This is my meditation for the morning, after finding the work of Timm Suess while watching another glorious sunrise. The photos below were taken April 3, 2010 in the Cleveland Flats. I felt the light was “all wrong” that day and couldn’t help myself. I haven’t gotten around to moving most of that day’s photos over to flickr, but they are still in a zenphoto gallery here.
Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It’s simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent.
It is good, at certain hours of the day and night, to look closely at the world of objects at rest. Wheels that have crossed long, dusty distances with their mineral and vegetable burdens, sacks from the coal bins, barrels, and baskets, handles and hafts for the carpenter’s tool chest. From them flow the contacts of man with the earth, like a text for all troubled lyricists. The used surfaces of things, the wear that the hands give to things, the air, tragic at times, pathetic at others, of such things – all lend a curious attractiveness to the reality of the world that should not be underprized.
– Pablo Neruda, Toward an Impure Poetry
Forinash and Sykes have learned that the locals aren’t interested in this kind of art, possibly because they dislike the way it portrays their town. When one artist displayed lonely photographs of abandoned homes and stark landscapes in the Robber’s Roost motel, owner Keith Brady wasn’t thrilled.
“I prefer awe-inspiring,” he says. It’s a bit of a paradox. “Visitors and photographers love decay,” Sykes says. “But when you live here, you look at it every day, or you’re forced to live in places like that, it’s not a good thing.”
I first encountered the concept of wabi-sabi in this artist statement by Katherine Minott.
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I’m going to visit Ancho, New Mexico sometime in the next year.