Looking Down on a Mosaic

I know we can’t live life from a distance, detached.

But occasionally we want to see things from above, looking at the whole  and the how the parts of the puzzle fit together.


“Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance.”
– Charles Lindbergh


Aesop said, “It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.”

He may have meant something else when he said that, but oftentimes the situation does become clearer when seen objectively.

Stepping up sometimes means stepping back.


Order Is Not the Absence of Chaos

Order is not the absence of chaos, or so the wisdom of leaves is saying.

In leaves at random seemingly growing, across the sky a tapestry weaving.


Leaves turning into a canopy of gold, dancing, in the sun sparkling.


In every direction for life seeking, where limbs and fingers are pointing.


When growing old and falling, onto the arms of youth momentarily holding.


And when leaves come to rest, to where there is no chaos they’re finally going.



Driving Home and Life of Pi

“So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals?”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi


An interesting question: The Chaos of the tail lights or the chaos of the cars?

The tail lights for me!


“That’s what fiction is about, isn’t it, the selective transforming of reality? The twisting of it to bring out its essence?”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi  

Reflections on Cubism


It’s been said that Cubism was the first style of abstract art.

It came at the start of the 20th century, when telephones, airplanes, motor cars and other inventions heralded the arrival of a new age. Art needed a way to reflect the modernity of the new era and the changing human condition that came with it. Picasso and his peers had to break traditions that had served art for centuries.

It was also around this time that Einstein’s theory of relativity was gaining ground. It was a radical way of looking at reality that broke centuries of classical physics. What used to be seen as fixed, three-dimensional reality can be bent, stretched and compressed in space-time.

And so  Cubism broke the classical point of view of a single, fixed perspective and offered multiple points of view at once. Reality was bent, stretched and compressed in both science and art.

It’s been over a hundred years. What will the next technological revolution be – machines smarter than humans? And I wonder how art will move in tandem to usher this new world.

An Abstract Mess


Two points of view:

“Art should look like art, trees and flowers and people, not weird shapes and splotches of color all smeared together.”
― Jennifer Estep

“Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an exploration into unknown areas.”
― Arshile Gorky

And from one of the most influential:

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.
– Pablo Picasso

We seem to be getting somewhere.

“To abstract is to draw out the essence of a matter. To abstract in art is to separate certain fundamentals from irrelevant material which surrounds them.”
― Ben Shahn

So when a photographer composes an image, choosing what goes into the frame and what does not, is he (or she), in essence, abstracting?

“Abstract means literally to draw from or separate. In this sense every artist is abstract.”
Richard Diebenkorn

I guess it only applies to artists then.

Never mind, sometimes snapshots are just as enjoyable.

Sometimes, they can be Abstract too.

I Wanted To Be a Painter and Became a Photographer

When I was a child I wanted to be a painter.

But I could not draw straight lines.


Some of my friends could draw a hundred lines side by side, straight as rulers without using one. They could draw a portrait with a few pencil strokes, or slap a few brushstrokes and conjure a colorful sunset out of nowhere as if by magic. Most of all, they could draw a scene and make it look so real.

I was struck in awe, but I could not draw straight lines.

Many years later, I had my first camera, a point and shoot in the film days. When I saw the print of my first shots I thought, “Aha! I have a short cut! With one click, I could recreate the scene in front of me, capture the sunset and take portraits just like that. I don’t need to draw straight lines!”

But it was not as simple as I thought. The camera is not a brush and the print is not a canvass. I don’t have to learn how to draw straight lines, but I have to learn how to see.

I haven’t stopped learning.