The Individual

The individual is an expression of a whole. Depending who’s looking and how, a singularity can appear as a fractal, a hologram or simply an object. The blossom above and the stone below, seen in isolation, reflect the “wholes” of which they are a part—a geranium plant and a mountain respectively. If someone were to hold out these objects for us to examine, our inclination would be to name them—the name of the plant and the kind of stone it is. Well and good. But those are just symbols we use to talk about them. They don’t represent their referents very well. But by isolating and photographing an object, it becomes special as well as representative of the whole.

As a whole, the plant and the mountain are visually complex, perhaps even commonplace. They’re beautiful, we stand in awe of them—or pass them by. By isolating the individual representatives, the beauty is retained. The magnitude and presence of the whole is missing certainly, but what’s added through it’s stark presence is the sensibility of its “beingness.”

We might say, “Wow!” to the plant or mountain; they can be dramatic experiences. Here, the isolation and simple framing of blossom and stone makes them feel precious and deserving of deeper consideration. For instance, although they represent their respective wholes, they are unique expressions of them. No two blossoms on the plant are identical; neither are any of the other stones on the mountain. Individuals are identical in substance, different in expression.

I think of other whole systems in this regard—cell to human being, person to corporation and nation—and cosmos. Because lower order beings unite to form higher order beings—atoms join together to form molecules, molecules unite to form cells, cells unite to form… there is natural, “inherited” relationship all the way up the line. The blossom is the tree individuated. The stone is the mountain individuated. Perhaps one of the core challenges of our era is to see the individual as an expression of the whole.

The universe presents itself to us as a system composed of parts-within-wholes, of systems within systems, organized through time and evolution as interdependent levels of complexity. Each part, including you and me, is integral to the whole; and, in some holographic sense, each part is a microcosm of the greater macrocosm. Each part contains within itself the seed or template of the whole.

Christian de Quincey



About These Images

One of my favorite ways to isolate subject matter is to put it on a plate or in a bowl. I use all kinds of ceramics, usually black or white, and in these situations I prefer soft and even light so the shadows are less prominent. I have the advantage of a copy stand where the camera can be adjusted higher or lower as it looks down on the subject, but the same effect can be achieved outdoors by putting the plate or bowl on a piece of plain white or black paper.















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