“The desire to capture beauty is probably a universal human tendency.” Before you nod your head in agreement, let’s briefly examine that deceptively plausible claim.
Surely by the term “universal” one cannot imply that everyone possesses the some impulse to the same degree or in the same way. That clearly cannot be true from simple observation. Not everyone is a painter or a photographer and those that are demonstrate different degrees of commitment and vastly differing levels of talent.
Universal means that the desire is to be found in all peoples in all ages – from the cave art of our ancestors to the works adorning avant-garde galleries in London, New York and Paris to the innumerable studios and blogs of artists and photographers across the world to happy snappers who rarely stray beyond their cell phone and wouldn’t think of editing or even selecting the images they transfer in copious quantities to the limitless spaces of the Internet.
The word “beauty” is also deceptive. Beauty is said to reside in the eye of the beholder, and beholders differ enormously in what they see as beautiful. Pictures can come from quick snapshots of cute babies and even cuter cuddly animals or from the refined sensibility obsessively searching for the compelling image hidden in the mundane or even superficially ugly.
“Capture” too is entirely inadequate to describe the sequence of events from the raw data striking the retina of the observer (the “blooming, buzzing confusion” of reality) to the final product which, in the hands of some, bear little if any resemblance to the direct, unmediated visual observation of the original scene. It is in this non-linear sequence that art emerges.
In this post I place some images derived from the giant canvas which unfolds before my eyes each day, halfway up Dorries Drive, overlooking the immense space of False Bay bounded on the far side by the multiple mountain ranges which go under the name, Hottentots Holland. It is a place of infinite moods which vary with the season and time of day, and with the myriad major or minute causal influences which dictate precisely the pattern of clouds or texture of the sea or what bird crosses my line of vision or what ship or boat has appeared on the scene to linger or to speed across engaged in some unknown task.
Every now and again this ever-changing pattern of colour, shape, objects and perspective is sufficiently compelling to make me run for my camera and try to “capture” the scene and the emotion it has engendered. These are some of the images that have emerged from this remarkable process, so far as I am aware essentially confined to human beings.
Perhaps in this lies our salvation of which we are in dire need.