The Five Elements

This series of photos presents an ongoing project exploring the nature of the Five Elements in ancient Chinese philosophy - Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. It is an exploration of some of the underlying qualities of each, and of how each element is inter-related with the others.

For example, looking at a wood burner I found that the patterns of soot created on the glass door appeared sometimes as ghost-like trees, and sometimes as if they were swirling galaxies. Even though the images appear abstract the forms are created by and suggestive of fire. Or taking metal: the patterns and textures of rusting metal could appear like the grain and bark of a tree. And looking at an autumn woodland through a small hole in an abandoned section of railway track imbued the scene with some of the essence of metal: in Chinese philosophy metal represents (among other things) purification and the season of autumn. It also relates to the nature of a metal blade - to cut - and by using the metal rail to cut through the view, it revealed something new in the scene. I also used those same diffraction patterns caused by looking through a small aperture in the photos of water - in this case by photographing through a narrow gap in a wood fence. This again revealed echoes of the other elements in the resulting images of a river distorted by diffraction.