beauty from disorder
"I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order."
- Wislawa Szymborska
I have explored in other galleries how the universal human passion for imposing order among things engenders a distinct class of visual beauty from order. Often, however, the sight of disarray, loss, formlessness, or decline can pack as much aesthetic punch.
The Japanese Buddhist aesthetic of wabi-sabi has formalized an appreciation of all things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. I, too, have come here, as the late Polish poet Adam Zagajewski put it, “to praise the mutilated world.”
I look for unexpected beauty in such contexts, although my images work more deliberately with the viewer's instinctive distress at the sight of sad and difficult things in order to explore how visual beauty mediates and balms this distress. The galleries gathered under beauty from disorder examine this effect from several angles.
Melting Ice Cap, Parking Lot (2016)
Because people react strongly to scenes where proper order is badly askew, and knowing how our dismay primes us for aesthetic distaste, I have sought out beauty within discordant contexts of chaos, confusion, and entropy. These are venues where the paradoxical appearance of beauty might prove striking, and serves as a balm to the act of looking at discomforting things.
My images call forth the latent beauty in random disasters, cast-off detritus, dead machinery, collapsing roadways, gibberish signage, garbage dumps, and piles of deadly car wrecks.
Other images exalt the poignant dignity of formerly vibrant organisms that have died or are spiraling downward.
What invigorates these images, for me, is the tension arising from the pull toward the image's formal loveliness, on one hand, and a natural urge to pull away from scenes of a world in collapse, on the other. Gain and loss in the same instant.
Come, Night (2016)
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