Monday, October 31, 2011
This photograph was taken by local artist Andre Perez. The person closest to the camera is my friend Desiree. When I first saw this shot, I was struck by the fact that I knew the most prominent person in the photo. Andre had submitted the photo to me for the magazine I run at Loyola, and Desiree's smile and energy just popped out at me from the screen. It was a beautiful moment of shock: seeing my friend so happy to be a part of a queer community and feeling like her smile was meant for me, even though she probably still doesn't know that I have this picture. And maybe I love that someone else can see the beauty that I see in someone else, beauty that isn't always recognized. But I think this post is really about the beauty of friendship, community, and coincidence. I don't know. I just know that every time I think about it, I feel moved.
I find Joe Wright's cinematography in Pride and Prejudice so visually stunning that his works look like a series of fluid moving paintings. Wright perfectly captures the progression of time during the scene where Elizabeth Bennet is staring into her mirror (beginning at 00:50). While artificial lighting is used to create the scene, it is done so professionally and beautifully that it seems as though Elizabeth is frozen still from sunrise to sundown. Upon Mr. Darcy's arrival, the lack of focus on his body creates the illusion that he may be an imaginative ghost in Elizabeth's mind, even though he actually leaves a letter with her. Elizabeth's refusal to turn around in the ethereal Mr. Darcy's presence emphasizes both her somber state of mind and the power of this scene in general.
This is a photo/animation from the collection by Jamie Beck. She specializes in creating animated photos- in most of her pictures only one or two elements are moving, while the rest remain a still photograph. What I find beautiful about the idea in general, as well as this picture in particular, is how it plays with the idea of motion and time. The fact that there is movement in the photo makes it come alive, but the fact that it is repeated movement kind of restricts its life to a moment (as any regular photo would). (http://cs5632.userapi.com/u15946340/doc/64cc0fd41e0c/8.gif)
The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she."
This is a line from As You Like It (III.ii), quite possibly my favorite play by Shakespeare. Briefly, these lines are referring to the scene where Orlando writes love poems to Rosalind on tree branches in the Forest of Arden. The sonnets, however, are not well-received but actually criticized for being unskilled. Without going into specific details, I guess what I'm most attentive to in this incident is (to use a grossly worn-out term) the irony— the passionate sentiments at the source of Orlando’s actions are actually, through this particular manifestation, revolting against and negating his hopes of gaining what he desires through them. To say the least, Orlando is forced to correct for his initial artifice and extract his “true love” out from a genuine trust in florid expressions and exhalations of Rosalind. She nonetheless enjoys the verses and is ecstatic to be around Orlando, maybe confirming the thought that, according to Wilde, “Even bad poetry is sincere.”
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
These are woodcut prints by a Ukrainian artist. I find them striking and blunt, yet delicate. There's a kind of respect for the object, while making it into something else, what the artist sees, what he wants us to see. Putting these up all over your room or apartment or house totally alter the frame of mind the space allows you to be in.
When it gets cold and gloomy, I really want to go somewhere like this- just for a week or so :) Now, I know perfectly well that this is a commercialized environment, and that the photographer has an agenda for taking this picture. I also know that the country this is taken in, is probably living exclusively off the tourist business; and that the majority of the country is not as well off as the hotel district. However, when it gets this gloomy out in Chicago, all the politics seem so irrelevant, considering that somewhere it is this beautiful.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
This photo was taken in the spring before I came to Loyola. This nest was built on top of one of the lamps attached to my garage. Even though it looks really close, we maintained a safe distance between us and the baby birds. In fact, all we had seen were their beaks because it wasn't until I took this picture did we see what they actually looked like. I must say, they probably don't have enough feathers to win any contests for being the most adorable but they were definitely a sign of new beginnings and limitless potential, which I find to be beautiful. I guess the mother bird liked the spot because she has come back to lay her eggs every year since then.
I know this isn't the best picture, but it serves well to give the general idea. I'm not commenting on the beauty of the picture itself, but on the thing in the picture. Not too long ago I visited a forest preserve after a rainfall, and I noticed all these very small, odd puddles scattered around the picnic area. I remembered them vaguely from childhood, so I went for a closer look. It seems like all of the exposed roots of the trees collected water until it formed a very reflective puddle. In such a small space, you could see the sky, the canopy, and sometimes even yourself reflected. When I was little, I used to imagine that these puddles were actually portals (probably after reading a few very imaginative books), and then if you could jump through them, the canopy reflected in the puddle would be directly above your head. Needless to say, this inspired many hours of rambles in my imagination and tons of enjoyment, which is a big part of the reason why I find the temporary portal puddles so beautiful.
For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn. —Ernest Hemingway
Longed for him. Got him. Shit. —Margaret Atwood
All those pages in the fire. —Janet Burroway
First sex. I came. She didn’t. —Sherman Alexie
Many of the philosophers we've read have talked about how art is art when it represents one thing. I can't even define it correctly, because I feel just the opposite about art. In fact, in middle school, I wrote a paper on how the best art is that which inspires the most ideas and the most future art. I wouldn't necessarily agree with that anymore, but I often find the play of ideas to be the part of art that intrigues me the most. In this photograph, I see childhood (A Bridge to Terabithia), a hiding place, a natural oasis, sadness, mystery, and so much more. I don't like to limit what I can see in a work of art. I'd rather let my mind float along.
If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,--
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,--
Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?
--William Carlos Williams
This is my favorite poem. Why it's beautiful is best stated like this:
If you think that it isn't beautiful, then try to explain why it's not.
I find this scene from The Leopard (of which this clip is only a fractional excerpt) to be beautiful not only for gratifying my general love of period pieces, but also for the way in which it accomplishes something I have never even remotely seen in other films. I’ll accept that some might think of this as aristocratic superficiality, but I’m still enthralled by the procedures that have fashioned the final result. The entire ball scene is 45 minutes long and, for me at least, never once tiresome. Often, in some parts the camera might rest in a single location for some time and let the action simply unfold before it. You’d have to see the whole thing, but I like this effect as if there is no director or crew working on the set. It’s almost like viewers are given the chance to simply sit in the room and eavesdrop on conversations. The attention to detail is in all actuality painstaking (for instance, real candles were used in the chandeliers and had to be replaced hourly), but the outcome never seems contrived. How I see it is kind of hard to explain, but it’s as if the film both does and doesn’t care about the viewer—the ball is going to take place whether anyone really cares and is watching or not.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
The reason why they're so spectacular (which they are, and much more so in person) is decidedly less thrilling-- the colors of the sunsets come in large part from pollution.
Phoenix is situated in a valley and, without large quantities of naturally occurring carbon sinks, such as bodies of water or leafy trees, the pollution from the 5th largest city in America stays largely in the city: even the mountains surrounding the city keep the wind from moving the pollution out.
The beauty of the sunset stands in juxtaposition to the sunrise, since the pollution cools during the night and sinks to the ground, a literal brown cloud of smog rises visibly up from the city every morning only to descend brilliantly at the day's close. Though, in reality, its the awful sunrises that make the sunsets so wonderful.
Good Will Hunting is filled with tons of beautiful scenes that are not only moving, but extremely beautiful. The clip I picked is between the orphaned Will (Matt Damon), and the psychiatrist, Sean (Robin Williams). Sean's speech brings both Will and the audience back down to Earth. Also, Sean emphasizes how one cannot know someone based off of just outer appearances, or through just reading about what that person is going through; experiences have more value than just reading and observing. One of my favorite lines was when Sean stated how Will could read all about the Sistine Chapel, but he would never know how it smelled like. It just emphasizes the difference between experiencing and reading. There was just a lot of honesty and reality in this clip. Furthermore, even though this conversation was between Sean and Matt (a concrete particular), this conversation can apply universally to all humankind.
The fact that this scene made me reflect on myself, and the acting completely moved me is enough for me to call it beautiful.
I believe this image is from Friedlander's Sticks and Stones. It strikes me in particular because of how the high contrast (the sea of white with stark, thin black lines) and placement of view point in respect to the shadows and street replicate not only a very specific, ephemeral landscape, but an experience. For all we know, the sky could be bright blue, the fire hydrant bright red, the ground full of grass, the buildings brightly painted, and the weather that day cool or even freezing. But what the viewer is given is a very particular experience--to me, almost eerie in its totality and exclusionary exactness--allowed by what actually exists but used in a way that accomplishes the artist's goal of imaginatively unreal, and somewhat suffocating, experience.
- A New Word for Love
Don’t you just love a good meal?
A lovely dish served with love
Like braised artichoke hearts with
Passionfruit for dessert?
Then I love going with you to a
Movie after dinner.
I loved that film we saw last
With the two lovers who showed
That love will triumph as their
Heart leapt in everlasting love
For the full two hours.
And I loved being there with you
Because I love you.
But is that the right thing to say if I can
Use the same word for you
That I used for dinner and a movie, too?
We need a new word for love.
A word that wraps around your tongue
Like a sticky-sweet, ambrosia-drenched
Full-body hug of love.
But there is that word again.
I have no shortage of love -
I love my friends
I love my neighbours
I LOVE ALL OF YOU!
But is that really true?
How can one word also mean that OTHER
Kind of love?
The knee-quaking, earth-shaking,
Brain-liquidating kind of love.
And if I say one kind minimizes
The other, do I sound like the
Closed-minded who say that
One marriage can minimize
Even if they are both formed
Out of love?
But there is that word again.
I’m not talking about that fire, now
That turns into just one of
Those things that torch songs
And American Idol contestants
Trade for legitimacy.
No – I’m talking about that slow burn
That sinks into your soul
And brands you like a Texas
Cattle-man marking you for
The circle bar ranch -
But the circle is shaped more
Like a heart and the bar
Has the markings of cupid all over it.
It isn’t the love you can have
For a good cup of tea or a warm
Night in early June.
No, it is the kind of love that hooks
You in even when things are bad.
The kind of love that shows you
Not to be so quick to dismiss
The power of tears
As one could drown you quicker than
The deepest ocean.
The kind of love that can magnify the pain
That she feels so that you would
Trade anything to feel the pain yourself
Rather than see it in her.
That kind of love sounds
Pretty awful, actually.
But it isn’t.
Forget the love of a great new poem or song
Because this other kind of love
Makes the good feel better too.
It is the sunset kind of love
The spring flowers kind of love
The essence of two month old kittens
Brewed into a potion of pure joy
Kind of love.
But it is more than that, too.
It is the ‘I have trouble sleeping
When you aren’t here’ kind of love.
The ‘you are never far even when
We aren’t near’ kind of love.
It’s the ‘rolling over and seeing you
Sleeping there for nearly 20 years’
Kind of love and
‘Thinking that we are just getting
Started’ kind of love.
That’s a lot for one word to handle
But maybe that’s okay since it is a
‘Words unspoken’ kind of love
And sometimes a word is not enough
Even when that word is…
This quote is the beginning line from the play Forefathers' Eve (Part II) by Adam Mickiewicz, the man who single-handedly created Polish identity (which was especially remarkable since he was writing during the Partitions when Poland did not have political autonomy) through his writing. Every Polish writer since then has reacted to his literary works. Although this creation of identity can be problematic, I am impressed with the way in which a literary genius is able to unite a nation of people who otherwise were not allowed to participate in their culture.
Because Forefather's Eve is next week and the play reminds me of Paradise Lost, I thought it would be highly appropriate to share the translation of that first line today.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Most people know the story of David and Goliath, but seeing an interpretation such as Caravaggio's gives a concreteness to it in its narrative. In Caravaggio's depiction, Goliath's face is shown, giving him a more human portrayal. His head seems detached from his body, which severs him from what he's mostly characterized as-- a giant warrior. We see the moment after defeat, and the reality of murder as triumph is put upon us. I thought of the painting when watching the news about Gaddafi's death. I in no way feel sorry for him, but seeing the actual pictures and videos of people excited over a murdered body causes conflicting feelings--ones I think this painting explores.
Whether others scoff at the expression or not, I do think “we eat with our eyes first,” or that presentation has at least some effect on how we experience food. At Alinea in Chicago, a restaurant often called the “best” in the country whatever that might mean, I find the way in which food is presented to be extremely beautiful. As you can see in this gallery of images on their site, the food displays are painstakingly arranged. I’m fascinated by the attempt to evoke a particular concept or flavor through an unexpected medium (e.g. “pb&j” or “apple”) and deconstruct a specific food item into variegated parts (e.g. “rhubarb”). The experience becomes defamiliarizing, which I think says something about its overall merit. But really, the entire premise verges on being ridiculously pointless. You’re probably going to look at the food for 30 seconds or a minute before you eat it. Yet I still admire what the food is endeavoring to grasp at, similar to formal artwork in terms of color, composition, and texture.
The white paintings of Robert Ryman's late career are so straightforward. Each one is like a solved problem: Ryman never takes painting for granted, but throughout his interrogation of gesture, color, stroke, etc. (in other words, the formal technologies of the medium), he seems to aim at specular beauty. The clarity of the painted surface is unlike almost anything I know in contemporary painting.
My boyfriend was part of a wedding this weekend, and sadly I was not able to attend to be his date. Instead, I lived vicariously through the photos he took and through speaking with one of my best friends who is planning to get married in the near future. I know that not everyone will agree with me when I say this but I do believe that there is some magic-like or spiritual quality when it comes to the official union between two people who love one another. I went to my first wedding last year and I was so moved by some of the speeches to the bride and groom and the dances between the bride and father of the bride as well as the groom and mother of the groom. There is so much beauty behind the power of love and idea of making a commitment to share the best and worst parts of your life with another individual.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Okay, this picture isn't really of diamonds, it's of graphite. But graphite and diamonds are both made out of the same stuff (carbon), but carbon just has different physical forms. This picture shows different forms of graphite and how scientists just discovered they can manipulate graphite's physical form. Graphite is usually softer than diamonds, but when put under a lot of pressure, it takes the shape of a diamond and both look pretty similar. However, when the pressure is taken away, the graphite goes back to it's original form.
Even though I don't personally think graphite is as "beautiful" as diamonds, I find the chemistry and manipulative properties behind graphite more beautiful than the form of graphite itself.
If you want to read more about this, check out this article:
These are a couple stills from a film directed by Alexander Olch, constructed almost entirely out of shots from the unfinished autobiographical documentary Richard P. Rogers tried making but never finished before his death.
I think these images, and the film as a whole, could be appreciated through a hybrid Shaftesburian-Kantian-Hegelian lens. Design with purpose without always grasping the purpose and not caring, since the experience of the idea is relayed through the object as experience of viewing and judging, while moving beyond what the object alone can accomplish.
Here's also a link to the trailer (which I think is better watched muted)--the best shot from the entire documentary, one which exemplifies form allowing one to experience a concept, lasts from oo:54 to 00:57 and is of a sailboat boom pushing through tall grass.
I was delighted and intrigued to discover that Carne Griffiths mostly uses calligraphy ink and liquids such as tea, vodka, and whiskey in his paintings. Carne's artwork emphasizes the notion of escapism and connectivity to the natural world that I find both calming and beautiful. I could not decide on which painting to post, so here are a handful.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
This deposition by Rogier van der Weyden is one of my favorite. I post it because I think for Hegel all art attains to something like the incarnation. Beauty is the perfect individuation of the Spirit in sensuous form, right? In a manner of speaking, that's also exactly what Christ is.
I've viewed the painting Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth many times. I find that the narrative I construct for the painting changes with each viewing. I think the title is part of the reason--"world" gives the impression that this painting is capturing more than just a moment in time.
Scrabble is, to me, a perfect game: the difficulty of the game increases as the individual player understands the game's limits; not necessarily the skill limit of the other player.
"This movement has no central leadership and is not bound together by any ism. Its very diverse and widely scattered individuals and groups are connected mainly by the Internet and other information technologies. But they are joined at the heart by their commitment to achieving social justice, establishing new forms of more democratic governance, and creating new ways of living at the local level that will reconnect us with the Earth and with one another. Above all, they are linked by their indomitable faith in our ability to create the world anew."
For Hegel, sculpture as an art form reached its apex in classical Greece. Greek sculptures represented an “ideal” beauty because they were the means by which the spiritual or an Idea found perfect sensuous expression in the human form. When I came across this website, I wondered how Hegel would handle its assertion. Basically, it claims that ancient Greek sculptors were so preoccupied with perfection that they manipulated certain features of the human body to such an extent that they became unrealistic. Or as the site puts it, “they are more human than human.” I’m not sure if Hegel would be concerned with the complete set of anatomical specificities, but I still think this hyperreality or authentic irreality (?) says something about the way in which Greek sculpture sought to capture beauty. It seems as if Hegel admired these works so much because they were models where genuine human forms and bodies free of defects became manifest through symbiosis. Some sculptures of impossible and unattainable human forms might potentially call this into question.
This picture haunts me. It feels so bleak and dreary, though it may not have had that intention at all. I mean the actuality of the people moving through the street: were they sad, happy, just normally going about their day? But the end result of the photograph reminds me of death, ghosts, despair, monotony, drudgery, decay. Yet I find it beautiful. Maybe it's because I like sadness and embrace the spectrum of emotion. Whatever it is, I love this.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
"As you grow old, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two, you'd always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It's growth"
I read this and I immediately thought how different this perspective was from various philosophers who believed that beauty was found mostly in the youth, not in the old and the decrepit. I agree with Morrie when he states that old age is something to embrace. Aging is actually a very beautiful process, and it's important to note that being young also has it's downfall. Overall, I thought this book was extremely insightful/powerful and should be considered beautiful.
A full moon is always a beautiful sight to see in the night sky, but I feel that when it is seen at an unusual time, or in an unusual manner that it is especially beautiful. Here, photographers have taken advantage of the moon being so big and bright at what appears to be dusk, and used it to create very interesting photographs with the help of a few props. The fun perspectives here are helped along by the fact that most people do not see the moon so visible at dusk (or dawn) on an everyday basis, so it adds to the fun and the beauty of the picture when one realizes the unusual circumstances that must take place in order to make such pictures possible.
Monday, October 17, 2011
I love this painting. The pastels are restrained, the lines and execution are even, and the subject matter is almost bland, but for that, all the more charming in its sincerity (look at the drapery, the tie of the apron, and her shoes!) It feels totally effortless, as though Liotard got every detail exactly right by intuition. It has such firm graphic force. I know it from a cheap Phaidon book of reproductions my Dad bought me when I was a little kid. I still have the book - I was thumbing through it just now and thought of the Beauty blog when I saw this picture for the first time in years.