A List of People

In my journey as an artist, I have drawn inspiration and learned a great deal from some artists. This seems like an appropriate time to list the most prominent of them.

 

Andreas Gursky

This photographer explored the mystery of scale successfully. His commentary on the craft has given me the most insights into seeing and shaped my development as a maker of images. Here is a short film where he discusses his work.

Hiroshi Sugimoto

I was fortunate enough to witness the work of this Japanese Artist first hand at the Leeum in Seoul. Sugimoto is an artisan par excellence. A simple and profound idea compounded by extraordinary craftsmanship is a feature of his work. Here is his commentary on memory.

Yayoi Kasuma

A Japanese painter whose work is the most intense 'being yourself'.

Sophie Calle

An artist wrote to her saying: " I wish to sleep in your bed". So Sophie Calle sent him her bed by courier. Once the artist was done sleeping in her bed, he sent it back. Thanking her. For a film on her work or interviews just look up youtube.

Anish Kapoor

Sculpture is about Skin and Scale. Skin defines the object and the Scale lends it the Mystery.
— A. Kapoor





Empty Images

 

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

My first camera was a plastic Kodak that one had to wind up to make the shutter click. I took it to Rajasthan and clicked the shutter enough to exhaust three film rolls. When the film was developed, every image was a blank frame. This was my first lesson in photography. I wonder if this is why, with passing time, my photographs look more and more like blank frames.

 

A meeting of two newly painted walls. 

A meeting of two newly painted walls. 

The place of Depiction in Art

A work of art begins its journey by taking instructions from Society, Culture or Nature. If the journey finds enough patronage, the art becomes a tradition and starts to inform Society and Culture. The people and traditions that lent themselves to the work at its inception now begin to borrow from it. In this way the sensibility that Society and Culture invest into an artist comes with a risk of the artist growing into a misinformed tyranny. One channel by which an artist may borrow is Depiction. In the hands of a naive or immature sensibility, Depiction may drain reality of its essence. For Depiction involves expressing the real in a language that the artist speaks. If this expression is given too much attention then it robs the thing to be expressed of its contextual fabric and becomes a misinformed judgement about a people or society. The audience of such a work feel guilty and misunderstood.

Depiction in art should be treated as an invitation, a point of reference for the audience. Beyond this the artist must lead them into a private journey. A lot of art fails because it makes the assumption that if the art does anything other than Depiction, then it runs the risk of passing a judgement. Indeed, the Depiction is the judgement.

 

Visual Narratives and Judgement

The Park

The Park

The journal has become increasingly pictorial with the advent of phone cameras. It has also become irrevocably social for the same reason. This has made it an over ruling judgement on one's own life. Hence the act of keeping a journal has become an act of delivering a judgment. The challenge before the modern journal therefore, is the skill of keeping judgements ephemeral and revealing the river like flow of the life it documents. 

Breakfast at my uncle's

Breakfast at my uncle's

Seoul

Seoul

The Viewfinder

Making images using a camera involves the press of a button. This is a decision the photographer makes. With the introduction of the LCD display and the ubiquity of the live view mode we must ask why using an optical view finder is still relevant. When shooting from a LCD screen we decide what the photograph will look like. When using the optical view finder, we decide what to see. The two are essentially different because our seeing involves an extra dimension. Thus the view finder resolves the image into one dimension less, but gives us the added responsibility of shifting our priorities from those of seeing to those of choosing. This is important because choosing from a given set of images is different from choosing what to look at, or at times, how to look at. Thus when shooting from a screen we tend to prefer seeing situations or objects that can easily be resolved into two dimensions, because we are constantly thinking about how this would look on the screen. The photographer becomes a curator. This obviously begets the question: How is a photographer different from a curator? The photographer is a visual artist and the photographer's fidelity should be more towards searching for a way of seeing than searching for things to see. It is this strong sense of fidelity that produces pictures banal and deep at the same time.

Kyoto Diaries II

Flying back to Seoul today. This trip was interesting photographically because I changed my visual vocabulary from the urban to the verdant. I have in the past struggled with shooting foliage, knowing not how to resolve it into a composition. This trip saw  a resolution of the problem. I think I will be able to handle forests and gardens better from now on. The second photographer's note is the following: When stepping out to make images, have an agenda. It is easier to make images when you are looking for a particular type. I sensed opportunities for street photography in Kyoto, but I was looking for Landscapes. Each genre brings with its own aesthetic and if the photographer fails to make this aesthetic transition the image can appear confused or weak.

Having changed the genre for this trip I am aware of the strain I put on my audience who may come to expect the use of a certain fixed style of images from me. To them I have this to say: rest assured, I am aware of what you might have to face and I am working on bringing a consistency in my style.

The images can be viewed in the 'Kyoto' section of this web page.

Alley, Kiyomizu Dera

Alley, Kiyomizu Dera

Kyoto Diaries

I was right. The clouds are with me in Tokyo, dimming the shadows and filling the city with soft light. The city is so beautiful, it steals my breath. There is the spirit of an old city, like Bombay, but Bombay is another story. It is a bigger wound, wet still and dark at the corners. Tokyo is a healed, beautiful, sprawling scar.

Parking Lot, Kyoto.

Parking Lot, Kyoto.

Kyoto Station

Kyoto Station

You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.
— Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities


Kyoto

I will be visiting Kyoto and Osaka next week. My friend advised me to carry an umbrella, "we expect heavy rains", he said. I think this is a good sign. Grey skies eliminate shadows and that gives me fewer visual elements to deal with in the image.

The Gunsan Port. South Korea.

Stopping

The camera has always felt like a cross upon my shoulders. This is why I stopped carrying that contraption with me a while ago. A camera strung across your torso or in your hand is an intention, like a gun. It changes the world around you. Carrying weapons to a war is easier then carrying them to a funeral. A genre of photography has evolved that has decided to re-see instead of seeing. They are opening a purely visual dimension of the craft that exhibits aspects of the world that do not exist. Their images are so ephemeral that they exist only in the visual sphere. This makes them non-existent in our experience because seeing is more about memory than it is about the traces of light on our retina. The photograph is a trace the object leaves upon the film and to someone with a memory it becomes a blueprint to construct an experience. When we hunt for moments in time that no one was privy to we are painting an alien world utterly absent from memory. What makes this class of street photography popular is the battle between the common place and the non-existent. We recognize the objects, but not their place in the photograph.