Flame of Soul
- BW Elements Series -

The Japanese saying about "a candle flickering in the wind" refers to a precarious situation where it seems that everything is about to fall apart. The phrase’s origins can be traced back to an ancient Chinese verse in the yuefu genre that speaks of how the fleeting nature of human life is like that of a lamp blown out by the wind quickly compared with the "long virtue of Heaven." This verse implies that the candle flame in the wind could flicker out at any moment, and that human life is likewise ephemeral.

When you light a candle of the sort that has long been made in Japan, it creates a meditative space that soothes the heart.
Even indoors where the air is still, the flame flickers wildly and seems to dance. This is said to be "the gods enjoying themselves."

When spritzed with water, the flame struggles to stay alit and appears to take on the form of Sanskrit characters, and inside the small balls of flame released into the air, we can see in miniature the gradation of the sky at dawn and dusk.

What is the soul?

When pondering this question, an indispensable idea is that of wind, fire, water, and metal comprising the set of natural elements found on Earth.
This Chinese Wu Xing thought expresses a balance of conflict and harmony among these elements in the “five elements theory.”
Shooting the photos with 1/2,500 of a second shutter speed was my attempt to capture this moment of conflict.
As in the saying, the dance of the flame unfolding in the blink of an eye is a singular moment that will never be seen again on this Earth.
Such are our lives and souls in the limitless void. I want to touch that flame or even better melt into it.

                                                                                                                                  - Eriko Kaniwa


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