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Worlds that vanish – unnoticed

Published on 02 May 2015
Updated on 05 April 2024

Thanks to the internet, nothing is forgotten nowadays: or is it? As we returned at sunset to the port of Hydra, I took this photo:


One notes the reflections in the hand-made window panes. As the glass sheet is pulled, rather than rolled, such minimal imperfections inevitably arise. They give “depth” to an otherwise dull building.

Artists have long painted these reflections:


Modern technology and energy-saving rules will soon wipe this subtle feature from all buildings, dulling the view.

As we stride through museums and churches, we admire works of art under (mostly overhead) fixed electric light. In fact, anything that was produced before the mid-XIXth century what meant to be viewed in changing natural light or flickering artificial light: candles, lamps, and torches. Today, direction, immobility, and intensity of light flatten the experience.

Buddha statues show this intensely. Here photos of the same statue, takin with and without a flash


Looking carefully, one sees the iris of the icon in the left hand photo. When illuminated by an oil lamp at the idol’s feet, those eyes would have shined brightly, and compassionately. One can still observe this in dark corners of Japanese temples.

Objects even from the very distant path talk to us – if we manage to contextualize them properly. Like any other language, it is one we must learn. Unfortunately, thinking in terms of efficiency leaves little room for context and collateral. It is our grievous loss of embedded knowledge and beauty. One grieves.


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