Tag Archives: Aegean Center

New Photography

Yet another semester is underway in the beautiful Aegean Center on spring shining Paros. I wanted to share my final Portfolio from last year. A small but precious to me group of photographs. More of my photography can be viewed on Photography page, that I recently edited.

 

Burnt Cedar Forest, 2013

Burnt Cedar Forest, 2013

 

Amorgos, 2013

Amorgos, 2013

 

Underwater Sea, 2013

Underwater Sea, 2013

 

Clouds, 2013

Clouds, 2013

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Where are your dots? Jun Pierre’s invaluable Sketchbook points

jun's post

Jun Pierre Shiozawa is a beautiful artist, man and friend. There is no hierarchical order in that sentence. Jun is also a studio arts teacher at the Aegean Center and I am sure his students would add that he is a beautiful teacher as well. Combining all these qualities, Jun recently listed on his blog some key reasons why we should always carry a sketchbook with us. He offers his work and personal travels to help explain the benefits of insight, randomness and observation to help make sense of ourselves and to move on. At first this post might seem relevant only to visual artists, then to the creative people. But in truth it is helpful to all thinking beings. To all playful souls. Click here or on the image above to access the blogpost.

Sometimes the obvious is hidden in a ‘syntax’, in the dormant state of the ordinary. That’s why traveling, or in other words exploring while reviewing, can be very revealing. Or why reorganizing available information has proved time and again a way to generate new knowledge. For example, info-graphics have apparently helped make a lot of sense out of our world and trends; Ken Robinson‘s latest book “Finding your Element” is full of sketchbook-like exercises on jotting down personal tastes and information in order to reveal what makes one click; or again, just this morning, I was watching a doc about the meaning of Time that argued that Einstein’s idea of time relativity came to him during his Patent office days where he was reviewing time keeping inventions. All these diverse examples suggest that a new point of view could result in a novel viewpoint. And to bring this back to the scale of one person and to the importance of the personal meaning-making process, I paraphrase here Steve Jobs who said that one can only connect the dots retrospectively. Also meaning that it is helpful to somehow keep recording those dots in order to connect them down the road.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.”

Steve Jobs

Jun of course  also deals with the benefits of travel in his post. Being outside your comfort zone highlights a lot about your take in life. Travel is always a zone I enjoy finding myself in and for exactly this reason. But travel can happen everywhere. I am in my home place for a month now and it is proving to be a revealing time travel experience. Many dots are being connected. Many dots fly around to be pinned down. After I read Jun’s post I make sure that my sketch/notebook is always with me. Thank you Jun for helping me bring my dots home.

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Moving in Silence

Tomorrow has almost come. Tomorrow will be the first Studio Work day for the new Fall 2013 semester at the Aegean Center. Being a returner has never made me fill stuck, but rather progressing. Progressing into the silence of the still instant.

Before I embark on this new group dynamic, I would like to share my sea & rock & sky -scapes from last semester. These images  are of course best viewed on a calibrated screen. And I think is worth saying that these photographs seen in print make a whole different impact. I am proud of each and every one of them, a feeling never really believed to have me ‘attack’ with my photography. I hope you will enjoy them too.

 

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Sunset over Parikia, Paros

“These things have an unreal reality, like mermaids, difficult to hold. They exist, but the uses of language fail, because their substance is thinner and finer than words.”

“Such was life in the age of happiness”

Freya Stark in ‘Ionia: A Quest

(with a sunset over Parikia bay, Paros)

Freya Stark Quotes

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The Vermeer Project

This post is a reblog from the Aegean Center blog about the  amazing Vermeer project that the amazing Jane Morris Pack is leading at the Aegean Center right now…
… When Curiosity is the exploratory force behind all understanding and advancement, be it in art, the sciences, in life….

 “Sitting in the dark, seeing the painterly vision of light causes nearly all to exclaim at its beauty.”

Jane Morris Pack

The Chronicle

Actual-Projected-Image-(flipped)Actual Projected Image in Camera Obscura (approx. 40×48 cm / 16×19 in)

by Jane Morris Pack

Have you ever painted upside down in the dark?

While visiting Rome this winter I had the opportunity to study several Vermeer paintings in the exhibit at the Quirinale.  They were part of a larger show called “Vermeer and The Golden Age of Dutch Art”  and although there were some other fine pieces in the exhibit, the Vermeers outshone the others. They seem to glow from within and the accuracy of the perceived space is extraordinary. Johannes Vermeer has captured modern interest not only for his dreamy women engaged in mundane tasks but also perhaps due to the mystery surrounding his life.  We know little about his training, his personal life or his methods.  I was intrigued by his use of the camera obscura, which seems to be an accepted fact among art historians…

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Digital Photography at the Aegean Center

The new, Spring 2013, semester at the Aegean Center has just begun… Inspiration and love for life, art and the craft of life and of art is already perfuming our air. This will be my 5th semester of studying Digital Photography with John Pack and I am more than excited about it. ‘Digital Photography’ is just the focal point in John’s class and it serves as a good title to communicate the medium of study. But his class is so much more than that. It is a class of gratitude. It is a class of poetry. Embedded in his philosophy of learning by sharing, daring, caring and crafting, John takes us on a journey where each one of us, and together as a group, acquire the skills and appetite to capture our inner view within a frame of reference, reveal our subtleties by mastering the tonal vocabulary and sculpt these impressions as images on fine prints.

Ah…and this will be a spring journey…!

Just as I embark on this journey, I thought of sharing my Portofolio from last semester, Fall 2012:

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The Rock is out of its temple

In an earlier post back in April, titled ‘Talking about Art and Devotion’, I was talking about a photograph I was working on, the Rock. At the time of that post I wasn’t happy with my test print. It took me a couple more months of working on it, leaving it aside, looking back at it, making test prints, using different printing methods, etc, to get it to where I felt I liked it. So here it is:

This image was taken using my iphone 4S (!) on a early spring afternoon at the Paros Park in Paros. I processed it in CS5 and my final print was made on a Sommerset Velvet Fine Art A4 paper in Piezo, using a carbon selenium split toning.

I have to say that if you compare the two variations of the same image on a computer screen, I mean the one I have uploaded on the April post and this one here, you might not see much of a difference. The adjustments I made are subtle so the illuminated highly contrasty computer screen might not reveal them, but there is a huge difference in the tonal values between these two versions and, therefore, in the overall feeling of the image on the print(s). I wish I could show you that too.

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Talking about art and devotion

Last year I travelled to India. I hadn’t planned or dreamed about this trip much, so just as I was on my way there I took some books with me that would hopefully help me make sense of the place. One of those books, apart from being informative, I thought it was also a very delicate and appreciative survey of the fabric(s) that make up this deeply devotional society. The book is titled “Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India” by William Dalrymple. Dalrymple is a British (Scotish) travel writer, historian who lives in and obviously loves India. This book is a collection of stories that portray the different religious and spiritual traditions that are active in today’s India. Each story concentrates on specific people and their traditions. His observations and remarks assist you in connecting the dots between what you may see in your travel with the traditions or rituals these manifestations refer to. Of course India is a different experience to different people, but I loved his storytelling style and I felt that it really helped me understand the various heritage inputs that inform the people’s modern life. In India you cannot help it but feel that you are in a place where nothing ceases to exist, while at the same time new approaches are always welcome. Age long regional traditions and norms function hand in hand with modern style interconnectedness, old kingdoms are proud members of the relatively new Republic of India, meditation practices support civil servants’ performance, excellent train services transport people of all ages and castes to far away religious festivals, traffic chaos is met with a grin on drivers’ faces. In that sense spirituality there is almost tangible.

Anyway,when I returned from India, completely blown away from the experience of this country, I selected parts from a story in this book, titled ‘The Maker of Idols’, to share with my Digital Photography class at the Aegean Center. Here are these excerpts in the order I read them out:

In the sculpture of Cholas, and those like Srikanda [sculptor] who have kept its flame alive in the Kaveri Delta ever since …[m]ore than in any other Indian artistic tradition, the gods here are both intensely physical and physically gorgeous. The sensuality of a god was understood as an aspect of his formless perfection and divine inner beauty.

Here the final climax of worship is still to have darshan*: to actually see the beauty of the divine image, and to meet the eyes of the god.

‘We believe that unless these proportions are exactly perfect, the god cannot live in the idol. As sculptors, we struggle to become master craftsmen just so that we can begin to convey the beauty of the deity’… [says Srikanda]

‘Our workshop should be like a temple’, Srikanda said. ‘Every second is holy. Some people think that what we do is an art, but we think of it mainly as an act of devotion. For us art and religion are one: only when there is prayer can the artist make a perfect sculpture.’

‘The idols are reflections of our minds and spirits, so while we are at work on a sculpture we must behave as if we were in a holy temple: we must speak only the truth, and be kind and polite to everyone.’ [says Srikanda]

If the idol was not properly tended to, the jivan* could ebb much earlier, and if stolen or abused, the deity would leave immediately. ‘Such was the case with all the idols in the museums, none of which was now alive.’ [says Srikanda]

‘The god or godess only fully enters a new idol when we open his eyes and carve in the pupils – the final piece of carving – and when the appropriate puja* is performed. This is the most important and most intense moment. I am human: hard as I try, many times when I am carving I think of sales tax, family problems, getting the car repaired. But when the eyes are opened, and the appropriate mantras are chanted, I forget everything. I am lost to the world.’ [says Srikanda]

Glossary:
Darshan: a sighting, a glimpse, or view, especially of an idol of a deity in a temple, or of a holy or eminent personage.
Jivan: life, spirit.
Puja: a religious devotion (‘lit. adoration’).

Author’s italics, my emphasis (bold)

Excerpts and glossary from the book: Nine Lives, In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, by William Dalrymple, Bloomsbury, 2010, ISBN: 9781408801246

After I finished reading these excerpts in class my teacher, John Pack, told me that this is what he wants to see in my images and work. I have really only felt like that for one image so far, the rock, where I felt that everything is in its place in completeness, allowing me to frame it and process it as an image; for a fine rendering is an act of devotion. I am still not happy with my test print. I will keep on working on the image till it matches what I felt I saw. In other words, this image as a photograph is still in the temple.

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