There exists a fascinating story about the 5th century Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, who is credited with transmitting the essence of Zen Buddhism to China. It is said, that after refusing an invitation by the emperor to join his court, he spent nine years in silence staring at a wall! In trying to understand my own interest in looking at and creating images, I often think of this story and just what the mysterious monk found so compelling in “wall gazing”. Perhaps through the process of directing one’s awareness to a flat surface in a very open and non–judgmental manner, the mind can be silenced and a sense of inner peace and unity experienced. Indeed, when I enter the “flow” of the creative process or enjoy the open–ended contemplation of a non–objective image my awareness seems to expand to enjoy the pure beauty of the visual world before me. At such moments I do not seek a narrative explanation, or attempt to label my experience, but simply be with it in its totality and self–sufficiency. My life of “doing” becomes a life of “being”!
My work to a certain extent is inspired by this story of Bodhidharma, and by the rich tradition of Abstract Expressionism that has been so important to the development of Western approaches to “Modern” art. The story of Bodhidharma informs my intent for the images to act as a catalyst for eliciting a form of aesthetic contemplation in the viewer and the further opportunity for them to explore the deep and mysterious riches of their own inner world. References to Abstract Expressionism can be found in my process oriented working method and the challenge of discovering a formal yet visually compelling solution guided by the intuitive wisdom of the unconscious.
Following upon these influences, my technique is largely improvisational and based upon the skill of responding intuitively and intelligently to visual possibilities as they present themselves. Consequently the images are not arbitrary or the result of chance - rather they are the consummation of a deep, sustained, thoughtful, and passionate dialogue.
The tradition of Zen Buddhism (Chan in China) encourages one to be to be mindful of the present moment, to be aware of the profound reality of existence in its purity, without labeling or concepts of past or future. I like to keep this idea in mind, along with my understanding of design and composition when I take photographs. In this way the process transcends the act of mechanical recording and becomes a meditative practice–a method of encountering and connecting with the world.
I use a basic Canon digital SLR and take many pictures in the hope of capturing images that can be appreciated for their aesthetic qualities like a painting. The images are reviewed, edited in Photoshop and ultimately printed on Epson Archival Exhibition Fiber Paper called a giclée process.
My intent for the images is that they suggest the beauty hidden in the world that sometimes arises in the moment like an epiphany. My process is very intuitive and rests upon faith that if I am receptive and open, the image will present itself as a gift. In all my images, I seek to record compositions that are complete, balanced, unified and supported by compelling subject matter. I hope they convey a sense of transcendence, spirituality and deep connection with the world.
… the images are not arbitrary or the result of chance, rather they are the consummation of a deep, sustained, thoughtful, and passionate dialogue––Randy Hall