A thought on photography, art, etc:
Nothing SHOULD last forever.
For example, if our photos were to last forever, what hope could there be for future generations of photographers and artists? If we were forever under the tyranny of the shadow of Henri Cartier-Bresson, what bright and new future would that have for us photographers?
Why this obsession with creating immortal art-works?
“All flows.” – Heraclitus
It seems the bias in Western thought (Plato henceforth) is that we desire immortality. We strive to gain immortality via our artworks. Even as Seneca said:
Life is short, art is long.
Your personal life will be very short, but the artwork you create has the potential to last a very long time.
I prefer more of the Buddhist-Zen notions of impermanence. Nothing will last forever, nor should anything last forever.
Also, matter never ultimately perishes. Matter is simply TRANSFORMED into different states (law of conservation of matter). For example even though we die, the molecules and atoms in our bodies will be transformed to fertilizer for future avocado trees.
Why strive to create artworks which will last forever?
It is certainly the function of life to create things which perish. Without death, new life cannot bloom.
I also think that forgetfulness is probably one of the best traits of the artist. Why? To forget the artworks we have created in the past is greatly beneficial. When I forget that I’ve made a certain type of photograph, I have the motivation and impetus to create it again! I have this will to the ‘eternal return’ in photography — to create constantly for my whole life without any satiety or disgust.
Do you fear death?
Artists who want to create art-works which last forever are afraid of their own personal death.
To create artworks which they think will last forever: this shrouds and masks their personal fear of their own personal death.
My friend Jacob Patterson from ThinkTank Gallery LA said very eloquently:
Why create artworks and temporary art exhibitions? I think of it like making sandcastles on the beach– the beauty is that it is impermanent!
This also echoes Heraclitus. The child creates things, and plays with their artistic energy and force without any concern for permanence or immortality. I know as a child when I made epic sand castles at the beach, I was a little sad knowing that I couldn’t “take it home with me”, and knowing that there wouldn’t be any recorded documents (photos) immortalizing my epic sandcastle. Yet I knew in my heart:
The joy of making it in the first place is enough!
Conclusion: Your photos are made of sand
Anti-permanence in photography; this is a better aesthetic/ethic and way of thinking. Perhaps thinking that nothing will last forever will actually motivate us to never stop making and playing?
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