Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Link: photographs, children, and the arts

This links to photos taken by the daughter of a couple I know and haven't seen in a long time. Malia's photos look really, really cool. As in cooler than most photos people post on their Facebook pages in terms of composition.

I feel I have to admit my biases up front. When I was into the visual arts (before a catastrophic macular detachment in my right eye forced me to reassess what artistic pursuits were important to me leading me toward music) I was into drawing, painting, and to a much lesser degree sculpture. I preferred pencil and acrylic. They afforded both speed and control (as opposed to watercolor, which I stunk at because it was TOO fast and charcoal, which was too messy). All that is to say that over time I have dabbled in a variety of visual arts and studied the history of photography as part of my undergraduate work. It became a small hobby of mine.

What sets photographers apart is vision, an eye for how a moment is composed or how a composition can be created. This can either be staged or observed but neither is less indicative of one's art than the other, or more. A bias I have regarding photography is that it can, in a sense, be the path of least resistance, a path toward visual art creation that is like a musical instrument that is initially easy to take up but immensely difficult to master (perhaps like the guitar?). The world is full of photographs that did not need to be taken beyond the whims, often self-regarding, of the person who took the photograph. A photograph can redound to reflect on the one who sees more than on the thing or person or place that is seen. We litter the world with postcards to ourselves. You may surmise from all this that I do not tend to take photographs! And yet I admire the work of photographers, and admit to liking the work of Margaret Bourke-White and Richard Avedon. Bourke-White worked in fashion and commercial advertising photography before switching over to photo-journalism but now is not the time for me to digress on that!

I like the photos I have linked to enough to actually link to them. I don't know how old Malia is (to my embarrassment) but she is developing a keen eye for something I rarely see in most photos I have seen taken by any but professional photographers, a wonderful sense of balance in the elements of a composition. Color, shape, texture, space, lighting all come together to form a cohesive whole. A good photograph is fun because it presents multiple strains of melody that come together the way a good fugue does. There is never simply one thing at work in a composition or one sense of spatial arrangement. You can take a photo of a rock bridge from twenty different perspectives but maybe four of them will turn out and maybe just one of those will have everything balanced. A mind able to observe things in balance is something I used to think was simple enough to acquire in the arts but the older I get the more rare I realize it is, which is why I get excited when I see examples of art made by children that show a dawning awareness of things that, honestly, most adults don't know squat about.

Permit me to digress regarding my niece. My niece showed me a drawing a year ago of a bee attending to flowers. I don't know whether or not she copied an existing photograph or not but the composition was nicely done. This was not photorealistic, of course, but I admired how she used a monochromatic color scheme to evoke three different levels of presence and space in the composition, a clearly delineated foreground, mid-ground, and background. As I have said earlier, this is the sort of thing I don't often see even in the work adults do, at least not those who have not had the advantage of some formal training in thinking about the arts. There are, of course, people who, as it were, instinctively grasp how to assemble a composition or see it when it presents itself in life.

That's a long ramble when I could have just written a link.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

can't sleep, obviously

The internet provides so many varied and useless ways to kill time. When I was younger and couldn't sleep I just stayed in bed for hours waiting to fall asleep. I once wrote a poem about sleep and how I envied those who can fall asleep within minutes. They found sleep fell upon them like some morning mist while I had to hunt it down as though I were a Red Baron tracking an Allied reconnaissance plane through that mist. I don't remember where I put the poem anymore but I remember feeling that I had at least done the work of translating a life of insomnia into some kind of artistic medium.

a great little resource for classical guitarists who love chamber music

The search engine doesn't include titles, which is too bad, but if you're looking for an on-line searchable database of chamber music that includes guitar as well as a surprisingly large set of records for solo guitar repertoire this is a wonderful on-line resource.

It's too bad that I can't help a project like this. I am not exactly super tech-savvy and even though I've done database administrative work I'm not exactly "there" to help implement things. This website is, despite a few limitations, an amazing resource that I would urge every classical guitarist interested in studying, composing, or performing chamber music to go visit at least two or three times, preferably more!

Ouch! Scotteriology rips into Carrie Prejean

I don't really have anything meaningful to add to this.