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© 2012-2017 Stan Schaap. All rights reserved.

appearances and vision

RevelationWhat I’ve come to like about photography is that it’s all about appearances, playing with the make-believe that passes for reality. Images are closer to the stuff that dreams are made of than words.[1]There’s no independent evidence that the world exists, that consciousness exists, nor that you and I exist as separate beings. In fact, I think it’s true that ‘real’ reality has nothing to do with what we experience. Nevertheless it’s also true that we take our individual existence and our world very much for real. Before food and shelter we need to imagine our own reality, or we would not even rise above a vegetative state. Imagination, therefore, is our strongest urge, and excellent material for any creative mind to expand on.

Once the role of imagination is acknowledged in everything we seem to experience, we can start playing with the way our mind is projecting a world. And since I don’t believe that this world is ultimate reality there’s nothing that I want to take too seriously.

The act of photographing is all done instinctively. Moreover, we cannot help expressing our state of mind constantly in our imaginary existence here. This means that in order to change the way I photograph I have to change my unconscious beliefs by becoming aware of them first. Making photographic images seems to be a good mental feedback system, like free association. The images that work for me show what kind of dreams I love to see played out in them.

I’m shifting my mental focus from what’s supposedly in front of the lens to the emotion I feel about it. I want to discover the vision I like best of all, recognizing vestiges of long forgotten ideas in the images that fascinate me. There’s an ageless will in us to see, independent of what eyes may seem to transmit. Without attaching a value to those optical signals we are blind.

The mind chooses the values, and the mind gives them meaning in a vision. All vision is determined by the ideas we cherish. Most of our ideas are chosen unconsciously, and that makes them powerful. Because we’re not aware of them, they are already behind our lines of defense.

As a photographer I try to follow my intuition which guides me to a less familiar vision. Later, when I look at my photographs, seeing such a vision can be quite a surprise, or I may completely overlook it at first. The discovery of vision takes time but as a quietly pursued purpose it’s deeply enjoyable.

Stan


[1] Compare Ray Monk’s article Ludwig Wittgenstein’s passion for looking, not thinking in the New Statesman, Aug. 15, 2012.

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