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.