Update 4/12/13:   My thanks to all of you, my visitors, my commenters, my subscribers.  Your presence on this blog has meant the world to me, and you have played a very powerful role in helping hone my photographic work these last three years.  I’m deeply immersed right now in two projects, one focused on the arctic and the other on night.  While I will not post daily I do intend to maintain this blog at least for the time being.  If you are interested in my projects please feel free to check out my on-line galleries by pointing your browser toward my website:  tamabaldwin.com.



The “Wabi Sabi Universe,” as Leonard Koren attempts to define it in his wonderful book Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, is a “‘comprehensive’ aesthetic system.” Here are some of its precepts as he sees them:

Things are either devolving toward or evolving from nothingness
Truth comes from the observation of nature
‘Greatness’ exists in the inconspicuous and overlooked detail
Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness
Acceptance of the inevitable
Appreciation of the cosmic order
Get rid of all that is unnecessary
Focus on the intrinsic and ignore material hierarchy

In the author’s note we are told that Leonard Koren “was trained as an architect but he never built anything–except an eccentric Japanese tea house–because he found large, permanent objects too philosophically vexing to design.”   Ambition, I suppose, is its own end.  Wabi-sabi is about something else entirely–or so I suspect.   From what I thus far understand it is best comprehended in practice, in the processes of the daily, and so I am devoting myself to a year of wabi-sabi seeing, recording here each day a visual wabi-sabi meditation  with my camera in the hope that this will help me hone my wabi-sabi eye.   With each image I am renouncing perfectionism.  I am devoting myself to the beauty  in the flaw. Ghosting, blurring, the chromatic flares serve as points of entry, as fissures to explore.  I shoot the ordinary, the ground beneath my feet–or the water–wherever I might happen to be.  Each image presented here was captured within a narrow window of experience, ideally within 48 hours of the posting (with only a few exceptions at the outset when this project was first begun).  This latter rule has intensified my experience of the project unbelievably, forcing me to ask a lot of questions about content and intention and form.  I have come to think of this as  a kind of walking meditation,  camera in hand, one in which the destination is always the present moment.



8 responses

  1. Alice

    Tama, you are the perfect person to live in this mind for a year–your beautiful words and photographs might touch the world in this light, care-ful manner. i’ll be following.

    April 16, 2010 at 6:06 am

  2. Tama, thank you for telling me about Koren and Wabi-Sabi. I didn’t know his name for it.

    April 22, 2010 at 8:23 pm

  3. Zakarius

    It seems that I’ve stumbled upon your wabi-sabi nearly a year after you commenced… how does this experience compare to the ‘year you lived only on words’?

    March 27, 2011 at 1:59 am

    • Hey Zak–

      I didn’t know there was a year I lived only on words, but I can say this year of making images deliberately each day was different from all others–not for the better entirely. I can now fully appreciate artists who refuse to title their work–the visual can serve to estrange you from other forms of language. . . .

      March 28, 2011 at 11:52 am

  4. i live by the wabi-sabi concept! http://www.lifeaccordingtoangel.com

    thanks for sharing your beauty with the rest of the world.

    October 25, 2011 at 3:02 pm

  5. I own Wabi Sabi Cottage, a B & B in midcoast Maine! Thank you for capturing wabi sabi. Joan

    December 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm

  6. Jed Feffer

    Tama, I read your poem “Fatigue in California”. I was very impressed. I believe I knew you back at Brockport State in 1981. I think you were a Teaching Assistant along with me in the writing program. Do I have the right person??? Jed Feffer

    January 16, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    • Hey Jed! Yes, I am that Tama. How well I remember–and happily! Hope you are well!

      January 19, 2013 at 2:04 am

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