photography • field recordings • world music • subconscious
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The Good Doctor

No idea what inspired the coconut on the head. Nassau, 1975

In Dr. Souvakis’s waiting room hung a phrase on a pale wall, its washed out blue paint showing evidence of having been applied with a cheap brush. In hand stroked yellow script were the words:

Life is short
The art long
The moment instant

Can’t say it was enjoyable visiting his office, located in an old British colonial style two-story walkup. But like any child mildly delirious with the flu, this ever present sign hanging next to his office door was hypnotizing, making the muggy room without Highlight Magazines less troublesome while trying to unravel it’s meaning, well before the one-click instant answer of the Internet.

It took a number of years before discovering the phrase, smashing about the internal dialogue, was actually a quote from Hypocrites, considered the Father of Medicine. This mantra either sidestepped its purpose or screwed me up forever, meandering upon timelessness and brevity. Sensory and possibility.

This phrase oddly tapped a profound interest in both seeing and listening, which to this day befuddles how a kid with big ears and a perpetual bad hair day could connect such sensory to the brevity and wonderment of life from the only hanging object on the good doctor’s wall.

As profoundly misconstrued the mind likely was to such wisdom, at an early age there somehow became known what today never ceases to astonish…

Images create sounds in the mind. Sounds creates images in the mind. Both are wonderful individually. Together they can be profound.


Sounds of Deep Trance and Prayers in a cave on Nusa Penida Island, Bali

Prayer & Trance
(iPhone and iPad)

At the time both felt like the meaning of life yet I was truly too much a child to understand it’s impact.

Like many Greeks in the 1950s and ’60s, Dr. Souvakis immigrated to Nassau for a better life. The Bahamas was, in the early 1970s, still a magical place. Bay Street had intriguingly seedy bars where posters hung at the entrance of local musicians donning fantastic costumes and instruments. The Straw Market had not yet been transformed into a Florida-inspired strip mall, and the true colors of Bahamian life and culture were still saturated yellows, deliciously inky blacks and the deep turquoise of this yet-to-be-independent nation’s flag — not the watered-down pastels of present-day marketed Bahamas, which mirrors that of a Key West trinket shop, which mirrors a myriad of a tropical-themed restaurant across America, which mirrors that of a pavilion’s design in a theme park I once visited in Southern China.

To a 9 year-old boy from Chicago, there existed legends and magic.


Prayers at dawn along the Ganges

Prayers to Vishnu
(iPhone and iPad)

Over three decades later, I still question if I truly understand the weight and measure of Hypocrites’s words, preferring the fanciful notion of a young Midwestern boy’s imagination to that of such weighty symbolism.

It is for this reason – and surely more – that today begins a blog about what inspires the natural human desire of wonderment and purpose within myself and surely all of us.

What lies over that mountain?

Can we actually make monumental change and if so, how?

What is the rhythm which links us collectively?

Why is everything so utterly fascinating, even in its most mundane or unseen, and so profoundly heard and felt?

Few definitive answers will come of this, as there are many, yet there are none. Just as there are no meaningful nor quantitative answers to a question, I’m all too often asked by young photographers…

“How do I take a good picture?”

I haven’t fucking a clue.

But I do know we have to understand what our purpose is while viewing the world through the perspective of a camera. While doing so, being amazed at everything, by everything. Questioning everything we see, sensing every vibration of sound. Listening to our internal consciousness colliding by the astonishing realities before us, in turn learning, then sharing that weight and measure with others.

The real question to ask is not necessarily “How do I take a good picture?”

The question might be to ask:

“How do I stop to listen, in order to see what’s happening right before me?”

 

 

 

(I am fully open to turning this blog into a forum for each and every discussion. Just please don’t turn this into technical chatter. I’m the anti-tech. I haven’t a clue what a megapixel is. No interest in why a sensor within one camera is more brilliant than another. I love film grain but am far more interested in the weight and measure of the recorded moment. Don’t give a damn about what compression is better for audio so long as it blows me away. I find it far more fascinating to share what we can do with these tools towards creating monumental change and enlightenment than wording printed on the camera strap.)

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May 1, 2011   No Comments