Category Archives: Just think about it!

Just think about it! (27)

 

 

‘What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare’    William H Davies

‘And listen,’ we might add.

For some, the period of ‘lockdow’ has created changes to the pace and conditions of everyday life – the temporary removal of the hustle and bustle, the frantic activity and accompanying noise.

It seems an opportune time to examine our quiet moments a little more closely. For example:

  • Close your eyes for one minute; become aware of, and note mentally, each and every sound that breaks your silence. Notice its character and quality of the sound – was it harsh or gentle, loud or soft, natural or mechanical, near or far off etc.

  • Once more, close your eyes for one minute; become aware of the thoughts, ideas, distractions, feelings etc., that occur during that time.silence empty time?

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Just think about it again (2)

‘Abstract paintings and drawings [and photographs] tap into a fundamental, primitive part of our existence  –  the part that experiences life without words, beyond language, transcending definition.’    Art is Fun

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Just think about it again (1)

‘Photography is not what’s important.  It’s seeing.  The camera, film, even pictures, are not important.’

‘The world is so full of beauty and meaning that there is enough of it for everybody to explore, to relish and to transform, each in his own way.’

Both quotations are from Algimantas Kezys

 

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Abstract ‘Individualism and integrity’

‘The most courageous act is still to think for yourself.  Aloud.’

(Coco Chanel)

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Just think about it! (26)

In The Little Book of Contemplative Photography, the author, Howard Zehr,  suggests that once a week we spend at least 10 minutes with a selected photograph and then, he instructs;

‘As you do, consider three topics in this order:

1   I see (Describe: examine each object, each detail, the light etc.  Associate: what are you reminded of by the shapes, juxtapositions etc?)

2   I feel (What do you feel as you look at the image?)

3   I think (Interpret and analyse)’

 

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Just think about it! (25) How long does it take to look at a painting?

‘There have been a number of surveys of how visitors interact with paintings in museums. One found that an average viewer goes up to a painting, looks at it for less than two seconds, reads the wall text for another 10 seconds, glances at the painting to verify something in the text, and moves on. Another survey concluded people looked for a median time of 17 seconds. The Louvre found that people looked at the Mona Lisa an average of 15 seconds, which makes you wonder how long they spend on the other 35,000 works in the collection. A survey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art supposedly found that people look at artworks for an average of 32.5 seconds each, but they must not have counted the ones people glance at.’
James Elkins (Art Institute of Chicago}

In his essay Looking at Pictures, David Hockney draws a parallel with words on a page of text: it is necessary to go beyond the pattern of marks/letters on the surface to understand their meaning.

He quotes the lines of the poet George Herbert:
‘A man that looks on glass
on it may stay his eye,
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass
and then the heav’n espie’.

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Just think about it! (24)

I enjoy creating and posting abstract images and often feel that it would be appropriate to attach the following extract from Kandinsky:

‘The spectator is too ready to look for a meaning in a picture—i.e., some outward connection between its various parts. Our materialistic age has produced a type of spectator or “connoisseur,” who is not content to put himself opposite a picture and let it say its own message. Instead of allowing the inner value of the picture to work, he worries himself in looking for “closeness to nature,” or “temperament,” or “handling,” or “tonality,” or “perspective,” or what not. His eye does not probe the outer expression to arrive at the inner meaning. In a conversation with an interesting person, we endeavour to get at his fundamental ideas and feelings. We do not bother about the words he uses, nor the spelling of those words, nor the breath necessary for speaking them, nor the movements of his tongue and lips, nor the psychological working on our brain, nor the physical sound in our ear, nor the physiological effect on our nerves. We realize that these things, though interesting and important, are not the main things of the moment, but that the meaning and idea is what concerns us. We should have the same feeling when confronted with a work of art. When this becomes general the artist will be able to dispense with natural form and colour and speak in purely artistic language.’                                                                                                                                                                                    (Kandinsky  Concerning the Spiritual in Art)

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Just think about it! (23)

‘How you view Nature depends on how you see yourself fitting into it.’

Kurt Jackson

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Just think about it! (22)

‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.’

Henry David Thoreau

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Just think about it! (21)

‘It is Duchamp who is to blame for the whole “is it art?” debate.  As far as he was concerned the role in society of an artist was akin to that of a philosopher; it didn’t even matter if he or she could paint or draw.  An artist’s job was not to give aesthetic pleasure  –  designers could do that; it was to step back from the world and attempt to make sense or comment on it through the presentation of ideas that had no functional purpose other than themselves.’                           Will Gompertz

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Just think about it! (20)

‘Rarely do we spend enough time with an image to ‘mine’ all of its visual, emotional and spiritual potential.  Rarely are we aware of its impact on the emotional as well as the intellectual level.  Too often our tendencies to judge and evaluate get in the way of appreciating what we see.’        Howard Zehr

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Just think about it! (19)

‘Photography is not what’s important.  It’s seeing.  The camera, film, even pictures, are not important.’

‘The world is so full of beauty and meaning that there is enough of it for everybody to explore, to relish and to transform, each in his own way.’

Both quotations are from Algimantas Kezys

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Just think about it! (18)

‘Seeing is a creative process’.

‘Meaningful art  –  in any medium  –  is mind changing, challenging the prejudices of conventional thought.  In this role, art lives between the known and the unknown, communicating what it discovers in this ambiguous territory.’

Both quotations are from Duane Preble in his foreword to The Tao of Photography.

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Just think about it! (17)

‘A picture is about something, not of something.  You need to interpret your subject, not imitate it.’   Kees van Aalst

 ‘Express what you feel, not what you see.’

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Just think about it! (16)

 

‘Each photograph embodies a particular way of seeing and showing the world.  There is no such thing as the innocent eye.

People’s knowledge, beliefs, values, and attitudes  –  heavily influenced by their culture  –  are reflected in the photographs they take.’

Terry Barrett

Q.    So why have I chosen this subject?  This viewpoint?   What do I want my image to convey?   What is the point I wish to make?

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Just think about it! (15)

 

I was reminded of this passage when photographing the snowdrops the other day.

‘We are usually only dimly aware  –  if we’re aware at all  –  of the converging of information from our senses when we experience an event.  We’re so dependent on seeing that we tend to ignore what the other senses are communicating.
The photographer, the poet, the painter, or the composer who is locked into only the visual phenomena of the sunset may miss the heart of what was actually being experienced.’                               John Daido Loori

The challenge for the photographer/painter is how to express and communicate what he/she feels as well as sees.

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What can I see?

In The Little Book of Contemplative Photography, the author, Howard Zehr, suggests an exercise that I find very helpful, especially to enhance my understanding of  images  –  including my own.  He suggests that once a week we spend at least 10 minutes with a selected photograph and then, he instructs;

‘As you do, consider three topics in this order:

1   I see (Describe: examine each object, each detail, the light etc.  The associate: what are you reminded of by the shapes, juxtapositions etc?)

2   I feel (What do you feel as you look at the image?)

3   I think (Interpret and analyse)’

Obviously it is intended that the sequence can be applied to any photograph or work of art (or, indeed, any aspect of life!) but, for now, I invite you to examine the two pictures of the small sculpture below:

I recommend Zehr’s book.  It is a slim volume, cheap, and includes a number of useful exercises.

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Just think about it! (14)

‘Art does not reproduce what we see, rather it makes us see.’    Paul Klee

From personal experience, do you find this statement to be true?

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Just think about it (13)

‘Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world and makes familiar objects as if they were not familiar’.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Isn’t this a useful criterion by which to assess artworks regardless of the particular artform being used?  Isn’t this what the arts are ‘about’?

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Just think about it! (12)

‘One is an artist not because one can be but because one must be.’        Arnold Schoenberg

Couldn’t the same be said of musicians, teachers, doctors, priests …..  to mention but a few?

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