Tag Archives: photography

Beauty in the sky

Every summer I cannot decide if I prefer full moon nights or the dark starry ones. The truth is I care not choose, I love both. In this sense I love August, a month with magical full moon(s) and star-dotted night skies.

This is an iphone (hipstamatic) pic I took of the full moon rising a couple of nights ago on the beach (almost) in front of my house in Kolymbithres, Paros.

And here is a video – guide for spotting celestial objects in the summer night sky (english with Greek subtitles.) Thank you Silina for sending me this video!

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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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Sunset at Parikia, Paros in June

It’s been quite a while since I posted something… well summer is here, a busy and beautiful season… Let me share its beauty with you…

 

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Artworks on the move // sites on the making

Great images on the life of exhibitions found on WRAPIT-TAPEIT-WALKIT-PLACEIT . Works being moved, installed. Nice idea for a photo – site!

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“To paraphrase several sages: Nobody can think and hit someone at the same time.”

Susan Sontag in ‘Regarding the Pain of Others’

Susan Sontag Quote

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Easter on an Orthodox (is)land

Following my mood for trying something new these days and avoid reverting to my ‘good ol’ habbits’ I spent Easter in Paros for the first time. For the first time, that is, in Greece away from Corfu. Anyone that knows me well understands that this is quite a strange thing to do, since I could easily be called a Corfiot Easter ‘fanatic’. Of course I missed home and how we do Easter there, but I was equally curious and excited to experience a more “Orthodox” Easter that is celebrated in the place I now live.

With Easter week over but the Easter feel still in the air, I can say that in both places – Corfu & Paros – it is a beautiful coming together of the community to remember its heritage and celebrate life. It is a festivity that feasts in spring to spread an ethereal optimism.

At Paros I went to watch the main easter do’s at the Ekatontapiliani Church in Parikia (a literal translation in English would be: the Church of a Hundred Doors), a breathtaking monument. The site was originally an ancient temple and a roman gymnasium. In the 4th century AD the Byzantine Emperor Constantine built in its place this Christian church following his mother’s (St. Helen) will. A couple of centuries later, Emperor Justinian restored and enlarged the original structure. It has been operating as a Christian church ever since, that is for a bit more than 1700 years. The architectural style is pure and original byzantine and most of its building materials are a re-use of the ancient pieces of parian marble found on site. In other words, you can read great parts of the history of Paros and of the eastern mediterranean just by sitting there.

So, although my ‘default’ enjoyment of Easter celebrations is heavily, if not exclusively, based on the music and spring colors of Corfu, this too was a beautiful yet very different experience. Easter on Paros is a more obvious religious event than I would fancy these festivities to be  and visiting the church during the various easter services didn’t make of me a bearer of hope and light in any religious or dogmatic sense. But I was moved and excited these days by the overall community feel, the beauty of the Ekatontalypiani, the naturalness in everybody’s behaviour in engaging with the rituals, the blossoming of the island, the brightness of the Aegean light and the force of its winds; a combination of elements that created a very specific environment for friends to meet. So I may not have felt any sort of metaphysical transcendence, but I was definitely reminded that symbols and rituals make it easier for us to mark and live the extraordinary.

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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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