I’ve always liked that sign.
Being a creature of habit and subtly attracted to shiny things, it shouldn’t be too surprising that I usually elect to take the (same) scenic route home on the rare days I’m in the office. Indeed, “昙花一现” or the “sudden onset of the cereus (a genus of cacti) flower” was my dad’s nickname when he worked at the university, for he also had a reliably transient relationship with going to the office.
More broadly speaking, this concept of transience seemed to have organically emerged as a theme for me. For few things are as predictably transient as a soap bubble or that of a shutter curtain, yet both of these events are steeped in obfuscation. In the former, bubble rupture is an extraordinarily violent act of nature on a nanoscale that is theoretically tangible yet experimentally slippery – in the latter, photography, a subject so famously misinterpreted by those who look and even more misunderstood by those who take. To hobble a great quote: two transient phenomena, both alike in dignity.
Inching closer to the point of this blog post – a task which I’ve been neglecting of late due to the re-appearance of unwanted philosophical thoughts – although an oddly fitting preamble to an upcoming doctorate in philosophy. I find myself looking at my recent photographs in a manically nuanced way, leaving almost no stones unturned – then, in an act very me-like, I discard them in favour of noting just the time and the place I took those pictures.
Take the photograph in this blog post. Surely a study in the transient capture of a mid-teleport where a man futilely attempts to de-materialise from the materialistic world? But it isn’t that, also says me. It is the unconscious amalgamation of a few styles of modern street photography which is paraded around Instagram in an unhealthy, social media manner and I, the picture-taker, is caught mid-act in the teleporting exercise where I tried to travel to a more original place – but ultimately foiled and attracted by the dark side that is the commercial ad. A transient victory.
In short, there is a tension (or we bubbleologists say, the surface tension) on the interface between two media – in this case, me the picture-taker and the subject in said picture, and whichever you choose would inevitably affect your interpretation of the frame. This tension, like its fluidic cousin the surface tension, is both spatially and temporally-dependent, i.e. the viewer would feel one or the other interpretation would dominate the other if looking at the photograph in a different place/device or time. For me, this is one important reason to like a picture – that it allows for a tension to develop between the different strands of philosophical narratives.
However, also possessing the subtleties of a wreaking ball, a majority part of me like it because it is a fu***u* slam dunk of a picture of my favourite ad in my favourite place taken on my favourite camera. And that is also ok :)
Until the next time!