self-improvement (and the apparently endless search for formulae, incantations, rules, divination, tool kits, procedures, guiding principles, recipes, 12-step programs to go with it mean nothing to me. Just read The Secret and be done with it!) belongs elsewhere in my opinion, but it seems to be the guiding principle of the philosophers here.
    Philosophical exploration is good enough reason for me to be here.
     
  11. I don't know fully how intuition controls or inspires my photography, or that of others, but it does exist. Buckminster Fuller said something that suggests why, on those occasions when I might have passed by a scene, or event, a detail or a happening, I somewhat unexpectedly stay with it:
    "Call intuition cosmic fishing. You feel a nibble, then you've got to hook the fish."
    Luis, it unfortunately ain't as simple as that ("make good photography"), it's often a personal exploration, inquisitiveness (what, why) and release for the mind, amongst other conscious and unconscious desires or needs.
     
  12. Fred, when I read your last entry, I can't help but feel that you aren't talking about what I mean as working intuitively or that your description of how you work is somehow in opposition to it, at least in the absolute. If one produces work that is self conscious, as in "or the striving to let go is obvious", then they aren't working intuitively in the sense I suggest. One of the problem with these sorts of threads is that we try to get our point across, sometimes a point we could devote a chapter or more of a book to, in a few paragraphs.
    When I say working intuitively, I am not suggesting that we somehow visit La-La Land and suspend all thought and just shoot fancy free--although I suppose it might work for some. It is just that we allow ourselves to listen to what is inside rather than forcing something because we remain so mentally active with thought that we lose our own rhythm. Working with intent or being thoughtful or deliberate isn't counter to working intuitively, it is just that maybe not working intuitively is the difference in chasing a photograph instead of creating/recognizing one that presents itself. The difference with struggling to figure out what the best shot might be instead of knowing and recognizing what the best shot is--even if that means directing someone else.
    When I suggested the "leaving it at the door" I guess I was sort of alluding to how a professional athlete might work. You spend a lot of time looking at tapes of how you do your job (reviewing contact sheets/previews on the computer, reading art books, reading philosophy or literature or listening to great music etc), you work with a sports psychologist getting your head in the right place (discussing ideas and thoughts with others, reading inspiring work as above) and you do repetitive tasks to develop muscle memory(shoot a lot so the mechanics don't consume your attention, looking at lots of work to build a visual vocabulary). Then, when you actually go to play the game or do your event, you analyze what your situation is and intuitively make adjustments while doing it. The heavy lifting was done before you got to that point and you just do what is required to get what you are after--this certainly doesn't mean one is not deliberate or thoughtful.
    For myself, I have had other experience where intuition has served me, things hard to explain and maybe the LaLa land sort of thing, but those never had to do with the actual intuition used in the making of a shot, it is just a sort of an effortless knowing when it is working right.
     
  13. Arthur - "Luis, it unfortunately ain't as simple as that ("make good photography"), it's often a personal exploration, inquisitiveness (what, why) and release for the mind, amongst other conscious and unconscious desires or needs."
    Maybe, and I agree with the above, but we hear it, literally, all the time.
     
  14. John, yes, I'm glad you clarified what you meant about leaving thought, etc. at the door. I did take it to be a little more la-la than you meant it! That being clarified, I think we may still work differently and are communicating pretty well. I don't necessarily think I work intuitively or want to in the same way that you do. I often do find myself struggling to figure out what the best shot might be rather than knowing or recognizing what the best shot is. It is that struggle and that heavy lifting that I do right there with my camera. That can exhilarate me and preoccupy me and provide just the shot. I am often much more outside than inside (especially the case when I'm relating to a live subject) and often likely to force things rather than to listen to what is inside. Honestly. ;)))
     
  15. I agree that if someone believes that they can make "good photography", what ever that means, by respecting certain rules they are most likely to fail. However, what I tried to refer to were not rules on how to concretely conceiving a photo (concrete layout, composition etc), but certain principles concerning the approach to conceiving it.
    The main message, which I only partly would buy myself and surely only partly follow in my photography, is the message of "spontaneity" putting aside any intentions of proving yourself, representing yourself, respecting rules, doing better than..what ever. Making way for something from inside yourself (which is of course you but without the conscious "I") that just feels that the scene you are about to shoot is just right there, and now.
    Personally I'm much more cerebral and conscious of what and how I'm shooting, but I find the reference to other works like pottery inspiring because I regularly experience the feeling (physically, mentally) of "perfection" when contemplating for example a Song bowl and I can put myself in the place of the maker and his approach when making it. In the same rare cases, I believe the same feel of being right is experienced in relationship to photography, prior to whatever intellectual reflection providing understand, explanations, references and cross-references happens. For me this latter reflections almost always happens but it is of interest to concentrate on what happens prior to it. For me Asian arts (read pottery, poetry, painting, calligraphy and maybe even photography) are superior to Occidental arts (too large categories, I know) because of their historical, philosophical and religious, philosophical approaches to the very process of making art.
     
  16. Yea, it is sort of funny to me Fred, how we all use words in different ways. When I first read your "inside" "outside" comment, I took it more in my own sense of the two words and then thinking about it, and knowing a bit about you, think you have a different meaning. If I were to think of myself as working on the outside, I would think of it as resorting to something safe or being out of control in a more negative way, not being tuned in to what is going on and forcing something whereas I think you might mean pushing beyond where you are/were and discovering something new-being in the moment. On the other hand, when I say that I work intuitively and listen to my inner voice, then I know I have turned off those filters that keep me from pushing beyond my own limits and that is when I discover something new or create something I might not even fully appreciate for some time--working out of control in a good way, with confidence and knowing.
    Working intuitively, to me, is the sort of exhilaration and preoccupation you suggest(sometimes more preoccupation than exhilaration per se depending on what I am doing), again it may be semantics and even possibly the way we filter the experience, but we get in those great moments, I believe, because we aren't lost in our heads but present in the moment and listening to what is inside (which may be hidden from our own everyday awareness).
     
  17. John, I'll say for a final time that, though we may use words a bit differently, the significant thing here to me is that we are each describing different approaches to the way we make photos rather than describing the same approach differently. Do all photographers' methods have to agree or be similar? Do ours? I'm glad we approach it differently. We're individuals. Hopefully that shows in our work. I imagine the exhilaration we get is similar but I think that exhilaration comes from two different ways of working. Actually, I suspect we each have a multiplicity of ways of working. At least I know that some photos come much more from my head and for some I am more in the moment. Some come from a place of self consciousness and some don't. Some of the ones that I take self consciously show that right in the photo. Others don't seem to show it at all. That a photo shows self consciousness to me is not necessarily a bad thing. Again, please believe me when I say there are many things I accomplish when I am lost in my head. Remember, I have a couple of degrees in Philosophy! I don't always turn that off when I've got a camera in my hand and a subject in my lens.
     
  18. Addition: Thinking about it, I imagine some photographers not feeling any exhilaration at all. Many are probably depressed and clicking the shutter might just add to their sadness or forlornness. Actually, I can think of one or two of my own shots we're I was feeling more upset than exhilarated.
     
  19. A part of us does I believe want to make good photography, in whatever way we interpret that latter term. The definition of our photographic aims is not always constant and we may be grappling with that moving target unconsciously, or consciously, with making good photography (successfully realising our aim or goal) still somewhere in our thoughts. I guess I can generalize in saying that many who are interested in philosophy of photography or of art are also exploring the various ways we can approach our photographic goals. Good photography can mean different things to different photographers and Anders is right in saying that it is how they can relate to our approach, and not to rules per se, that is important.
    I don't have a few degrees in philosophy as Fred, and no doubt my intuition is less influenced by such knowledge (even though philosophy readings are part of my background) as it affects Fred's own intuition when it comes to assembling visual subject matter into a subject of a work. My degrees are in applied science and research. The scientific method and my knowledge about matter and its behaviour may influence my photography, but probably not as directly as a philosophical background. Perhaps a desire to create equilibrium of form and masses in a perceived image or to do the contrary (asymmetry) as a metaphor for tension is an instinctive response for me and perhaps shows to some extent in my photos. Intuition is likely influenced by the knowledge of states of matter and forces between them that I have worked with in most of my career.
    Intuition is an important parameter in photography as it is elsewhere. In the recent decade, I was working on two new processes, one of which was to recycle aluminium smelting waste products into one or more viable products, the other to transform asbestos mine tailings into magnesium. In one case, the latter, I faced a number of roadblocks to progress in a simplified novel process flowsheet. Information and calculations from colleagues allowed progress to be made in perfecting some of the postulated steps, but it wasn't until, in the absence of theoretical data, that I had the intuition to use the element chlorine in one of the final transformations. Why, I'm not sure, but it worked, although its toxicity and difficulty of use put one of the brakes on a patent application. Similar intuitions occurred to me with the aluminium waste, where a form of processing uncommon to that industry was successfully applied. Another former project sought to clarify apple juice. There, intuitive thinking allowed the application of an unrelated European dissolved flotation methodology for treating wastewater to the task of fruit juice clarification.
    Sorry if I bore anyone with these personal experiences, summarily related. One can ask, were these small explorations the result of intuition, or simply a more universal reading of science and technology? I think both, and they acted in somewhat the same way as intuition in art and photography, which is important in seeing things that may not be immediately evident or overshadowed by other aspects or by a preoccupation with the more conventional rules and approaches. My intuition often applies when I add a chair to a scene to heighten some visual message, or see a tree form as providing some allegory, or recognising the buoyancy effect of water and movement of suspended chairs and the inverted importance of their shadows. Perhaps the intuition does not always lead to so-called good photography, but intuition can be a partner in the quest for photography that questions rather than simply display.
     
  20. Sounds a bit condescending Fred. I was just trying to dig a bit deeper and understand what you were describing and ferret out the differences and similarities that were being expressed that might be hidden behind the words--maybe I don't understand discussion threads or just didn't leave enough escape routes?!?. I have been around creatives most of my adult life, professionally and personally--in photography as well as the plastic arts and music-- and understand a bit about the differences in the way folks work but also see many commonalities. I think there is a continuum in the way one works and intersections between folks that otherwise appear in opposition occur, and maybe more often than thought once one understands and recognizes the nuances. Even what you just offered as different in your way of working is not actually, or necessarily, in opposition to what I would suggest from my own experience described as intuitive, just further tuning of the idea and the recognition that things are not always tidy in neat little boxes. But, WTF...............you told me the final time.........
     
  21. The way of NEN :
    "The 7th-Century masters had become aware of time as composed of ultra-short time-fragments which they called NEN, thought-moments of such flashing brevity that for all practical purposes they could be called timeless.

    When my eye perceives something in the outer world, it registers it during the first, immeasurably short mini-instant or NEN, in a direct vision which is purely intuitive and cognitive, as in a flash of profound insight into that which is seen. This first mini-instant of direct apprehension or insight into Reality, however, is followed immediately by a "second NEN", and with the same lightning speed by a "third NEN".
    The second NEN is a flash of mental reflection, of becoming aware of my intuitive insight, of this profound "knowing". But in the "third NEN", which follows just as rapidly, this awareness become "my" awareness: both previous flashes become integrated in my continuous stream of consciousness; are processed, as it were, in that region of the mind where reasoning, labeling, introspection - in short, ego - feeling - take over. The experience now becomes part of "my" consciousness and at once the Me begins to interpret, to rationalize and to draw "logical" conclusions from the direct perception, to distort the direct, "clairvoyant" grasp of the first NEN, and to imprison it once more in words and concepts. These cogitations, analyses and conclusions snowball further until the intuitive revelation of the first Nen is totally lost." - Fredrick Franck, The Awakened Eye
    -------------------
    I liked browsing through your website John A, following that Amtrak trail, what a photographic adventure that must have been...
     
  22. Anders please comment on the connection between spontaneity and planning. Spontaneous actions often tell more about a person's impulses than his intuitive grasp of what he is doing. Much of the photography I've done required some sort of effort on my part to set things up ahead of time to get things to come out right in the end.
     
  23. John A., for what it's worth, I do not think you misunderstood anything about threads.
    ___________________
    "Sex and beauty are inseparable, like life and consciousness. And the intelligence which goes with sex and beauty, and arises out of sex and beauty, is intuition."
    - D. H. Lawrence
    _____________________
    Intuition can also be part of the viewer's experience:
    “The photograph touches me if I withdraw it from its usual blah-blah:
    ‘Technique,’ ‘Reality,’ ‘Reportage,’ ‘Art,’ etc.: to say nothing, to shut my eyes, to
    allow the detail to rise of its own accord into affective consciousness.” -- Barthes.
    ______________________
    From Minor White: “The state of mind of the photographer while creating is a blank. I might add
    that this condition exists only at special times, namely when looking for pictures...For
    those who would equate ‘blank’ with a kind of static emptiness, I must explain that
    this is a special kind of blank. It is a very active state of mind really, a very receptive
    state of mind, ready at an instant to grasp an image, yet with no image pre-formed
    in it at any time. We should note that the lack of a pre-formed pattern or
    preconceived idea of how anything ought to look is essential to this blank
    condition. Such a state of mind is not unlike a sheet of film itself-seemingly inert,
    yet so sensitive that a fraction of a second’s exposure conceives a life in it. (Not
    just life, but a life.)"
    There really are other ways of working, whether we allow for their existence or not, and they can and often do produce stellar results (in the right person, of course).
    “When I paint and start thinking at the same time, everything’s lost.” --- Cezanne, as told to HCB.
    "I have a terrible lucidity at moments when nature is so beautiful; I am not conscious of myself any more, and the pictures come to me as in a dream." -- Van Gogh
    Weston knew this way of working well. On his peppers: “...the presentation through one’s intuitive self, seeing ‘through one’s eyes, not with them’".
    Last (for brevity's sakes, because the list of intuitifs who were/are also Masters in Art/Photography is endless), and not least, because Fred has carried on at length here about her concept of 'significance', Suzanne Langer, Philosopher and professor, in her book, _The Problems of Art_ said:
    ”I do believe, with many aestheticians and most artists, that artistic perception is intuitive, a matter of direct insight and not a product of discursive thinking...” (Langer, 1957, p. 61.)
    Imagine that.
    ____________________
    [I am well-aware of the problems that intuition, letting go of self and discursive thinking/inner dialogue/meetings with your homunculi, presents for many, but then, that's for them to deal with. Denial is laughable.]
     
  24. I'm glad Luis took the initiative to quote a series of artist announcing their close attachment to the intuitive when working. I think they are illustrating well what Leach writes about on the subject.
    I agree with Fred that we are all representing different approaches. I would however believe - ensuring you of not referring to anybody specifically and not being pejorative - that I find Leach formulation of what happens to "form" or "patterns" as he writes (and surely consequently to content) when intuition weakens : patterns become "design", and: Design as such is no more than an intellectual composition. It might be correct to consider that we in fact, because of very different approaches to making photography also have very different types of photography some of which can be described as "formal design" and other maybe more profound kinds of photography are striving towards the perfections of Song Bowls, as discussed by Leach. However, Leach goes further and proclaims that: Pattern is a picture of the essence of an object, an object's very life; it's beauty is of that life" - design is not.
    Following that discussion of intuitive work, I'm mostly making design, I must admit. I can as Fred only rarely put aside my own academic degrees (economy, social sciences) and not least my lifelong research and intellectual work when I make photography. I interpret on a continuous basis what I see around me and find current "mythologies", examples of "alienations", "exploitation", "social constructions of reality" social roles, classes, role distance, "games people play", "cargo cultures" etc etc all around me in the cities and countries I live in and photograph. Very little I do is probably intuitive in the sense of Leach. I might be much more in line with an intuitive approach when it comes to seeing works of art - but as mentioned, in case, only as a very first initial appreciation of the work. After that comes immediately the intellectual appreciation on the basis of accumulated knowledge of the subject and related subjects. I have studied Chinese and Japanese culture and arts since at least Thirty years, so that is maybe why the writings of Leach speaks so strongly to me.
    Albert invited me to formulate myself on "spontaneity and planning". Notwithstanding the nuances between the two terms (spontaneity/intuition) on the basis of what I have written just above, one could say that whatever we personally do in the field of photography currently, has been "planned" since years because we "carry" with us, our learning, experiences and whatever knowledge we have got (or general ignorance, as well, of course) when we make photography.
    However conscious planning is another question. Again, we are engaged in very different types of photography with each their own types of planning. Planning of work involving models is surely very different from street or nature photography. I would believe that some organizational planning almost always is involved (In city photography I decide to go somewhere because of the light, weather, season, events; I decide to take with me a specific photographic equipment in view of certain specific types of shooting; I bring a tripod of not etc). When it comes to intuition and spontaneity in photography I find it most relevant for the very concrete act of deciding to frame and focus a scene and shoot. Some scenes demand clearly intuition to shoot, or they would never be shot ("just in time" scenes) other scenes are shot intuitively because they are perfect (unconscious?) analytical representations ("designs") of knowledge about the seen. Most scenes are shot, I would believe, with a weakened intuition and the reflection and planning has taken over.
    By the way, I'm grateful no-one followed up my formulation above about "rules on how to concretely conceiving a photo" and "principles concerning the approach to conceiving it" because it was probably confused to say it kindly. I think it corrected itself or was ignored. Good !
     
  25. is the bouddist inspired rejection of excessive self-contiousness which Leach denounce as the opposite of spontaneity.​
    way too deep for me because for one it leaves out motivation. Why do we pick up a camera in the first place? It's a self-countious act by definition. Frankly I would go even further and call it a selfcentered act because after all, what we do and how we do it is defined by our own set of criteria, excessive or otherwise, and directed at just one thing, namely to please ourselves first and foremost. As such "good" photography is merely what we ourselves define as such. If you think about it quite autistic in fact and I think that is a good thing because that in the end is what separates us from other photographers.
    In such a context spontaneity is of no practical use because it's not something you can control or generate at will. Also if you get down to it it's almost always defined after the fact. Furthermore I think that most succesfull photos are the result of a good balance between ratio and emotion on both sides, that of the photographer and the viewer.
     
  26. Anders, I think Leach is covering a lot more ground than the intuitive. I would not characterize your pictures as "mostly making design". You have a clear, strong passion (and apparently, profession) for the way people live, particular in aggregates (cities), and how they relate to each other, particularly in public, shared spaces. It is the loving vision of stewardship (IMO), and a genuine longing for a better future for all. This theme is strong and repeats in many of your pictures. In the form/content continuum, yes, form is significantly (In the English language, not Langer-ese version) present in your pictures, but it is far from overwhelming content.
    My quotes were intended not to merely illustrate, but to expand on what Leach writes on the subject. If we were to use Langer's exclusionary and scintillatingly clear "discursive thinking" as a yardstick, all but 4-5 posters here (and no, I won't name names, we all know who they are) would be mere Leach-designers.
    If Leach is the map, these people are the territory.
    _________________________
    Ton, for me photography is a lot of things, including some I rarely, if ever, do.
    Ton - "way too deep for me because for one it leaves out motivation."
    How do you suppose all the intuitives I quoted (and there are many, many more) found the motivation to produce prodigious work if, as you say, it is left out?
    Ton - "Why do we pick up a camera in the first place? It's a self-countious act by definition. Frankly I would go even further and call it a selfcentered act because after all, what we do and how we do it is defined by our own set of criteria, excessive or otherwise, and directed at just one thing, namely to please ourselves first and foremost."
    I suppose there is a wide variety of reasons why we pick up a camera. In my case, I did not pick one up, it was literally handed to me. Are you saying photography is a narcissistic act? Given the day and age we live in, I have little doubt that your (ever read Ayn Rand?) ideas are true for a large majority of people that own cameras, but they are not true for everyone.
    ____________________________
     
  27. I had written a fairly long paragraph about working on planned shots, commercial in my case, and how intuition and the process of planning can work together. I had just decided at the time, which was before Albert's question, that is might muddle things a bit. But later, I saw this Gursky video on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2Jwwh-99OA . It is in German, but someone translated it in the comments (I used two windows, one for the subtitles), and it is about an hour long and in 4 parts. It opens and is interspersed with discussions about his images, but does follow his creation of a specific image throughout the video, from visits to the site through decisions and reshoots to complete the image. I certainly recognized the intuitive nature of how he was working and blending the concrete aspects of working with the more internal. Maybe others will enjoy it as I did.
     
  28. Phylo, thanks for looking, it was an absolutely incredible experience, both the original journey and the subsequent one to do personal work.
    I also liked the NEN description which certainly addresses the many ways of working, that might not be all that counter to one another--in the absolute. One thing I do believe is that each person goes through the stages differently and it is different at different times and in different situations, which contributes to the continuum I suggested.
    I agree with a lot of what Tom was getting at, but one thing did stick out and that was "and directed at just one thing, namely to please ourselves first and foremost." While I do think that is probably a pretty good general statement, it does ignore the fact that when we work intuitively, we can actually create images that we don't like at all--one's we aren't ready for. This is the reason I don't throw images away. I think the subconscious sees things we don't and we don't always know when we will see them.
    I remember printing an image in the darkroom, considering it, and then tossing it in the trash after I toned it, when I was beginning to put things up to dry. Fortunately, I just laid it on top of the overflowing receptacle. When I came in the next morning to stack the dry prints, I looked down and saw it for the first time--it is now mounted and matted. In another case, 4 years after creating a negative and having scanned and finalized several from that day close to when they were shot, this contact just jumped off the page at me, I scanned it and worked it a bit and bang, it started a whole new series of work for me.
    Bottom line is that I have learned to sit on things, storage is cheap--especially digital storage--although my new wife would like to reclaim the garage, living room, dining room, one bedroom and half our own from all the analog stuff!
     
  29. Condescension?
    Perhaps. I have no intention of falling in lock step behind one-liners misleadingly taken out of context from artistic heros who knew as much about thinking and hard work as they did about intuition, as proven by their work. I love Cezanne as much as the next guy, but I don't love one of his quotes misappropriated merely to ridicule those who claim individuality rather than conforming to a mythological and ideal notion of what an artist is or how an artist supposedly works. The need to describe all artists as working similarly -- in the "absolute" -- is a need to find comfort in numbers, the search for security that I'm doing it right because they all did it or spoke about it this way. I don't subscribe to the notion that we all work the same way . . . in the absolute. Mainly because I don't think there is an absolute, when it comes to photography, art, or anything else for that matter. It's an Idealist's game and I'm not one. Sorry, no blank slates for me, no matter what artistic genius makes the claim under what circumstances. Reducing these greats to quotes meant to prove a point . . . have at it if you like.
    Artistic group-speak tends to put a premium on intuition, but if the best description of that is leaving my thinking at the door or working with a blank slate, then I reject it. My point is, intuition is not exclusive. And I also reject definitions or ways of thinking and/or describing one's working that needlessly elevate it (for everyone) and don't suggest an understanding that it works in tandem with other faculties, in degrees, and in an infinite variety of combinations and ways.
    It's painful to watch historical artists and photographers being reduced to, and peers reducing themselves to, the collective of absolute genericism.
    ___________________________________
    BTW, nice post, Ton. Self consciousness seems to be another one of those things that it's popular to recoil at the mention of.
     
  30. Are you saying photography is a narcissistic act?​
    it's not a word that I would have chosen in this context Luis but if you want the answer is yes, at least to a certain extent. That is if one is into a bit more than shooting merely family or holiday snaps. I don't shoot (non-commisioned) work to please others but first and foremost to please myself. I would suggest that that applies to most of us.
    it does ignore the fact that when we work intuitively, we can actually create images that we don't like at all--one's we aren't ready for​
    perhaps you could elaborate on that John because as I see it intuition doesn't come from scratch. I like to think that intuition is something that in least in part is distilled from what we are and have experienced.
    Self consciousness seems to be another one of those things that it's popular to recoil at the mention of.​
    true. If we weren't however everything would be interchangeable. Thanks
     
  31. the search for security that I'm doing it right because they all did it or spoke about it this way. I don't subscribe to the notion that we all work the same way . . . in the absolute​
    Fred, you might be able to find formulations above that justifies your calling to arms against 'the collective of absolute genericism" (I don't find the last term pertinent, but believe to know what your wished to say). I don't know about you, Fred, but I would often rather situated myself and understand myself and my individual approach in relationship to extremes than to the multitude of possible acts of others. By trying to understand ones own individual approach, which almost surely would be found somewhere between totally intuitively and totally planned, controlled and knowledge based, I find it necessary to define or just have an idea of what the extremes are. This is by the way near to the scientific method of investigation based on "ideal-types" of Max Weber, where "ideal" is not something to strive towards but something that helps to situate a phenomenon. Referring to Leach and the ancient Bouddist inspired tradition of art permits this better than describing less absolutes. Noone, and surely not me, would expect to find Fred as a newborn Leachian at the end of the road.
    In the same vain of reflection, I find it useful to situated oneself and one's photographical work in the continuum between what Leach describe as "intuitive perceived essence" and "formal design". I think that some photography, and not necessarily the least interesting, is highly stylized and the result of very conscious setups of scenes, indices, codes etc and can mainly be read by those that share the keys. Other types of photography, and photographers, would be nearer to the "ideal" (in the Weberian sense of the word) of Leach's approach to intuitive work of an artist making potery. They are different types of photography surely and one is not necessarily better than the other.
    Ton, I agree with you that these matters are complicated to discuss, but I find it worthwhile, at least for me to reflect on, not least because I have so strong experiences from other art forms than photography and have a personal need for understanding the "why".
    You mention that "motivation" is left out in these discussions on intuition. I'm not sure I agree with you, because the whole question of motivation must be found in the very basic and very personal need of expressing one-self by means of, hopefully among others, photography. Your question whether intuition is of any practical use because you cannot control it - well, your emotions neither, I hope.
    Luis I agree with you that Leach is covering much more than the question of intuitive acts of artist. In fact I find iota even more interesting to analyze my own photography in terms of unity and simplicity of form. I found it however too complex to discuss also these principles in one thread so I tried to concentrate one. Maybe these are subjects to take up later on if there is an interest.
    Luis, thanks for the kind words on my portfolio. It is always extremely important for all of us that we sometimes find photographic eyes that see the intentions at least of what we try to do in photography. To inform that they even see it succeeded in some cases gives courage to continue. Thanks again.
     
  32. Ton, after having seen your last post I would add one comment of narcism.
    I thing we all can agree on the fact that we are individuals that express ourselves through our photography. Our photos are personal expressions and could mostly not have been done by somebody else. This does not make them marked by narcissi. Narcism comes in if your photos and your comments on your photos exhibits an "excessive love or admiration of yourself" - at least that is the definition of it.
     
  33. which, as I've said to Luis, is why I wouldn't have chosen that word
     
  34. Ok Ton.
    The pleasing one self, I can co-sign. I have burned my fingers calling it "fun", but "pleasing" or providing "joy" might be better terms of why we do it in the first place and are highly "committed" doing it.
     
  35. Anders, I respect your way of looking at it and of working. All I'm saying is that I don't give credence, for myself, to ideals or perfection. So, no, I don't see myself in relation to those kinds of extremes. That is an honorable difference between us. When I said this, I was told by John that in fact I am just using words differently from others or others from me but that, in essence, we all really mean the same thing. We do not. I see honor in that kind of acceptance, not condescension. If I see condescension, it is in telling someone that if only they used words the same way as you, they'd see that your way applies to themselves as well.
     
  36. I also don't think WE are making photographs to please ourselves. I sometimes do things because I seem to need to, whether it pleases me or not (unless by definition one is going to claim that everything we do must please us or else we wouldn't do it, which I don't buy). I also sometimes do things out of curiosity, only to discover after the fact that doing it didn't actually please me, but I wasn't thinking of pleasure at the time at all.
    Pleasure is one of many things that sometimes motivates me to make photographs and one of many things I sometimes get from making photographs.
     
  37. Curiosity is for me maybe the most pleasant motivation for using photography as a way of expressing myself. Curiosity about the world around me and about my ability to express myself in photography.
    Fred, when you write that you don't "give credence" (is that the right term or would respect not be more precise?) to ideals or perfection, I read this as if you still believe that ideals are their to be reached. They are not in my eyes - they would seize to be ideals when reached, then. No, they are their to put your own way of doing things in perspective.
    A simple analogy would be to say that understanding what grey is, it is fairly convenient to define white and black without any presumption that all should be white - or black for that sake.
     
  38. Curiosity, then, is something you and I both value but think of differently, since I don't think of it as necessarily pleasant.
    No, Anders, "credence" is the word I chose and I'll stick with it. And, no, I don't think ideals are there to be reached. I think "ideal" is a word of the classics (particularly ancient Greece) and of the past. The word "ideal" doesn't express something that I think exists or even makes much sense, that I think can or cannot be obtained. It is, I believe, a confused concept, applicable to Plato and long since discredited . . . by others and in my eyes as well. Like God, the concept of an ideal has no use to me, attainable or not. That having been said, I understand what people mean when they talk about an ideal, respect that for some it is a concept to work with, and reject it in my own thinking and methods. I prefer to think more in terms of context and more relatively.
     
  39. I don't have much to add to this thread, but I'd like to thank Luis for the Minor White quote. I've never read anything that so clearly describes my state of being when I'm out hunting and gathering photos.
     
  40. Dave Reichert: "I don't have much to add to this thread, but I'd like to thank Luis for the Minor White quote. I've never read anything that so clearly describes my state of being when I'm out hunting and gathering photos."
    You're welcome Dave. You've added more than you know, thank you.
     
  41. My comment: "it does ignore the fact that when we work intuitively, we can actually create images that we don't like at all--one's we aren't ready for" and then Ton's: "I like to think that intuition is something that in least in part is distilled from what we are and have experienced."
    Actually, my comment is not at odds at all with this response by Ton. In fact, I don't think it is "at least in part" but that anything we produce can only come from within us, even if discovered coincidentally to the act of creating it. My statement is merely a recognition of the fact that we are not always conscious of all that has been processed somewhere inside of us or that which is being processed. As the examples I gave above, sometimes we work ahead of what we are ready to recognize on a conscious level and their creation only comes from our response to impulses that we garner from a deeper place we can't access on a more deliberate level--something only available intuitively. That isn't to say that these things can't manifest themselves at different times into our consciousness, even when shooting, but there are many examples (at least in my own experience) where I have created images that I don't recognize as being important when I view them near to their creation but which becomes clear later--sometimes much later.
    One of the things I have always found is that those things we find most bothersome to us regarding external ideas or in our art or that of others are often exactly those things we recognize more deeply but haven't yet come to grips with on a conscious level--and as such, the very things we need to pay attention to.
     
  42. Fred, please go to this page and see what the Weberian "ideal type" (section 5.2) means. This is how I used it and not with reference to ancient Greek philosophy. I believe that I also wrote in that line. By the way it is the second time I refer to Max Weber during the last days. Just by chance. He is not my reference of preference in general.
     
  43. Anders,
    How do you think the word "alert" would fit into this discussion? Is it to self-consciously direct one's attention away from oneself? Is that (consequent) attention self-conscious or not or is it impossible to separate the alert being from his/her alert attention?
    Another word: "seeking." In a book Animal Feelings by the the well-known autistic, Temple Grandin, she talks about "seeking" (which she always writes in ALL CAPS):
    "We know that curiosity/interest/anticipation, or SEEKING, is a positive emotion from a field of research called electrical stimulation of the brain, or ESB. ... The SEEKING part of the brain is located mostly in the hypothalamus, which is in the mammalian brain, and the most important chemical involved is dopamine, which goes up when the hypothalamus is stimulated."
    " ... Cocaine, nicotine, and all the stimulants raise dopamine levels in the brain. Researchers assumed people develop addictions to drugs because drugs make you feel good, so dopamine must be the feel-good chemical in the brain.
    "But now researchers see things differently. We have a lot of evidence that the reason a drug like cocaine feels good is that it's intensely stimulating to the SEEKING system in the brain, not to any pleasure center. What the self-stimulating rats were stimulating was their curiosity/interest/anticipation circuits. That's what feels good; being excited about things and intensely interested in what's going on ... "
    "There are at least three different lines of evidence for this new interpretation. One is the fact that animals who are having this part of the brain stimulated act intensely curious. The second is the fact that human beings who are having this part of the brain stimulated say they feel excited and interested.
    "The third is the clincher. This part of the brain starts firing when the animial sees a sign that food might be nearby but stops firing when the animal sees the actual food itself. The SEEKING circuit fires during the search for food, not during the final locating or eating of the food. It's the search that feels so good."​
    The reason for that long quote is to focus on the time of unspecific but intense attention. Before the "prey" or subject or target is found. Is that time, that "seeking" or that unspecified state of alertness, self-conscious or intuitive or spontaneous or none of the above?
     
  44. I should probably include my idea of what "alert" entails: To be alert is to pay extreme attention to, and simultaneously to strenuously, urgently evaluate and sort, my, my, MY sensory perceptions. In other words, all incoming is 1) being paid attention to and 2) being dealt with (yes? no? keep? discard? develop? ignore?). (In the case of photography, that "all" is stripped to the visual; all visual.)
     
  45. It is interesting Julie mentioned Temple Grandin in her neuro-post. Grandin has said there are three types of (asperger's/autistic) specialized brains: Visual thinkers, pattern thinkers and verbal thinkers.
    I find this relevant to the PoP Tower of Babble Fest du jour in this thread. Some who are entrenched in one camp negate the existence of the rest.
    Ms. Grandin certainly does not engage in what Ms. Langer defined as "discursive thought". In her words:
    "I THINK IN PICTURES. Words are like a second language to me. I translate both spoken and written words into full-color movies, complete with sound, which run like a VCR tape in my head. When somebody speaks to me, his words are instantly translated into pictures. Language-based thinkers often find this phenomenon difficult to understand, but in my job as an equipment designer for the livestock industry, visual thinking is a tremendous advantage."
    [Thank Fred for the mammoth quotes, I don't want to be accused of leaving out context]
    As dozens of others have remarked, Grandin is a perfect example of someone who works with a mix of intuition and science. Julie's quote provided an example of the latter.
    Here's an example of the former:
    "On the first day of operation at the plant, I was able to walk up to the chute and run it almost perfectly. It worked best when I operated the hydraulic levers unconsciously, like using my legs for walking. If I thought about the levers, I got all mixed up and pushed them the wrong way. I had to force myself to relax and just allow the restrainer to become part of my body, while completely forgetting about the levers."
    [That third sentence is very similar to the Cezanne quote I posted earlier]
    "Through the machine I reached out and held the animal. When I held his head in the yoke, I imagined placing my hands on his forehead and under his chin and gently easing him into position. Body boundaries seemed to disappear, and I had no awareness of pushing the levers. The rear pusher gate and head yoke became an extension of my hands."
    "During this intense period of concentration I no longer heard noise from the plant machinery. I didn't feel the sweltering Alabama summer heat, and everything seemed quiet and serene. It was almost a religious experience."
    She also has an opinion on that bad, bad word: Category... "Categories are the beginning of concept formation"
    and..."The more pictures I have stored in the Internet inside my brain the more templates I have of how to act in a new situation. More and more information can be placed in more and more categories. The categories can be placed in trees of master categories with many subcategories. For example, there are jokes that make people laugh and jokes that do not work."
    While it is true that certain drugs (and some fruits, nuts and veggies) raise dopamine levels, it is also a well-known fact that those prone to addiction already have elevated levels of dopamine before succumbing to the disease. Very high levels of dopamine lead to excitement alright: Paranoid-schizophrenic behavior, auditory hallucinations, religiosity, etc. Seeking what is not there, and a pathological self-awareness that acausally links everything with the self. I would not call this kind of seeking something that feels good.
     
  46. Julie: "should probably include my idea of what "alert" entails: To be alert is to pay extreme attention to, and simultaneously to strenuously, urgently evaluate and sort, my, my, MY sensory perceptions. In other words, all incoming is 1) being paid attention to and 2) being dealt with (yes? no? keep? discard? develop? ignore?). (In the case of photography, that "all" is stripped to the visual; all visual.)"
    Ever see a cat sleeping with one eye slightly open? Like a slit? If a lizard comes within range, in an instant, it jumps to action and nails it, then goes right back to where it was.
    I wonder why "my, my, MY" sensory perceptions? Whose could you have besides your own?
    There are different kinds of attention: "A different picture emerged, however, from looking only at the most experienced meditators with at least 40,000 hours of experience. "There was a brief increase in activity as they start meditating, and then it came down to baseline, as if they were able to concentrate in an effortless way,"
    --- Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health & Waisman center.
    http://www.news.wisc.edu/13890
    [There are scores of similar studies with similar results]
    It is possible to be supremely alert effortlessly, gracefully, and without worrying about your perceptions being your own. Or yourself, or talking to yourself about your options regarding "incoming".
    _________________________________________
    [Necessary PoP Disclaimer] No, I am not saying that those are the only two ways to be, nor that they are mutually exclusive, nor that one is better than the other.
     
  47. Geez, Louise, Luis. Stop with the squid defense. Go have some coffee. I'll even be nice and tell you the part of my post at which you should be aiming your artillary. It's where I say "2) being dealt with (yes? no? keep? discard? develop? ignore?)."
    When does that happens? One might, if one had a certain approach to photography, discipline oneself (oops, can't use that word ...) to delay that; to delay sorting; to withold "yes? no?"-- and let the input ... simmer.
    Now say "Thank you, Julie."
     
  48. I just did, like I do every time Julie posts.
     
  49. [Big smile] You edited, but it's too late: I got email notification with the origiinal ... I am disarmed. It's not fair for you to go all agreeable.
     
  50. Julie, I think you put your finger on two very important dimensions of photography: ALERTNESS and SEEKING, that are very relevant for understanding how intuitive shooting might be a characteristics of what some of us, at least, do, or believe we do - or strive to do. They are closely linked in my view. However both of them are maybe, if I should keep a hold on Leach's discussion, are prior to the very act of creating; shooting a photo intuitively or not.
    ALERTNESS
    How do you think the word "alert" would fit into this discussion? Is it to self-consciously direct one's attention away from oneself? Is that (consequent) attention self-conscious or not or is it impossible to separate the alert being from his/her alert attention?​
    I think Luis's definition of what alertness is, is very complete and relevant, but for me it is a state of extreme concentration and receptiveness of the seen, heard and smelled around me. This can be learned if one is receptive to the sensations of "alertness" and motivated by the satisfaction it gives. It is also according to my experience to a certain degree "programmed. If I decide to leave with one camera and only a 50mm lens, I will especially find scenes for shooting that can be shot with that equipment. Having much experience from fishing and hunting it might be relevant to mention that such "targeted alertness" is characteristics also for "seeking" under those condition and conditioned by their aims.
    The self-conscious aspects, as mentioned earlier in the thread is a banality in my mind, if we refer to the fact that any act and capabilities of alertness is determined by the person in the question. Where the "self-contiousness" comes in conflict (in line with the principles of Leich) with the intuitive creative act is when the SELF becomes the subject and not only the condition.
    SEEKING
    The act is as Julie writes linked to: "curiosity/interest/anticipation“, but for me they are mainly descriptive of the quality of ALERTNESS and not a complementary factor.
    It is no secrete that drugs have played a major role on most of the history of art. Many, not all, of the modern painters of the 19th century as well as the post-modern of the end of the 20th century used it in direct relationship to their artistic production. Some of them died of it. Some became rich and famous supported by it. A few achieved both. No names !
    That it is the seeking phase that is the most stimulating might be right if I dig down in my own satisfaction with "seeking". This might maybe also explain the very act of pointing and shooting can be much more intuitive because the seeking phase was the essential planning phase of the "creative" act and mad the conditions available.
    A last point on the following paragraph from John:
    One of the things I have always found is that those things we find most bothersome to us regarding external ideas or in our art or that of others are often exactly those things we recognize more deeply but haven't yet come to grips with on a conscious level--and as such, the very things we need to pay attention to.​
    Personally I don't have that experience. I feel more that what interests me most and gives me most satisfaction to contemplate and concentrate on immediately, are those external ideas which are not in line with what I have come to grips with already. A question of attitudes to being challenged and questioned, I would believe. Bothersomeness is not something I personally find pertinent as motivator or as inspiring factor.
     
  51. If I could, I might ask Leach why it is somehow in conflict with intuitiveness for the SELF to become the subject as well as the condition. There seems to be a nice circle of harmony and dialectic created when one allows or insists on the SELF becoming subject and condition. Intuitiveness can only point away? Since I can't ask Leach, I'd rather ask you anyway, Anders, not to hypothesize what Leach might answer, but for your own. The reason I ask is that I do some very self conscious things and have produced some very self conscious photographs and that never felt counterintuitive to me.
     
  52. Anders, one of the things I believe intuition does is to push us into new areas and areas of discovery. If I am interested in something that is sort of a no brainer, I often explore contrary ideas and such because I find them interesting and rewarding. But what I have found is that at other times, something is said that creates a sort of recoil or strong reaction within me, not the chuckle sort of thing from another's naive comment, and then it sticks with me. If I find this sort of internal conflict over something, I don't write it off, but pay attention to it--maybe it is then the development of interest in it, I don't know, but it pushes me to learn something new.
     
  53. John I fully agree with you on the creative force of intuitive actions - also in photography.
    Fred, I'm with you in repeating that high self-conscious artistic expression can give promising results. Good photography (whatever that is from the photographer's or the viewer's point of view) is sometimes the result of it - as it is, in my eyes, shown by many of your photos. However, when Leach discusses the making of pottery he is surely referring to another strand of art, than that of making photography. Apart from sharing between the two arts in question, the need of adapted material and external conditions, they are very different due to the direct relation between the marterial and the artist (your hands and it's direct contact with the material, the physical feeling, it's texture, temperature etc) in pottery and the intermediate tools (camera, film, pixels, paper, computer screens...) between the subject and the photographer, when it comes to photography. The intuitive comes more easily to the fore in the first than the last mentioned - maybe!
    When I shoot cities, I do not do it in order to expose myself in my photos, but surely I express myself. My photos tell, when I succeed, something about me, but it is not the message of my photography. I hope to say something about the subject I shoot: the city and its people, physical characteristics, social conditions, past, power, conflicts, contradictions, hopes and dreams of people. Maybe, and again if I succeed, others can recognize a certain consistency in the approach, that is marked by me, but it is not the main message of my photos. The result is that when I speak about my photos, it happens! - I would speak about the subject of the scene and its context, of its esthetic characteristics, its composition etc, rather than about me and how I felt doing it or presenting it.
    Going back to Cezanne, who has been mentioned several times above. Also for me, Cezanne is the ideal of an artist that very consciously throughout his life worked on the basis of an radically new artistic, scientific approach to representing nature, especially, in his many still-lifes and landscape paintings - anything but an intuitive project, one would say. When he actually, as the quote of John tells, executed his paintings intuitively, according to his own saying, it might anyway be plausible. The SEEKING and ALERTNESS of Cezanne as concerns his subject and project could be expected to be fully integrated in his mind and the very execution of a painting would be intuitive.
    When it comes to an artist like Picasso his whole production can be read as a series of stories about himself, his women, his political affiliations, his relation to his country, Spain ect. Allmost all his paintings, drawings and sculptures are clearly very self conscious productions, but as far as we know and can read from especially people near him, they are mostly (as we know surely not all) made almost intuitive without much reflection and driven by an infinite creative strength.
    Two very different artist with different ways of functioning, that both made history by their artistic production. Take Pollock or Rothko and the variety of artistic approach will be even broadened but somewhere an intuitive approach to artistic creation is at work.
    By the way for those that are interested, read this very informative article on Picasso and politics in the most recent issue of the New York Review of Books
     
  54. Anders, thanks for expanding. For me, there's a difference between self conscious photos and photos that reveal something of myself. I would say many of my photos reveal something of myself (in addition to the subject) but only a few are self conscious in a directed way (really directed back at me). I guess all are self conscious in what you call the banal way or the way Julie seems to be discussing it, which is certainly not banal.
     
  55. Anders - "I think Luis's definition of what alertness is, is very complete and relevant, but for me it is a state of extreme concentration and receptiveness of the seen, heard and smelled around me."
    Make no mistake, for me, it is also a state of extreme concentration and receptiveness (among other things). What is different is that I am fully disengaged from Langer's "discursive thinking" (internal dialogue) and not in a non-stop "strenuous" mode as Julie is. I am relaxed, loose, chilled, but intensely alive and aware, and I am not thinking of "my, my, My" anything, even though I am working out of myself, of course. When it comes to seeking, I don't overdo it. I believe that which I am seeking is also seeking me.
    PoP Disclaimer: I do not propagandize my way over any other, or think it superior. It is only how I work. I accept there are many paths, and they are all valid.
     
  56. Luis - "...I am fully disengaged from Langer's "discursive thinking" (internal dialogue) and not in a non-stop "strenuous" mode as Julie is. I am relaxed, loose, chilled, but intensely alive and aware..."
    My experience is similar. Peripheral vision plays a large part in this non-cognitive process of seeking. The subject very often "approaches" me from just outside my field of detailed vision. This was a very handy thing when I was shooting on the street, thirty years ago, and it's proven to be just as useful in my current "landscape" shooting. Sometimes it's almost as if I'm being tapped on the shoulder...
     
  57. jtk

    jtk

    Last night I attended a gallery opening. Three of my subjects were there...two had been successes, but the third was nfg twice. I mentioned shame ...she laughed at me, AT me, said to stop whining and that she had failures her whole career (well-exhibited 70-ish painter and teacher). So, maybe third time will be the charm. For me that will require substantial thought in advance, I won't just try again. Maybe I'll use shutter drag to soften her or suggest motion, perhaps relating the photo to her paintings...not part of my usual sparse bag of tricks so I'll have to practice. "Spontaneity" is a joke concept if the basics aren't in place.
     
  58. The joke John is that the basics are in place all around you. The joke becomes hilarious because so many pass by without seeing it.
    No kidding !
     
  59. No one except John has suggested that the basics need not be in place, or somehow bypassed. That is John's own invention/accusation. These are crude and obvious efforts to try to link negative qualities to other ways of working in order to shoot them down.
    I wonder what it is about the possible existence of other ways of working that has brought out the witch-burners and the firebrands here. Why does it frighten anyone into wanting to play whack-a-mole with a real mallet?
    Never mind, rhetorical question.
    Anders is right: The joke is on John K.
     
  60. Luis, who exactly are these firebrands you keep creating as straw men who are supposedly putting down others' ways of working? Is it Leach, the guy who said "There are many ways of seeing, but the truest and best, is with intuition
    . . ." with which Anders chose to start this thread? As far as I can tell, Leach is the only guy who elevated his own way of working or seeing, and you haven't attacked him.
    John Kelly spoke of an experience he had last night. If you want to think that somehow negatively applies to you or others, I don't see how that's his responsibility. I took him to be genuine in saying that he blew some photos because he wasn't prepared. I've certainly been there and done that. Like John, I also practice. I don't necessarily want to use intuition as some here do and in some cases I can't yet. I'm being honest, not putting anyone else down.
    You mentioned my own statement "One can get hung up and therefore lost in searching for the photographic orgasm rather than just doing what's in front of you, which may include a plan" . . .
    and you responded by saying "That seems like a ridiculization of other kinds of thinking than your own, or imposing your way on others."
    But it seems that way to you because you neglected the sentence just before the one you isolated: "I see a lot of photos where either the letting go or the striving to let go is obvious and, instead, a little more deliberateness and thoughtfulness (right there in the moment) would have helped."
    Here's what I was saying: Sometimes I see evidence in a photo that more deliberativeness and thoughtfulness would have helped. That doesn't mean that I think it's better to work deliberatively or thoughtfully. I can assess certain photos that might have benefitted from more thought. Others, that have been created from an intuitive approach, are great and need nothing else. It would be no different from my saying that a given photo looks like it would have benefitted from the photographer getting in a little closer to the subject. It is relative to that photo, not a global direction on methodology. I don't think it's better to get closer to a subject in "absolute" terms. I think it may have been better in a particular case. In some cases, I'd encourage the photographer to do more thinking and less intuiting when I think a photo is lacking in coherence (when I suspect coherence has been attempted). In other cases I have suggested, and even reminded myself to be, a little more intuitive and a little less thoughtful. Since the thread started out with a distinct slant (to say the least -- "truest and best way"), I felt it worth emphasizing that a different way is just as valid and sometimes seems in order.
    As for my interchange with John A., rightly or wrongly I interpreted him as telling me that I work the same way as him and that the reason for my differing description was a different usage of words and not an actual difference of approach. I argued strenuously about that with him, not because I think my way is better, but because I felt he was not acknowledging that my way could be different.
     
  61. Fred, there's been surprising and considerable flak/resistance to the idea of working intuitively. A lot of that has been our of misunderstandings of what that is and how it works.
    Frankly, Leach was covering a lot of ground, too much, I thought, to adress in this one post, and particularly because his other concerns, which are interesting (and worthy of their own posts) and of concern to Anders tend to muddy the intuition part, which is what the OT was, and an area of interest to me. I also thought that Ms. Langer's thinking on the matter, although more clearly expresed than many, was over the top on the exclusionary/absolutist side. Like a Line of Demarcation in art, if you will. I'm in disagreement with that. I've known and met many famous photographers and artists, and scores of the less so, and have seen a wide variety of ways of working, seen them work (and believe that matching the way one works to one's own energies is of critical importance) and have no trouble with any of them.
     
  62. Luis, like I said, my own resistance stemmed mostly from the way it was introduced by Leach. Also, I hang around the critique forums here on PN a lot. I have seen the word "intuition" bandied about often as an excuse, just as is the word "art." That doesn't mean I don't think either word or concept has validity. I think they both do. But I do get suspicious often when I hear them. I think "intuitive" is often used when what I see seems to me vacuous photographs being attributed to an "intuitive" approach, where a little larnin' and thinkin' would have come in much more handy. The thrust of my argument on this thread is that intuition is not something that leaves everything else behind. I think there is a tendency for some to talk about intuition as if it is somehow separate from other faculties, which is why I don't like and can't relate to statements that talk of leaving thinking at the door in favor of intuition. I don't think being intuitive requires anything akin to that, so I find it a poor description. That does not mean I think working intuitively is in any way inferior or invalid.
    It was interesting to hear your description of being relaxed, cool, and chilled. I am so different. On most shoots, even in foggy, cold San Francisco, I sweat profusely. A friend of mine whose portrait I did recently for his website sent me a little travel towel as a gift! It's come in very handy.
    As for Langer, I agree with you. I'm sure you noticed that when I included that extended quote of hers in another thread, I said that she goes too far for me. The only reason for that long quote was finally to give some context to my use of the word "significance" as having a little more bite than "importance." Since it's been used a lot in various threads, I felt that context could be helpful. Quoting her on significance was not meant to suggest Langer as any sort of yardstick for these discussions. I have moved beyond much of what I learned from her 35 years ago, but still find the concept of significance and things she has to say about expression relevant to my own work and thinking.
     
  63. Fred - "The thrust of my argument on this thread is that intuition is not something that leaves everything else behind. I think there is a tendency for some to talk about intuition as if it is somehow separate from other faculties, which is why I don't like and can't relate to statements that talk of leaving thinking at the door in favor of intuition."
    I am not in total disagreement with that first sentence. In my experience, intuitive modes (I am of the opinion there are many, though they share some features in common) are more about working in an integrated manner, than one that is isolated from or devoid of experience.
    What Langer called 'discursive thinking' is by its very nature, more fragmented, or in multiple, discrete compartments to use a visual description, whereas the intuitive seems to be coming out of one integrated gestalt.
    I can say this because I definitely started in the discursive thinking mode. Again, I want to emphasize that there are many more than two modes, and that there is likely to be a polarity and continuum (more likely a multidimensional field(s)) between the two, because as I vectored towards the intuitive, it wasn't like throwing a switch or anything like that. It was a gradient, where one became less frequent and the other more. It was nothing like a blinding light on the Road to Damascus and an instant conversion. I hope other's mileage will vary.
    Fred - "It was interesting to hear your description of being relaxed, cool, and chilled. I am so different. On most shoots, even in foggy, cold San Francisco, I sweat profusely."
    Both ways work. BTW, where I live, it's usually hot enough that I'm already aglow, no matter how calm and serene I am. I love SF, its cool summers and the fog.
    I think Temple Grandin had a good point in the part I quoted where she talked about three types of mind (in the context of asperger's/autism), and that these different aspects of mind (and doubtless others, things like emotional intelligence and others) are differently weighted in each of us -- and it reflects on our energies and ultimately in how we see and how we work to make photographs.
     
  64. I just spent a week living with and photographing the residents and co-workers at the farming community where my nephew lives. There are people with autism, retardation, emotional and physical disabilities who I get to know a little better each time I visit. What strikes me, among the many things that strike me there, is the lack of pretense. That is especially noticeable when making photographs and particularly portraits. Fascinatingly, even those who were obviously very self conscious made no pretense about that. For me, it makes for a lot of clarity about genuineness and authenticity, sometimes because of and sometimes in spite of the self consciousness that is simultaneously present. This is not in response to Grandin so much as my own observations and experience. It goes without saying that people with autism are as varied (though there are of course some common traits) as photographers.
     
  65. I am going to shoot myself if this post disturbs the balance and intelligence of Fred and Luis's exchange above, but I want to say a little bit about my perspective on Luis's approach -- because I think (if I have it right, and, I may not) that this might be useful to the discussion. And if I have it all wrong, Luis's correction will be illuminating (at least to me).
    Because of the way that Luis often describes his working method -- because he's usually describing an unspecified occasion -- I think it (unintentionally on his part?) comes off sounding as if he's stopped, waiting, detached, disconnected. I think that (unintentional) impression is exactly wrong. It's my understanding that, on the contrary, when shooting, Luis is exactly not detached. He is (or hopes to be; tries to be) in perfect sympathy -- to the extent that "Luis" is forgotten/disappears and he is overtaken by that within which he is immersed.
    The most literal experience I have had of this is while shooting college wrestling. Because I was working for the Sports Information Office, I was down on the mat very near the competitors. All my pictures used be rather violently tilted to this side or that because their strivings were so irresistably contagious. (I have done Luis-style shooting of more peaceful subjects; the wrestling case just seems to me to most vividly demonstrate it.)
     
  66. Just to take a break, two small remarks somewhat in the margin of what is being taken up above - if any interest.
    When I first came to Photonet a few years ago, I had no experience with fora (UD speech: forums) discussions like these. I got a cultural chock by witnessing the violence of exchanges that were happening and apparent lack of respect of deviant thinking. It took me some time to find out that actually somewhere, hidden behind the rants, were interesting things going on that could be relevant for also my photography, so I started getting involved and threw myself in the maelstrom for better and worse. Don't ask me of examples and just accept that this was my impression of what is going on - seeing from mostly outside. The limited number of people that dare, or care, to participate in these discussion tells the story of a way of debating and relation to each other that is not always pleasant. I have only met this type of exchange in one other media: e-mails. We have not yet managed to master communication in digital form as we, hopefully, mostly, are able to master it in direct dialogues.
    One could have a dream of an event somewhere where participants in Photonet meet to exchange ideas and learn from each other, learning to know each other. We in Europe would call such an even a "symposium", you would probably call it a "fair". Such an event would surely be way more civilized than what frequently is happening around here.
    Secondly, and more to the point. It seems to be the case that mostly we end up almost hugging each other, declaring that everyone has their own way of doing whatever in the field of photography and that everything is equal. This attitude is fairly new in the history of art as well as in the history of photography. It actually was imposed by the post-modern movements of the 60's and 70's. I think it would be reasonable to declare that such values are not objective and ever-valid. They evolve. The question therefor is, at least for me, to which degree there are out there, or among us, value systems related to for example "aesthetics" that do not accept the call that "everything is equal". For me the principles of Leach is an example of such other approaches to artistic expression, which by the way still is very much used in art schools when it comes to pottery, as far as I'm inform. If such a discussion could be done without any rants I would take my hat off (I never wear such things!).
    Back to business as normal. Break finished.
     
  67. Anders,
    To me, it's the proces of testing -- discussion, or more realistically, attack and defense -- that are valuable in forum discussions. The posting of a provocative initial post, as you have given us here, is the keystone to such processes. The outcome -- the "final score" is, to me, of trivial significance. It's the push and pull that are, to me, valuable (to the extent that they are civil, which, admittedly is often small).
    How much of science, philosophy and art has been fruitfully prompted by discussion -- testing, questioning, and developing -- of "false" (from the perspective of history) models? But that only happens if they're put in play by someone who advocates, believes, and presents his/her perspective. In this case, you. [Which is a long winded "thank you" in case you couldn't tell.]
     
  68. Julie, my small suggestion of a "break" was not that much a critic of what is happening in this particular thread, but a reflection on more general characteristics of the forum. I agree with you that it is surely the process of discussion which is the main "outcome" but one day I think we need to take the bull by it's horns and confront the question of all-including acceptance of everything, just because an individual presents whatever - me included and I would suggest to do that with reference to the general evolution of art, and photography. Moments of history are never absolute but always relative. So is our firm conviction of relativity of everything and all inclusiveness in the field of photography. Be ensured that I'm not trying to impose my understanding and approach to art and photography, but ...
    Thanks for the thanks.
     
  69. Julie - "I think it (unintentionally on his part?) comes off sounding as if he's stopped, waiting, detached, disconnected. I think that (unintentional) impression is exactly wrong. It's my understanding that, on the contrary, when shooting, Luis is exactly not detached. He is (or hopes to be; tries to be) in perfect sympathy -- to the extent that "Luis" is forgotten/disappears and he is overtaken by that within which he is immersed."
    What I said (and any attempt to describe these kinds of things, as Phylo knows, is going to fall short) was:
    "...I am fully disengaged from Langer's "discursive thinking" (internal dialogue) and not in a non-stop "strenuous" mode as Julie is. I am relaxed, loose, chilled, but intensely alive and aware..."
    Stopped? No. Waiting? No. Detached? Only from discursive thinking. Disconnected? No. I am as I am, where I am, doing what I am doing, in the world as it is (to me, of course). Immersed? Yes, and I walk or dive in. Overtaken? There are rapturous moments of illumination, but most of the time it is simply being at one with. In harmony or concert. Is it some kind of untrammeled bliss? Hardly. There is inner stillness. It is not strenuous, nor anxious. I do not break into sweat, but if I see something about to happen, I'll spring into action instantly.
    __________________________
    One example: I photograph a very large Halloween party that takes place in a nearby town. I have been doing it for 25 years. It is not the kind of thing I normally photograph, but I enjoy it, and have used it as a test bed for ideas over the years. Ideas that often have had little or nothing to do with Halloween, or people partying. Well before that evening, I contemplate where I am, what I want to do (and not do) with it, but by no means does that mean a reduction into a theme or themes but more of a (statistical?) cloud of possibility. I may even do some sketches, or writing in a notebook, bur nothing is carved in granite. All options are open.
    I am not in an OM-humming trance, burning incense, or throwing yarrow stalks to assemble my gear when putting together my gear together. I took one DSLR, and a lightweight (the DSLR is heavy enough, and this is usually 6-8 hrs of walking) short zoom. Loads of extra batteries and cards. I turned off the AF and taped over the switch so as to not turn it on subconsciously. I taped the zoom at the 35mm equivalent of 28mm. I manually set focus at 4 feet, and taped that over, too. I did not use any of my Nikon SB flashes. Instead, a unit made for Olympus cameras, set in non-ttl auto mode. Why? Because the light quality of that unit was what I wanted. I put the camera on manual. I varied the flash (and aperture) from f/8-11, depending on the amount of DOF I wanted, and the shutter speed between 1/8th - 1/2 s. to bring in ambient light as wanted. Also took one of my Fuji P&S's as back-up. The object of these strictures was to free myself as much as possible from fiddling with controls so I could focus on seeing.
    Once there, I was wordless, relaxed, loose, chilled, but intensely alive and aware. Waves of reverence, mystery, awe, silliness, insight, everything, washed over me as I go about photographing. The Marvels and the Terrors were still there, but everything was integrated.
    [This does not guarantee my pictures are better than anyone's or that I have a great hit ratio by any means. It is only a way of working.]
     
  70. Anders...this forum is known (if not legendary) for being what Julie euphemistically described as "attack-and-defense". Mostly attacks. Symposium? More like a combination of Rabies, MMA fighting, and Night of The Living Dead. In short, brutal. There are many other places that are infinitely more civil, more meat and less gristle.
    This forum also has a strong emphasis on the mechanistic, the straight-line "how-to" and egoes that dwarf most gaseous planets. There is very little collegiality, fraternity, respect, tolerance or humor. Oh, yeah, and we have John.
    So why am I here? Because hidden somewhere in the mountains of coal, as Anders remarked, there are rumored to be diamonds. It works on the random schedule of reinforcement that made Las Vegas famous, which is probably why I'm still here, digging. :)
     
  71. To be clear, I meant John Kelly, not John A. in the above post.
     
  72. "The thrust of my argument on this thread is that intuition is not something that leaves everything else behind. I think there is a tendency for some to talk about intuition as if it is somehow separate from other faculties, which is why I don't like and can't relate to statements that talk of leaving thinking at the door in favor of intuition."
    Actually, I agree with this as well. I think we tend to use crappy words to try to describe intuition. My words, "leaving it at the door" have a specific meaning but don't suggest creative vacancy if one is preoccupied or the head spinning or even because one is fully occupied in discursive thinking, there is always a moment of space where intuition gives us an answer or path--but the question is will we recognize it. Even in the middle of being frustrated and perplexed, being fully engaged on a conscious level trying to solve something, one split second can give all that is needed for the answer to appear.
    We screw ourselves, IMO, by trying to box things up in some tidy "this is how it is" sort of description. We quote people who are no more perfect at the synopsis but do talk about how it works when we are in the midst of it at its best, when it is firing on all cylinders. There are probably times we can feel like we are working in a "trance" and things are springing out of us but most of the time, it comes when it comes. I do think that if we immerse ourselves in what we are doing and learn to slow our heads down, it flows more easily and is easier to recognize(listen to), but that isn't a prerequisite to its appearance. It is just if we are forcing things or too engaged in "solving" something--being too occupied, we are less likely to recognize something that doesn't seem to fit but which may hold the answer--from our intuition.
    So, we get long threads like this, using words and quotes, trying to ferret it all out when it was there all along, just hidden in our own ways of distilling the experience--or objecting to it.
     
  73. What Luis has poetically and personally described is integration, not intuition. Intuition is one of the faculties he integrated (HAD to use, since everyone does, not just artists) that night.
    _______________________________________________
    Luis, it's good to know that you think this forum warrants your stringing together belittling epithets and then singling out one particular member.
    ____________________________________________
    For those who think this forum is too much and so much more uncivil than the real world, please remember Socrates, who was given poison both because of his thinking and because of his style of argumentation. We'rek not so unique. There's a whole lot of precedence. Remember Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein had that famous poker incident. Consider Philosophy symposia from Berkeley to Stanford to Cornell that would make these threads pale by comparison in terms of sarcasm, animosity, and downright hostility.
    _____________________________
    Suddenly, I feel the need to defend intuition. Intuition is not spontaneity and is not a reflex, is not the blink of an eye and doesn't occur in the blink of an eye.
    Typically, an intuition is distinguished from a concept. It is a presentation (representation, if you will) to the mind in fullness but prior to concepts. The intellect presupposes intuitions, which are the original presentations before the intellect gets its hands on them.
    The problem with aesthetic theories that are too reliant on intuition is that the artwork can never get made. Intuition is a receiving. Something else must occur beyond intuition for anything to get made. No shutter was ever pushed by anyone's intuition. The act of pushing the shutter is absolutely not intuitive, because it is an act, which has already required much more than an intuition. By the time you DO something, you are way beyond intuition. When we approach a scene, it is not just about how we attend to it or contemplate it. It is about how we draw it or photograph it or create a photograph having already intuited it. Those acts are not intuitive. They are acts.
    Intuitions are private. It's what enables people to falsely claim that art is completely subjective. It does away with audiences that could possibly relate to your art or a community that could possibly discuss it intelligently. I do think intuition has a role but I think the more important role is the making, not the attending. I am happy that others disagree and grateful that we are not all saying the same thing now that it's been ferreted out.
     
  74. I find myself in total agreement with Fred's last segment above (starting with "Suddenly ..."). Which is depressing. Now what will I think about all morning as I'm working?
    One bit I disagree with in John A's post (not the only bit, but the only one I'll comment on). Where he says, "slow our heads down ..." I especially was trying to exorcise that feeling of (necessary) "slowness" from what I think Luis does. I think one can be in the vortex of a tornado and "do it." Whatever it takes (a smack on the head sometimes works for me ...) to knock oneself into ... free ... fall? flight? Wake you up? Whatever.
     
  75. [Anders, the honeymoon is over]
    Fred - "Luis, it's good to know that you think this forum warrants your stringing together belittling epithets and then singling out one particular member."
    There was a little tongue-in-cheek humor in there, oh, August one. As to Miss Congeniality, he publicly admitted and owned up to doing what I described. I should have quoted his own words.
    Fred - "For those who think this forum is too much and so much more uncivil than the real world, please remember Socrates, who was given poison both because of his thinking and because of his style of argumentation."
    [ ROTFLMAO]
    Fred - "that famous poker incident. Consider Philosophy symposia from Berkeley to Stanford to Cornell that would make these threads pale by comparison in terms of sarcasm, animosity, and downright hostility."
    Thanks for that teachable moment. Very inspirational. It leaves us room to grow, and justifies (and glorifies) the carnage up to now.
    _______________________________
    I nearly- totally disagree with Fred from "Suddenly"...
    Fred, as I have remarked several times, I think intuition is simply an integrated form of our own faculties, minus the internal dialogue. That latter part is what dis-integrates us.
    Fred - "The problem with aesthetic theories that are too reliant on intuition is that the artwork can never get made. Intuition is a receiving."
    Nonsense. That's like Zeno's arrow. It "can't" arrive at the target according to a philosopher, but no philosopher will ever stand in front of a drawn bow to prove it.
    Fred is saying the mirror of what Ms. Langer said. He is saying that art is impossible via intuition. That to make art, it must be made one way, and...surprise! That's the way Fred does it. Yawn.
    One can act intuitively. Fred, they have these religious rituals called sports that you can see on TV. Do you think the players are engaged in your kind of discursive thinking while playing?
    Fred - "It's (intuition) what enables people to falsely claim that art is completely subjective. It does away with audiences that could possibly relate to your art or a community that could possibly discuss it intelligently. I do think intuition has a role but I think the more important role is the making, not the attending. I am happy that others disagree and grateful that we are not all saying the same thing now that it's been ferreted out."
    Curb-stomping something is not "ferreting it out". Declaring it something that cannot be discussed intelligently is a cheap shot. This is exactly why the "attack/defend" paradigm is inefficient. It is, from every indication I can see, old-school intellectual machismo.
     
  76. Luis, I had been ignoring you for several days which was actually quite pleasant. I will go back to that.
     
  77. "No shutter was ever pushed by anyone's intuition." Certainly this is true, however does this mean that an intuitive thought doesn't stimulate the act, even instantaneously? Of course, it can also be anticipation, however, I think both sorts of things can act at different times or in concert, there are no lines or boxes that isolate these things.
    I think I agree with what you are saying here Fred and as I reread my own comment, I wasn't meaning to imply that creativity can't come even when intuition is void or ignored. I think that intuition can just take us some places faster than we might on our own, but not in every case and in others it will take us places we would not have otherwise come to in that particular space and time. I think it just provides us with a certain clarity we might otherwise struggle to attain if we don't acknowledge it. I certainly can't ignore, nor would I choose to, that we can be creative and innovative from within a more connected state. In the final analysis, it all comes from within us--even if we don't yet see it.
    And again, words are imprecise, so when I suggest "slow our heads down ...", I am only referring to a state where I believe we will generally be more receptive to the intuitive impulses (when we are more free to recognize them), not as a preclusion to them otherwise. I don't think there are any limits on when or where or how we acknowledge an intuitive impulse. It is just sometimes we do and sometimes we don't.
    (As I wrote this, I was thinking just how many times while working in the studio or on location and coming to an impasse-things not working, that I just make everyone take an early lunch break and generally solve the problem while walking and talking, disconnecting from the problem, on the way to lunch--it just comes into my head. When I return to the set, I walk right to what is causing the problem or otherwise effortlessly solve the problem--although many times things just flow through without any issue, it is the sort of thing I have experienced more than a few times and the reason I insist on the break.)
    Finally, I also think the intuition we receive when creating isn't always limited to the creative things, but in support of them. Like snapping out of being lost in our heads to stop the car or turn down a non-descript road or street for no apparent reason other than it seems right and then finding something of interest. I am sure there are some sort of visual clues or even something more elemental, but like looking at a complex math problem and just seeing the answer, there is something that sees and connects all those things inside us that can push us instantly to a place we might not otherwise get to in that moment. Then, yes, we can act on it.
     
  78. I like very much the writings of Leach. It is not, therefore, without reason I used him for launching this thread. But he is not the only one we could be a reference pint for this discussion on the role of intuition in photography. There are others. Henri Bergson or Croce for example that both wrote extensively in intuition in relationship also to art.
    When Leach talks about intuition he argues first of all what it does go our "seeking" to used Julie's term. He writes that with : intuition.. takes in the whole, whereas the intellect only takes in a part". I think this is right and is in accordance with my own experience . I have a tendency to "see" using intentionally/ unintentionally a analytical framework based on my education and accumulated knowledge and experiences as others would do it too. I interpret what I see almost without will. I read the "world" almost before I feel it. It is a sign of alienation and a professional hangup. I think for example psychiatrists, according to my experience, have the same type of professional bias when they look and interact with people. They analyze before they get engaged or not personally, on a more human basis. Intuition makes me get out of such restricted and analytical "seeing" and permit to "see the whole". The intellect is extremely important and enrichments because it permits us to understand and interpret what we are seeing.
    This is very much in the line of the thinking of Henri Bergson ("The Creative Mind") who distinguishes between, intuitive and conceptual thinking, the intellect, intellectual method (Plato, Aristotle, Kant..) , explaining how intuition and intellect supplement each other. Bergson writes that intuition is not the same as instinct or feeling. Intuition is a mode of reflection. (see further here and here). Bergson actually understand "reality" not as things or phenomena made but things and phenomena in their making. All "reality" is tendency, according to Bergson. The problem of the intellectual method of seeing/understanding is that it tends to put everything into an intellectual mold and intellectual construct.
    Intellect is a photographic method and simply gives us snapshots, so it is unable to
    provide us with "reality in all its sinuosities. Intellect can only represent an inner life
    "by concept, that is by abstract, general, or simple ideas." ("Introduction to metaphysics" p.69)
    IThe Italian literate Croce saw intuition as the main source of artistic creation:
    The physical is solely a construction of mind. Croce distinguished two basic aspects of experience – the theoretical, which included among others intuition, and the practical. In this category he placed all economic, political and utilitarian activities. The categories are dialectical, there is no action without thought. In normal experience intuition and concept combine, but in aesthetic experience we hold the two apart. In a work of art, form and content are inseparable. Intuition is free from concepts, it "is blind: the intellect lends its eyes to it." (from The Aesthetic as the Science of Expression and of the Linguistic in General, trans. by Colin Lyas).
    The interesting part of that is surely the very last sentence "the intellect lends its eyes to it". It is the complementary relation between the intellect and intuition that provides the "seeing" that sees the whole and that gives it meaning and makes us understand the reality in Bergson's understand of what is "real".
     
  79. If the honeymoon is over as Luis says let's just change partners ! Life goes on..... or rather the thread .
     
  80. Anders, those are interesting quotes and I appreciate them. But ... (always there is the "but ...").
    I think it is a fundamental mistake to treat "intellect" and "intuition" as if they are a toggle switch. Or a knob that goes from one to the other and we turn it to set our "intuition/intellect" mix for the moment. When, at least in my experience, the two are completely intermixed in every single waking moment of one's life. If you are seeing only one or the other, I would suggest that you are looking for only one or the other. You see whichever one you choose. Yes, one or the other will dominate; they are a quicksilver mix by design. But, to my mind, in my experience, they are not in any useful sense, separate or separable. The simplest, most familiar task (raising my coffee cup; brushing my teeth; putting on my socks and shoes) is never quite the same as it ever was before. Intuition allows me to proceed, nevertheless. Intuition in its simplest form takes the first step all the while being corrected (hand-held) by intellect. (I think intuition takes or tentatively finds that first step even when we are doing something very deliberate/intentional.)
    And there I go separating the two for the purposes of discussion even as I try to describe how they support one another. That's what I meant way back at the beginning of this thread when I used triceps/biceps and quad/hamstring as my analogs (the muscles on the front and back of the arms and legs respectively). They work because of their opposition. They don't work in the absence of one or the other (to be hamstrung is to be crippled).
     
  81. Julie I totally agree with you the two are totally intermixed - if the two are in play.
    The whole reason it seems worthwhile discussing "intuition" in photography, or in art in general, is not to make it replace the intellect but to discuss why intuition to a large degree, it seems, is neglected. I believe there are forms of art where intuition almost totally takes over - pottery for example - for some, but in fields like photography where the relationship to the subject, the scene, the pointed at, is not direct in physical contact with the artist but only through a media (the camera) intuition and intellect play together in a symbiosis - when it works.
     
  82. I'm in a deep valley !
    Echoes of the high mountains, is making me repeat myself. Sorry !
     
  83. Anders - "why intuition to a large degree, it seems, is neglected"
    Only here. In the world, it is not. Artists speak of it routinely, scientists do too. Einstein said it was the most valuable human quality. Its qualities are now measured in studies (I cited one) all over the world. The monotonic discursive thinkers here keep acting as if intuition or any other mental state -- but theirs -- is achievable, capable of producing art.and reaching an audience. Pfft.
    And you have to love those who while admittedly not working in that manner, tell us how and what it is. Significance & fiction, as the local sage called it.
    Julie - "nevertheless. Intuition in its simplest form takes the first step all the while being corrected (hand-held) by intellect."
    That is decidely not my experience. Putting on socks, brushing teeth, and other duh-repetitive tasks are habits. Intuition, I would suggest, is far more. Again, you, like Fred, are creating a hierarchy where what you do is literally at the top/dominant/etc. Doesn't that make you feel even a teeny bit uneasy? I have no such hierarchy. I do not see either as superior (and think there's more than two ways to be), only the way I do things.
     
  84. Luis I don't think I made any hierarchy or at least did not intend to do so.
    There might be hierarchies in what urgently needs to be discussed and considered in my head, but not in absolute terms.
    Intuition and intellect are both at work. What I might have said is that in an artform like photography the intellect is maybe more likely to take over because of the media in use whereas in other artform intuition stand a a chance, or risk, to take over sometimes fully - Pottery. that's why it's sensation (read "Song Bowls").
    What I also might have hinted at, but not yet formulated in any coherent way is that there is a great difference between Asian philosophical tradition and occidental tradition in treating the two, intuition and intellect.
    The Asians has a thousand years long tradition of being anti-intellect and pro- intuition whereas it might be the other way round in the occidental world. That's why it is fruitful, in my mind to confront or rather cross-fertilize the two and maybe also why there is so much to learn from looking deep into what Asian contemporary photographers are doing. That is, some of them. For those that follow even superficially Chinese contemporary art it seems quit obvious, in my eyes, that it is to at least some degree popular in the US because of it's apparent intellectual contructs. But, if you look into Japanese or Korean photography I think you will see much that seems to be more based on the ancient philosophical tradition and more marked by intuition. The handling of "beauty" is one of the parameters in play for looking at these distinctions, in my eyes.
    In short, both intuition an intellect are i play and are supplements to one another, but sometimes one takes over and it shows in the works that are the result. Whether it is better or worse I couldn't say, even for me, but it alerts me in intellectual terms as in terms of intuitive contemplation of the works.
    Hope this is somewhat clearer and that I only contradicted myself a few times!
     
  85. Luis, I am a Goddess. Obviously that puts me at the top. I don't see that written or even implied in anything posted by myself (or my fellow god, Fred) but thank you for noticiing. Please don't forget it in the future.
    Anders,
    The more I think about this, the more I think that the issue in question for photography is the opposite of that proposed by Leach. I think that we are 99% intuition with a poor desperate 1% of intellect running along behind trying, weakly, to steer or at least head off disaster. It is because we are so completely intuitive, by design, that we are blissfully unaware of its omnipresence. When we go to do something "intentionally" with our camera, its as if we are having to learn to walk all over again. We are learning to do everything in full awareness that we've done effortlessly all our lives. Efforts at being "deliberately intuitive (!!)" get swamped by our "normal" inbred, ongoing, 24-hours a day intuitive processes. The machinery designed to get us through our life doesn't "like" being hi-jacked. With "machinery" being the whole person package, that means we have to have a "manual drive" upper level to permit it to happen.
    Think about what vision evolved to help us do -- its for spotting food, danger, mates, and so forth, but on a mundane, every minute of every day level what its helping us do, as a highly social beastie, is locate and evaluate and "read" interactions (what's he thinking? are they cooperating? is he/she my friend/enemy? etc.) All of this is taken from a nearly instantaneous intuition of the combination of who/what/where I am and who/what/where I'm looking at (their bodies, their face, their motions and so on).
    Pottery is something "made." A photograph, on the contrary, appears to most people who aren't participants in the PoP forum, to be "taken," to be indexical, to be "real" and so its intuited as such. A made thing, in my opinion, gets responded to through a filter of "made-ness" -- one immediately frees it into a space of "made for an expressive/useful reason" and that "made-for" qualifier colors or allows entirely different avenues of intuition/interpretation/response. Photographs don't get that "made-ness" free space unless you're enlightened about art-photography (that photographs ARE made).
     
  86. Julie, in my eyes you are introducing another conceptual dimension by arguing that intuition is what I would call "socialized instinct" or what has been called "natural impulse" of social beings. You are right that we do many things without reflection and luckily so because they make us function throughout a day. It would be exhausting without.
    As far as I can see, "intuition" if used in relationship to the creative act of artist is something else. One could of course say that intuition is for the artist what instinct is for the socialize individual, but still we are left with the basic question of whether one or the other prevails or both are present and work in perfect synergy.
    I still have the impression that some would argue that intuition is irrelevant and that what counts is to master the intellectual construct necessary for perceiving and executing an artistic project like shooting a photography or making a ceramic bowl.
     
  87. Anders - My hierarchy comment was about Julie saying "Intuition in its simplest form takes the first step all the while being corrected (hand-held) by intellect." That is a hierarchy in that it makes intuition the lesser and intellect the greater, correcting aspect.It was not in any way aimed at you.
    Julie - "Luis, I am a Goddess."
    Some truths are self-evident.
    Julie - "Obviously that puts me at the top."
    Over it, at times.
    Julie - "I don't see that written or even implied in anything posted by myself (or my fellow god, Fred)"
    Who?
    Julie - "Please don't forget it in the future."
    Forget what? :)
    ___________________________
    Anders - "Intuition and intellect are both at work."
    I agree with Langer that the primary difference is between engaging in discursive thinking (talking to yourself) and not doing so. It is a question of literal, dis-integrated intellect, or acting as a whole, unified being. As we can see here, in the Occident, the norm is to endlessly engage in meetings with yourself in your head. Particularly in Philosophy.
    Should the intellect be more likely to be dominant in photography than pottery? This is more about the individual and their approach than what they are approaching. I know artists that work with CGI who are intuitives.
    Chinese art is popular in the US because of the cross-pollination, which is making it more palatable. The emergence of its artists is a parallel to its other exports.
    Some Chinese Photographers I find interesting:
    http://www.magnumphotos.com/Archive/C.aspx?VP3=ViewBox_VPage&ALID=2K7O3RCSGNF&CT=Album
    http://www.gibsonejessop.com/gallery/artists/tian_taiquan/
    http://www.zhangxiaophoto.com/class.asp?aid=20&nid=277
    Some Japanese artists...
    http://www.yanceyrichardson.com/artists/hiroh-kikai/index.html
    http://www.zabriskiegallery.com/artist.php?artist=8
    http://www.lagalerie.de/hatakeyama2.html
    [Anders, this seems way too vast to deal with here]
    Anders - "I still have the impression that some would argue that intuition is irrelevant and that what counts is to master the intellectual construct necessary for perceiving and executing an artistic project like shooting a photography or making a ceramic bowl."
    I have the same impression. If not irrelevant, subjugated to the way they work.
     
  88. Is intuition the God of the arts?
    A case could be made, especially judging by many of the descriptions in this thread. I say this tongue-in-cheek but I'm also a little serious. I think there is a search for that secret, that magical ingredient that is the purview of the artist, the Creator. There are some very spiritual homages to intuition here, and some that pretty much boil down to saying intuition is everything, the One. It is associated by Leach and others with perfection and wholeness.
    God is a creation of man that seeks to explain the unexplainable. Intuition? Beyond intellect and thought, right?
    There are actually definitions and usages of the word "intuition" that are fairly clear-cut and straightforward, but they are for the most part not being used in this thread. Instead, intuition has become an outside faculty that "can take us places faster than we might on our own." Its effects or working has been described as "waves of reverence, mystery, awe, silliness, insight, everything . . ." Everything, indeed. Hard to argue with that!
    Here's my experience, as Zeus to Julie's Hera. (Thanks to Julie for being the goddess in this one and taking that burden off me!) There was a time when I thought I had to be at one, in the moment, feeling the most intense feelings I ever felt when I was taking a photograph. The orgasm reference I made was about my own take on where I thought I had to go. That all became a burden. I saw that burden, and still see it sometimes, in many of my own photographs, a lack of freedom and personal commitment. I see it in others'. That obvious desire to get to the secret, to let go of whatever I thought I was supposed to let go of, that wanting to touch the hand of God. A big change came when I got in touch with something that actually matters to me rather than letting go of something else. I suspect that for Cezanne and others, the letting go did not in and of itself become the goal but rather the process. The reason I suspect that is because I have amazing paintings to look at. Intuition and a nickel (OK, $2.50) will get you on the subway. But what did you show me?
     
  89. Fred - "Is intuition the God of the arts?"
    I do not see it that way. I have said several times that it is only one way, and that it is neither superior nor inferior to anything else. I disagree with Langer, and to a point, with Leach. Intuition is hardly a secret, but I do agree that many are looking for the magic bullet, or the royal short-cut in everything, not just the arts or photography.
    IMO, intuition is not beyond intellect or discursive thought, but Fred keeps saying it often enough that I'm beginning to wonder...
    Fred - "Its effects or working has been described as "waves of reverence, mystery, awe, silliness, insight, everything . . ." Everything, indeed. Hard to argue with that!"
    No, Fred, get it right: It's impossible to argue against that. It's what I felt. Can you argue against my feeling cold yesterday? I doubt it.
    What Fred quotes was part of what I experienced while working intuitively. It was my description of my own private experience, which I made the grave mistake of sharing here. It is not an argument, or a position. Nor am I an isolated case.
    Fred- " But what did you show me?"
    Apparently nothing you can see.
    It's all smoke and mirrors, Fred. You caught us, the millions of us who've been cheating our way through what we delusionarily profess as our work and our own way, and revealed us for the Sham-Wow, Silver Bullet-seeking frauds we are, even unto ourselves. Damn...well, it was good while it lasted. Now all of us have to adopt Fred's Way and try to redeem ourselves while we still can. Kinda liberating.
    We can only aspire to the condition of Julie!
    It's all so clear now.
     
  90. In a recent blog post of mine (mercifully, I won't link to it), there was this bit from David MacDougall's book, The Corporeal Image:
    "... Exactly why one should wish to show others what one has seen is another matter. Is it an affirmation of the thing itself, or of one's own vision, or a desire to command the consciousness of others? Or is it perhaps to transcend oneself, to overflow one's self-containment? [ ... ] While filming, Rouch experiences ciné-transe. "Filmmaking for me is to write with one's eyes, one's ears, with one's body; it's to enter into something ... I am a ciné-Rouch in ciné-trance in the act of ciné-filming ... It's the joy of filming, the 'ciné-plaisir.'" Rouch notes the synchrony of himself with his subjects, the "harmony ... which is in perfect balance with the movements of the subjects." The ecstasy of the filming-body is captured in John Marshall's description: "You have this feeling, 'I'm on; I'm on.' You know, 'I'm getting it. It's happening; it's happening.'""​
    Not quoted on my blog is the next two sentences from the book:
    "Here it is definitely Marshall who is "on," not the camera. The sensation, for Robert Gardner is "as close to cinematic orgasm as I'll get.""​
    I feel that I understand what they are experiencing. I have photographed in that way (though I can't say that it was terribly orgasmic). MacDougall is a documentary filmmaker as are all the names he calls in that quote. A documentary filmmaker is (obviously) trying to minimize his own presence in his documentation. That is actually what I didn't like about the way it felt to do that kind of shooting. I don't like leaving myself out; I don't like being a means for somebody else's message. I've had enough of that in my life ... (no, I won't elaborate). On the other hand, and I believe Luis has, many times said the opposite about himself. I don't devalue the choice of others to do just that -- be the means for somebody else's message; it's just not for me.
    However, and, but, or, I don't think that either method, style or whatever you want to call it is necessarily more or less intuitive. I am as mysterious to myself as the world is mysterious to myself.
     
  91. Julie... I do not think it possible to leave one self out. Nor is that the aim or a requirement of the intuitive. Intuition integrates the self. Discursive thinking and the modular existence is a fine way to be.
    As to my stated personal belief that we (not just me) are conduits for ideas that come through us, instead of from us, I have no proof. However, please do not commingle this with the intuitive. I never have, nor claimed it to be a part of thereof.
     
  92. Not in order to clarify anything, just for the pleasure of it, the following sentence tells how the Chinese concluded their discussion on Intuition/intellect - based on their interpretations of the writings of Bergson :
    Chinese learning for fundamental principles (intuition) and Western learning for practical application (intellect and knowledge) (中学为体,西学为用) - my brackets!
    (Zang Zhidong)​
    I think that it is not possible to appreciate Asian art and photography without taking into account these fundamental difference between the two although many Chinese and Japanese are heavily influenced by the occidental culture and art market. Maybe it is even a plus to know these differences in order to appreciate western art and photography.
    But as Luis wisely argues: this seems way too vast to deal with here. I agree but maybe later on.
     
  93. I assume Zang Zhidong said more than this and didn't intend to be quoted so starkly and be made to sound like a blathering purveyor of lame stereotypes. As it stands, the statement sounds to me like it comes from a simpleton (and not the good kind of simple). To buy into such dichotomies is to miss the wealth of humanity, a wealth that might resist dividing everything up into the most extreme ideological opposites that could be stated. As a quote, it's too convenient . . . and, to me, worthless.
     
  94. Fred, just consider it as not for you.
    I did not want to border you with such thoughts.
    It is in fact one of the most quoted sentences not only of Zang Zhidong but of the whole discussion of the fundamental differences between the two cultures that have immense influence on our different understanding of not only the world but also our of our selves.
    Like it or not and respect it or disrespect it according to will. For you it is "worthless" that is clear to us all.
     
  95. I am out of here for a while. A little rest from reading oftimes useless challenges and vacuous replies. I do respect most of the posters for sensitive and intelligent comments, and for the person and the character that emanates from some of the more sincere posts, but I can do without the insatiable appetite of these same persons to flaunt ego, defend one's "territory" or score little points, rather than look at the bigger picture and how one might paint a few details in it.
    Yes, it's the nature of the "game", so just have fun. Off topics and casual conversations are more inviting at present. And especially so, photography.
     
  96. And... the question is, why is it that when someone considers the thread/OT "worthless", don't they just tell the rest of us so one time, then recuse themselves instead of assiduously ruining the thread for those PN members who find it worthwhile? Somethings, incredible as it might seem, are not about you.
    Nobody's lost and asked for you to lead us to your version of a safe place. Just because we disagree with you, doesn't mean we think you are wrong, or that we should butt heads about it. Nor does it automatically make either of us mysterians. We appreciate your contribution, we know where you stand, and no, you have not illuminated or convinced us, and we still love you and think you're smart. Thank you.
    Here, it's Fred. In the Identity thread, it's Simon and John. I don't get it.
    Newsflash: We all assume Zang Zhidong said more than this. Believe it or not, some of us grasp what a one-liner quote is, and its limitations. It's not the entire philosophy or output of its source, nor a biography.
     
  97. Luis - "In the Identity thread, it's Simon and John. I don't get it."
    I take that back re: Simon. He's only partially invalidating Antonio's question.
     
  98. Just one word on the Zang Zhidong quote.
    Apart from the esthetic pleasure of seeing calligraphy on Photonet, I dared introducing it this late in the thread because I believed that someone might appreciate it. Had I started the thread with it and asked the question: what do you think? I would have understood a strong reluctancy of taking it seriously. The context is above - at least what is needed to understand some of it's content.
     
  99. Yes Julie, you can indeed translated it in various ways like all chinese texts. But in Chinese philosophy "substance" is indeed the "fundamental principles" of life (or the "fundamental principles" of Bouddhism or Taoism permits to have access to it), what earlier was mentions the "whole". The "function or "practical application" is more easily accessible as equivalent.
    We are getting into complicated concepts that I don't think are needed for what this thread was about: the role of intuition in photography.
     
  100. By the way Julie, the second link you made is one of the best text on the use of the concepts we are discussing if one wants to understand the difference between intuition and intellect and especially the evolution of the Chinese of the terms. The whole objective of that article is to define the differences between the Chinese and the Western approach. Complicated reading and I'm sure of at least one thing: I have not understood it all.
     
  101. I'd delighted you read it. I thought you might like it but I didn't want to ask you to read it because it's so long. I too found it interesting.
    I also have enjoyed thinking about "substance" versus "function" even though it's not quite what we're discussing here. Gave me something to consider on a long, lovely hike through the mountains this afternoon (we're in the midst of fantastic fall leaf colors and wonderful cool weather).
     
  102. Julie, it is surely the time for long hikes in nature.
    Despite the fact that what we have discussed here was not fully in accordance with the concepts of substance and function as presented in that paper I feel that it has been relevant for photography as practices by each one of us. I have enjoyed it.
     
  103. By the way I hope to launch another thread one of these days on another concept conspicuously absent from discussion in this forum, as far as I can detect: the role of BEAUTY in photography if others do not take it up meanwhile (in a few days time I'm off for a longer visit to China). The attraction of beauty is surely also based on what happens when someone dicks down in Asian art traditions and philosophy. It disappeared in Europe as something of interest, around 1960 with the arrival of post-modernism. Again a chance of exclamations like : irrelevant, worthless, nonsense and the like.
     
  104. "what happens when someone dicks down" -- Anders
    LOL. Yes. We do that in this forum (I think you meant "dig"; "dicking around" being an Enlish slang phrase ...)
    I will look forward to your thread on Beauty. I admire your courage and tenacity -- and good humor.
    Just because I've been thinking about it and have them here before me, I'll leave with a few quotes from Tim Ingold on calligraphy. These are bits and pieces that may or may not make sense:
    "... the hand that writes does not cease to draw."
    " ... it is not the shapes or outlines of things that they sought to render; the aim was rather to reproduce in their gestures the rhythms and movments of the world."
    "... In calligraphy as in dance, the performer concentrates all his energies and sensibilities into a sequence of highly controlled gestures. Both call for the same preparation and attack, but, once begun, are executed swiftly and without any break. In both, too, the entire body is caught up in the action. Though we might think that the calligrapher works with the hand alone, in fact, his manual movements have their source in the muscles of the back and torso, braced by his seating position on the ground, whence they extend through the shoulder and the elbow to the wrist." [In that quote, I am interested in the engagement of the full body as related to intuition (as opposed to "just the mind".]​
    On the other hand, and this is where I think photography fails to correlate to dance or calligraphy or "arts of the hand/body":
    "Writing [Ingold quotes Ong as suggesting] is like playing the violiin or the organ. ... He or she, as Ong puts it, has to have 'interiorized the technology.' [ ... ] The violin, however, is not a machine. Like singing, which involves no extra-somatic instruments at all, violin playing is an art. The player is no more an operator of her instrument than is the singer an operator of her voice. And just as violin playing differs in this regard from playing the organ, so handwriting differs from typing. The difference lies not in the degree to which a technology has been interiorized, but in the extent to which musical or graphic forms issue directly from the energetic and experienced human subject -- that is, from the player or writer -- rather than being related, by operational principles embedded in the instrument, as output to input."​
    Those last two sentences are key, "The difference lies not in the degree to which a technology has been interiorized, but in the extent to which musical or graphic forms issue directly from the energetic and experienced human subject -- that is, from the player or writer -- rather than being related, by operational principles embedded in the instrument, as output to input."
     
  105. Yes, I dig it Julie, you are right. thanks
     
  106. Oh, I thought 'dick down' was quite insightful, but dig down is more like Anders.
    ____________________________
    Singing is unmediated... it all goes through tissue (OK, & sound waves). Playing an instrument is not. Having to work within the strictures of camera/lens (pinholes, scans, photograms, etc) is precisely what makes photography difficult. With the cameras we now have, subverting programs is almost a required skill. The complaints about how easy it is from commercial photographers -- and many artists -- are nothing but whining. More than ever, photography belongs to those that have hearts, eyes and brains.
    __________________________
    Anders, have a wonderful trip!
    ____________________________
     
  107. Thanks Luis, but I will be along some days and then all depends on the web access where I check in. Difficult to predict ! Anyway, I will be sure to catch as much a possible of what I see and experience, I hope - apart from making planned speeches. I might come back all intuitive and in great need of some intellectual socialization.
     
  108. A pre somnolence thought (....the cat couldn't stay away):
    Intuition in my photographic approach to subject matter may not occur regularly, but when it does occur it is simply knowing without discursive thought. or the related process of ratiocination. The philosophical hunch is subjective and I cannot explain why but "I just feel it in my bones", as we used to say. Perhaps it is simply a very rapid reasoning that is not captured by my consciousness. I really don’t care to analyse it further than that. It just happens and is sometimes a windfall (but not often enough, unfortunately).
     
  109. I was talking to a friend last night and he had an interesting take on intuition. Without giving him context, I asked him what he thought it was. He associated intuition with what's personal, with one's identity. The example he gave was to say that often when a political conversation arises, one of our friends intuitively seems to find a power play in the situation being discussed and he always sides with the underdog he perceives, not just side with the underdog but frame the issue with the assumption that there is an underdog. Often, the rest of us don't view the situation in those terms. He is known for thinking of himself as an underdog, so there is an immediate identification of that for him.
    "Intuitive" gets defined somewhat differently from "intution." Dictionary.com's first definition: Based on what one feels to be true without conscious reasoning.
    So there is a sense of self evidence.
    I like this aspect of it, especially in light of my own considerations both for and against the "subjective" nature of art, stuff we've talked about regarding our taste and values, and self consciousness / self awareness.
     
  110. Fred, glad to see you coming back to this.
    I don't think there is a contradiction between what we up till now have attributed to "intuitive versus intellect" and your account of your friends approach to the question. It is indeed the self that sees and seeks. When some would see that as individualistic or self-centered is only if it is interpreted as that only.
    The belief that intuitive seeing or seeking is important and even essential to consider also in photography is because it is considered to "see" more or differently then what the intellect sees - but it does not see the self, but the "whole" of the item, subject, reality. (I close my eyes and hope for the best...)
     
  111. Fred - "So there is a sense of self evidence."
    There are many other definitions. If I wasn't out to hijack the meaning of the word, I might rephrase that into: "So there can be a sense of self evidence".
    Why do you think so many people say they leave themselves behind, lose the sense of self, etc? Those quotes are legion. Are all those people deluded? Crazy? Your lessers? Mere Mysterians? Or could they possibly know what you do not -- and apparently cannot imagine?
    You, who apparently never leave the state of discursive thought, are telling us what intuition is about? This is like a virgin talking about the mechanics of sex to a bunch of hookers. Yeah, I know philosophers do this all the time, but seriously...
    Several posts ago, I remarked: " I do not think it possible to leave one self out. Nor is that the aim or a requirement of the intuitive."
    What does happen is that the primacy of the self in many people gets deposed during the intuitive experience (No, Julie and Fred, one does not die, go catatonic, or become a zombie, their work does not turn to rot, become anonymous, and life really does go on.) And that should really be experiences. I do not believe there is only one type of intuition, which may account for some of the confusion here.
    Some have much more experience with intuitive states than others.
    There's little doubt as to the intuitive mental state, in the sense that MRIs repeatedly have shown two distinct areas in the brain, adjacent to those associated with the emotions, become very active when people are engaged in intuitive behavior/thought that do not when engaged in routine discursive thinking and rational problem-solving.
    [What was the purpose of that bizarre cryptic anecdote about this underdog-loving 'friend'?]
    I wish the nay-sayer(s) here hadn't driven out those who do experience and use the intuitive mode in their photography. People who normally lurk here bobbed up from under the ice, said "yes, this is my experience", and vanished, not feeling welcome to talk about their experiences.
     
  112. Anders, I think since humans are limited to perspective, we (unlike God) never get to see the whole. That's why I find framing things with a camera so human. Humans frame. Photographers frame again.
     
  113. Framing things surely, but framing the essential is what is at stake. Mostly the intellect would frame constructs. Intuition would frame - maybe something else....
     
  114. Anders, I'm not seeing intellect and intuition competitively. They work in concert. I think humans frame, not intellects or intuitions. Humans frame using both their intellects and intuitions, by necessity, together.
     
  115. It is rather obvious I think that intellect is behind intuition or intuitive action, whether it is recognized or not by the photographer. Intuition, which is not a process of ratiocination is nonetheless based upon our prior experiences and knowledge of the world about us, that do not escape our subjective intellectual reception and analysis at some past point.
     
  116. Arthur and Fred,
    The interesting twist with intuition in photography is this (if you haven't already noticed this for yourself). In most philosophical discussions of intuition in mathematics, Chinese art, and so forth, the assumption is that the learning and the evidence are already in hand. All that one is doing is reaching a state of presumed belief or performance that exceeds what the extent of the current evidence (seems to) justify. (One already has the target in mind: a math problem, a Chinese bowl, a piece of calligraphy, a particular dance, or piece of music and so on.)
    The twist is that in photography, the realization of evidence and the intuition from that evidence to a target are almost simultaneous. In other words (ignoring technique and talking only about timing of the shutter snap: "the moment") one does not have, in mind, whatever it is about which one will intuit until the moment of intuition. That's the location on which Mr. grumpy Rumplestitskin (aka Luis) is stomping and jumping up and shouting and waving his arms and a pox on him. We're talking about what intuition is; he's into how one "performs" to/with/in it. As if there is no time gap; evidence and realization of target and performance are for all practical purposes (nearly) instantaneous.
    And if Luis doesn't like my way of putting it, HE SHOULD HELP ME OUT.
     
  117. Fred that is the whole question around here ! Some believe that we have a tendency to make the intellect take control (through the individual of course and based on learning) and that their is something for us to learn from the Asian emphasis of nurturing intuition. That they both work together is agreed upon, I would believe.
    Arthur, if you are right in your observation, the Chinese are right in proclaiming that Westerners have lost their capacity of intuitive seeing of the "whole" and that our intellect and intellectual contract have taken over. We therefor only see parts of reality according to their ciew - that I would agree upon without hesitation. The part that can be grasped by the intellect and its categories of reality.
    You might have noticed that I actually acknowledge that the way you describe the "seeing" is what I feel is the case for me too. However, I believe the emphasis on intuition as a largely under-emphazised artisitic faculty as done by Leach, is a correct diagnostics when it comes to photography also as it is according to him for pottery makers - in the West. For me the main question is not whether my intellect or intuition are at work, because both are surely, but how I as photographer can reinforce the intuitive seeing and seeking.
    This is written before Julie's call for help !!
     
  118. By the way I almost don't want to mention it, but for me, and surely for me only! I'm back at the discussion on "essence" which became somewhat derailed by the occidental deadweight of philosophy.
    Just try to ignore it. I did not write it...
     
  119. I guess if one can successfully photograph intuitively, elucidating the essence of a place through images may become more attainable. But I am not convinced that this is not a nice little anti-occidentophilosophical land mine planted by friend Anders, while he is happily away interacting with the oriental mind.
    Intellectual knowledge and reasoning may be contributory to providing some of the conditions in the mind of the photographer for his or her intuitive behaviour, but the rapidity and essentially unconscious execution of that behaviour prohibits its discursive application as a part of an intuitive approach. I am not sure that this is what Julie refers to as the instantaneous action (in other words) and perhaps others are referring to (as Fred suggests by the definition of intuitive behaviour – “Based on what one feels to be true without conscious reasoning”) as the combination of intellect and intuition that is part of the intuitive behaviour, but I would welcome the i dotting or correction if it is not.
    Intuition and the whole versus the self? Anders, does it really need to be either-or?
     
  120. Instantaneous action, the moment, and intuition . . .
    Often the moment isn't what it is when the snap is taken. The moment is what it becomes via the photograph or via looking back. It is in how I choose what photograph to work on rather than trash, how I choose to remember the moment, and how I recast the moment by creating a photo. I doubt there's a singular moment of performance. The snap is a moment of action. The action gets defined and contextualized over and through many moments in time.
     
  121. Arthur make no mistake about it, as the Americans are saying so often, I have no intention of planting any anti-something anywhere and especially not in the garden of this forum. It is surely not anti-occidental this small thread - neither in it's intention, nor in its content. I firmly and very seriously believe in the creative force of cross-cultural studies (don't smile - I'm dead serious!). What I referred to in this thread is a more than thousand years philosophical tradition, that has "produced" art (like the bowls of the Song dynasty) which are unique in the history of mankind. it covers art from the Chinese, Indean, Japanese, Korean cultures. One of the basic principles of that artistic tradition is in fact the role of "intuition". The Far-East-Asian philosophies and religions are marked by the ambition for mankind to be able to grasp the whole of universe (reality) and not only parts. (I hope I still have my feet on the ground!).
    If Arthur goes back to the very start of the tread he would notice that Leach actually came back from China with the message of the importance of "intuition" in the making of pottery and you would also notice that I mentioned that these "Leach-principles" of pottery making are used ever since they were published as a source of inspiration and learning in the West. No anti-occidental conspiracy going on. There is, as mentioned, a very personal critical eye on myself in the story however, and my own photographical approach and practice.
    I believe it is right that our intellectual construct perceive only parts of the "whole" (whatever that is, but maybe surely more "real" than parts of it). That's indeed the role of whatever we have learned. To be able to get some order out of the chaos of reality around us making it manageable, controllable and functional and even in case explainable. It categorizes and make hierarchies of more or less important parts of that reality. Seeing, and making photography, with our intellect only (which is surely not possible, but could be considered just to facilitate our discussion - a Weberian ideal-type")) can only be partial because our intellect can never grasp the complexity of any scene in full. I would not think that anyone could disagree on this (I know I'm wrong!).
    Intuition is here an approach to seeing reality where our preconceived intellectual constructs about what we see, is washed away (again a Weberian "ideal-type") You could imagine the latter approach to be possible when making something with your hands (pottery) or making music - but again the intellect will always have an eye open even in these cases. In photography it is somewhat more difficult to perceive what "intuition- free" or "intellect-free" photography would be (a construct surely!) but that intuition adds to what the intellect can deliver when seeing and seeking seems to me to be obvious. For me the question has never been to fight for intuition and demonize the intellect but to advance on the question of: how we can learn from Asian philosophy and arts and reinforce the intuitive dimension (in tandem with the intellect) in artistic expressions such as photography.
    You get a candy at the entrance for each contradiction you can find in these few linest.
     
  122. jtk

    jtk

    I think "Asian" philosophies and arts are being wildly misrepresented. Sure, Westerners like to imagine flashes of enlightenment that must go on in Yoda-like oriental skulls, but that is an outright goofy idea.

    Consider the highly detailed landscape paintings of China. Consider fine Chinese ceramics ("China") or carved jade or carpentry. Consider classical Chinese music and theatre. Consider Chinese novels that were written before many Westerners even visited.

    Consider the perfection of Japanese lacquer bowls or infinitely subtle, year-in-making baskets. Consider Japanese multi-block wood-block printing (eg Hiroshige and his peers). Consider kimono fabric weaving. Consider Japanes Noh plays.

    Raku' pots inherently involve an instant of accident, but a long process in which some version of perfection is attempted in order for the accident to make its point. And in any case, the accident is exactly that, it's not intuitive. It is allowed or done by the potter, and it's relatively artless.
    Raku' is associated with Zen...and Zen famously entails satori, moments of enlightenment...but those moments are preceded by long study and meditation...rather than "intuitive" those moments have been preceded by many failures, in which the Zen master sometimes whacked the student with a stick (a kwat).

    We've all watched Japanese brush painting. Films of Pablo Picasso at work show him just as fast and dynamic. His interests were reportedly more African than Asian, fwiw. I think Spain qualified as part of Europe even back then.
     
  123. jtk

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  125. jtk

    jtk

  126. Knowledge has three degrees-opinion, science, illumination. The means or instrument of the first is sense; of the second, dialectic; of the third, intuition.
    -- Plotinus
    ____________
    Intuition is when you guess correctly that the soccer mom in the giant SUV to your left was about to come into your lane. But that's not all it is. Nor is it necessary to be in contact with Eastern culture of any kind to have the experience. I think we are all born with the potential for the modality.
    ____________
    The highest endeavor of the mind, and the highest virtue, is to understand things by intuition.
    -- Baruch Spinoza
    ____________
    Julie - "The twist is that in photography, the realization of evidence and the intuition from that evidence to a target are almost simultaneous." And...Fred's "Instantaneous action, the moment, and intuition . . ."
    While many experience and practice intuition during fast-paced activities, it's a mistake to think it limited to that type of activity. It is not.
    ______________
    Arthur - "But I am not convinced that this is not a nice little anti-occidentophilosophical land mine planted by friend Anders, while he is happily away interacting with the oriental mind."
    Wow.
    _______________
    The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you and you don't know how or why.
    -- Einstein
    ______________
    Arthur - "...does it really need to be either-or?"
    At a given moment, yes, although for many who can barely experience it, it is rapidly blinking in and out of existence, and may give the impression of being concurrent. The two are basic human modalities with distinct and separate neurological routing. I would put it this way: They leapfrog one another.
    _____________
    Every extension of knowledge arises from making the conscious the unconscious.
    F. Nietzsche
    __________________
    My position on this is Kantian. Although I believe these faculties to be related (as I have already explained in earlier posts), I think they operate one at a time, both are part and parcel of what it means to be fully human. They complement each other.
    _____________
     
  127. jtk

    jtk

    If "knowledge" was the goal, as opposed to photographs, philosophers would have won the day a long time ago.
    But photographs, like ceramics, dance, song, baskets, paintings et al are not mere words or mere knowledge, nor are written artworks (novels, poems et al).
    Knowledge is a concept that refers to nothing in particular...
    There's more to life than data, and there's less to "knowledge" than philosophers imagine, since they are limited to words.
    The beauty of photography has partially to do with its ability to pose questions without pretending to be answers, or its ability to demonstrate the difference between ideas and images.
     
  128. Hey guys, please give me a break; I can be a little funny, too. My quip to Anders was just to pull his leg about essence and Chinese philosophy.
    Anders, I mostly agree with what you say, especially in regard to cross-fertilisation. And I do practice it. Not sure why you thought I don't. Perhaps many engineers have a rather deserved reputation as single-minded dullards.
    Light reading (in defence of...): Cross-fertilisation has been a key part of my career and lifestyle, from my premiere "Crosstalk" radio program at SUNY Buffalo (where my specific 10 month post-d was boring the H out of me), later acquired for diffusion by an inter-university radio service ("Crosstalk" series featured amongst others, composer Lejaren Hiller and an electrical engineer discussing electronic music - a mechanical engineer, materials scientist and medical surgeon discussing prosthetic limb replacements - a Nobel prize winner in literature (a Brit, forget his name, but an impressive person) at SUNY discussing the future of the book with a nascent computer specialist - an architect discussing building with a sociology prof,....), followed by a work offer from the CBC on the basis of it (stupidly rejected), my work at a multidisciplinary engineering research centre (where I led projects in industry economics, extractive metallurgy (my initial field), food science and engineering (texturised protein, bakery equipment design, clarifying fruit juices, cheese product physical transformations), design of tree-seedling high throughput equipment for reforestation, processes to treat various industrial wastes, design of a wooden automobile, thermography, acoustics (ah, photography...) and so on. I delighted in putting together multidisciplinary projects and teams, and perhaps because I am not a blue ribbon researcher I was given the task of coordinating the teams (lots of fun) and attaining the objectives ("deliverables"). Great learning curves. As was running conferences for a number of scientific/engineering societies in Canada and US (dog work and occasional accolades for mot losing money). I now analyse 70 t0 80 research reports each year, synthesize global reports which extract the risky components of the work and deal with the various fields of interest going into those reports. Mostly for the fun of interacting with younger professionals and workers.
    Boring stuff, I admit, but at least with a hint of cross-fertilisation which likely does influence our knowledge base and intuitive capability. Little Spinoza and Kant, unfortunately, but that is still to be developed and why I am here, in part, talking occasionally with those who have much more philosophical background than mine.
    I have to come back to the other recent and erudite posts (I do mean that) when time allows. Now I just have to erase from my head the sounds of the Chostakovich first symphony (beautifully played tonight by our OSQ ("QSO")), not my choice of favourite music, to be able to remember the sublime Mahler "Kindertotenlieder" (with Susan Platts, mezzo) that preceded it following the concert intermission. A silly pairing. Hardly intuition of the highest level, although my admiration for the conductor is undiluted by that.
     
  129. John with all respect and good wishes, you are way off the subject apart from when you make reference to Picasso that like so many other Parisian artist had their regular visits at the Musee de l'Homme. During the period 1907-1909 Picasso was in fact heavily influenced by African ceremonial masks, which can be seen in many of his paintings. He owned quite a collection too. However, I don't understand what that has to do with the importance of understanding "intuition" and the Chinese tradition.
    I would invite you, if you have the courage, to go back to the earlier post above of Luis with quotes from artists that declare their attachment to "intuition" in their own work: Picasso is among them as far as I remember. I agree with those that would always announce that quotes are taking out of their context, but it s sometimes a good starter and sometimes an eye-opener.
     
  130. Arthur, I can recognize much of what you write in my own working experiences animating multicultural teams. The central words of what you write is when you refer to the 'Great learning curve'. Everyone that have worked in such context recognize the enormous creative force and the very intensive challenges of any certainties we might have as concerns ways of finding solutions, or defining problems. Such dynamics are surely also in play when it comes to confronting our Western intellectual learning and certainties with Asian philosophy. At least that is what I have experienced and I hope some bits and pieces of such reflection have found their way into this thread and are perceived of relevance for photography, by some.
     
  131. The fact that we, as a species, have a natural ability to make up our minds, to feel "certain" that we know what to do even though we don't have perfect or conclusive evidence to support that decision does not mean that that "certainty" is therefore "true" just because we have it. We have that ability to decide, to feel certain -- we need that ability -- because waiting is not an option in many (most) of life's endeavors (and because "perfect evidence" never happens). Often waiting even a second is not an option. Even if you can wait an eternity you still need this ability; see Buridan's Ass for what happens without such an arbitraty decision-making ability.
    The fact our decisions, or beliefs in the rightness of our actions, in our certainty is frequently wrong or partially wrong always seems to be overlooked or forgotten or edited out in post facto discussions. I am entirely in favor of taking risks, of "following one's intuitions," of enjoying the unexpected, but I also try to remember that that is exactly what I am doing; I am aware to what extent the consequences of my intuitional actions are purely fortuitous (an openness to other possiblities and an ability to improvise) and I don't credit this to some special other-then-intellectual "knowing" of my own.
     
  132. Julie one of the tricky aspects to the discussion intuition is that it is mainly related to what happens in your head and body in general and not directly related to an act of taking decisions or doing things in life. Where we approach the act is mainly through creative processes such as art work. I might make intuitive purchases from time to time, but this is just the stupidity of the intellect taking a rest.
    Surely the intellect does not know it "all". If it was the case, the argument of the difference between intuitive and intellectual "seeing" would fall the the ground. No, one of the qualities of "knowing" is surely also to get a profound understanding of the limits of your knowing. One could say, without seeking to be provocative, God forbid it! that those with a profound knowledge of the limits of their knowledge would be ready for not only acknowledging the importance of intuition in arts but also pursue it together with the capabilities of the intellect, as a support for seeing and targeting frames for photography in reality.
     
  133. Anders, you seem to (always or at least frequently) equate "knowing" with the intellect. I wish it were so ... but perfect knowledge in the sense of perfect understanding does not happen, not least because nothing has ever or will ever stand still. What I don't agree with is where intuition is implied to be somehow true beyond what we have any prior sensation of. I think that intuition is a good guess, a good guess that we have to make, that we make all the time and everywhere in varying degrees of importance to our need/survival.
    Experienced gamblers, those who win more than they lose, internalize the odds. Experienced sages internalize patterns. Both gamblers and sages surround the "intutions" that those internalized odds and patterns cause them to believe, with "intellectual" scanning of the input prior to "intuition" and "intellectual" validation of that "intuition" on output (does it turn out to be good or bad or true or false or useful or not?) This dance of intellect/intuition is happening all the time and at any/all speeds -- as needed.
    Before you (or someone else that I can hear breathing loudly; snorting is more like it, should we call an ambulance?) get indignant that I am claiming superiority for my way of doing things. This IS my way of doing things. I would suggest that it is the aspiration (never fully achieved) of every creative person to fully internalize the odds, the patterns of existence so that one can, effortlessly, make the best choices.
     
  134. ... and, Fred, I'm not claiming that "every creative person" stops there. He/she can and will and does THEN go on to do as his heart/intellect/gonads desires. For example, one might make a green pepper out of a Fuji apple.
     
  135. Arthur - " I can be a little funny, too. My quip to Anders was just to pull his leg about essence and Chinese philosophy."
    I know. It was a shock to see Arthur humor!
     
  136. Julie, if my intellect tells me that society is nothing else than class struggle and I go out in society to shoot photos of it and I see nothing else going on - I surely see only parts of reality. If, as you write, my understanding of society is totally interiorized and I go out with my backbone and only one part of my brain and shoot photos of society, I still only have the same photos. Intuition, according to the Leach way of describing it supported by the mentioned writings of Asian philosophers would immediately remark that in one or the other situation the intellect is in charge. The world is only seen in part (understandable and categorized dimensions). Seeing reality by intuition is letting the intellect go and achieve a more "original" view of reality around us.
    NO, no, no I did not recommend that and don't think it is achievable in photography, but a symbiosis of intuition (se described) and intellect is to a large degree. I would expect that what we see when we fall on something that is strikingly new, novel and never seen before. Such photos exist? Some are just by chance, others I would think are (also) because of a more free, original way of seeing, seeking and pointing out a scene. Again, I would expect that intuition in the described sense has been in play.
    Maybe natur photography is easier to imagine could be photographed in the way described, because most of our intellects are categorizing social beings and societies more than nature. In nature, our intellect would accept to be put aside - for a few moments. In Chines philosophy most seeing is exemplified by "seeing" landscapes, just like their paintings, or rocks like in Zen stone gardens.
     
  137. jtk

    jtk

    Anders, I hope you didn't mean to suggest that "courage" is a criterion for reading Luis's many non-photo posts. My reason for skimming past his posts boils down to their irrelevance. They are not relevant to his own photography because he doesn't seem to have any. They are not relevant to scholarly discussion because they are not properly cited for Internet use (no links). They are mostly off-topic in that they rarely refer to photography. This is, after all, a PHOTO Forum before it is an "art" forum or "philosophy" forum.
    As I noted, I'm well aware of Picasso's interest in African art.
    The mistaken notion that Asian art is somehow more "intuitive" than that of other cultures is surprising to see perpetuated here. I mentioned Picasso as a demonstration of intuition in the West. There are many examples. That Asian=intuitive association demonstrates lack of exposure to Asian art and, for that matter, Asian philosophies (which would have to include Confuscian, Hindu, and Muslim, none of which is primarily related to "intuitive" experience/action.
     
  138. [Small off-topic excursion]
    In his own words...
    John Kelly, Nov 11, 2010: ". Anders, I hope you didn't mean to suggest that "courage" is a criterion for reading Luis's many non-photo posts. My reason for skimming past his posts boils down to their irrelevance. They are not relevant to his own photography because he doesn't seem to have any. They are not relevant to scholarly discussion because they are not properly cited for Internet use (no links). They are mostly off-topic in that they rarely refer to photography."
    John Kelly, less than two months ago, on Sept 22, 2010: "I need again to apologize to Luis for bitching about lack of online photo evidence and, to my discredit, disrespecting him. Dense, I've come to appreciate that his acumen and evident experience are much more valuable than a few digital patches could ever be."
    On the same thread, Sept. 27th 2010: "You may have noticed my apology to Luis G, earlier: I'd been abrasive (and worse) in response to what was, many months ago, a nearly total reliance on scholarly quotations without evidence of his own photography. Like some here (including a moderator), I thought evidence of one's own recent photos would be a good requirement for posting here...and my own current evidence seems lite for that purpose (I've since abandoned that "evidence" (sic) trial ballon).
    This may be relevant: my attitude about Luis changed for three reasons: 1) I read his many posts, observing that he became progressively more directly (as a person, rather than as a scholar) involved in the various discussions 2) He writes freely, concisely, engages interestingly in ideas, always contributes something pungent and unique. 3) He has a great sense of humor :)"
    Yawn. We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming, wherein we get to see if Anders' admirable patience has any limits. What a great fisherman he must be.
     
  139. John K. - "The mistaken notion that Asian art is somehow more "intuitive" than that of other cultures is surprising to see perpetuated here. I mentioned Picasso as a demonstration of intuition in the West. There are many examples. That Asian=intuitive association demonstrates lack of exposure to Asian art and, for that matter, Asian philosophies (which would have to include Confuscian, Hindu, and Muslim, none of which is primarily related to "intuitive" experience/action."
    To use your own words, "They are not relevant to scholarly discussion because they are not properly cited for Internet use (no links)." The very thing JK accuses me of, he then goes on to merrily do. Smoke rings, nothing more.
    As to John's absurd claim that "(sic) Confuscian, Hindu, and Muslim, none of which is primarily related to "intuitive" experience/action."
    Nice try.
    [From Intuition in Kant and Confucius by Stephen M. Clinton, Ph. D.


    "If Confucianism is a virtue ethic then it follows the pattern of duty based on intuition as a practical means of finding and living one’s duty in life. This fits with Audi’s third form of intuitive knowledge based on conceptual grounds."
    http://www.toi.edu/Resources/Intuition%20in%20Kant%20and%20Confucius.pdf
    From Nature Magazine 27 Sep 2006, Gautam R Desiraju BOOK REVIEWED-An Idealist View of Life by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
    "However, Eastern systems of philosophy, particularly Hinduism, believe in a higher form of knowledge built on intuition."
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v443/n7110/full/443398a.html
    I suppose you've never heard of Sufist Islam? Nevermind, rhetorical question. I can easily intuit the retorts.
    On the types of intuitions and their sources in Islam:
    http://islamqa.com/en/ref/12778
    "It might be asked what other means of knowledge were available to other civilizations before the modern period. The answer is quite clear at least for those Muslims who know the intellectual life of Islam: revelation and intellectual intuition or vision (dhawq, kashf or shuhud)"
    and..."The few in the Islamic world who would cut this cord of reliance and declare the independence of reason from both revelation and intuition were never accepted into the mainstream of Islamic thought."
    http://www.al-islam.org/al-serat/reflect-nasr.htm
    This is like clubbing baby seals.
     
  140. jtk

    jtk

    Luis, you are relying entirely on Google to find quotations in English that refer to an undefined activity named "intuitive" by your Google pals.
    If you knew anything about the "Asian" religions and philosophies you're citing in your quest to "club baby seals," you would know that Islam, Hinduism, and Confuscian approaches/philosophies/religions ALL rely heavily on rules as well as personal responses (which you've chosen to label "intuitive."). If you knew practitioners of those systems you would know that they are at least as delibrative (vs "intuitive") as Christians or Jews.
    I don't think you have any interest in photography. If you did you would write about it. Your entire connection seems to be allegations about camera ownership and Googled references to quips by photographers.
    You're right, I did apologize for repeatedly commenting on your refusal or inability to share images... as you know, the moderators have discussed that. It seems ridiculous to have someone spamming this Forum with little more than abuse of others ("clubbing baby seals") and poorly documented (virtually no links) quotable alleged quotes.
    I hope the moderators will revisit this idea: No admission to this particular Forum without some sort of visual evidence that one attests is relatively recent work.
     
  141. John gets the last word. *crush*
     
  142. In their more lucid moments, like all of us, John and Luis provide interesting philosophical comments. I would suggest to them that they resist the need to draw swords but simply debate the points without aggressive personal remarks. Or at least do that off stage (e-mail) to save us the need to engage in battle.
    Personally, I couldn't care less if a photographer discussing philosophy has no recent work posted in his personal page (Luis) or rarely if ever presents his pictures on this forum for comment (John). Having posted images for comment has made me realize that it is a bit of a fool's game (although I appreciate that John did provide comment recently and that Luis has critiqued one photo given as an example of "immaterial" some time ago), as sincerity of critique is not a common quality to be found.
    I don't know if this makes any sense and I am probably stepping outside of the limits for a non-moderator, but I am simply keen to see the forum stick to issues and to reasons for what is postulated, than (friendly?) insults.
     
  143. Kant is difficult, but he's been mentioned and may shed some light.
    For Kant, space and time are necessary, intuitive forms of our perceiving. Causality is a necessary form of knowing. Space and time (the grounding forms of our intuition) and causality (the grounding form of our knowledge) pre-structure our experience. In effect, the underlying forms of intuition (space and time) and the underlying form of understanding (causality) allow us access to our experience.
    Things as they are "in themselves" are unknowable. For something to become known, it must be experienced, and experience is structured by our minds. These aspects of mind turn "things-in-themselves" into the world of experience. Importantly, for Kant (a major proponent of intuition), we are never passive observers or knowers. We bring space, time, and causality to the table.
    Relevant to the present discussion, Kant strongly advocates for restraint, especially through self-examination, that prevents human reason from applying itself beyond the limits of at least possible sensual experience.
    It seems to me that when intuition is imbued with the ability to access "wholes" or "essences", intuition has been taken a step or two too far.
     
  144. That Asian=intuitive association demonstrates lack of exposure to Asian art and, for that matter, Asian philosophies (which would have to include Confuscian, Hindu, and Muslim, none of which is primarily related to "intuitive" experience/action.​
    John, I think you are seriously mistaken. However, if you believe intuition can be found especially elsewhere t ides not change much what we discuss here. What is the question, at least in my mind, is whether the pair intuition/intellect both play a role in photography and to which degree one, i.e. intuition, is somewhat tuned down in your photography, mine and maybe even in Western photography in general. I believe it is the case and find it worthwhile to discuss how we can reinforce its presence in or photographical seeing and seeking. We might even be able to give examples. Take Julie's, photoseries of wooden branches positioned in all possible angles and positions to each other. Is that functioning because of some intellectual mastering of the variety, or dare I say is it by intuition?
    I would by the way be interested in drawing on your knowledge, John, about Picasso and his African mask influence. We know that Picasso makes reference to intuition in the very process of peinting and so did Cezanne. But, what further can be said a intuition in his works and to which degree can it be related to his African influences. i don't see it.
    Fred, Kant is interesting in this connection because of his emphasis on bringing space, time and maybe especially causality to the table, as you write. But you also write that he was a major proponent of "intuition". What are the features of a Kantian concept of "intuition" if for example "causality" is always brought "to the table". I don't get it. Could I invite you to explain in a few words.
    Just one remark to the small intermezzo between John and Luis, playing a variation of a known theme, One of the benefits of communicating by writing is that the volume is always on a minimum. Writing with capital letters does not produce a deafening noise for the readers so it's bearable, but it is not very beneficial to communication between us as far as I have experienced.
    Admiration for Luis's gracious gesture of giving the last word to John. This is sportsmanship. Can I suggest that at the next occasions, if such one should occur, it will be for John to make the gesture.
     
  145. "Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind. It is therefore just as necessary to make our concepts sensible, that is to add the object to them in intuition, as to make our intuitions intelligible, that is to bring them under confunctions." --Kant
    For Kant, understanding allows us to produce appearances to ourselves based upon cognitions. Without understanding, no object would be thought, thus our intuitions remain blind. In order to make our concepts sensible, thoughts must be linked to the intuition.
    The way in which he was a proponent of intuition is that he asserts that sensibility is the mind's ability to receive presentations. Thus without this sensibility (given us through intuition) none of the objects would be given and therefore our thoughts would be empty. In other words, without content our thoughts do not contain an object of intuition, nor are our intuitions illuminated by the understanding.
    [I stressed Kant's advocacy of intuition. He was advancing beyond Descartes, who thought you could know WITHOUT your senses. For Descartes, all you needed for knowledge was thought: "I think, therefore I am." Kant, unlike Descartes, recognized the foundational role of intuition and perception and that the senses and sensible experience play a necessary role in knowledge.]
    Understanding illuminates intuitions: that sounds a little photographic, so . . .
    Think of the world as the intuition and the guy with the camera as the understanding. (I'm always wary of these metaphors because I'm sure holes a mile wide can be driven through them.) Without the camera, you don't get the photo. Without the understanding, you don't get the human experience. Intuition is the necessary beginning of the process just as the world provides the raw materials for the photograph.
    When one is claiming to be more or less "intuitive," one is simply understanding differently, one is not eliminating understanding nor is one minimizing it.
    The understanding gives us our experience of the senses. (Without the understanding, we would be blind.) It is with our understanding and thoughts that we choose what to make of the intuitions we have. How we manage our understanding determines the experience we have of our intuitions. Objects are presented directly to our intuition. But we don't directly manage our intuitions nor do we directly access them experientially.
    The photograph is not the photographed. Human experience is not intuition.
     
  146. My intuitions manage me, and I manage my photographs. I photograph intuitively.
     
  147. Spontaneity is learned.​
    I disagree. Spontaneity is natural reaction to feeling comfortable, secure, and unconcerned with the judgment of others.
    We don't have to LEARN to be spontaneous, but we might have to UN-learn some of the limitations that have been heaped upon us. We can learn to disregard the "lessons" of a lifetime of critical comments, however well meaning. John Lennon's aunt told him, "You'll never make any money with that guitar." Luckily, John didn't let her well-meaning comment dissuade him from expressing his genius freely and openly.
     
  148. Fred - "When one is claiming to be more or less "intuitive," one is simply understanding differently, one is not eliminating understanding nor is one minimizing it."
    My brain understands how to control my heartbeat, regulate my body temperature, and move my muscles. It's all done effortlessly, behind the scenes, and completely unconsciously. There's no reason for that incredibly complex machine to slow itself down by running all its instuctions by the User Interface; my consciousness.
    I submit that this is the essence of intuition. It's an occasion of pre-cognitve, unconscious recogniton; the deep, internal resolution of problems that are being worked out by the brain in the absence of discursive thinking. I experience it most often when I'm seeking a photo opportunity; out driving around, or walking a location. As Anders mentioned much earlier, it's a state that's very familiar to hunters and fishermen.
    Don't make the mistake of turning this into an either/or debate. For any given moment, during the course of seeking, shooting, processing a photograph, it's either/or; but the process of making a photograph, when examined as a whole, by necessity includes both intuition and discursive thinking.
     
  149. Fred, the more I read you explaining Kant the more I'm convinced that Kant were totally incapable of making a porcelain bowl of the dynasty of the Song of the North (11th century) and he would even more be incapable of perceiving it's "beauty". You are deeply rooted in what, I think could be called Solipsism (it is better to disregard the unreliable observations of alleged other people and rely upon the immediate certainty of one's own perceptions). Fred don't lapidate me on that one please, I"m just with the greatest innocence testing the thought. I'm sure you have already though about it (if it is right, what influence does it have on your photography??)

    Without being a philosopher of training and even less of profession I would rather have expected of you to go back to Plato and Aristotel or why not Hume and maybe even the mentioned Bergson when it come to understanding the relationship between our intellect and intuition - and art.
    Why not go back to the infamous "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" of Pirsig. You will find the following paragraph that I think is relevant for what is going on around here ("Phaedrus", is a Platonian imaginative traveling companion):
    Kant's metaphysics thrilled Phædrus at first, but later it dragged and he didn't know exactly why. He thought about it and decided that maybe it was the Oriental experience. He had had the feeling of escape from a prison of intellect, and now this was just more of the prison again. He read Kant's esthetics with disappointment and then anger. The ideas expressed about the "beautiful" were themselves ugly to him, and the ugliness was so deep and pervasive he hadn't a clue as to where to begin to attack it or try to get around it. It seemed woven right into the whole fabric of Kant's world so deeply there was no escape from it. It wasn't just eighteenth-century ugliness or "technical" ugliness. All of the philosophers he was reading showed it. The whole university he was attending smelled of the same ugliness. It was everywhere, in the classroom, in the textbooks. It was in himself and he didn't know how or why. It was reason itself that was ugly and there seemed no way to get free.​
     
  150. Dave, you writings and observations are showing that you have fully understood the main subject atter when it comes to the relation between intuition and intellect and it's importance for photography - although I would not have made the reference to the bodily functioning.
     
  151. Anders, good question you've asked about the way this relates to my photography. Intuitiveness, I trust, will come . . . more in time. The striving I have (the goals) is not to pursue such intuitiveness but to pursue what matters most to me, the people I photograph . . . developing my relationships with them (including working relationships and where those can lead me) and my understanding of and connections with them. It is to become more fluent with my photographic tools in hopes of the relationships with my subjects being more and more apparent in my photos themselves. One example of something I'm curious about is to explore the contrasts and harmonies between pose and genuineness or authenticity, to enhance the expressive power of gestures. The more I pursue that, the more intuitive it seems to become to me.
    Please don't take my discussion of Kant, which you asked for, the wrong way. As I've said before in these threads, as a philosopher I may be somewhat unusual in that I don't care much about choosing sides. It struck me that Kant was relevant here and someone else brought him up, so I explored his relevance. I could do the same with Hume. I don't honestly have a philosopher whom I prefer or who most reflects my own leanings (well, I do, but it seems to vary from day to day and situation to situation). Believe me, I know Kant's shortcomings. My own frustration with all kinds of "philosophy," be it Western or Eastern, Kantian or post-modern, is what led me both to music and photography. Both music and photography seem to me a better outlet for approaching these matters. Ultimately, they are the answers to most of these unanswerable philosophical questions. Each enables me to express myself more personally and freely than does philosophy. As a matter of fact, I think most philosophizing is solipsistic and that's probably why I'm ultimately glad I never pursued it academically to become a professor. Photographing has put me out into the world.
    Basically, what I photograph is what's important to me and the photographs themselves are important to me. It is through those relationships and the acts of photographing that whatever I am experiencing (intuitiveness, understanding, planning, spontaneity, what have you) will evolve. Photographing and photographing more, I suspect, will make me more intuitive. A striving for intuitiveness itself, to me, seems counterintuitive.
     
  152. Fred: "A striving for intuitiveness itself, to me, seems counterintuitive". I totally agree with you that somewhere we are confronted to a hermeneutic circle. The least one can say about you Fred, is that you are surely a thoughts-provoking sort of teacher.
     
  153. This is somewhat off topic, but while rummaging around Google lookiing for online stuff by T. Alajouanine (on his studies of artists with aphasia), I found the following quote in this linked article:
    "In him ‘the aphasic and the artist live together on two distinct planes’ and the patient reflects that ‘there are in me two men … the one who grasps reality … the other who is lost as regards abstract thinking … when I am painting I am outside my own life … I find everything again; I am a whole man … these are two men, the one who is grasped by the reality to paint, the other one, the fool, who cannot manage words anymore’."​
    Though that does not in any way necessarily having anything to do with intuition (being unable to use language does not mean that you are therefore only thinking intuitively), I feel a tremendous kinship with that description (ignoring the gendering of the quote) -- and I'm fascinated by my feeling thus since I obviously can blah, blah, blah with the best of us. I think that, even with a normal speech endowment, there is a feeling of so much that is known (intellectually AND intuitively) but that resists or is always just out of reach of saying.
     
  154. Intuition is speechless, not being speechless. In a way, discussions like these - interesting as they are - are everything what intuition is not.
     
  155. Phylo you are right, but you could make the same remark on discussions fora on photography like this one. It is anything what photography is not.
    Words, Words, Words !!!!
     
  156. I actually find it quite intuitive to use words in an Internet forum on the philosophy of photography.
     
  157. Fred, I knew it !
     
  158. But, it's much less intuitive to use words on a discussion on intuition in context of photography, as the word(s) can't quite transmit its meaning and *meaning* can only be intuited. Rarely, if ever, it is being described.
    Photographs as communication would have served better, and even those would have failed.

    Why not be silent. I'm dead serious. Just sit in front of your screens in silence for awhile. Resist an urge. And perhaps we'll know what can't be known.
     
  159. I'll refine that a little, Phylo, and say that I don't care to remain silent in front of my screen but I will be silent toward you. Baby steps. Maybe you'll afford me the same honor.
     
  160. Baby steps​
    Footloose. Sssssst !
    I guess I better won't do my Yoda voice now, saying I sense much in you anger ?
    Relax.
    Sledgehammer.
     
  161. I think Phylo is at something here and that he has invented the most poetic finish to a thread possible. Even the old Taoist would appreciate it. Kant maybe not.
    Thanks to all that have contributed.

    Sssssssssssssssssssssssssss....
     
  162. Anders
    I didn't follow the whole discussion as I have very little time to spend on the internet nowadays (a baby girl is coming and work is taking a lot of time). I think I got your point and I will answer with one of my photos
    [​IMG]
     

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