on Meaning and Happiness
6 April 2003

D'o?Venons nous?  Que Sommes Nous?  O?Allons Nous?  (1897?898; Paul Gauguin, French, 1848?903; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

since i was a child, i have always coveted images. i always felt there was never enough time to really "see" and experience everything around me. i craved the possession of images past and present, and the creation of my own personal dreams, symbols, and future.

i started taking pictures to remember -- documenting and recording images i could not trust my mind to hold completely and accurately. but over time, i realized that through images, i could not only capture moments of significance, but also moments of beauty, that in themselves had worth in the vicarious experience of their viewing. in addition, by capturing those small moments of beauty all around us, and by focusing and re-experiencing that beauty, i possessed another tool to determine my own mood and consciousness.

only in the last decade have i realized that one of the few things that have the ability to make me most happy is this visual aesthetic experience -- creating, possessing, and experiencing images of beauty. when i was a teenager studying the greeks and romans, i didn't really understand why those classical cultures were so intent on searching after truth and beauty (or for asians, purity and simplicity). even through college, i was almost completely focused on understanding belief structures (truth) and defining my own. today, however, images are a way for me to relive the past; affirm beliefs, create meaning, and experience beauty; determine my mood and consciousness; and question and study the world and people around me -- actions which are personally rewarding in both reflected awareness (meaning), as well as blissful ignorance (happiness).

i feel my existence is this delicate balance between meaning and happiness. on one hand, i take pictures which ask or try to show true character and identity, which question societal definitions, and which try to restore true dignity to those hegemonically and pejoratively defined by society -- all of which help to affirm and challenge my constructions of belief and identity (reflected awareness). on the other hand, i also try to take pictures which help me experience beauty and aesthetic form -- to ensconce myself in blissful consciousness (blissful ignorance).

but more simply, i am a romantic realist, trying to find and collect the small authentic moments of meaning and beauty in everyday life, and constructing my own. with each image i view, i am reminded of gauguin's triptych questions -- where do we come from? what are we? and where are we going?

it is a continuing journey with many answers.

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