ZEN, CAMERAS AND SUCHNESS
Canon's first camera (1934) was named after the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Kwannon. The lens was called Kasyapa after one of Buddha's disciples, Mahakasyapa. Avcontemporaneous advertisement for Leica is also shown.
Ananda asked Maha Kashapa, “Buddha gave you the golden woven robe of successorship. What else did he give you?”
Kashapa said, “Ananda!”
“Yes!” answered Ananda.
“Knock down the flagpole at the gate!” said Kashapa.
In saying “knock down the flagpole at the gate” Kashapa declares the interview is over. But, just before that, Kashapa calls and Ananda answers: that is the meaning of Zen. Calling and answering is the direct presentation of suchness – not just the suchness of perception, but also of function.
Photographs of Charis Wilson and a pepper by Edward Weston who understood and portrayed suchness
Alfred Stieglitz was a sometime friend and mentor of the great photographer Paul Strand; some of us were fortunate to see the recent wonderful exhibition of Paul Strand's life and works at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is arguable as to how good a photographer Stieglitz himself was; nevertheless he was a powerful force in photography, not least because he was a gallerist. His wife, the much younger Georgia O'Keefe was herself a great artist, producing some of her greatest work when she left him to live in New Mexico. Her work was covered recently at a major exhibition at the Tate Modern.
“Don’t believe that you become an artist the instant you received a gift Kodak on Xmas,” says Stieglitz in an article published in 1909 in a now defunct publication called Photography Topics. The article was entitled “12 random don’ts” (notice their inappropriate use of apostrophes).
Many of these exhortations are still applicable today.
Another great quote which is relevant to today's internet trolls and/ or pedants is :
“Don’t believe that because of your lack of taste you are privileged to air your opinions on pictorial photography and art matters in general. The world in its entirety is not a camera club.”
Moonlight before my bed
Perhaps frost on the ground.
Lift my head and see the moon
Lower my head and pine for home.
Bertrand Russell’s 1930 book examined “The conquest of happiness”. The converse of happiness, suffering, as ubiquitous is central to Buddhism.
Surprisingly there has been a collapse of British Christianity: the British Social Attitudes survey showed in 1983, 37 % of the population self-declared as Anglican, in 2017 it’s 17%. This is illustrated by images of a virtual tour throughout an empty York Minster, where regal power mixes with religion. Orthodox Christianity believes in contemplation and a god above, illustrated by Canterbury Cathedral cloisters and roof and a series of gilded roof bosses at York, usually unnoticed because of their height, showing the life of Christ. Attempts by a king to rise to divinity are shown by the mountainous world heritage giant statues at Nemrut.
In 1981, the moral philosopher Alasdair McIntyre wrote in “After Virtue “, that the Enlightenment’s inability to provide a authoritative source of morality to replace the Christian–Aristotelian one it rejected, had left the west adrift. Macintyre compared our age to the Roman Empire’s decline, a comparison that the sixth century saint, Pope Benedict XVI, also made. This is illustrated by images of homeless rough sleepers beside cathedrals, unheeded by people walking past cited by some as representing the disconnect of the church with the secular state. Rural images of children learning to kill animals and the desire for accumulation illustrate further examples of lapses in moral leadership.
Benedict promoted establishment of thirteen monastic communities in tune with nature; there are similarities to the teaching of Japanese zen master Dogan, seven hundred years later. Images are shown of senior Christian clergy and the Queen’s cousin taking up Benedict’s and Degen’s example, establishment of a zen sangha, recognition of lineage, and pursuit of the four Bodhisattva vows despite castigation from evangelists in the national press.
George Bernard Shaw wrote “Dance is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire“, thus emphasising the bonding and communication that is at the core of dance.
Aumphotos' new book " Women, devotion and dance " highlights the perception that in general dance is considered socially a feminine activity.
In addition dance is shown to transcend culture and geography – examples are shown from four continents.
Movement and pleasure in the dancers and spectators are shown. In addition recent neuroscience speculates that mirroring of movement enhances pleasure (possibly via mirror neurons). Gestalt is a German word that means form, pattern or configuration. In further depth, the Gestalt Theory is the character of human experience and behaviour and focuses on wholes and whole patterns. As a result the way in which we see our reflection in the mirror, is unified by the actions of the brain, creating a recognizable image out of purely geometrical shapes, curves and lines; examples of this in dance are shown.
Further examples are shown of additional pleasure derived in dance from dress, energy, feelings of empowerment; children are shown learning the benefits and pleasure of dance. Finally examples of expression of spirituality and religious devotion in dance are shown from Hindu Bharatnatyam, smoke, rotational and stick dances, Buddhist death dance, and Sufi-derived dance.