As a youngster in the Highlands of Scotland in the 1970s and 80s I would say I had a fairly classical education; by which I mean I grew up appreciating the mastery of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Turner and Dali, to name but a few. Photographically, I was more naive, but the names of Ansel Adams and Galen Rowell were known to me, and those names meant ‘master’. As I look back through five decades of existence, it is only now I realise how much my idea of what is classic, or aesthetic, has been shaped by the views of the society I grew up in. I now call this aspect of my awareness my Nurture, or Cultural Aesthetic.
Twice this year I visited the Gobi Desert and spent a good amount of time in complete mental solitude and did some serious thinking, one of the key epiphanies being that I was very interested in discovering my Natural (or Innate) Aesthetic, regardless of whether it conformed to classic cultural doctrine, rules, dogma or even prejudice.
If you are at all dubious about the idea of a cultural aesthetic, consider people growing up in other places around the world. My...