Research: Buddism and Neuroscience

Some ideas here that might chime with the quantum gravity theory I have been reading about, linking to concepts of self.

“In Buddhism, the matter/consciousness duality, the so-called mind-body problem, is a false problem given that neither of them has an intrinsic, independent existence. According to some Buddhist teachings that analyze phenomena at a more contemplative level, the primordial nature of phenomena transcends notions of subject and object or time and space. But when the world of phenomena emerges from primordial nature, we lose sight of this unity and make a false distinction between consciousness and the world. This separation between the self and the non-self then becomes fixed, and the world of ignorance, samsara, is born. The birth of samsara did not happen at a particular moment in time. It simply reflects at each instant, and for each of our thoughts, how ignorance reifies the world.” (Ricard, 2015)


Book: 7 Lessons of Physics

This may be important for A3 and possibly A5 if I go the direction I wish to. After finishing Rovelli’s book, I have been reading another of his, 7 Lessons of Physics, having chatted about it with an artist on Instagram (who also feels the world of physics will have an impact on her work).

To reiterate after my previous post: “Quantum mechanics and experiments with particles have taught us the world is a continuous, restless swarming of things; a continuous coming to light and disappearance of ephemeral entities.” (31)

And regarding quanta

“Where are these quanta of space? Nowhere. They are not in a space because they are themselves space. Space is created by the linking of these individual quanta of gravity. Once again the world seems to be less about objects than about interactive relationships”. (41)

There was one thing I didn’t mention in my previous summary because I could not get my head around it at all, and am still trying, to be honest, but it is looked at in this other book and is starting to seem like a concept that might one day be something I might grasp. And that is the matter of time. In quantum gravity, there is no time as a discrete thing in and of itself.

“The passage of time is internal to the world, is borne in the world itself in the relationship between quantum events that comprise the world and are themselves the source of time”. (42)

“There is no longer ‘space’ which contains the world, and there is no longer ‘time’ in which events occur” (42)

All of this goes back for me to the idea of ‘self’ being an illusion, which therefore suggests other is too. When we look at (and photograph) others we are merely capturing a moment in this illusion, and in effect when capturing whatever the ‘I’ sees, we are capturing the ‘I’ itself. I recall there was something along these lines in the Lacanian theory we looked at in UVC which was very hard to get one’s head around and I will need to find it and bring it back here.

Rovelli, C. 2016 7 Lessons of Physics Penguin, London (previously published in Italian in 2014 by Adelphi Edizioni)

Research: Venus

I have periodically been staring quite intensely at Botticelli’s Venus since the start of UVC.  Perhaps it is the demure (or is it insipid) look on her face, her gaze turned slightly away from the viewer, her hands and hair delicately protecting her vagina from the shame of being on show, but naked everywhere else, which I am trying figure out. When I first started working on my Girlhood images, it was this picture that I continuously referenced in my mind – always comparing the expression in the girls’ faces to this version of Venus. I also compare her now to this image from the Nexus Project, Honor’s Dance, in which a young girl is seen as wilder, caught up in her own enjoyment, perhaps oblivious to the viewer.


Honor's Dance 12

Honor’s Dance (c)SJField 2017


I was so cross I missed the V&A project which celebrated and explored all the many iterations of Venus, including Rineke Dijkstra’s 1992 image taken in Poland of a girl in her yellow bathing suit. When I first discussed photographing Mandy, Venus was one of the images we looked at – and I reminded her again recently when she first told me about the pond at Hampstead. (I hope we can return there in the spring or summer for a longer shoot). Every time I looked at it I was minded of the way in which women have been framed and portrayed in our society.

Tonight historian, Bettany Hughes, is presenting a documentary about Venus and I can’t wait to see it. There was a taster in this morning’s Guardian, in which Hughes writes: Venus-Aphrodite was never just a goddess of romantic love – for millennia she represented something much stronger and darker. The stories that the ancients told about her were appropriately shocking. Aphrodite, they declared, had a gruesome birth. Gaia, Mother Earth, was sick of the god of the sky, Uranus, eternally copulating with her. So Gaia persuaded her son Cronus to slice off his father’s penis and testicles with a serrated scythe. The amputated genitals were flung into the sea with a roaring splash, and out of the gory foam emerged an “awful and lovely maiden” – the goddess Aphrodite.. (2017)

I have been discussing female sexuality very briefly on facebook with people who didn’t mind answering my slightly probing questions, after watching some of (I’m not quite finished) Lars Von Triers’ Nymphomaniac Vol 1. I will write about this soon, specifically in reference to a photobook made by Casper Sejerson called Belongs to Joe, which was made separately but in homage to Von Triers’ script (not the finished film). Sejerson was employed to do the publicity photography but asked if he could make his own artistic response to the film. There are some beautiful things about this book but is it ultimately just another male expression of what they think/hope female sexuality is all about and cut through too with barely suppressed homosexual fantasies? I want to learn from and emulate some of the aesthetic qualities but have no desire to contribute to or continue a narrative by now desperately worn thin. I do have every desire to confront, question and deconstruct what is going on here though, and elsewhere in so much popular culture where women are continuously rendered commodities, packaged, produced. I don’t want to make assumptions, and my brief, less than academic study on Facebook into the reality of females masturbating in public (as happens in a scene in the film) immediately made me confront some of my preconceptions. But more of that another time as I try to delve deeper.

In the meantime, I am very much looking forward to the documentary this evening. I think I will have to use A3 as a study/research point for A5 if I head this way, and hopefully A4 too. This might be possible in the following S&O question;

Discuss the blurring of self & other within the work of a photographer of your choosing.

Refs: All accessed 15/11/2017

Botticelli, S. 1486 Birth of Venus from The Guardian Photograph: DEA/ G.Nimatallah/Getty Images/DeAgostini


Research: Nymphomania – The Historical Construction of Female Sexuality

Nymphomania: The Historical Construction of Female Sexuality

Carol Groneman

Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 19, no. 2, ps. 337-36

A useful article which will inform a photographic response, should I end up heading down this path, to Belongs to Joe; A book of Comfort for a Nymphomaniac by Casper Sejerson

A less academic article here