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1. Time

Time is intangible, invisible yet it could be said to dictate our lives. Not just the ‘9 to 5’ of daily life but also on the different scales of measurement such as the months of the seasons or the years that make up a lifetime. In the mind time can expand so that tedium drags on ‘for what seems like hours’, yet pleasure it seems is over ‘all too quickly’. Photography makes graphic the ‘now’ (indifferent to either tedium or pleasure), an instant in time, an instant that is seldom perceived in the normal everyday run of life. Photography could be said to deal in time, from ‘Nicholas Nixon: The Brown Sisters. Thirty-Three Years’ (Nixon, 2008) on a human scale, to cities whose changes have been recorded photographically since the invention of the medium.

  1. ‘dreams, laughter, pride, the comfort of home, the hunger for love’

The photographer Wayne Miller said that he returned home from the World War 2 with a mission to document ‘the things that make this human race of ours a family…look at what we all have in common — dreams, laughter, tears, pride, the comfort of home, the hunger for love (Franklin, 2009: 370-379). Miller names here the invisible — dreams, laughter, pride, the comfort of home, the hunger for love – but recognises that they can be photographed. Miller had served in the Navy and his ‘mission’ stemmed from his experiences there. Arguably, such sentiments and photography is as much needed in today’s world which is still stalked by war.

  1. Wabi Sabi

Wabi Sabi is a traditional Japanese aesthetic. It is ‘a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional’ (Koren, 1994:7). Although the term ‘wabi sabi’ is associated with Japan:

the sentiments that it fosters are universal, and the fundamental feelings of all mankind have certain shared emotions that exist regardless of cultural boundaries. While the expression of these sentiments may vary from culture to culture and indeed from person to person, there remains a thread of commonality that binds all humans (Juniper, 2003:145).

The aesthetic is much explored outside of Japan (see Tables 1, 2 and 3 below).

Table 1 Flickr groups (sample)

Group name url
Wabi Sabi https://www.flickr.com/groups/48600105361@N01/
wabi-sabi manmade objects https://www.flickr.com/groups/1107851@N21/
wabi sabi suki https://www.flickr.com/groups/wabisabisuki/
Wabi Sabi is beautiful https://www.flickr.com/groups/2268172@N24/
Wabi-Sabi https://www.flickr.com/groups/wabi-sabi/

Table 2 Pinterest boards (search result and sample)

Board name url
Search results for ‘wabi sabi’ http://www.pinterest.com/sabistyle/wabi-sabi/
Wabi Sabi art and photography http://www.pinterest.com/ndjdeel1/wabi-sabi/
Wabi Sabi http://www.pinterest.com/leslieavon/wabi-sabi/
Wabi-sabi art http://www.pinterest.com/velaps/wabi-sabi-art/

Table 3 Tumblr (search results)

Name url
Search results on Tumblr https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/wabisabi

The three subjects above may be too difficult to encompass in a project of 10 images.

4. Patience/Perseverance: often there is to be seen a small group of protesters (often only one) walking up and down doggedly and determinedly holding a placard in front of a government building or parliament building — study of one or more of these individuals/groups over several days or weeks.

5. Anger: Depending on the protest ‘Patience/Perseverance’ (above) could also shade into a depiction of ‘Anger’

6. Democracy: Again, the ‘Patience/Perseverance’ (above) could shade into a depiction       of ‘Democracy’ or ‘Liberty’/’Freedom’

7. Culture: this allows for a wide interpretation including ‘high’ (museums, art galleries, main stream theatre) and ‘popular’ (music gigs, street art/theatre) but would not need to try and explore the differences (if any) — images of venues and the people attending them.

8. Gossip/Hearsay/Rumor: arguably much of what happens on social media is ‘gossip’, and if so then many people while out-and-about using their mobile phones take part in this enormous gossip – street photography.

9. Need: Much of the graphic communication in cities is made up of advertising posters, hoardings and so on. All these displays have a constant, unremitting purpose that revolves around need: to induce the feeling in the inhabitants and urge them to fulfil it. Such advertising, each skilfully competing with the next, each offering to fulfil a need, can lead to a kaleidoscopic, fragmentary perception or experience of a city — photograph city graphic advertising to convey this ‘kaleidoscopic, fragmentary perception or experience’ of the individual.

This post continues in ‘Reflection #2 — Photographing the unseen’ At: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/reflection-2-photographing-the-unseen/


Franklin, Stuart (2009) ‘Wayne Miller’ In: Lardinois (ed.) Magnum Magnum. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 370-379

Juniper, Andrew (2003) Wabi Sabi the Japanese art of impermanence. North Clarendon: Tuttle

Koren, Leonard (1995) Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers. Berkeley: Stone Bridge

Nixon, Nicholas (2008) Nicholas Nixon: The Brown Sisters. Thirty-Three Years. New York: The Museum of Modern Art