Beauty is as essential to life as air. We are addicted to it. We are zombies without it. All living organisms survive, thrive, with the pursuit and enchantment of beauty. The satisfaction, the passionate desire for beauty provides, Plato thought, our greatest pleasure, our greatest happiness — its timeless perfection a response to Eros, love. Science speaks of the timeless laws of nature (they aren’t). A physicist can call a mathematical representation of what is thought to be real elegant. Religions also have two worlds, one time bound and the other eternity. G.H. Hardy found the justification for mathematics, not in its usefulness, but in its beauty. The world we live in is so wonderful and mysterious, we need only to believe in transcendence, not to anything beyond, but from our egos to experience harmony, integration, wholeness, the contemplative nourishment that gives us our humanity: compassion, innocence, dignity, purity, peace — the hallmarks of our very existence.
For Thomas Aquinas, beauty in art required a harmonic structure, wholeness, and the radiance of spirit In the process of selection, an artist discovers a subject, explores its dimensions, becomes absorbed, lets unconscious instinct inspire a response that contains the harmonic energy to be contained, and crafts, creates, a response to be shared with those with the inspiration to engage the image with the same process used in its exploration. This is an attempt to contain all this energy, this harmonic resolution of tension, this unity where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, so that the peacefulness and radiance of beauty can cut deeply into the human psyche, to suspend, transport, encounter, connect, and expand the horizons of human experience.
Visual art can be a receptacle for the shared interior celebration of an artist’s own life force, a spirit affirming the deepest dimensions of our humanity. Meister Ekhert thought one’s soul enters into objects to enable it to discover its own true self. Artist’s encounters are not those of mystics, as they are held by their craft to the world, yet visit many of the same places in the soul in the process of creation. As hope is openness to surprise and wonder the source of fresh intellectual inquiry, artists, like scientists, find nourishment for their “hunter-gatherer” instincts to obtain, to capture, what we have discovered to be meaningful in the natural world, and to work for its preservation.
ART WORLD A non-anti-intellectual diatribe against the tyranny of the pure exclusivity of rationality.
Scientific methodology has nothing to say about the human condition or human values. Mathematics, the language of science, defined by regularity, order in chaos,harmony, melody, experiences nothing. Its methodology provide no awareness of conditions necessary for the pursuit of a fully human life: the balance, the synthesis with sensibility and emotion, of the finite and the infinite, the temporal and the eternal, the objective and the subjective, the body and the mind and spirit. Much of Post-Modern thought demeans subjective truth; only the left side of the Western brain is needed — as if the brain is a computer. Scientific methodology denies subjectivity, except in the quantum world, without empirical basis. Science, instead of eliminating the sense of mystery, a sense of awe and wonder adds to it with praise and gratitude. Beauty is thought to be irrational, too ambiguous, too subjective, too emotional, too feminine for serious male intellectual discourse. Read any major art magazine; it’s hard to find the word beauty written within its covers.
Teaching that “Art” is only about concepts, ideas, the production of which apparently requires no development of a craft, creates works (Is it really Art?) of interest to only a few, with the inspirational quality of a Jeff Koons’ thing. The experience of the appreciation of beauty is as hard to define as is electricity, but, the boundaries of knowledge are not defined by the limits of the meaning of words.
FINE ART NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY
The art arises out of the engagement with light and form to establish a relationship that honors the strength of the image and its meaning, primarily through the arrangement of its parts, tones, colors and content. Changes in perspective (distance from the subject) alters relationships and the relative size of subjects, dimensionality, mood, texture. The biggest challenge to the photographer is discovering when and where to place the camera before taking a picture. This is where the compositional containment of energy is found that creates the harmonic resolution of tension that produces the peace of beauty. Such power can cut deeply into the human psyche.