When I’m photographing unselfconsciously and intuitively, joyfully present in the moment, the camera becomes an extension of the mind, it behaves as consciousness itself, and what I bring home from my little explorations are camera dreams, or reveries of the camera’s imagination.
An image is not an object, it’s an act of consciousness, with an instantaneous but fleeting nature, like everything else in the mind. It’s not constructed like an intellectual concept, but recognized intuitively like a shape, faintly familiar, emerging out of the mist of our subconscious existence. That’s why it may take time to achieve a more or less ‘definitive’ form, and only for some time before it changes. No need for streaming video when even a single image never sits still in our mind, although it may keep hovering around the first impression it has made.
The fact that an object may be there in full view doesn’t mean it exists as an image in everybody’s mind. If I am inconspicuous, the act of consciousness isn’t triggered in the people around me and I may remain totally invisible in a crowd.
A painting or a photographic print may physically have a stable life for hundreds of years, but the image it describes in patterns of pigment on paper, canvas, or solid oak, will not remain the same, because our consciousness changes constantly. We cannot see with our consciousness of yesterday, let alone with that of a painter of the fifteenth century or the stone age, but we can always accept the invitation their remaining paintings offer with our consciousness of this moment.
A photograph of some 150 years ago may have meant something to its maker, but probably never was as fascinating as it may be to us now, and, the other way around, the work of long dead painters who stood in high regard in their own time is perhaps scorned or totally ignored now.
Because of the fickle nature of our consciousness, a creative photographer after having made a good print has to live with it for some time in order to become familiar with this newly discovered richness of her mind. She also needs to see whether her act of consciousness has fulfilled itself completely or is still at work perfecting its seed of wonder, which may eventually lead to another try at bringing the image into print.
In that way fine art photography is not so much about capturing an event ‘out there’ as helping a dreaming solitude become awake in its photographic description.
The being of reverie crosses all the ages of man from childhood to old age without growing old. […] A glimmer of eternity descends upon the beauty of the world. […] We dream while remembering. We remember while dreaming. […] From poetic reverie inspired by some great spectacle of the world, to childhood reverie, there is a commerce of grandeur. And that is why childhood is at the origin of the greatest landscapes. Our childhood solitudes have given us the primitive immensities. […] It is reverie which makes us the first inhabitant of the world of solitude. And we inhabit the world better because we inhabit it as the solitary child inhabits images. – Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Reverie, p. 102