“Touch seems to be as essential as sunlight.”
Diane Ackerman; author of two dozen highly-acclaimed works of poetry and nonfiction, including the bestsellers “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and “A Natural History of the Senses,” and the Pulitzer Prize Finalist, “One Hundred Names for Love.”
Those of you who read my May 1st post will know that I have been on a healing journey from an April 25th fall resulting in two fractured vertebrae. I’m almost fully recovered and 95% pain free after 3 months of physical therapy, massage, chiropractic and acupuncture sessions. I have continually maintained a mindset of gratitude and patience with the healing process and never bought into suggestions “why aren’t you better already?”. These things take their own time, and I find that a mindset of patience with the natural healing process is really important.
When you look at the modalities I pursued for healing, you will see that they all involve hands-on bodywork and the sense of touch. Those who need scientific verification of the healing power of touch can find ample evidence in the literature, but for me it needs no proof beyond my own experience. I know that there is research on how receptor cells in the skin carry electrical impulses to every part of the body including the brain and all the organ systems. Chinese medicine and acupuncture are based on ancient wisdom about meridian pathways in the physiology that carry impulses from the skin’s surface to very specific organs and this is used for healing effect, including pain relief and actual restoration/balancing of proper body functions.
Connecting these ideas to photography and the focus of this post is an idea inspired by my own journey of spiritual and creativity development that all the senses are intimately connected with one another; and with our inner consciousness or sense of Self. As a visual artist / photographer, I always seek to create images that engage the viewer on an emotional and deep level of awareness that simultaneously reveal the beauty and inner essence of the subject, as well as serving as a mirror or window into our own Soul as human and spiritual beings.
Is that really possible? Well, I don’t know for sure, but it’s a passion that I seem to be called to explore and share!
Hallgrimskirkja Church ceiling in Reykjavík, Iceland
In this last of three posts dedicated in turn to the Energetics of color, typography and touch I’m sharing some of my photos that to me, enliven the sense of touch through the capture of textural qualities that “painting with light” through the photographic medium has a unique ability to produce.
While the application of textures in post-processing through software presets is all the rage among digital photography enthusiasts right now, and I have explored them a bit myself; I still find that the technology of the lens and the camera’s light sensor are already capturing an element of texture in the image and can awaken the sense of touch for the viewer. My journey of exploration is whether or not the combined visual/touch sensory perception of the photo can enliven a healing effect in the physiology of the viewer. For me as the creator of the image it certainly does.
My images are interspersed through the text to hopefully keep your interest through a rather long post! I invite your comments on my rambling, or as I call them, “Photo Musings”.
“How then to express oneself clearly? By image and by myth, as the sages of all time have done.” — Rene Adolphe Schwaller de Lubicz (1887-1961); Egyptologist, author of The Temple in Man: Sacred Architecture and the Perfect Man.
In my last post, I explored the energetics of color, drawing from my own exploration of ancient wisdom teachings about the frequencies of light expressed in different colors and their impact on mind, body and spirit. For this post, I researched the evolution of alphabetic forms of writing and how the forms and shapes of different typographic fonts might also have an effect on our psyche and emotions.
The earliest forms of written communication were through pictographs or symbols used to represent ideas and things, rather than sounds (Egyptian hieroglyphics for example). Through my research, I learned that circa 1100 BCE, Phoenician traders developed the beginnings of the modern day phonetic alphabet. This earliest alphabet consisted of 22 letters to represent consonant sounds, and was much easier for traders to learn than Egyptian hieroglyphics prevalent at the time.
This sound based form of writing also facilitated use across multiple languages which probably accounts for it’s adoption and expansion into ancient Greece by 800 BCE, and further evolution and use through most of the world.
When I think about the power of pictorial forms of communication to evoke an experiential connection between author / artist and reader / viewer, it makes me wonder if we have lost something by not using more pictorial forms of written communication. Yes, the phonetically-based alphabet lets us communicate more easily across multiple languages and cultures, but how do the letters on this page convey any of the emotional impact that pictorial forms of writing might have done?
Well, perhaps that’s were the imagination of the creators of different type styles comes to the rescue! Just think about the increasing proliferation of type styles that have evolved since Gutenberg’s first printing press. Fast forward to modern day print and digital media, and we can see how different type styles are used to generate emotion, incite action, or otherwise assist in conveying a deeper or fuller connection to the idea or concept being conveyed in the written word. Type styles are clearly an art form, and their creators put lots of thought into the objectives and intended use of the type styles they create. This became very clear to me as I explored blog sites of typography artists and what they wrote about type styles they have created.
Bringing all these ideas back to my passion for exploring photography as a medium of self-discovery, expression and even personal healing, I decided to experiment with the use of text and different type styles within some of my photographs. My goal is to convey ideas in a visual form, with writing and type styles that compliment or enrich the idea or visual metaphor that I wish to communicate through my images.
Of course, we are all familiar with the use of inspirational messaging in photographs or other forms of visual art. All too often they come across as rather trite or perhaps “preachy”. I hope to avoid those pitfalls in these images, while at the same time, sharing a few ideas that have become important in my own life experience; exploring the emotional or even healing effect of words and images combined with typographic styles that further support the intent of the image. I welcome your comments!