Gazing across centuries


© Julius Y                                                    Onlookers of Rembrandt’s 1662 oil Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild

This shot, awarded second place in National Geographic’s 2017 Travel Photographer of the Year, has the quality of a zipwire connecting dismay in sartorial evolution by gossipy old seventeenth century Drapers directly at the rough and ready subjects of objection.

Such dialogue is captivating. Three hundred and fifty five years dissolve by virtue of the directness of gaze. What does it mean, this unmediated communication, this boldly frank and wry observation each group casts over the other?

Rembrandt’s use of light, a particular hallmark of his life’s exploration of humanity, illuminates invisible filaments that hold together character, nature, vitality and intellect.

What do we see when we look? The tint of our spectacles, the prism through which we perceive the world, time of day/year/month (!) and n other factors all inform perception : which still doesn’t answer the question.

What it means to look may inform what we see when we look. Is it p’raps Why do we look?