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In no more than 500 words discuss your process and your ambitions for your work with those four elements in mind. The title is: "what  does it take to make a contemplative practice?"




What  Does It Take to Make a Contemplative Practice?

I tend to take photos in other places, in spaces away from my home space—elsewhere. This state of being, when one is literally transported away from familiar spaces, creates space for contemplation. Being somewhere else (in a place), or on the way to somewhere else (in a non-place1), is fertile ground for wandering thoughts, dreamlike states and reflection.

I use photography as an impressionistic rather than documentary tool. This interest in the metaphysical extends to my methods of working with the medium. Abstraction is one way to unravel and expose the inner workings of the photographic process and apparatus; to challenge conceptions of what constitutes a photograph. “Abstract photography challenges our popular view of photography as an objective image of reality by reasserting its constructed nature... Non-representational photography lives in this contested middle ground between material reality and photographic illusion”. (Kasten, 2012)

Photography and, more broadly, photomedia2 practices are temporal in nature. [<S:bring the endnote into the text and provide your own, useful definition of post media] As Joanna Zylinska states in Nonhuman Photography, “[p]hotography allows us to apprehend time as duration precisely by making incisions in its flow: it gives us a concept of the flow, while also enacting incisions in it…[Photographs] are mnemonic devices that mark the passage of time and help us build narratives around them.” [<With McKenzie and Zylinska you start to build up a clear position on photography] A photograph not only captures a “moment” in time, it takes time; and time creates the conditions for contemplation. Taking a photograph is in itself a contemplative act—I choose what to frame, when to capture it and which images to include in the final edit. In contrast to digital workflows, analogue photographic processes take more time—time to reveal the latent image, to develop the film, to produce a final print in the darkroom—whereas time spent working on a computer feels timeless i.e. without time. [<You are setting up an interesting ethical argument about how to use time, or how to claim time as your own] Could this be because we bypass the corporeal in what feels like a closed circuit exchange between mind and machine? [<Why don't you answer that question? (I am not sure what you mean by " bypass the corporeal") ]

While I do not deny my fondness for the formal qualities of analogue photography, my fascination is also driven by a wish to understand, unravel and demystify photography’s processes: optical, mechanical, chemical or otherwise. However, analogue photography is not the only way to explore these interests and I wish to avoid being one of “those suffering from media nostalgia misrecognised as fondness for medium specificity” (Zylinska, 2017). My ambition is to also engage with and incorporate newer technologies into my work and contemplate the photographic medium beyond the analogue/digital binary.

The physicality of making is important to me. Time spent making “with my hands” is time I am aware of, time that I can track. I believe this use of the body in the production of work promotes awareness of the passing of time and a condition for a contemplative practice.

At this moment my ambitions for my work are multifold. Although the photographic apparatus lies at the core of my practice, my current research is opening up new ways of thinking and practical pathways, resulting in a temporary (I hope) state of flux and confusion. I am increasingly obsessed with capturing the unseen, what lies beneath, in exposing hidden systems and layers of meaning. [how are you doing this in your work?] Like Japanese artist Yushitori Muzitani I want my work to “[vacillate] between the oneiric and the pictorial…between nature and the fantastic” (Diaz, 2019). I don’t want to stop taking photographs but I don’t only want to take photographs. (For example, I see great potential in immersive installations, using a combination of photography, moving image, sound, space and light, to create a meditative or contemplative experience for the viewer.) [ Direct this observation toward the question: "how do I make a contemplative practice?" This last bit seems to invite more discussion of post media- what does it mean to make a photographic practice in a post media era? (see R. Krauss, A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the age of the Post Medium Condition_ I think you are right to suggest that photography must take account of its changing (post medium) status, and you could discuss it in more depth in relation to your own approach to the work you make. Photography has become part of this immersive media state we all live in and you seem to want to claim a space (or time) from that (or within that). So there is plenty of room for discussion.]

For now, at least, it would seem that I have plenty to contemplate…

[General comments: You set up two terms: 'abstract' and 'metaphysical'. These terms are obviously very useful to you. It might be useful to make your own definition of those terms, think about what those words mean for you, what do they afford? The dictionary has its own definitions, of course, but how you use these terms is more important]


1. Non-place is a term coined by Marc Augé in his book Non-Places: An Introduction to an Anthology of Super Modernity. Here non-places are defined as places we pass through, usually on the way to our destination; spaces that are devoid of emotional attachment or meaningful connections. Examples of non-places include airports, motorways, shopping complexes, hotels and trains. As artist Dexter Dalwood, whose recent work explores non-places, suggests, “these are spaces where you can carve out some genuine reflection.”

2. I refer to Jai McKenzie’s definition of photomedia: “The photographic devices that fall under the term photomedia are as broad as the etymological scope of the words photographic and media. Essentially I consider all devices that use light and media as photomedia including photography, cinema, video, television, mobile phones, computers and photocopiers” (McKenzie, 2014). The camera obscura or cyanotype would also fall under the umbrella of photomedia.


Augé, Marc. Non-Places: an Introduction to Supermodernity. Verso, 2008.

Kasten, Barbara. (2012). Second Nature: Abstract Photography Then and Now. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar. 2019].

McKenzie, Jai. Light and Photomedia: a New History and Future of the Photographic Image. I.B. Tauris, 2014.

Villaba Diaz, David. (2019). Yoshinori Mizutani: Technology, Painting, and Sensibility. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar. 2019].

Zylinska, Joanna. Nonhuman Photography. MIT Press, 2017. (2019). Dexter Dalwood’s Newest Paintings Reflect on ‘Non-Places’. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Mar. 2019].