Living in the moment or living through time is done best in full clarity. But one can also experience life in a less focussed state of mind.
And by this I don’t mean intoxication, but the conscious effort to admit the obscure.
In music, this happens when we start to listen to the silence in between the notes.
Visually, this happens when we unfocus.
In life, it is a way to accept what is between inside and outside of us.
Die Wahrheit ist dem Menschen zumutbar
Can we really bear the truth, as Ingeborg Bachmann insisted in 1959? Her context was that of writers who encourage others to be truthful through their presentation, and are encouraged themselves by praise and criticism.
How do we present truth today, 60 years later, when its value has again become doubtful?
What if reality itself has become so doubtful that we don’t trust our own senses anymore? Can any presentation be clearer than what we can see with our own eyes? Or is it admissible to blur what we want to show to point to another truth, namely our inability to see clearly?
Ingeborg Bachmann was right. We can bear the truth. But most of us don’t want to.
We don’t merely want the truth, we want the unraveling.
What we maybe need today are not just truths, but enigmas.
Our perception of reality is self-enforcing: We see what we are used to see. Artificially blurred, everything looks strange, ominous, threatening.
Still, we try to decipher an image and put it into the context of the familiar.
If this fails, we ignore it.
How much is out there that we ignore just because we never learned to see it?
What are blurred images good for?
Are they just there to cover up blemishes of reality or the lack of skills of the photographer?
Or is having more information always better? Shouldn’t at least something be in focus, always?
Or better, everything, with absolute clarity, so that nothing is hidden and no question remains?
Sometimes, I think, it is necessary to reconsider everything.
It’s time to say goodvye to winter for this year, and a good way to do so is with some pictures I took with Lensbaby’s Velvet 56.
The completely frozen creek offered easy walking (wearing cleats) to familiar places. The imminent thawing will dislodge and transform. Some things age quickly.
One can hope.
The title of this post refers to a piece for String Quartet by Aulis Sallinen, and a CD with the same name by the Kronos Quartet from 1988. That’s 30 years ago. Some things age slowly.
After a long summer, when heat, humidity and bugs are slowly retreating, it is time to visit some old friends, like here in the canyon of McCormick’s Creek State Park.
The plan was to capture some of the spots I remembered so that they appear like my memories. The lens of choice was the Lensbaby Velvet which wide open blurs the landscape into oblivion. There is, for instance, the wonderfully maturing tree trunk which I had first seen as a still healthy but otherwise unremarkable tree,
or the overhanging tree that (against all odds) has survived this year one of T.
There are also the long views into the canyon that seem to support direction and focus, but instead limit choice.
Another trunk (near the sacred spring) has been sprouting new life – not a miracle, but symbol for resistance.
Of course there are also the frames I have written about before I am sure but can’t find anymore – – –
Things become clear when I encounter new friends, like this unlikely pile of rocks in the middle of the stream.
For several years, I have toyed with the idea to get one of Lensbaby’s odd experimental lenses. Against good advice, I have purchased the Velvet 56. This is a full frame 56mm lens, with maximal aperture 1.6. It is my most specialized lens by far. It excels at not being sharp.
Even when stepped down, it is blurry near the edges of the frame. I decided to take it to its other extreme, and use it wide open. Then, the shallow depth of field and the radial decay of sharpness join forces. There are other artifacts, too. The glow around edges for instance is possibly caused by drastically exaggerated chromatic aberration. People have claimed that all this can easily be achieved in Photoshop.
Maybe so. The images have a strange depth that might be hard to achieve. But even if somebody comes up with a Velvet 56 filter, this is not the point.
For me, the most exciting aspect about photography is the moment when I take the picture. I transforms what I see and feel at this moment into a rather selective image that I hope will represent what I have seen and felt in some way. Improving the outcome in post processing is of secondary importance.
The Velvet 56 is the most limiting lens I have used. No filter will make these images sharp. Some might view this as a fundamental flaw. I view this as a creative challenge. You have been warned.