Photographic gaze @MuseumModernArt ‏

My photographic gaze is searching for three most important elements: the special light, the distinct atmosphere and a significant detail. I am particularly attracted to various manifestations of colour in the real world, and have devoted considerable attention to the colour theories from Chevreul to John Gage. I am inspired by a wealth of tradition of photography from Edward Weston and his elegant compositions, Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose advice ‘not to crop’ I follow to the letter, preferring to use a different camera’s aspect ratio rather than crop in post-production, the landscape photography of Henri Cartier-Bresson and more critical view of Edward Burtinsky, articulating the impact of our production and consumption activities on the planet.

My photographic gaze is indeed informed by my upbringing: the history of art club at one of the largest art museums in the world and Summers in Scandinavia, where I learned to appreciate the beauty of the forest walks, wild strawberries and a wide variety of forest sounds and smells. Forests had lakes, rivers, butterflies and wild mushrooms and lots and lots of unspoiled wilderness, which for me forms an important part of my worldview and perhaps determined my path to become an environmentalist. Seeing the works by Leonardo and Rafael, writing papers on Egyptian art and culture, examining the techniques of Rembrandt and Titian, exploring the late 19th century triumphs of Van Gogh and Gauguin and early 20th century breakthroughs by Matisse, Marquet, Braque and Picasso since the age of 10 defined my perspective of seeing the world through the prism of visual art.

This has later been complemented by the study of ecological economics and environmental ethics, which is defined as the study of the ethics of human interactions with and impacts on such systems (Attfield, 2014). Robin Attfield describes the principles of the deep ecology movement, which aims at the flourishing and self-realizatio of all Earth species, and urges us to identify with the totality of life on Earth, the planetary biosphere (Ibid). Deep Ecology has been introduced by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, whose views and the philosophy of life is presented in a recently published book, ‘The Ecology of Wisdom”. Robin Attfield in his ‘Environmental Ethics’ explores a wealth of perspectives from anthropocentrism, defined as a value theory where none but human interests or concerns matter (Ibid, p. 10); sentientism, a system of views respecting all conscious creatures who are believed to have moral standing; biocentrism or a view that maintains that all living creatures have a good of their own and have moral standing as such and that their flourishing is intrinsically valuable, that is valuable because of its very nature; and, finally, ecocentrism, which shows belief that ecossystems have a good independent of that of their component individuals and as such have their own moral standing. Ecocentrism is held to take systemic factors more seriously than rival views.

Environmental ethics and deep ecology informs my new photobook project, on which later.


Attfield, R. (2014) Environmental Ethics, 2nd Edition, Polity

Naess, A. (2010) The Ecology of Wisdom: Writings by Arne Naess, Counterpoint



(c) Dr Stanislav Shmelev



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