Looking for the Third Eye by Ramón Cruz

Looking for the Third Eye by Ramón Cruz

Since childhood I have considered myself an observer of everything that surrounds me and excites me. Photography has given me the ability to return to those important moments through images, and I’ve always found this fascinating. I’m more aware of it now, this possibility to go back and remember. I still recall with emotion when my grandparents gave me their Kodak INSTAMATIC X-15 for taking pictures. From that moment on I was held captive by anything that would appear in the viewfinder. Nowadays, I feel it’s essential to take photos daily, as it’s a visual and very personal record of everyday life.

This has evolved, in such a way that the traditional consumer of images has now become a “prosumer”, generating and offering their perspective on social networks. As a reference, let’s consider the scope of mobile photography, which has become a powerful tool for telling stories. Personally, it has allowed me to meet interesting characters on the streets and made it easier for me to approach the issues relevant to my environment.

In my pictures I try to capture the contrasts of light and the details of the characters, silhouettes and objects. I think that the best light to do this in is daylight; I only need to go for a walk with a pair of comfortable shoes and my cell phone fully charged. On the streets, a certain look can be intriguing. You can stop, get closer to your subject, or respect their anonymity and take a picture without them noticing and just thank them afterwards. The streets are pure emotion, that is where the stories are.

Personally, I’ve never liked to capture misery or the degrading condition of the human being; this has never caught my attention. On the other hand, shadows, contrasts and the characters that emerge from them, spontaneous symmetry and natural gestures, these are more interesting to me for generating my visual discourse.

Chihuahua city is located in the north of Mexico and, being close to the border, we have an interesting cultural mix. This has caught my attention and led me to title one of my projects: Puro Norte. In it I present urban portraits of individuals with expressions and in activities denoting the identity, clothing, instruments and poses of the urban cowboy, in costumes from a western film.

Go out, walk and be alert, but don’t stop enjoying the ride and the experience. This is where objects and people have something to say, have made their own history and are waiting to be seen. It’s all about going out to look for them in order to find them.

I prefer to document my own environment without expectations and tell the tales of what I see in my own way, though pictures. I don’t ask for poses and often I don’t ask for permission, but I watch and wait for the moment instead. Photography has given me the opportunity to meet some unique characters; it’s just a matter of approaching people with respect and making my intention clear when necessary, as in the case of a portrait.

I am constantly on the hunt, defining my style and reinventing it. This is evolving more and more, allowing me to expand to other networks and find various platforms for experimenting with an image. This is part of the process and the evolution of photography. It changes on a daily basis and requires you to be a curious person.

In my photographs I try to present my vision – what I have to tell – by using certain angles and editing processes. For some time, a quote has accompanied me and it’s by one of my favourite photographers of all time, Lola Álvarez Bravo: “I seek the essence of beings and things, their spirit, their reality. Interest, personal experience, ethical and aesthetic commitment form the photographer’s third eye”. I hope to some day find this, I am still looking for it, but so far I think I’m getting closer.

About the author: Ramón Cruz is a college professor and photographer based in Chihuahua, México. Documentary, portraiture and street photography are his areas of focus. He is currently a member of 1415 Mobile Photographers.

You can see more of his work here:

Instagram
14&15 Mobile Photographers
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Flickr

Tango

Tango

One two three four
Cross
Six seven eight.

Balance, lean, follow,
Be aware,
Corazón y alma,
Relax, and keep the tension.

Open the door,
Walk, walk, walk,
It’s all coming back;
Two three four;
In a new way;
A new way;
Listen to the rhythm,
Sense the beauty,
Feel the strength,
Heart and soul,
Cross six seven.

Stop!
My world has changed:
It is a total secret,
That no one should know of.
It is awful private,
But far to heavy
To carry alone.

So I might just dream it,
And leave you the pictures
Frame by frame?
But then again:
I don’t want to re-
experience it all.

Two three four.
I still have to balance;
I still want to dance;
I still feel the tango.
Cross
Six seven eight.
I’ll bring the dark times to light;
I won’t fear them,
Although they know me,
And how to catch me,
And how to blind me.
I dare to touch them;
I dare to stay,
And reach for light.

I take off my shoes,
Walk past the curtains
(Like in a vision),
Open the window,
And breathe deeply.

I can feel a beginning,
It’s coming closer;
Almost like peace,
A vow transformed:
vision to matter.

Flexible body, flexible mind,
It derives from the soul,
Practice and effort,
Two three four.

I open my heart;
I drink the light;
I know it’s time
To leave soon.
Five six seven eight.

I move to the silence;
I count the beats;
It’s all in my soul;
It knows the direction;
It owns the music.
I sense the beginning,
It’s lifting me up
On wings of intention.
Cross
Six seven eight.

I watch the dawn behind the trees;
It’s glowing like trust.
The sky is burning
With light and answers
It’s time to leave.
The night is over
And time readjusted.

Two three four
Cross.
From an uncertain point
Between worlds
I touched the shadows,
Felt them in my eyes,
Felt them in my body,
Their density and cold
As I reached for the light.

Through a shimmering corner
Of my awareness
The light flows
Through chaos and joy,
Bones and soul,
Mind and muscles,
Heart and will,
And much more.
Six seven eight.
It flows through
From All that is.

 

Background:

I am a visual artist working with photography, based in Copenhagen DK and Norwich UK.

I was a dedicated dancer of Argentine tango for 13 years, when I was diagnosed with cancer.

In September 2016, I went through some tests at the hospital, just to make sure nothing was wrong. But, something was wrong.

Late one Monday afternoon, a surgeon called me. She explained that I was diagnosed with cancer located in my lower abdomen and that I was scheduled for surgery Wednesday morning 7.30. She gave me one day to get used to the thought. The operation would be performed by two surgeons, and it would take six hours. It was going to be a large operation. She advised me not to postpone the operation.

I was shocked.
I thought I would die.
Or at least be transformed.

I spent Tuesday trying to get used to the thought of leaving this planet.

The good thing was, when I thought of the people I loved – and still love – I had already told them they were in my heart. That was the most important thing for me.

Maybe it was the surprise of surviving the surgery that gave me tremendous energy and will power? Maybe it was just a miracle? Anyway, I tried to get out of bed the day after the surgery. I succeeded and felt that the healing process was in progress, and insisted on going home.

I soon discovered that my life had changed, and my perspectives too.

Not all of the changes were pleasant: four months after the surgery, I started to dance tango again. It was wonderful and easy and a total joy, with all the renewed energy. BUT, after one hour of dancing, my legs and lower abdomen looked like something that legally belonged to an elephant. They were swollen because of damages on my lymph system. It was terrible. I couldn’t stand the look of myself.

Even though tango is about heart and soul, it’s also an art form that is very much expressed through beauty, grace and elegance. I felt that these important aspects were out of reach.

I don’t want to bore you with long explanations about all the kind of therapeutic stuff I did every day (and still do) to dance again, and to prevent the lymphedema from becoming chronic (and the cancer from coming back); just tell you that I made this series for two reasons:

  1. To express important matters through art. By transforming something private into something generally human, it hopefully becomes meaningful to other people – and it might even make them feel uplifted?
  2. To convince myself that I don’t look like an elephant. Anymore.

To see more pictures by Titika Røtkjær, go to Instagram.

Washing up a melancholic truth – A rainy day in Marrakech

Washing up a melancholic truth – A rainy day in Marrakech

It was almost as if the rain had washed away any traces of an identity we – the tourists, travelers, photographers, writers – gave Marrakech over the years, and had now revealed a much more accurate truth of a city usually depicted as way more colorful and exciting than it really is. But not that day. Gone were the beautiful and rich colors – and smells of various spices and freshly cooked foods usually experienced in Marrakech. Instead, I was witness to a grey and flavorless, almost melancholic, truth of the so-called red city – unfolding a deeper drama of mundane life right in front of me and thus catching my deepest interest.

Wandering through almost deserted streets, I was able to catch a glimpse of a reality totally concealed to most of the foreign visiting public, a reality filled with boredom and uselessness – there was no need for artificial excitement for there were simply no tourists present who had to be artificially kept excited. The only people around, despite a few stray visitors like myself, were Moroccans going their way or hiding from rain underneath a canopy, in shops or by a door, and alleyways, minding their own business. I met Nick at Café de France later that day. After being separated from each other for a couple of hours – we decided to part ways for some time in order to be able to focus on taking photographs without distracting one another – we sat down to drink a coffee and have a talk on the roofed balcony only minutes before a heavy rainstorm hit us. As the people seated in the front row of the balcony started fleeing from the fierce rain, Nick and I – seated in the much safer back row – were rewarded with an excellent view of the usually heavily populated Jemaa El Fna square.

We watched in awe as the storm got heavier, several lightning strikes occurred and people all over the square ran around seeking shelter. The sky cleared up and the storm ended just as fast as it had begun, and we continued our journey through Marrakech together. Drawn to a crowd of people standing in front of a huge but unobtrusive building, right next to the Maison de la Photographie – which we just visited – we decided to stick around and observe the scene for a little while. It quickly turned out that this building was in fact an elementary school about to end classes, and soon the people in front of it were greeted by dozens of children rushing out of the school screaming, chanting and laughing – young lives invigorating the lifeless streets again.

Quickly backing off to an opposite wall while joyfully watching the kids being hugged by their benevolent mothers and fathers, I looked around and noticed five to six men approaching really fast, carrying a gurney loaded with something unidentifiable, covered up only by a white sheet. Seemingly unnoticed by the parents – there was just too much commotion going on – the men slowed down while shouting and simultaneously pushing their way through the crowd. Catching a glimpse of what was hidden beneath the sheet, it was then I realized that they had loaded the dead body of a young boy onto a bier, carrying him as fast as they could through the narrow streets of Marrakech to whatever their final destination was. A man who stood right next to me – and one of the very few having noticed the load too – told me in french that he had heard about the recent tragedy of a young boy being struck by a speeding car, not far away from the very school he and other parents were standing in front of, eagerly waiting to pick up their children. “Il est mort,“ he said with a toned down voice, and sounded certain about that young boy’s fate. “They are rushing him to a nearby hospital, but it’s already too late. He’s dead. It happens a lot around here. People are getting hit by cars almost every day. It is horrible. You just can not be careful enough,“ he continued, shortly before embracing his son and with him vanishing hand in hand around the corner.

Pictures of Marrakech – and Morocco in general – usually show us only the sunny days, the vivid markets, the tasty food, the carefully prepped up tourist attractions of the Medina, the architecture, smiling elderly people, cats and donkeys – or all sorts of things and animals – creating a wide variety of colorful and playful motives – as seen in some of my other images too. But a beautiful color palette doesn’t matter if there is no light to be shined on by it. I guess, in a way, that was the reason for me to shoot mostly in black and white that day – so Marrakech, the red city, could remain grey and sunless for a day, mourning the loss of another son.

“We like to pretend that what is public is what the real world is all about,“ Saul Leiter once said. But the truth is, there is always another world hidden beneath the obvious and purposefully displayed, a world that’s not often been photographed or recreated countless times before due to its mundane and unspectacular nature. But it is not sensationalism that drives me or that I seek in my photographs, it’s the ordinary lives of ordinary people that interests me. During that day – while aimlessly roaming through Marrakech at first – I was somehow able to catch a glimpse of exactly this reality I’m seeking and I am deeply grateful for having experienced this.

To know more about Alexandre visit him on : Website | Instagram | Tumblr

Before We Began by Garth Hayward

Before We Began by Garth Hayward

 

Before we were this,  we were star dust, We were at the very beginning, We were without anything, and as we travel this preordained journey over and over in one form or another days become months, months become years, years become centuries, centuries become millennium and then it all disappears into light, a light that holds and hides us from ourselves, a light that changes the singular to the plural to the all encompassing god of it all. That god which we are part of, the universe, the all ubiquitous experience that we hide from lest the lies escape us and we return to an eternity of waxing and waning.

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The disappointment of the present in the blank stare of my fellow beings, all of them, all of them as confused as the next, all of them terrified by ensuring their survival, pitting themselves against the other in imagined games of interplanetary wars, the mortality of the flesh of the matter that cocoons and diverts our universal being into a mere ego, a singular, living in a moment that no one will recall, no one wants to be reminded of. The failure of it all.

image-4

 

The worst of us control the best of us, the worst set the pace the disruption and deception and the only thing worthwhile is a link that cannot be controlled, the link that all beings strive for and that is association, the association from a link of love, the pull stronger than the gravitational force of our sun, that feeling that you used to belong. It’s not born of admiration, of subservience to the created gods man uses to divert purpose with, how puny that deity is, how basically immoral and unethical does it continue to be. There cannot now be any admiration of slave gods, of the dark matter that they represent trying to absorb your light, your true reality, your unbearable lightness of being.

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It will take a blank page, it will take a new discovery in contrived reality to change this, to disprove the diverted purpose imposed on the beings, all beings that inhabit the earth, if it experiences mortality then it is a created temporary ego manifestation of energy, there is nothing real about it, in a few millennia none of this will exist, it will be revealed in a new design. And you will remember nothing of this because it never happened.

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