LENS MAGAZINE ARTICLE
Article for Lens Magazine #65, The Big Black & White issue 2020.
ANICCA - a series of minimalist scapes
“All entities move and nothing remains still, You cannot step twice into the same river.” - Heraclitus
‘Anicca’ is the Buddhist notion that all of existence is in a constant state of flux and impermanence. Anicca, ‘Anatta' (the absence of an abiding self), and ‘Dukkha’ (suffering) together make up the three basic characteristics of all phenomenal existence, according to this doctrine. Mental events come into being and dissolve. Recognition of the fact that anicca characterises everything is one of the first steps in the Buddhist’s spiritual progress towards enlightenment.
Long exposure and minimalist photography is a fitting and creative way to contemplate on this existential condition that can be both suffering and liberating. Anywhere we turn our camera/attention at - landscapes, waterscapes, cityscapes, terrain vague, urban/rural life - becomes a canvas of cultivated awareness, sometimes joyfully ecstatic, others overwhelmingly tragic, but guiding us to move forward with never ending integrality; always partial, already whole.
This on-going project started in 2011 inspired by fine art photographers David Burdeny, Michael Kenna, Irene Kung, Michael Massaia, among others. Having studied and practiced various meditative techniques in the past, the role of the ‘still point’ in the creative process and the Zen aesthetic are concepts I tried to integrate into this series. To be still is to create a state of consciousness that is open and receptive. Single-pointedness of mind builds concentration and taps into our physical, mental and emotional reserves and opens our spiritual capacities. We become more directly aware of the world, cultivating a mindful state of being that ideally is transmitted into our work and resonates that state to the viewer.
During my travels, either for commissioned assignments or for personal projects in Greece, Europe, Middle East, and USA, I look for scapes and moments with a strong presence that are at the same time flitting. Sometimes the process is fast (a quick stop at the side of the highway), other times it’s slow (experimenting with different neutral density filters and exposures, waiting for the clouds or fog); sometimes the elements align effortlessly, other times with persistence and resolve. From locations I have visited many times to unfamiliar places I connect with for a brief moment, we can find what they refer in Zen as ‘the beginner’s mind’, a fresh look as if we just witnessed the wonders of this world. When we momentarily drop all we know and the anxiety of the unknown, we can rest in the unifying consciousness that ultimately all is one.
‘Liminality’ series was taken during the ‘Integral Lens’ 5-month photographic journey in United States sponsored by the Fulbright Artist Scholarship for a multi-perspectival study of architectural photography. A companion to the award-winning series ‘AQAL Views’, the series continues the exploration of the edge conditions of coastlines in urban and suburban locations. The title is a reference to the anthropological quality of ambiguity studied in rituals where participants are in a threshold consciousness state between their previous way of structuring identity and the new one that will emerge when the rite is complete. The long exposure technique incorporates the passage of time and suspends the ambiguity of our ephemeral interpretations. The minimalist and Zen-like aesthetic is meant to be the unifying underscore in the otherwise diverse exterior and interior conditions and subjects. The series includes locations from Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, Los Angeles, and the Highway 1 coastline in California with landmark locations Big Sur, Monterey Bay, Pfeiffer beach, Morro Bay, Santa Barbara.