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contemporary art India experimental photography abstract photography Ajit Bhand

THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION

AJIT BHAND

// Ajit is a mathematician from Bhopal, India, fascinated by patterns, symmetry and abstraction in mathematical structures. This, and discovering the art of M.C. Escher, has influenced him to begin creating artistic work himself. He shared with us a subset of  his abstract photographs, which remind him of the concept of enhanced consciousness from Aldous Huxley´s essay “The Doors of Perception”.

As a student, certain aspects of mathematics most appealed to Ajit. “In particular, he has been fascinated by patterns, symmetry and abstraction in mathematical structures. In this context, I discovered the brilliant works of art by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher,” says Ajit. “His unusual and mesmerising work appealed to my artistic self and I felt a deep urge to produce a similar type of work. However, as drawing and painting have never been my strong suits, I was drawn towards photography. I started to look for patterns and symmetry in the world around me, and it was quite an illuminating experience. I was able to see things right in front of my eyes that I had previously ignored.” Visiting art museums became Ajit´s favourite pastime and he also developed a keen interest in abstract art. “I was most influenced by the Abstract Expressionism movement that revolutionized the American art world in the 1940s. I took it as a challenge to try and make pictures that would belong to the same art genre.”

As Ajit finds that photography is a form of visual art but is also deeply rooted in science, when we combine our artistic intuition and creativity with the technical nuances of f-stops, shutter speeds and a vast spectrum of techniques, the possibilities are endless. “A photographer is a visual scientist and every photograph is an experiment based on scientific knowledge, experience, innovation and artistic perspective. My goal is to be able to create pictures that challenge our senses and produce an augmented reality relying only on the creative process with little or no use of photo-editing softwares.”


“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

Pablo Picasso


What draws you to the arts?

“Art appeals to our senses in a way that is hard to describe. I am fascinated by abstract art in particular. Each time we see an artwork such as Jackson Pollock’s “Mural” or Willam de Kooning’s “Excavation”, we can see something new, something different. Each work of art interacts with a particular viewer in a unique was, leading to endless possibilities.

What do you like most about abstract photography such as the images you have shared with us?

“The best part was to be able to see Huxley’s words come true and getting a glimpse of the enhanced perception that he talked about in his book.”

In 1954, Aldous Huxley, in his autobiographical book The Doors of Perception described in detail his experience of a certain enhanced consciousness; a consciousness that enabled him to perceive the everyday world around him in a remarkably different light. He could see beauty, depth and profundity in objects like, for example, chairs, tables, flower vases, and even in the folds of his trousers in a non-representational manner. Huxley’s experiences led him to believe that the main function of the brain is eliminative, not productive. According to this theory, each individual has a “Mind at Large” capable of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the world, and the main function of the brain and the sensory system is to protect us from being overwhelmed by this abundance of information by acting like a reducing valve. Thus, what comes out of this valve is the utilitarian perception that is necessary for survival, and that is only a fraction of the kind of consciousness we are capable of experiencing. The exceptionally gifted, or the insane can possess such consciousness permanently, while drugs or spiritual exercises can produce it temporarily.

Ajit says, “It is my belief that a certain level of enhanced consciousness, which I call “Artistic Consciousness” can be experienced through a combination of training (of our sensory system), and exploration of the unconscious, and through this series of pictures, I wish to demonstrate this idea. Artists have always had that extra ability to not only see and represent phenomena using symbolism, but also produce works of pure abstraction. Motivated by this, I made two rules before I set out to take these pictures (as a rule, I do not use photo-editing software to produce special effects). Avoid taking pictures of representational objects such as buildings, cars, trees, flowers and the like, as well as living beings such as humans, birds and animals, and look at things that one tends to completely ignore, howsoever trivial or uninteresting they might seem. Do not plan where and how the pictures are to be taken. The first rule is essentially training our mind to see as subjects, the things that are generally filtered out, and the second rule allows exploration of the unconscious. Thus, even though one is not able to completely remove the reducing valve and experience the “Mind at large” the valve is widened a little to let in some extra perception that was previously excluded by utilitarian thinking. This is the essence of Artistic Consciousness. This is a series of pictures of phenomena taking places around us that we have come across numerous times, and yet they appear unfamiliar. This is because some doors of perception have just been opened.


Images may be cropped for layout. Click on the photos to see the full images.

ALL PHOTOS © AJIT BHAND

Visit Ajit´s Instagram gallery for more amazing photos.