While outside this morning I noticed a bright crescent moon in the southeast sky. Even though most of us do not have extensive knowledge of this beautiful object, we never question what it is.
Take a moment to imagine an early culture that did not know what the moon actually was. No matter how carefully they observed this luminous object changing shape as it drifted through the night sky, they did not have the context to understand it the way we understand it. This of course did not prevent early cultures from giving meaning to it. They too thought they knew it.
Today, each of us has access to a collective body of information we generally feel precludes our ignorance of the world. To some degree this is true. Our collective knowledge, though a work in progress, is immense. But every culture that preceded ours most likely felt the same way. At each point in history the prevailing culture of a given region thought themselves to be the forefront of knowledge.
Past or present, knowledge has lent a sense of security and purpose to the human experience. Yet when you think about it, each of us exists in a world that is essentially unknown to us. For the most part we know only what we need to know. The question becomes; does the value of focusing on essentials, outweigh the potential of pushing into darkness?
The photography work I do is an attempt to stir the unknown up to a level of awareness. But if the unknown is without reference how can you access it? The more familiar one gets with any method or process the more they sense it’s hidden potential. Initially one gathers only sense impressions. Eventually, sense impressions network their way into coherent thought or understanding. Learning about the world is really a matter of persistence, and the innate desire for efficiency. An example would be the persistence required to learn to read or write.
The process of working with the still camera is no different. The more familiar one becomes with it the more flexible and reasonable it’s perspectives become. By portioning the world in the view finder one mostly re-enforces the world they already know, but on rare occasions the view will yield something of which they were previously unaware. When this happens, the presence of that unknown should be apparent in the photograph.