Zen Exercise

“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

The Flash of Perception, then the Framing Dance

Photography is a performance art. You are dancing with your viewfinder within a scene to find a composition.  Unlike painters, writers and poets, a photographer seeks to find the compositional elements within the viewfinder,  you are an editor of the world that surrounds you. As you practice your walking practice you will find Zen-like and abstract images presenting themselves in your camera’s frame. This exercise is about focusing on those images.

Abstraction is about focusing on ideas rather than events, and in the world of art, it is about being free from the representational qualities of art. There is a subtle difference between representational images and things that are purely abstract. I would suggest that these sorts of images could be considered abstractions but I am inclined to call them zen-like images. The Sanskrit root meaning of zen is “thought,” “absorption,” or “meditation” images verging on being abstract have a Zen-like quality. These sorts of images, which have a minimal or simple representational quality, increase the intensity of the form they capture and have a meditative quality. So this exercise is about focusing on Zen-like images or abstract images, or both.

So it is about the relationship between form and space using space to increase the intensity of the form. Do not use the sky as the space by isolating telephone poles, planes or chimneys against the sky; instead, use things like walls or other colour fields to increase the intensity of the form. Think of how a Japanese garden often places objects against simple backgrounds. Use the techniques from the colour and pattern exercise and walking practice to get in touch with your intuition and flashes of perception.

Examples of Zen-like Images

Floor Lights
Just a Minute I have to Throw the Stick
Sheltered Pause

Examples of More Abstract Images

Historically Aaron-Siskind images might be of use to use as examples. https://www.wikiart.org/en/aaron-siskind Also the invaluable.com site provides some more modern examples. https://www.invaluable.com/blog/abstract-photography/#tab-170986.

Aerial Cities
In Deep Thought
Deep Confusion II
Looking Ashore