The Photography of

Neal White

All the photographs and texts are copyrighted


My motivation for making photographs has, like the rest of me, evolved over the years. First a film-maker, my original purpose in learning photography was my sudden embarassing realization that film was a form of photography, and that my work as a cinematographer and film director might improve if I knew something more about the medium upon which it is based. I ultimately learned that, although it was photography, it was not based on photography at all, but on attention and observation... and on the mysterious processes of my personal experience somehow digesting and metabolizing those observations, trying to find the meaning in the moment...This brought me to the closely related study of metaphysics which has preoccupied me, parallel to learning art, since my official career as a student. (I say "official" because my student days have never really ended. The only difference being that when I was twenty- two, I started being paid to spend my time at the University, another miracle!) So, the study of reality (or more properly, imposing any number of elegant paradigms upon the chaos to organize it into something accessible) is integrated with the collection of imagery in vivo --preserved in photographs-- the observation of which permits the belated but more leisurely experience in vitro later on. Capturing the images is accomplished by roaming in some likely setting rich in opportunities to observe the paradoxes which I associate with catalyzing my insights into the nature of "reality" (which as a general purpose, I have endeavored to make some personal sense out of all of my life). Related to this practice are several related arts, or practices, which I have learned as a student, which permit the chaos of experience to be formally organized into something more accessible than the turbulent and chaotic stream of experience. I refer to the Zen practice of meditating on ko-ans (Public Announcements) and the Taoist revelations of the Yi Jing (I Ching, or Classic of Changes). These are two Asian systems of organizing the chaos of experience by isolating a piece of it within a composition to access it, experience it, and permit it to be milked of whatever insight can be catalyzed --the Koan being typically a nonsequitar paradox (e.g., the famous "what is the sound of one hand clapping") used by Zen meditators to pull their minds out of their ordinary state of habitual perception with which they usually and unproductively process their experience of reality; the Yi Jing being a collection of 64 archetypal poems, or ambiguous points of departures to the potential personal significances of a selected moment(i.e., the moment in which the oracle of metaphors is consulted). For me, the open-minded seeking, meaningful moment of seizure and later open-minded contemplation of photographable paradoxes relate to both of these methods for understanding ordinary realities in extraordinary ways. So, for me, my photographs represent more or less paradoxical or extraordinary events which were observed in an ordinary moment ...and which, if artful, I may have been more or less successful in preserving for later, more leisurely open-casket viewing, re-experience, contemplation or attempted decipherment (driven by the compulsive energy of the relief of the suspense by the gestalt of closure).

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