About Samsara Fields: a thousand paths to Now

Samsara Fields

This work is a collaborative effort between a photographer and a meditator. It is an engagement of two people creating this artwork and the many places around the world that we visited, worked, lived, journeyed. I photograph as a process of understanding, a way to study a situation and be still, to contemplate rather than pass through in haste. Meditation is a discipline used to get beyond the reactive, consciously thinking mind into a deeper state of awareness. The exhibition will deal with several aspects of the human condition with particular emphasis placed upon mind perception of time and place.

To photograph is to engage an image capturing technology in recording light. For me this subjective process is one of entering into a state of thoughtfulness, of stepping out of habitual patterns of thinking and of becoming aware of the now. The mind always runs to the past, then the future, then past again. Cutting through this conditioning requires practice. To see is to mirror what is there; tree is tree, mountain is mountain, river is river.

The choice of locations reflects a personal desire to look at issues of time and place as they are. Natural splendours, remnants of war, poverty, urban development, rural life, spiritual practices, the legacies of empires and civilizations now past are some of the issues covered. By photographing the same person sitting throughout, a sense of one mind not moving in all creation is created. The problems we face are all our problems; there is one world, one universe, one mind.

Our planet is home to amazing natural wonder, a delicate balance under threat. National political agendas are carried out in global power games like the secret war in Laos, or the Khmer Rouge régime in Cambodia, yet the decision-makers are often out of touch with the real-life consequences of their actions. Those who order the bombs dropped usually do so from behind a comfortable desk while the consequences are borne by the innocent, those unlucky enough to be ‘collateral damage.’ Some may view the displacement of people into urban areas as necessary growing pains in a changing market economy. I’m not sure if the homeless of Sealdah train station in Calcutta see it that way. And now past civilizations remain as pillars and crumbling walls that recall Ozymandias’ snarling lips amidst the sands of nothingness that slowly encroach. What is power, if not some ephemeral passage of energy that is at its core empty, a vain attempt at material immortality in defiance of time?

Where there is ugliness there is also beauty. To see the worst is to also understand that it is not separate from the best. This incongruity of existence has led people to name ‘God’ and to raise their eyes outwards. To name God is to define something as divine and not-divine. The tendency is to subdivide, create as opposites. To mask substance in name and form and lose the truth. And so we have our Holy sites, places where the sublime manifests as tangible, banners behind which we hide. We passed through these places keeping one mind, aware that all efforts to name the Absolute fall short.

Working alongside So Young Lee gave me an opportunity to observe one-mind in changeable circumstances. Her stillness amidst the haste resulted from great effort that ultimately became calm, a moment just as it is. A three-way relationship sets up between viewers, So Young Lee the sitter and her many environments. Gazing into the space between herself and the viewer is an invitation to consider your own situation in respect to her changing circumstances. When you look into the photo, you create that place in your mind alone. You are only where you are. Can a photo of India actually be India if it is outside India?

The still image is a symbol of a moment that happened. So Young sat in these places and by turning towards the camera, she confronts an external gaze asking a viewer to consider that environment. That is all in the mind. Mind alone creates everything. Is the photo the same environment? Or different? Both answers are wrong. Is a photo of India really India? Mind alone creates India.

By naming a dividing, we create non-understanding. And this leads to wrong thinking, and systems of collective madness. Actions making more results creating more reactions. So there is no peace. We are all the children of the garbage dumps.

Photographic images are means to record a moment in time, a symbol of reality that can never be as all time is constantly flowing. I create a symbol of time passing, a shadow alternative to the real, by sequencing images together, moments passing through time. Also through the use of slow shutter speeds, images blurring represents things passing through space and time.

(Community Supported Agriculture)

Samsara Fields

A summer share is an up-front arrangement with a farmer whereby the consumer buys into the harvest.

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