scattered notes of photography and meditation

alla ricerca dell'illuminazione con una Nikon in mano...

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Everything that exists is impermanent.

When one begins to observe this, with deep understanding and direct experience, then one remains detached from suffering.

This is the path of purification.

Siddhartha Gautama Buddha Sakyamuni

Photography has always exerted a particular fascination on man, a fascination that has not faded even with the advent of digital, which has allowed this art to easily become an integral part of our daily life.

Unfortunately, as always happens in these cases, the ease of access to photographic media, their apparent simplicity of use as well as the immediacy of the approach to post production systems, have stripped photography of its meaning, to the point that it it has ceased to be considered art.

With any mobile phone we are able to take home thousands of photos and play with hundreds of post-production effects already preset by others.

We photograph friends, our pets, the food we eat. And everything immediately becomes public knowledge.

It has become a mania and a mania.

Photography has become an urgency.

We set aside the magic of a sunset on the beach to photograph it and tell friends “I'm here”. Let's forget the thrill of a kiss to capture it in a shot that we will show to our community and receive many "likes".

Photography, which has always been an art with a great voyeuristic value - as are painting and sculpture - reflects man's growing personal hedonism, his constant and frantic search for pleasure, ostentation and self-glorification.

We photograph to appear what we would like to be, to affirm our presence in that present moment and to have the illusion that our presence in the moment will last forever.

"The photographed images look like pieces of a world that anyone can produce and acquire"

(Susan Sontag)

Taking a photograph has become more important than living it.

We no longer look for historical memory , the one that is built of memories entrusted to our sensorial perceptions.

The words, the emotions, the moods linked to a precise moment must be enclosed in something that will testify, in the near future, their veracity.

As if we had to find confirmation that what we experienced was not only the result of our sensory illusions.

The everyday, perceived as elusive, temporary, impermanent, is experienced on images.

We thus lose the possibility of listening and observing what we are experiencing, because we are already projected with the mind when we look at those images.

We are not present in our life, we do not build our history, we do not live everyday life, we do not build memories or associations of ideas.

The desire to stop that moment actually takes it away from us forever.

We photograph in a distracted way, completely unaware of what we are experiencing.

We look at the world, we look inside this world, but we don't observe.

We forget what photography is.

To put it in Bresson's style, photography is the perfect alignment between eye, mind and heart.

That is, it is a dialogue with ourselves, it is a conscious penetration into the thick meshes of the world by listening to and observing us.

It is an act of pure selfishness. And of blatant hedonism.

Through photography I impose my point of view, I affirm my presence, I let who I am emerge.

Photography, like all other arts, is the daughter of the times in which it lives.

Never like today.

Our times no longer allow us the luxury of dialoguing with ourselves, they do not give us the opportunity to stop and listen and they distract us from observing. Our main senses - sight, hearing, touch - are reduced to the mere functionalities of seeing, hearing and touching.

Purely sensory impulses no longer communicate with the mental processes connected to them.

Observation and listening - functions that find their explanation also through touch - presuppose the entry into the field of cognitive functions.

Awareness, intention, motivation, intuition.

Photography becomes sterile representation of a moment just when all this is missing.

Wanting to try to tiptoe into the psychoanalytic field, we could analyze our need to photograph by considering the camera as an extension of our psyche and its systems.

Let's do a quick refresh.

Psychoanalysis (from psycho-, psyche, soul, more commonly "mind", and -analysis: analysis of the mind) is the theory of the unconscious of the human soul that began with the work of Sigmund Freud.

Freud analyzes the so-called "structural model of the mind". The latter is divided into three different psychic instances: the id, the ego and the superego.

The id is a totally unconscious structure, which pushes for the satisfaction of the individual's unconscious impulses.

Only through dreams or mental associations emerge the contents of the unconscious, which can escape the control of the actions of consciousness.

The superego is an almost completely unconscious structure, constituted by the psychic representation of the moral rules and prohibitions of the person. The superego has the task of preventing the id from freely satisfying its instincts.

The ego is what comes closest to the conception of self. It is the organizing structure of the personality and its main task is to mediate between the demands of the id and the demands of reality. To carry out these tasks the ego has defense mechanisms at its disposal and the ability to manage reality through functions such as perception, attention, memory, problem solving and, of course, consciousness.

The bases of the ego are created through processes of identification with the objects of desire of the id: when this desire is frustrated, the assimilation of the object (by means of identification) will form the basis of the ego.

We could therefore say that the camera is a tool through which our mind establishes a dialogue between the ES and the Ego. In this dialogue, the ES frees the drives for self-affirmation, the need for recognition, aggressive and defensive tendencies, anxieties, restlessness and anguish; the SUPER I and the I transform them into the action of photographing. The image taken then becomes a mirror through which I will see and build my image of reality.

The reality thus constructed and immobilized gives us the perception - false and illusory - of being able to govern it, precisely through the image.

If the act of photographing is strictly connected to these processes of introjection and simultaneous incorporation of the external world, the voracity with which we feed on images does nothing but satisfy the aggressive-libidinal impulses linked to the obsession with incorporation and conquest of the object.

In English, "photograph" coincides with the verb "shooting" (shoot); we become image hunters, we chase them, we capture them and we show our "prey" to the world around us to obtain that social recognition we need to confirm our existence.

This unconscious aggression of self-affirmation, the need to preserve our past for a future that we consider very uncertain, are children of these times.

The sterility of photography is the daughter of the wild shooting.

An image must be listened to and observed in all its phases. Even before the shot it must already exist inside our mind.

It is necessary to conceive it, observe it, listen to it, even touch it. The image must be born within us, it must grow, form, come to life, breathe and speak to us.

And finally die in the moment of the shot, in that moment in which it becomes real, objective, stripped of perceptions and emotions. In that moment we will experience the illusion of having stopped time, of having frozen its action and meaning.

This mindfulness exercise will allow us to shoot with all mental functions activated to the maximum.

And only then could we claim to have taken a photograph.