Enso photographs are inspired by the practice of Soto Zen Buddhism and influenced by
the tradition of expressing Buddhist views in art. Enso is the Japanese word for circle, and is a Zen symbol for the endless interconnectedness and impermanence of all life. The photographic process for this work involves rotating objects under the camera, while using a slow exposure to capture motion and stillness in one image. According to a Japanese story from the 8th Century, the Zen Master Kyozan created the first enso painting in response to a monk's request for a gatha, a written poem or statement, expressing enlightenment. He said, "Thinking about this and then understanding it is second best; not thinking about it and understanding it is third best." He did not say what is first best.
LIGHT, SWEET, CRUDE
The practice of photographing abandoned gas stations is an expression of my belief in the unavoidable end to our consumption of fossil fuels. These images were taken in the Southeast and document real places that are representations of the future. During this time of global instability, the price of oil fluctuates in response to changes in supply and demand. Fossil fuels are not a renewable resource, so the supply will not be able to keep up with demand forever. This will have a direct economic impact on those who are most dependent on this valuable commodity, but eventually everyone will be a victim of this addiction. Emissions from fossil fuel consumption contribute to global warming, which endangers the entire planet. These desolate structures are evidence of the environmental impact that already exists in our communities. Once viewed as familiar places that served a vital function, they are now toxic sites that remain vacant because it is so difficult to clean them up. The realism of photography depicts the dilapidation and emptiness of abandoned gas stations to emphasize the inevitable failure of the current system, and to raise awareness that we are in urgent need of change. We are all dependent on each other, and our individual actions do affect the future of our world. Nature will renew itself as long as we give it a chance to heal, and we can be a part of that healing process by searching for ways to live in harmony with the environment.
BREATH OF BAMBOO
Photographing bamboo is like returning to the breath in meditation, and becoming fully present in the moment. It is an acknowledgement of a certain presence in the landscape that adds structure, stability, and continuity to the endless possibilities of referring to nature for artistic expression. Like the breath, the experience of bamboo in these photographs can be peaceful and intentional, but it can also be dynamic and chaotic. The multiplicity of aesthetic, ecological, and spiritual properties of bamboo adds variety and complexity to the imagery so that the meaning of bamboo shifts depending on the context. The structure and geometry of the plant itself and the compositions of the photographs allude to the presence of an underlying structure in nature that is only partially understood. One of the most unusual formal attributes of bamboo is that it is hollow inside, and in eastern religions the concept of emptiness is an awareness that involves observing and accepting reality, while simultaneously being open to change. Other physical characteristics, especially its rapid growth process, make bamboo an excellent renewable resource that has yet to be fully realized. The implication for incorporating the beauty and functionality of bamboo into our global awareness is an offering to the future. Bamboo exemplifies the awesome powers of destruction and regeneration in nature, and is ultimately used in these photographs as a metaphor for our efforts to maintain balance within the natural cycles of life.