Distant Mountains

Helsinki-Vantaa
Helsinki-Vantaa

A mountain is more than “a mountain”

Perception is quick and slow. We flinch at the sight of a spider, or catch a ball, before actually thinking about it. Given a bit more time, our own experiences and memories become involved in our perception. When we see a mountain, it is easy to see just “a mountain”. Here, it is our own experience that we are looking at, rather than what we really see.

Jonni Roos

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Sipoo

 

Sipoo

 

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2013, pigment prints.

A mountain is more than “a mountain”

Perception is quick and slow. We flinch at the sight of a spider, or catch a ball, before actually thinking about it. Given a bit more time, our own experiences and memories become involved in our perception. When we see a mountain, it is easy to see just “a mountain”. Here, it is our own experience that we are looking at, rather than what we really see.

Things change when we start to climb. Now, our perceptions are continuously updated with new information. We do not have this option when it comes to art, at least not with a photograph. Our gaze remains distant. But what works to our advantage is that we can afford a slow gaze, and this slow gaze can help us beyond what is ostensible.

The German philosopher Martin Heidegger contemplated the possibility of releasement. Through releasement we could keep our representations and possible utilitarian viewpoints separate from the object of our perception – not know too much about it, and simply open ourselves up to what we instantly perceive.

A predecessor to the European practice of mindfulness, the Buddhist tradition provides an alternative perspective on a similar situation: When looking at distant mountains, look from a distance also at the thoughts that arise in your mind – dispassionately, yet with gentle acceptance. A mountain is more than “a mountain”, and you are more than your thoughts.

Jonni Roos