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Order and Chaos

I feel that my life, and perhaps life in general, fluctuates between order and disorder. Sometimes complete shambles. I have believed the way to live should be on the side of order, and have struggled with control and the desire for perfection in my life. This has reflected in my work.

My early work was graphic still life arrangements which were very ordered and geometric, and I felt great satisfaction in positioning things into what seemed to be the right place for them.

‘Everything in its place, and a place for everything’, perhaps this was something I heard a lot in my childhood. 

I have decided this desire for control is based on fear. Fear of what might happen if you let go of control, which causes dissatisfaction and anxiety when disorder starts creeping in.

I watched with great unease as my sister’s hoarding descended into what seemed to me to be an impossible way to live, and have tried to intervene without success. However, it doesn’t seem to affect her, she is an intelligent woman and leads a normal life outside of this. She has two stable, intelligent daughters who have grown up in this, so perhaps complete chaos is not so impossible to live with, maybe they have some sort of order within this chaos.

In nature what appears to us as chaos has its own overriding order. Perhaps my fears were unfounded. In a previous post I found that when I was so busy I was unable to control thistles on my land, I was rewarded with an amazing display as seedheads released their seeds, and I felt a release of control was not such a bad thing. Strangely the thistles have actually declined in number since then.

There is a more organic looseness in all my photography these days and it seems in the genre in general. We used to attempt to get everything in focus, using an aperture of f64, which in the studio often required several flashes of the light to get the right exposure, but in the last 15 years dropped focus has become the vogue and shows little sign of disappearing. (Although these things go in cycles and some would say the more nostalgic look today is due to recessionary times) The natural look is usually the route requested, using ‘daylight’. Rather than very neat cut slices and not a crumb in sight, clients want rough torn food, soft edges and messiness.

Interestingly the open aperture one needs for a narrow field of focus requires less light, and less electricity is needed for this reduced light. Daylight of course does not use any power. This aligns well with my environmental concerns. I often shoot with a narrow depth of field in my own work in the studio. And nearly always when outdoors.

Despite this increasing looseness, I have a great fascination with sacred geometry which resonates with natures order. I’m aware of the rules of the Golden section and the way nature places things exactly onto lines of Sacred geometry.

Everyone knows the wonderful Leonardo drawing of the man showing where these lines fall on important features and proportions of the body, and this can be traced in all animals.

The plant kingdom has its own order, and I don’t mean the one Linneas drew up, this is very linear and not holistic, but of its time when dividing and categorising was the way. We are moving towards viewing the world less as a machine rather as a series of relationships, as explained by the visionary Fitjrof Capra in this book The Systems View of Life. Many are now calling for a classification of plants based on relationships and ecosystems, now we find plants communicate with each other.

If, as it now seems, everything is connected then there will always be order even when there appears to be none. Maybe its some divine order we cannot discern. Which is very reassuring.

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