OBSESSED BY PHOTOGRAPHY
"I like objects which are not on the move.“ (Karl R. Thiel)
We are living in exponentially clocked times. World around us is fast, jeopardously fast, overmuch fast. Everything’s passing simultaneously, lashes down on us. Too much from too many: "Our culture of meaning is breaking down under the overkill of meaning, culture of reality under the oversized shape of reality, culture of information under the excess of information. Burial of signals and reality in the same shroud“, the french media theorist, philosopher, and sociologist Jean Baudrillard said.
Photography is one of the modes of interpersonal communication and herein part of nonverbal communication. Communication of information to our human eye we call ‚visual communication’ (lat. visus, (the) viewing, 2. lat. communicatio, message). But who’s looking closely, who’s used to make some time for reflecting, for thinking about anything yet? Who’s willing to ask himself: "What/who am I? And what/who am I not?“ When I ask myself, there are many answers: I’m a communicator, spectator, observer, photographer. And a designer and enquirer, too. My tool is the camera by which I like to communicate. If I’d better in communicating, I’d use the verbal language in order to describe our world. But I don’t hear, speak/talk, write the language – I just look at all and see anything, as images, pictures, shapes, and icons. In the same way as other people are able to hear colours, I can see words, letters, sentences, and content. The entire language is an image, its meaning included. When it’s possible to me to take a picture of something, there is no reason why I should describe it verbally. That’s why I prefer to talk by images. By these photographs my own ego is speaking: communico ergo sum – I communicate, so I am.
Via photographing I provide a particular meaning to any object. I dedicate my subjective meaning and even appreciation to it. Something supposed trivial receives its proper beauty which is often hidden within a certain detail or composition. My view is photographically, I look for and detect an intrinsic beauty in things known by anybody else, but – because too trivial – unnoticed in general. A kind of everyday apotheosis, penetration of texture. Viewing as a spiritual knowledge, free from dogmas, philosophical approaches, terminologies, claims, and contradictions, without restrictions or prejudices, any complying with a definite way of thinking – nothing but receptive to viewing purely and truthy.
In Zen Buddhism there is an expression that describes what’s going on in myself while I’m photographing. We call this "satori“ – a certain process of immediate awareness of a universal being which stands for entity. At the moment of photographic release, my consciousness is not restricted by intellectual interventions or reflections. At this moment, photography may be considerably more a kind of experience through meditation, a certain emancipation from myself, or from time. Suddenly, a feeling of upcoming voidness is ensuing, comparable with the Buddhistic concept of non-attachment and blankness. It’s concentration in the pure form.
This operating principle enables a particular esthetic purism which finds expression in the pictures. In each "thing“ you can realize a structure – world’s structure, apparent within beauty, the delight of shape, reality’s beauty. Landscape photographs will become pictures of my own inner landscape, portraits will amount to self portraits: photography as a bipolar connection between self and world, reality, as a projection of awareness.
We are living in a society who likes staging spectacle, racket, tamasha. It’s a spectacle for the sake of creating ourselves in order to realize things and situations to be real and some kind of alive, and by this maybe anyhow interesting enough to get our attraction – primarily we like it loud, gaudy, reedy, soliciting. Because of that my pictures appear preferably "noiseless“, "unspectacular“ – that’s my own way of social criticism and a concomitant criticism of appreciation. A picture as the object of contemplation. My work is against the current visual idealization of our world. By acting this way my experiences will be democratized through my pictures.
The casual moment, the volatility of objects, they are fixed, located. There aren’t any "reasonable“ photographs I take. Each image should reveal something you cannot describe, but it should activate a certain disturbance, cluelessness, wonder, mostly caused by nothing but one detail. Unexplicable, not to be captured by the first glance. Sometimes, such an image will declare itself – situationally – even at length after the first view, out of memory later on. Not at all apt to be consumed like fast food. You have to look more closely yet. But especially thereby you’ll give to the subjects their virtue and dignity – or in return. Valuing instead of devaluating.
My photographs are temporary icons. To any spectator they have a different meaning. A spectator believes in his creed to know what he’s viewing. He is able to paraphrase it, to face himself up to it, to understand the message or to make use of it. My pictures
are rather conceptional images which increasingly abandon their roles of representation or information, e.g. regarding my images showing trees or structures. Stringent aesthetics, geometric perspectives, then again a soft, smooth, sensuous use of forms.
I’m not a melancholic. At least not in the sense of gloom or sadness, at most with a faint umbradge of depression, always being diffident. But mostly reliable and self-controlled. Not incapable of acting or remaining in a limited mental position, but I am an acting, creating human being. It’s my aspiration having a look at our blue planet, to realize and discern its coherences. According to Hannah Ahrend, the famous German-Jewish-American political theroriser, philosopher, and journalist, who assesses that real acting is the only activity man will be able to become a human being in the proper sense. So, acting isn’t a necessity ex ante, but in conclusion the adequate, sufficient conditio humana. My photographs won’t pose as artwork or "l’art pour l’art“. They are empathetic, tender, private, and they allow for the spectator a distinct sight of his own: photography as conditio humana, as means against man’s self-alienation off his human character.
There is more than only one world inside our World. And this variety of worlds doesn’t force, indoctrinate, or constrain anybody to a particular approach. I myself believe in nature as the author and producer of any subject. And nature is our instructor. That’s what I point at, and how I feel. Photography is my "language“ – a language being appreciated by everybody worldwide; because "a picture says more than thousand words“, because photography builts bridges and is able to form us to the only one family of mankind. Photography makes it possible for us to perceive beauty, to share hope, joy, wonder, and to arouse someone’s curiosity, to trust, to hope, to understand, but in the same way to doubt, to call into question, to find the answer, to offer love, to stir up hate, to record despair.
Photography as an instant mirror image of awareness, of conscious mind, of moral, soul, and even psyche – recording the wonder of here and now. Or, in the words of the Hungarian photographer André Kertész: "The camera is my tool by which I can make sense to all about me.“
Karl R. Thiel (Hamburg/Bad Ems, winter, 2012/13)