Japanese cedar trees (Petasites japonicus) with branches cleared to develop a smooth exterior. Tree trunks are used as a feature in living room alcoves. Children harvest the trees their grandparents planted, nurture and cultivate trees their parents plant and plant new trees for future generations. West of Kyoto, Takao area, Japan. To see more images from Japan visit EastepPhotogrpahy.com
When I think about how we see, I sense that we look optically with our eyes and we perceive with our minds eye. The amount of information we see at one time is enormous. Our minds eye selects, filters, organizes, categorizes, defines, and correlates what we see, then creates meaning by integrating with our consciousness. Did I mention this is done in a micro second?
Art can frame and re-frame the physical world and help us see and think about what we often take for granted. It presents an opportunity to expand our perception and enter a state of observation and hopefully, awareness.
These three images that did that for me. The broken mirror reflecting the surrounding woods was alongside the road. The women in Singapore were having fun with a freestanding set of translucent and mirrored panels and the sculpture near Madison Square park in New York created segmented and reflected views of the iconic Flatiron building, the Empire State building and a tour bus along Fifth Avenue.
These images posit the question, what is consciousness? They even challenge our assumption of what reality is. Is it what’s in front of us, behind us, what we see within one plane or what we saw just before we became aware of what we are now seeing? More often than not, the role of art is to raise the question rather than propose the answer.
While documenting Japanese culture for National Geographic Traveler, I had the opportunity to photograph at Kobaien in Nara, the oldest sumi shop in Japan. The city of Nara produces 90% of the sumi-ink in Japan. Kobaien sumi shop has produced sumi-ink sticks for calligraphy and ink painting for 400 years.
Sumi is made by collecting soot from burning pure vegetable oil, usually sesame or pauwlonia, and combining this with glue derived from vegetable starch. This is then shaped into sticks and dried. Ink is made by grinding the sumi stick in the slate inkwell called a suzuri until the desired consistency is achieved.
I requested Mr. Mitsuyoshi Nakano, chief at the Kobaien sumi shop, to have the workman making sumi press his fingers into a freshly made stick for me, shown here. Mr. Nakano then created the names Nara and Kyoto in Japanese calligraphy on washi, mulberry paper as a gift.
Kobaien sumi shop, 7 Tsubaicho, Nara, Japan Tel. (Nara 22)-4922
August 11- November 12, 2012
Artifacts in the exhibition. Images from THE SOUL OF KAZAKHSTAN.
The Exhibition has been organized by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University in collaboration with:
Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Multifunctional Scientific-Analytical and Humanitarian-Educational State Enterprise “Nazarbayev Center.” Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
A. Kh. Margulan Institute of Archaeology of the Republic of Kazakhstan Museum of Archaeology of the Republic of Kazakhstan
The exhibition was made possible through support of the Leon Levy Foundation.
On December 16, 1991, Kazakhstan emerged from a long and challenging period under Soviet rule. Over the past 20 years the country has blossomed in what can be described as the Kazakh Renaissance, a demonstration of the enduring spirit of the Kazakh culture. I celebrate this anniversary with a selection of images from the book, The Soul of Kazakhstan. The collection showcases Kazakhstan’s people, history, culture and land. They will be posted on my WordPress blog over the coming days leading up to the anniversary.
A permanent library of images is available for purchase as prints or licensing at http://eastep.photoshelter.com/gallery/Kazakhstan/G0000xg4sBqG4LWQ/