Qasr Sing
Leo Lazic


Temple Monograph, the first web-site photography work of this trilogy, came about as the result of my realization of how some visual presentations (namely, places I visited and image-reproductions I would look at) from my childbood had informed the development of my visual affinities, especially from the moment I engaged myself in photography. This realization enabled me to comprehend many aspects of my photographic inclinations. However, while working on this project and analyzing lots of my images, there were two that ended up sticking above the others because of their attraction which I could not explain away. It seemed that the price to pay for getting so many answers, was to net also a couple of questions

The second work in this series, 2km2, was not envisaged as a continuation of the first one, yet it ended up being just that. Despite new surroundings (desert) and a different topic and goal - I ended up again with some images which attracted me more than others as they would simply refuse to fade away like others. Again I have learned a lot about my photographic practice and its background, and again some images came to hound me becuase I couldn't comprehend why I found them attractive, and why this attraction was not fading away.

Hard work has however paid off, as I at least had managed to increase the collection of these weird images. With the advent of the digital era, taking photos became much cheaper and I further increased the 'weird' collection, I put them together and through analysis started drawing first conclusions about their common features. My insights confirmed by Rudolph Arnheim's from his book "The Power of the Center", I entered a new project about what I termed 'Centricalities'. The outcome was an abundance of images of the sort I thought I'd never get another one besides the two I managed by chance in the first ten years of my photography journey.

Still another (silver-lined as it turned out later) drawback intervened at that point. Just as I was to start finalizing the Centricalities project, I realized a huge shortcoming of all the images therein, except of one. They had no problem withstanding the (what I call) intensive inspection criteria but doubtlessly failed the (again my term) extensive inspection. Intensive inspection is when you open a book, go to a web site or to a museum or gallery and have a look at a work of art (or anything of any interest for that matter). You look intensely and with heightened concentration at an object, trying to understand or simply enjoying it. But that inspection can only last a short time; anything between a few seconds to a few minutes, with maybe some extreme and exceptional cases of a few hours. Extensive inspection, on the other hand, is when an object is in your everyday surrounding and you view it both consciously and subconsciously (or unconsciously if you will). The easiest example to think of is of course an image on the wall of a room where you spend most of your time. But, not any image on that wall would possibly qualify. It also has to have a certain size so that you see the features of its intended purpose at the distance you view it from most often. In computer terms for instance, a photo of A4 size at a distance of 3 meters is simply a thumbnail, or not even. Granted, there are images that function even in those conditions, but they are rare and even so that would hardly and very rarely be their expected function.

In this consumerist era, we got used to intense inspection; and vice versa, the artifacts produced are then also made having in mind that intense inspection usage. On the other hand, extensive inspection and production are both a bit of a luxury in these fast times. Secondly, people take it for normal if they don't react any longer to a work of art after having had it for some time. They just got used to it, they think. Then, when they go away for holidays and return, the piece is strong and beautiful again - and they think 'what a powerful work of art'. But, with time the piece will be fusing with the background faster and faster. In the end, it will become unnoticable, like a wall paper or the wall itself.

To return to my Centricalities series which utterly failed on those sterner criteria; it was a blow to see the whole project collapse but I had no doubt that it wasn't good enough. Additionally, it wasn't clear what method I could use to know which images would be satisfy the extensive viewing criteria when displayed on wall. But, there was no way back and I decided to embark on a project with one of the main aims to produce a number of images which would withstand the trial of time while being in relatively constant presence of the viewer. The surprising speed of technology advance had again a crucial role. While before the low cost of taking pictures allowed me to find 'centricals', now the low cost of printing above A2 allowed me to carry out the 'extensive inspection' tests.

All this is, in summary, what brought me to the latest web-site photography work in the series: the 'Qasr Singularities'. Moving on from centricality images (based on the main point of interest being in the centre) to singularities (centricalities, but with a particular visual object in the centre), I managed to produce images which fulfilled the criteria for the extensive viewing and were also in the vein of the enigmatic images that were the culmination of my first two photography works, Temple Monograph and 2km2. Moreover, they also pointed at some images I saw as a child and found so influential, since the two sets were sharing common features. But, unlike my conclusion in Temple Monograph where I thought that those childhood impressions have informed my subsequent photographic development; now, for the first time, I had the thought that both events (my childhood remembered impressions and my photographs which have similar features and are thus related to those impressions) are reflections or expressions of the one and same part of my inner being. Genealogically speaking, they would be of the same generation.

Theoretically, the major advance for me was to move from the Sublime towards the Mysterious. A possibly rather risky step to take, as even the Sublime is looked down on in the Contemporary Art establishment. In the serious art circles the word mysterious is a taboo, presumably because of its triteness. A label that also can be stuck to the Sublime as well, along with its Romanticist one. Having fallen of the main stage of humanity where it was in the 18th century, the Sublime has ended up in the arms of philosophers of aesthetic theory while the Mysterious, as far the contemporary art scene is concerned, fares even worse by being cared for not even by philosophers but only by theologians. This run down may sound paradoxical to some, but maybe it just illustrates the complexity of the two notions and the phenomena they cover. The two words, like a few others, have been so abused and corrupted that it is nowadays next to suicidal to dabble with them. But in that large baggage of meaning there are aspects that are vital to our existence. I will define my specific field of interest later in the text, but for now, as an indication here is a passage by Steven D. Boyer from the article The Logic of Mystery (2007) published in the philosophy journal "Religious Studies":

"Now the mention of aesthetics in Verkamp's arrangement might remind us of another common but rather elusive sense of 'mystery' that (perhaps surprisingly) I will not try to classify here. I mean the familiar association of mystery with particular things that evoke awe or wonder or astonishment - in fact, an awe or wonder or astonishment so intense that it might suggest a profound religious significance. Despite this significance, I do not include this usage of 'mystery' in my logical taxonomy for the simple reason that it is not rooted in a single, distinctive pattern of logic, but is instead a phenomenological description. There may very well be something 'mysterious', something awe-inspiring, something that reason cannot master or penetrate, in experiences of a starry night sky, or of a Bach concerto, or of a raging storm, or of the birth of a child, and I am happy to acknowledge that any of these experiences might offer some connection to or insight into the ultimate meaning of things. But with respect to the logic of mystery i.e. to why a particular experience evokes wonder - these cases may be quite different from one another. In the case of the night sky, I suspect that part of our wonder derives simply from its vastness, from what Kant called the 'mathematical sublime' (i.e. the awareness of overwhelming size, such as many people feel when they first stand beside and look up at a sky-scraper) the logic here would be the quantitative logic of extensive mystery. In the case of the storm, we are perhaps awe-struck by the raw power that we witness, by what Kant called the 'dynamical sublime' that overwhelms us, in which case the more qualitative logic of facultative mystery may be at work. In the other cases (and perhaps in the cases of the night sky and raging storm, too), the wonder derives from what we may describe generically as the perception of beauty - i.e. from an aesthetic impulse, as Verkamp's labelling suggests. These could then be construed as facultative mysteries - or they could be so construed if one supposes that aesthetic appreciation is a purely non-rational mode of perception."