The act of seeing [...] consists largely in selecting that to which we will pay attention, that upon which we will focus, out of the largely unseen flux of the visible. But to place exclusive emphasis on the active agency of our seeing is to falsify visual experience. For a great deal of what we see, and what we look at (the act of attention that may or may not follow on from seeing) is not so much selected as found by chance; it places itself, so to speak, within sight it presents itself to our eyes. This constant renewal of the visible world, to which our response is anything but passive, is one of the wonders of our existence, a source of constant surprise and delight. By placing the actuality of seeing within the reality of being, de vries asserts the complexly dynamic interaction of consciousness with the primary reality of the world.
The photographs that make up the various series are, in terms of function, exactly opposite to holiday snapshots, whose deliberate purpose is the capturing of personally significant moments, persons and objects, just as they also differ from those photographs taken of picturesque views, or of natural or cultural topographies, or of objects, buildings, streets etc. of historical, artistic or personal interest. What is more, they have no artistic quality, are in no way posed or composed. As photographs having no burden of emotive or informational intent they are categorically distinct, that is to say, from almost any common, culturally sanctioned or useful kind of photography. They thus fulfil the terms of the proposition-text:
Passage from Mel Gooding, herman de vries : chance and change (Thames and Hudson : London 2006) 43, 48-49.
a random sample of my visual chances in luang prabang, 1975 [photo herman de vries, 1975]