I have chosen to write about these two states of awareness in a combined Thought Piece but, it is important to note that they are very different in concept and impact on achieving the realisation of being. First, a definition of awareness from the Cambridge Dictionary:
“knowledge that something exists, or understanding of a situation or subject at the present time based on information or experience.”
And now for how I see the meaning of these two signifiers in the context of my practice:
Dynamic Awareness is a conscious component of cognition and is about the ongoing change, flux, and flow of time. The sun moving behind a cloud and the resultant reduction in light, the movement of reeds in the wind, the ever-changing weather on Skye. An ability to take in a scene using signals from all senses and then recognise, rather like a movie how the component parts change and are affected by resultant changes in the environment. In terms of my practice, I see dynamic awareness as a description of Graham Harman’s world of Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO). A world where objects emerge and withdraw in the flow of time.
Perceptive Awareness on the other hand is about awareness without conscious evaluation or critique. The degree of awareness of different things around you will change and requires an element of visualisation of those aspects of the object withdrawn from view or from direct sensory perception. Immanuel Kant explained that it is only possible to see three faces of a dice at any given time. All the other faces are withdrawn from view, although you know they are there. For example in my practice, when I gaze at the lone silver birch tree I can only see the facing view but, I am able to visualise what the tree looks like from the Cuillin side because I have seen it many times and have an intuitive sense (based on experience) of the different aspects of a tree from all possible angles. It is this ability to perceive an object in its totality, even though some of it is withdrawn, that I term perceptive awareness.
These two short videos I produced recently demonstrate dynamic and perceptive awareness in action.
In order to catch a glimpse of the essence of Skye I need to be in tune with the landscape, attuned to the changing environment and aware of the emergence and withdrawal of objects at both a conscious and non-conscious level. This is not easy but a consequence of choosing object-oriented photography rather than the more common subject-oriented photography focusing on sensory perception. But, the challenges do not stop there – being aware of being must be captured in a moment as the emergence of objects align.