1492

DSC3005

After the invasion of Granada in 1492 by King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I, things changed in Granada.

DSC3009

One can debate how liberal the emirate had been, but it certainly didn’t get better. Whenever choices become limited,life does not necessarily become easier.

DSC3015

Today, we have a choice. We can face reality with clarity, like the cathedral of Granada, built over the ruins of its former mosque.

DSC3002

Or we can prefer the blurred view over the remaining walls of the Alhambra.

DSC2850

For the moment, it’s maybe best to keep gardening.

Advertisements

Big Things

DSC 4422

Clifty Falls State Park in eastern Indiana, at the border to Ohio, features a large canyon with several waterfalls, about 20 meters tall.

DSC6848

This allows for views that are not very common elsewhere in Indiana. Usually, when your view is not blocked by trees, it is an endless plane and an endless sky, cut in half by a perfectly straight horizon. At Clifty Falls, you can look across, giving you back a sense of size.

DSC 5761

Or, if you dare, you can look down.

DSC 5751

It is somewhat ironic that the only reason lonely trees have a chance to grow this tall is the protection of the canyon they are trying to outgrow.

DSC 4489

Time Itself

DSC2825

During the Nasrid Dynasty, the emirs of Granada had the material and intellectual resources to turn the castle of the Alhambra into a palace without equal.

DSC3090
Subsequent vandalism, ignorance, and neglect have destroyed much of it, but what remains makes me wonder about what kind of people lived there.

DSC3065

The wall decorations do not tell stories of battles and victories. The lines of the abstract designs appear to repeat themselves forever in infinite variations.

DSC2913

This makes me wonder whether the artists had the flow of time itself in mind rather than particular events.

DSC3061

They must have likened their buildings to the plants in the gardens of the Generalife, organically growing and transforming.

DSC2886

Postscriptum

I need to apologize. The blog post from this morning was not meant as a commentary on the church shooting in Charleston. Nothing in this blog is intended as a commentary on daily events. In fact, most posts, including today’s, were written weeks or months ago.

I still should have reviewed what was scheduled for today. It is inappropriate because the title and some of its content suggest intended connections. Connections there are, but they were not intended.

This being said, the recent violent tensions between Black and White have been on my mind quite a bit for the past months, and I do not want to deny that I meant to say more than make a general statement about black and white photography.

However, I am not going to rephrase my words, or add to them. The main purpose of this blog is the construction of time, both past and future, and I will not alter the past deliberately. Interpret as you like, but please take connections between blog time and real time as what they are: random incidents.

Peace.

DSC6483

Black and White?

Once in a while, as a photographer, you come across a view and know that this will be the shot of the day.
This is very satisfying. Even better and much rarer is it when you come across a location that feels like stepping out of reality into a scene where almost every view is powerful.

Mine033 wp

In the 90s, I spent a lot of time biking in the Siebengebirge, a usually rather scenic hilly region southeast of Bonn. Seeking exercise and one or two good views, I once stumbled across a gypsum mine, still active, but in a pretty desolate shape.

Mine018 wp
It felt like out of the sudden, color had been removed. It is one thing when you take black and white images, or when reality suddenly becomes black and white. Motives that will stay with you for decades emerge out of the dust.

Mine035 wp

The tension, however, is not between the remaining black and white. It is rather the almost existentialistic fight against decay, be it by machine, be it by nature.

Mine009 wp
The novel Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe, turned into a devastating film by Hiroshi Teshigahara, captures all this much better.

Mine001 wp

Hyperbolic Cubes (Spheres X)

The hyperbolic plane is a geometry whose points are those of a disk, and the lines are circular arcs that meet the boundary circle of the disk at a right angle. Like so:

Squares60 01

We see that the arcs in this figure cut out regions, and the central one looks like a deflated square. However, to the hyperbolic eyes the circles are actually straight, and all regions would be considered congruent squares. There is yet another difference to Euclidean geometry: These squares have corners with 60 degree angles, instead of the traditional 90 degrees. In fact, hyperbolic people can make squares with any angle less than 90 degrees at the corners, all the way down to 0 degrees. Then the vertices lie on the boundary of the disk, and we are getting what is called an ideal square.

Ideal4 01

Of course there is also hyperbolic space, represented by a round ball. The planes are spherical shells meeting the boundary of the ball at a right angle. We can make cubes in hyperbolic space, with dihedral angles less than the traditional 90 degrees. This time, when the cube becomes ideal (i.e. when the corners lie on the boundary of the ball), the dihedral angles of the hyperbolic cube have shrunk down to 60 degrees.

Cube60

Because six such cubes will fit around an edge very much like six hyperbolic 60 degree squares fir around a corner, we are able to tile all of hyperbolic space with ideal cubes. Visualizing this is a challenge, as if we just draw all the cubes, we will just see a ball, and all the effort was in vain.

But we can leave out some of the cubes. If we start with the central ideal cube, and just take those cubes that can be obtained by rotating about the edges by 180 degrees, we get after a few steps the following object, shown as a stereo pair for cross-eyed viewing.

Simplestereo

The final image is obtained by applying more such rotations, and making the material relective.

Cubes2d left

Wild Orchids

Orchids010 wp

The beautiful German word Kalkmagerrasen means a calcareous low-nutrient meadow. Low nutrients implies few trees and shrubs, few weeds, but also some rare plants that had no chance to compete elsewhere. Among them are wild orchids, quite different form the ones I was familiar with before.

Orchids005 wp

The plants are between 20 and 40 cm tall, and show an enormous amount of detail. I took these pictures in 1997 in the Eiffel, using a flash. There wasn’t much choice, given wind and otherwise restricted means. This makes everything look artificial, which might well be ok.

Orchids028 wp

The names Knabenkraut and Ragwurz tell from times when imagination played a more important role than in our prefabricated days.

Orchids017 wp

Some of the shapes of the flowers are said to resemble the bodies of the insects they are trying to attract.

Orchids006 wp

That we, instead, see in them hangmen, is, of course, just telling something about us. Phew.