“I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” Anais Nin
Conquer the fear of the unfamiliar and of the unfathomable, and look below the surface to discover a world of serenity-inducing colour, entrancing light patterns of celestial beauty and deep, wonderful mystery.
My art emerges from a deep calling for the sea.
This was no easy calling, as the sea was originally a source of terror. Nonetheless, irresistibly drawn, I persisted until after several years I became able to look into the deep blue not only without fear, but in utter wonder.
I began taking pictures underwater in 2013, with a particular interest in wave flow-patterns, over-and-under seascapes, caustics, sparkles, reflections, solar flares, blurs and natural gradients from light blue to deep blue to the mysterious darkness of the abyss.
In 2015 Deep Sea Contemplation, a pairing of images with a poem by Friedrich Hölderlin, was the seminal project that paved the way for Deep Blue Cosmos (2016), a visual exploration of the similarities between outer space and the abyss: limitless and hostile wildernesses, light-studded spans of darkness, weightlessness, loss of spatial direction, immense and inexhaustible wonder.
This was followed by The Ocean Within (2017-2018), a series of images primarily made using long exposures underwater (anima liquida and flight into the blue) and aiming at getting ever more intimate with the fluid essence of water.
More recently I published my work in a photobook entitled Poetics of Underwater, a neologism of my coining which, I feel, encapsulates to perfection this new field of artistic exploration and expression which has only been made possible by advances in technology in the most recent decades.
My work originates in, and represents, a state of complete and total immersion in perception and of being fully present in the moment, what some may call mindfulness, but which I prefer to call aesthetic contemplation ‘à la Schopenhauer’.
Eyes closed, floating in the boundless blue expanse, the wonder of freediving is, in my view, largely due to the disappearance of visual boundaries and to the alterations of body perception that accompany weightlessness, resulting in a blurring of the habitual boundaries between self and non-self.
The division between self and nature exists only in our thoughts. When this division ceases, we become one with nature: unconfined, timeless, immortal. Not only do we begin to perceive its transcendental beauty, but we also find peace, without which true well-being is absolutely impossible.
All my pictures are taken free diving, mostly off wild beaches in the South of France.
I’m French, living and working in Cannes and in London.
[ chxli refers to that monument of philosophy, Chapter XLI (41) of Schopenhauer's Second Volume of The World as Will and Representation, always present in my mind and soul, though of equal importance and perhaps even more so recently, is the poetic contemplation of our oneness with nature so beautifully expressed in Friedrich Hölderlin's Hyperion.
For the curious, you can read Schopenhauer's Chapter XLI here (go straight to page 238 of 350 of the pdf, or 463 of 697 of the paper book) ]