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Thread: Abstract art, music and the soul. Deep sounding, n'est-ce pas?

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    Abstract art, music and the soul. Deep sounding, n'est-ce pas?

    Just for anyone who's interested...

    More and more, I cannot get away from the fact that, personally, to grow as a photographer, I need to learn more about the visual arts. I was reading here about abstract art and came across this quote by the author of the article. It really moved me and I thought that I'd throw this out there, like I said, for anyone who's interested in this sort of thing - like me.

    "Visual art, as it becomes more abstract becomes more like music: an art form which uses the abstract elements of sound and divisions of time. Wassily Kandinsky, himself a musician, was inspired by the possibility of marks and associative color resounding in the soul. The idea had been put forward by Charles Baudelaire, that all our senses respond to various stimuli but the senses are connected at a deeper aesthetic level."

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    Re: Abstract art, music and the soul. Deep sounding, n'est-ce pas?

    Totally agree. My wife's a fine art painter and years of being dragged (screaming) round galleries have brought an appreciation of the visual arts by some kind of osmosis. I respond totally differently to art now than I did back in the day and I believe that my work has improved immensely from this reluctant art education. I find inspiration as much from painting as I do from other photographic work and strangely enough my photographs have started to resemble my wifes paintings to some extent (subconcious inspiration) and her paintings have started to resemble some of my photographs (copying!!)
    Rembrandt's lighting, Mondrian's composition etc. all are as relevant to photography as they are to the other visual arts.

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    jiro's Avatar
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    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: Abstract art, music and the soul. Deep sounding, n'est-ce pas?

    Katy, very good thought about music and arts. Thanks for sharing! If I may I'd like to add something related to your line of thought here.

    Did you know that Ansel Adams actually studied playing the piano seriously when he was young? Here was an excerpt of his discussion with Miss Marie Butler, his first piano teacher when he was thirteen years old:

    Butler: "Look at this phrase; see the five rising and falling notes?"

    Adams: "What do you mean 'rising and falling'?"

    Butler: "Isn't it on the page: a hill to climb and descend? Something to lift and let fall?"

    Adams: "Oh! I think I see."

    Butler: "Try it."

    Shape was born! if notes were accurate, their volume should be in relation to their "lift." What had been an uneven plateau of notes took on the aspect of a range of hills.

    Butler: "Do you think you got an agreeable 'bell' quality with the top note of this phrase?"

    Adams: "Show me what you mean."

    Butler: "No, it's YOUR phrase. You have to sculpt it."

    Adams: "Where is the accent? If I stress the top of the phrase, am I not losing the prime accent?"

    Butler: "Not at all. The TIME accent is the ground plan, the phrase crest is the architecture."

    Conversations such as these opened new worlds of thought and feeling. Gaining the techniques to produce beautiful and precise sounds, I began to express my emotions through music. I am convinced that explanation of emotion in art is accomplished only in the medium in which it is created. This came to me powerfully years later when I turned to photography.

    This was taken from a book called "Ansel Adams, An Autobiography." Personally, I feel honored to know more about his life and how it molded his photographs. Cheers!

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    Re: Abstract art, music and the soul. Deep sounding, n'est-ce pas?

    Does playing the accordion count!?

    But I only half-jest, because I wholeheartedly agree with the point being made. And I am firmly of the view that there are very direct creative connections between my activities of music-making and picture-making. It's all about the expression of emotion and feeling. And that, as many on here know, is the place I inhabit, rather than the arena of technical mastery.

    I also read, quite early on in my journey along the learning curve, that photographers, in order to develop, should sign-up for an art appreciation course at college (can't remember the reference). I didn't do that, but regular visiting to Scotland's art collections in the national galleries in Edinburgh is always highly informative as well as pleasurable, as well as trying to soak in information from theatre and film.

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    Re: Abstract art, music and the soul. Deep sounding, n'est-ce pas?

    I am currently reading Galen Rowell's "Inner Game of Outdoor Photography" and he also makes the connection between music/arts and photography. Rowell writes "Ordering a performance of light waves for the public eye is much like ordering a performance of sound waves for the public ear".

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    Re: Abstract art, music and the soul. Deep sounding, n'est-ce pas?

    Thanks, Guys, for responding with your thoughts. I fully agree!

    I watched some of the youtube interviews with Ansel Adams that Elise had found for us and I was absolutely smitten with him. I could really relate to - I don't know, his musician's mind/heart/approach? Something like that... Kind of a "kindred spirit".

    I'm sorry, though, I just don't have any way with words, today, apparently. I'll come back later to respond.

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    Re: Abstract art, music and the soul. Deep sounding, n'est-ce pas?

    More and more, I cannot get away from the fact that, personally, to grow as a photographer, I need to learn more about the visual arts.
    I m not sure you need to learn more about them just be more aware of their impact on your own thoughts and responses. Learning about them can often reduce their impact as a visual stimulant.

    "Visual art, as it becomes more abstract becomes more like music: an art form which uses the abstract elements of sound and divisions of time. Wassily Kandinsky, himself a musician, was inspired by the possibility of marks and associative color resounding in the soul. The idea had been put forward by Charles Baudelaire, that all our senses respond to various stimuli but the senses are connected at a deeper aesthetic level."
    Yes, I can buy that as a hypothesis. and in a way you, as an artist, do not have to learn more about it. Response to abstraction is different in every viewer. Although I believe you could probably put together guidelines as to which form/structure/compositure of marking and/or colour combinations are most likely to provide certain human responses. But what is the point - because if you are an artist you do not need to learn these things - they spring from within and are transmitted through the act of abstraction. So in theory at least that welling of emotions in the artist is transferable to other humans via common response to certain combinations of abstract transmission that do not need to be taught. The communication between artist and viewer relies on our most primitive instincts.

    On the other hand images that use recognisable elements or even faithful reproduction to transfer the artists emotions are far easier to decode for conventional learning if you feel the need to do so. But the same fundaments apply. The principles do not need to be taught if the artist is sensitive and perceptive enough to allow primitive instinct a free reign. The technical finishing and polishing are separate discipline from the base creativity. These skills are required in a modern world that demand a quality of packaging that is not found or necessary in primitive art....I am sure the same applies to the musician

    God that was heavy going. I am going to have a cuppa and a read at some Dylan Thomas....and I can blame Rob for that
    Last edited by Wirefox; 15th January 2011 at 08:18 PM.

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    Re: Abstract art, music and the soul. Deep sounding, n'est-ce pas?

    on the other hand, i learned to play the piano when i was a kid, got quite good and played at the liverpool philharmonic plus a few other venues, i am still a crap photographer tho,
    maybe its the viewer who can associate rather than the photographer ? cheers martyn

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    Re: Abstract art, music and the soul. Deep sounding, n'est-ce pas?

    I was mentored in my youth by Bill Belknap, who was always and foremost a recording photographer. He appreciated the art of photography, but his interest was in recording moments which would otherwise be forever lost.

    However, he did appreciate and understand the abstract beauty offered through photography. He often told me to work at the enlarger "until the picture starts to sing." "Then quit, and come back tomorrow and see if it still sings."

    He once shot a series of Nat "King" Cole in his first appearance at the Moulon Rouge in Las Vegas. He worked on one of those photographs for hours at a time, over several days, until he got the results he wanted. He said he wanted to hear Nat when he looked at it, not just remember hearing him.

    Pops

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