What’s There?

A Door in MacauThe thing that thrills me the most about going to new places is seeing things that have been shaped by the culture of the location in which it is situated. Familiar objects take on an exotic quality simply because of where they are, more to the point they reflect the tangible essence of the people who formed them. This doorway leading to a courtyard in Macau is a perfect example of this. It was along a nondescript alleyway in a small neighborhood of China’s Las Vegas, but it is exactly this fact that made it stand out to a photographer from small town Canada. All over the world there are doorways to countless courtyards but each one of them will be stamped with the cultural motif of its particular setting. If I was a local I wouldn’t have even noticed it, just like I wouldn’t notice someone’s gate to their backyard while walking down some alleyway in Canada.

This influence of culture can be seen in other realms as well. There are doorways that we pass by every day with little effect. Their enticements dulled through repetition, their paths worn by familiarity, we come and go like air. There are those openings, though, that stand apart because they are of a different world and what lies beyond their thresholds are a mystery to us. We feel them like magnets, either attracted or repelled, but not unaffected. Like objects orbiting an invisible blackness in space our responses belie their reality. One of these in particular stands out for its powerfully polarizing effects. It could be because it is so very small compared to the yawning maws of the other portals beckoning passersby, just as a great stellar mass confined to a near infinitely small space exerts a massive force. Or it may be, just as with the rift in space, the mystery of the very straight and narrow way leading away from its confining aperture.

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