there are few places these days where you observe people doing absolutely nothing. the seashore is where i like to do absolutely nothing and where, predictably, i am surrounded by other people, doing absolutely nothing. at first i thought the opposite of chaos was just…nothing. i think of chaos as infinite everything, in and of itself. chaos is randomness and disorder. chaos is unlimited and illogical, entropic and endless.
it is worth mentioning that i have truly found myself on a sort of odd opposite “odyssey” this week. i play with the word of the day in my head constantly and then set out to document it, so sure about my final choice of odd opposite. setting off for the beach, in this case, i had in mind capturing the chaos of waves, the unpredictability and vastness of the ocean. i got caught up (like Odysseus himself) looking around at fellow beach goers and marveling at how counter-intuititive opposites are. all the humble people, that come to simply gaze, all of them relaxed, calm and peaceful, doing absolutely nothing. all the chaos and randomness and bigness of the sea mirrors the tranquility, emptiness, motionlessness of its observers. as though that nothingness state of being could not exist without looking out at, observing, and experiencing its opposite.
with my photographs i have attempted to exhibit the chasm between chaos and its opposite. looking at the photographs as they came together i realized another odd opposite of chaos. as humans, ultimately managing chaos might mean embracing nothingness (like the beach goers). and then one step towards managing chaos might mean navigating it (like the seafarers).
the first picture represents the chaos of the sea.
the second picture is of a traverse board, one of those nostalgic keepsakes in a glass case for beach wanderers to muse about. long ago the traverse board was used by early seafarers to calculate the number, distance and direction of the ships zig zags. because ships rarely traveled in a straight line, navigators needed to know how often they veered off a straight course and for how long. the traverse board is an early tool of human ingenuity and represents one of the first steps towards managing the space between the chaos of the sea and the ability to cross it.
the third photograph is taken of an inner city billboard. for this sequence, it represents a ship on course. it shows the ability of explorers to maintain a measure of control over the sea, by recognizing their bearings and determining their direction with simple tools. it represents the ability of humans to minimize chaos in their world- to navigate it- paving the way for more exploration and more understanding.