Video of The Pursuing The Light project:

Pursuing the Light
The message that contrast communicates

In the 19th century as William Henley was asserting “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul,” another of his generation, James Russell Lovell, was writing about a very different philosophy—one which spoke of “God on the scaffold… [and] …within the shadow, keeping watch…” (The Present Crisis).

As a child, due to a prolonged illness, I feared the nights and its shadows. However, in life, some might feel that it takes a special kind of bravery to investigate the shadows, but one should not be surprised at the boldness that life’s situations can somehow grow in us through trials in personal doubts, and other difficulties. We might term it a ‘resilience in hope’ and a wisdom through reverence that can form over time to shape also the creativity in a person. Our trials have the power to hold us back us, but also to move us from pride to humility.

Art also, or any creative gift, seems less the product of innate talent than what life forges on the anvil of its challenges. ‘Challenges’ here do not refer to unethical or abusive behavior which is never legitimate. I speak instead of a new way of seeing life as ongoing contrasts in tension seeking harmony in unity-across-difference. In an artistic sense, light and shadows in a scene speak to the legitimacy of contrasts in tension. On another plane, I see an alternative tensioned joining of the two (light and shadows) in the embrace of the struggle between the dualities of faith and doubt, of self and other, of known and unknown, and of the divine and the human. We might describe art here as the pursuit of harmony in contrast through suspending dichotomies to allows a creative relationship between opposites.

Art welcomes light and shadows. Photographers pursue the rich tones of contrast between light and shadows. As light brings insight, shadows bring inquiry and add mystique to the scene to perhaps speak to and about the inexplicable. Like night and day co-exist, light and shadows interplay together to deepen the message of every picture. And yet, night and day in perpetual motion, speaks also to a forever ‘not yet’‚ or, of the new. The ‘new’ here is being constantly created and can remain fresh in newness as long as we remain open to it—i.e., as in the new day, the new surprise, the new opportunity, the second chance, the new beginning, the new way of seeing, etc. Sunrise and sunset might show this relation in ‘tensioned motion’ relation. When light and shadows are in transition, and neither dominates the other, one might wish to have on hand the right equipment.

Objects in life are neither entirely in the light nor solely in the shadows. Light affects our interpretation of shadows since without light there can be no shadows. The ‘tension of difference in relation’ in light and shadows thus fosters creativity not only aesthetically but also ontologically through the circadian rhythms of each day.

Everything sits beneath the sun’s ‘coming and going’. We might see the interplay of light and shadows in the smooth grain of an oak fence that stands out in the morning light, or in the fine sinewy bark of a maple tree, or perhaps reflected by a rotting log lying in the Ontario grass. Beauty, in the interplay of the sun’s presence and absence, creates moments of beauty in motion for everything in its sphere, so that all living might partake in an orchestrated mobile festival. The symbiosis of the heavens and the earth are indeed a complete symphony. The sun, the wind, the clouds, and the rain can with the earth, in an instant, paint a masterpiece of wonder in the sky, at another they can, to our astonishment, thunder with foreboding and ferocity. Artists, in various ways, learn to capture this interplay to interpret their spiritual and creational story and that of the times in which they live and beyond.

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