The leaf, the light and I

autumn leaves

I would like to take you in a short walk through a small, wild garden.

What are we looking for?

Just let eyes freely lead you, without thinking, and – maybe – beauty will appear.

Why “maybe”? Wasn’t beauty already there (in a flower, a leaf, a tree) before we came?

Yes, in a way… But the aesthetic experience can only happen during a meeting: between a flower (a leaf, a tree) and somebody who looks at it. The aesthetic experience is a special kind of relationship. Let’s look it closer.

While walking, some leaves attracted me. It was not a generic or naturalistic interest, but a specific imagine that has appeared and caught my eyes because of a certain color, a shadow, a texture of ribs. It is not “any” leaf but “that” leaf, in that moment and place, seen from a precise point of view. Light helps to create that unique picture, affecting its colors and shadows. Thus, through the light, a special connection has established between me and the leaf.

Have we found it or was it waiting for us?

Maybe both, in a kind of synchrony. There is a potential beauty that needs both waiting and intentionality for revealing itself. An empty and receptive space is necessary to make something new come in.

Can we preserve it? Do we give us enough “empty” time?

I think everyone can feel the sensation of being intensely connected to something while looking at it. This is an aesthetic experience. It happens “hic et nunc”, here and now. A small oasis where time stands still.

So why just don’t pick that flower to bring home and put it in a vase?
Because it is an experience of connection, not of possession.
Where does it happen?
Almost everywhere. This is why I took you in a small garden, a few steps from home, and not in a National Museum.

Can we take a picture of it?
This is a central point: photography can be a tool, not a goal. If our objective is catching a beautiful picture to hang on, the camera will be an obstacle for living this kind of experience.
No products, no thinking process… So what’s the point?
A short, intense meeting with beauty: the leaf, the light and I.
Enjoy your walk.

Details are treasures: how finding them?

Looking for details

Details are like treasures that we always have before our eyes, but which often – we adults – cannot see. Instead children find them easily, it’s their natural way of looking. They can be our teachers. Thus, the invitation is to play this “detail hunt” together with children. The starting point can be any image. However, as autumn has just begun with its wonderful colors, nature offers us excellent ideas. And it might be a good idea choosing images of familiar places, which we are not used to observe any more, also taking the pictures together with children.

Looking for details

To prepare the game, you need two prints of the same picture, preferably in big format. Cut out from a white cardboard a “window”, that will be the frame through which you will observe the image. Then cut one of the prints into many parts of the same shape of the window: these parts are the details you should look for in the entire image (using the frame).

A piece of the trunk of a tree

It could become a board game or a calendar, just as the original project created for some Italian preschools, collaborating with the photographer Marco Andreani, author of the photographs.

A calendare with pictures' details

Is “the lawn” what we see or do we see a blade of grass plus a blade of grass plus a blade of grass…? What we say “seeing the lawn” is only an effect of our rough and coarse senses; a set exists only because it is made up of distinct elements. No need to count them, the number does not matter; what matters is to grasp the individual seedlings one by one in a single glance, in their particularities and differences. And not just seeing them: thinking of them. Instead of thinking “lawn”, think of that stem with two leaves of clover, that lanceolate leaf a little hunched, that thin corymb … Italo Calvino, “Palomar”

blades of glass

Enjoy your detail hunt!

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