When you look into the abyss,
the abyss also looks into you.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
One of the wonderful things I've gained from my study of Taoism is the new relationship I have with emptiness. The void is not a thing to avoid (interesting word) or fear; it is something to embrace and welcome. It represents potential and mystery. Besides, this "emptiness" is the majority of what is.
Science tells us that 74% of the universe is "empty" space, 22% is dark matter - particles that are there but that we can't see. Matter, the concrete stuff, the things we make pictures of, is just a tiny fraction - 4% - of the whole. This empty space, the void, is actually teeming with invisible energy, called dark energy. It is anything but "empty". Of course any good Taoist knows that it is the empty space of the cup that holds the greatest potential.
The fact of the matter (no pun intended!) is that what we can see is just an infinitesimal part of all that exists but what we can sense is perhaps slightly larger.
That is why spending time with visual listening exercises, guided meditations or simply resting into the sense of the place is so important for the contemplative photographer. There are no pure voids or total emptiness. After learning about James Terrell's theories on the consciousness of light, Nietzshe's words make even more sense. When we embrace all of existence, even the parts we cannot see, which may be the most important parts of all, then we can become true partners in this eternal and divine dance. I can only believe our photographs will be all the better for it.
Stand at the precipice,
That existential darkness,
And call into the void:
It will surely answer.
from 365 Tao - Daily Meditations
by Deng Ming-Dao