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Year in Perspective

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

As we come to the end of the calendar year, it's a good time to reflect on what the year past has held and what we hope for the new year. I found some beautiful composite photographs which combine an entire series of movements into a single image to be a helpful metaphor for gaining perspective on the year.

You can see Shinichi Maruyama's gorgeous images over at the Slate photography blog. Maruyama uses a high-speed camera capable of shooting 2,000 frames a second to photograph a nude dancer going through a routine, then digitally composes thousands of shots into a single image. The results give a sense of movement that I'd only seen before with long-exposure photographs, but the crispness and clarity of the high-speed frames makes the images feel alive and immediate, not blurry and lethargic. You can almost pick out a single instance, but as soon as you do, another fraction of a second is clamoring for your attention.

It's very much like life.

When I saw these images, my first thought was that they might be the way that something with a much longer perspective would perceive a human being. If I could get inside a tree's view, or the landbase's image of me, might it not look something like this, a cloud of motion over a wide range of spaces? At every particular instant, the person is in exactly one place, one position, but the movement is so fast that the summation would seem more like a cloud of possibilities.

I began to think about how my life would look if I visualized it over the course of the year in a composite, not just of my physical positions, but more generally, with each moment's image affected by my intentions, my attitudes, the work I was doing and the way I felt inside at the time.

I began to see the trajectories and movements that can be discerned within the images. In a few of them, one foot is visible as a fixed point, supporting the dancer throughout her routine. I wonder, if I could see myself as my landbase sees me, would I have that kind of support from my grounding and centering?

In others, the arc of a leg or an arm is visible: a sweep of purposeful movement from beginning to end. When I went back to review my year, I found some things that I had moved through in a similar trajectory, going from intention to objective methodically, if not always as elegantly as a dancer's gesture.

Some places a single movement cannot be determined, but the viewer can tell that the dancer's body spent time in this space, and not that one. I thought about ways that I was pulled this way or that into a particular project: hours and days spent out of my usual positions, extending myself like a dancer reaching out a little bit further.

What did your 2012 look like? Can you use these visualizations to help you shape your ideas for 2013?


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Literata is a Wiccan priestess and writer. She edited Crossing the River: An Anthology in Honor of Sacred Journeys, and her poetry, rituals, and nonfiction have appeared in works such as Mandragora, Unto Herself, and Anointed as well as multiple periodicals. Literata has presented at Sacred Space conference, Fertile Ground Gathering, and other mid-Atlantic venues. She is currently completing her doctoral dissertation on the history of magic with the support of her husband and four cats. Please note that all opinions expressed here are Literata's alone and do not reflect the positions of any organization with which she is affiliated.


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