The Observer Effect: Momentary Momentum

in-between instants

  Human behavior is fluent, all motions and gestures liquid. To the observer it unfolds like a movie – a constant stream of pictures gushing by so fast that the transitions are seamless to our eye. For me, the camera’s skill to freeze the momentary momentum in-between scenes is nothing short of miraculous and reminds me of a quirky phenomenon in the quantum realm: the observer effect. In reality (reality as in the reality, the one beyond our grasp) the tiny particles we’re all made of behave like waves, fluid in their ambiguous whereabouts and intangible so long as nobody is watching. Limited to probability functions, our knowledge of their position and state is vague, until we observe them. Only then they behave like particles and their location and character can be determined. Of course, being that I'm not a physicist, observing humans in-between moments is a bit more interesting to me.


a glimpse

a man head diving from a boat into Lake Kivu in Rwanda

glimpse: EXPLOSIVE DIVE | A Lake that erupts is a lake I cannot imagine even with my eyes on it and my body in it. But Lake Kivu is that lake. Literally, counterintuitively, oxymoron-free. Straddling the border of Rwanda and DR Congo, it undergoes so-called limnic eruptions – an exceptionally rare type of natural disaster and lonely fate it shares with only two other lakes. These explosive bodies of water have large amounts of CO2 bottled up in their pressurized depths – think soda bottle – and can release sudden gas clouds when set off by natural events in the area. “Lake overturn” sounds harmless enough, but translates to “asphyxiation for whatever breathes nearby,” as has happened in the 1980s with Kivu’s Camaroonian cousins Lake Monoun and Lake Nyos.  Human and animal casualties were in the thousands for Lake Nyos, but compared to Kivu, Nyos is a puddle, out-volumed several thousand times over. Lake Kivu is thought to erupt in millennial intervals, but it doesn’t look like anybody is expecting the end of this round anytime soon. And so the millions of lives around the lake are lived and died ordinarily for now, day in, day out, swim in, swim out.  


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glimpse: AT HER MERCY | She calls us back with a roar. No matter if we meet her with joy, awe or even fear, she draws us near. And when we surrender ourselves to the element that birthed us, we trust her. We trust that her surf will carry, not crush us. We trust her with our life because we know she is benevolent underneath the caprice, when those tidal slaps ebb. We are, after all, at her mercy.


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Munnar, Kerala / India · 2015   yoga?

Montreal / Canada · 2019   hands up






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