miniature tree

We see miniature trees everyday off in the distance. Such a common site gets easily dismissed. But a photograph can cross back over that threshold and aside from any tilt-shifting emphasize this feeling of the miniature.

I think this taps into feelings I have for what is smaller than me. And the tendency to see small things as cute. Protective feelings arise over these baby trees. It’s the deep satisfaction that can come from caring for an aquarium or crafting a train diorama.

Whenever we peer into a microcosm, the observations run simultaneously with the realization that we just might be in a microcosm to a perspective beyond our awareness. Perhaps this is at the base of the religious belief in a higher power. I often wonder about beliefs as side effects or reactions to such phenomenological occurrences as an optical effect.

Would we take better care of things if we saw them as miniature? Maybe it’s time to walk around looking backwards through binoculars at things that are difficult to have compassion for, in order to help out.

Next time a conflict arises, should I just miniaturize the source and care for it instead of miniaturizing myself into an unnecessary struggle? Just like a Buddhist monk might miniaturize desire itself in order to miniaturize suffering?

Or maybe in the future, AI will read our emotional responses and adjust them to a calmer state for better decision-making by employing this feeling of the miniature, while controlling our evaluations so that the decisions made are best for its purposes. The same kind of therapeutic brainwashing seen in cults only turned into an algorithm, for our own benefit of course.

A Blind Duel

Once there was an old man who thought he was young and there was a young man who thought he was old.  The old young man challenged the young old man to prove who was the youngest and who was the oldest of all. 

They agreed to hold three competitions. One to see who could row the fastest across a lake. Another to see who could outwit the other at a game of  trivia. And the third to see who could woo a lady.

The first proved that the young man was much younger than he thought. The second that the older was a lot older than he had hoped.  But the third ended in a tie because the lady could not be lured by the strange display of decrepit youth or stupid maturity. Of course, the young man was offended that she had called him stupid and the old man was also very insulted when she uttered that foulest of words, decrepit.  After she told them that they had gotten her insults backwards, neither understood what she meant at all.

Furious at their unwillingness to admit the obvious, she lead them to her bedchamber and for a moment both men thought he was the winner. Instead, she stood them before a mirror.

The young man called her a witch when he saw a baby-faced reflection. And the old man called her a sorceress who commanded the dark arts to conjure up such an image of a frail and haggard old toad. 

Thus, the competition solved nothing because fools only try to prove what they believe at the cost of rejecting a simple plain truth.

Shadow Pareidolia

What do you see in these shadow figures? I see the Egyptian queen Nefertiti! It has this heavy mythical weight for me even though its just a silhouette of rock formations somewhere in Utah.

Pareidolia happens when I see something like a face in a cloud that actually doesn’t exist. In this sense, when pareidolia occurs, I am seeing my own mind displayed before me.

In this vein, I make other art I post on Instagram (@oneroundcorner) that employs a random process of multiple exposures and mirroring to produce pareidolia effects like the one below. Zoom in and look at the absurd figures that appear. I’m constantly surprised by how mythical and spiritual they feel while being randomly made.

Wood Shavings

Once there was an old woman who swept the wood shavings from the floor of a young carpenter.  She brushed the shavings aside into a pile before scooping the pile into a basket. The floor had not one shaving left on it for the next day.

In the morning, the young carpenter would come in and work all day and not think about the shavings spilling all over the floor because they would disappear by tomorrow.  The old woman thought nothing of what the carpenter made because every day new shavings would appear for her to sweep.

The young carpenter saw people as wood for the making, but the old woman had already been made long ago and now saw people as they were: not as the woodwork but the shavings from the woodwork meant to be swept away.

a fixed reflection

The camera compresses the world into a frame. The transitory becomes fixed in an illusion. Smoke trapped underwater. Cloud textures trapped in rocks. The horizon is a stroke of ink, or a line of difference, drawn by the camera’s position.

As my consciousness defines what I see, have I not become the calm of a still lake for a passing moment? And what is calm but the sustain of some already faded state? An identity already loosened up and breaking down into something else, as I hold on to the fixed reflection of what it briefly was to me.

The Queen’s Tapestry

Once there was a queen who had some trouble ruling her kingdom.  One day whilst walking through the market, the queen came upon a poor old woman who made tapestries with intricate images that nobody could decipher. 

When the queen insisted that she tell her what her tapestries meant, somebody had to tell her that the poor old woman had lost her ability to speak long ago.  The queen pitied her for this and wondered what tragedy she must’ve suffered in order to never speak again. And the details of these fascinating scenes in the tapestries transfixed the queen and she saw how others scratched their heads when they looked at these mysterious things.  

The queen took the poor old woman and gave her a place to live where she would be taken care of for the rest of her life in exchange for her tapestries.  The queen had them burned without the old woman’s knowledge, and had her make a single giant tapestry for her. And she put it up in her court.

The queen had subjects who thought they could better rule the kingdom and this had plagued her for years with constant second-guessing.  So she challenged them to decipher her tapestry and whoever could tell her the exact meaning would gain the power of the throne.

Her subjects, of course, could not guess the meaning of the tapestry and so it left them feeling as if she knew something they didn’t.  And this feeling grew into an obedience. So the tapestry worked in getting her subjects to stop challenging her.

Until, the good fortune of the old woman somehow returned her speech to her.  And she rushed to the queen to tell her how grateful she was to the only person who showed her kindness since she stopped speaking and to tell her what the tapestry really meant.  And she told the queen in front of her subjects what the ornate images in her tapestry stood for and the subjects could see that the queen herself had not known all along. Now that her plan had backfired, even the queen had to admit that this old woman was far greater in mind.

The poor old woman became their new queen. She ruled the kingdom as she made her tapestries, with rich detail and meaningful acts whose images sat in her subjects’ minds like perfect orbs in the sky.