Blake, Hafiz and Magic
Magic: Floating (from the series, ‘Magic’). 1989
Platinum-palladium print on Fabriano 5 from 8×10 inch negative
I had a long conversation today about magic, and that the experience of magic (spectacle, awe, wonder, questioning without wanting to fully understand the answer, an encounter with something that encapsulates all that one knows and comprehends and then renders experience beyond that…) may push against the very edges of our cognitive processes. And if it does this, why we need to keep the experience tethered to what we know and even go some way towards explaining the phenomenon of magic in terms of what we know. I think Blake, and the target of much of his work— positivist thinking (and consequently, science and empiricism) — considered this same realm of experience but couched it in religious, Christian, symbology. In other words, that science, for instance, also bumps up against the same realm that others would call magic, but explains /reduces the experience in terms of measurement and data. Hafiz probably did the same in terms of love, the divine and other forms of sufi symbolism.
A photograph is born of the moment, and as a window onto a time gone by, instantly becomes a historic object. But as something which stands for a moment that is always happening, it begins to defy time. It is never fully historic since each viewing brings with it the here and now; it is never fully static because the form of the photograph provides a variety of visual triggers that in turn evoke and condition memory, emotion and insight. In some ways, it is like a sleight of experience and time. It is magical. It reduces and converts experience in terms of the frame, tone, pattern and allusion (to what we envision and see)
A photograph is rich with this potential, and I am interested in using it towards understanding how the minute and seemingly insignificant relates to the broadest aspects of our social being; I believe that the particulars of living point to far reaching philosophical insights about the human condition. I think we need magic, both the experience of it and ways of rendering the experience, to help us negotiate through the wrangle of making sense of our existence in terms of the effort of making sense. Does that make sense?