Too much focus

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Frh
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Too much focus

Postby Frh » Sat Dec 29, 2007 12:22 am UTC

Recently, I have become aware that I no longer have any involvement with the arts. I just do science. Now there is nothing wrong with that - I like science! However, I miss reading a book and discussing what I think it might mean.

I am also aware that I do not get art (and never have). People throughout history have enjoyed art, deriving massive amounts of enjoyment from it. Yet when I look at a painting, I just see a painting - I might like it, I might hate it, but I don't understand why some people get a lot from it. Obviously, the fact that so many get so much from it would indicate that there is more to it!

So, does anyone have any suggestions to help enlighten a scientist to the world of arts? Anyone else find themselves in similar situations? Perhaps the other way around?


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Re: Too much focus

Postby H.E.L.e.N. » Sat Dec 29, 2007 12:39 am UTC

Frh wrote:I am also aware that I do not get art (and never have). People throughout history have enjoyed art, deriving massive amounts of enjoyment from it. Yet when I look at a painting, I just see a painting - I might like it, I might hate it, but I don't understand why some people get a lot from it. Obviously, the fact that so many get so much from it would indicate that there is more to it!


A good place to start might be to zoom out on that hypothetical painting. What historical period and/or art movement is it part of? What sets that particular movement apart, stylistically, from the way things were done before? Was it started in response to any social movements/events? Who made this, and what were they supposedly thinking? It's a lot easier to do this with art that's been around for a century or two, but doing some background reading can be neat. Some museum exhibits provide a lot of information here, and those are the ones I like the best. I think context is a lot easier to appreciate than the really broad question of 'so what's so great about that?'

But I like looking at art, too, and it was the nicest when I didn't feel pressured to 'get' something from it.

(I was an English major and felt completely inundated by all the literature I was expected to consume and appreciate at once. I can probably try to babble more about this later.)

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Re: Too much focus

Postby Elenion » Sat Dec 29, 2007 1:45 am UTC

Try making your own:) Try browsing the net for art that is closer to your mind and interests. I'm really not an art-lover, but after I started scrapbooking and using my creativity again (I used to paint and draw alot as a kid but I stopped) I've noticed I'm getting more interested in making things in general, and looking at stuff other ppl make.. like paintings, collages, cards, photography etc.. And I've browsed some blogs and stuff and I even bought some prints from a girl called Elsie Flannigan who is a scrapbooker, photografer and artist. I paid like $8 a piece but it's still art.. :) I don't know if this made any sense but yeah...
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Re: Too much focus

Postby Iori_Yagami » Sat Dec 29, 2007 8:38 am UTC

Take it easy, hah! Most of those 'long-nosed' 'intellectuals' art snobs are really just pretenders.
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Re: Too much focus

Postby thisisdavid » Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:44 am UTC

Art and science doesn't have to be mutually exclusive, so maybe if you're a science minded person and you feel that you arent getting enough out of art, you should try looking at art in that way as a way of appreciating it, just as a start. Take, for example, Michelangelo's David.

http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/arch ... angelo.jpg

It's 14 feet tall, sculpted from a single block of marble. The amount of detail put into it is staggering, even if you don't care about the work's historical or artistic significance, imagine turning a chunk of marble into a veiny arm or curly hair.

If you like physics, you might enjoy this fact as much as I do:
Sculptures of standing figures have to be able to support their own weight. Especially large sculptures made out of dense material such as marble. Generally for a standing sculpture, the figure is put standing next to an object such as a stump that connects to the figure's leg, helping support it (Donatello's David stands next to the giant's severed head). A mark of a sculptor's skill was how low he could place the supporting object, for instance a figure with the stump connected to its knee was more impressive than one being supported at the hip. Michelangelo's 14 foot, 10 ton David stands next to a stump. But it isn't connected to it. I love the sneaky little "fuck you"s that artists put into their works aimed at other artists.
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Re: Too much focus

Postby wing » Sat Dec 29, 2007 11:40 am UTC

thisisdavid wrote:Michelangelo's 14 foot, 10 ton David stands next to a stump. But it isn't connected to it. I love the sneaky little "fuck you"s that artists put into their works aimed at other artists.

Are you sure? I can't find any reference to this, and in fact, I found several places that call it a "supporting stump"
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Re: Too much focus

Postby thisisdavid » Sat Dec 29, 2007 10:54 pm UTC

wing wrote:
thisisdavid wrote:Michelangelo's 14 foot, 10 ton David stands next to a stump. But it isn't connected to it. I love the sneaky little "fuck you"s that artists put into their works aimed at other artists.

Are you sure? I can't find any reference to this, and in fact, I found several places that call it a "supporting stump"


bah i dunno, i know i've seen a close-up that shows the two disconnected, but yeah the only direct reference to it I can find calls it a supporting stump. On google there's a bunch of recurrences of that quote too, including on wikipedia. The second google hit for "michelangelo david stump" was my forum post, that's always unnerving.

Funny story, a few years ago my Euro history teacher had a class of sophomores after his AP Euro class, and when he turned on the projector for them a big photo of David in all his naked glory came up from the class before. They all giggle, and one of the girls asks "What is that?" and my teacher replies, "That's Michelangelo's David". The girl pauses, and asks all shocked, "He calls it his 'David'!?
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Re: Too much focus

Postby SecondTalon » Sat Dec 29, 2007 11:34 pm UTC

ZOMG MARBLE PENIS LOLZ!!!

In all seriousness, dude's both smaller than you'd think and larger than you'd think in person. Yes, I'm referring to an inanimate chunk of marble that's been smashed with blades and such into the shape of a giant guy as "dude" because dude looks like he's about to step off and go find some pants at the nearest Big and Tall shop.
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Re: Too much focus

Postby Aleril » Sun Dec 30, 2007 12:55 am UTC

To really appreciate art I think of how much effort it took to make such a painting/sculpture, especially the Sistine Chapel, which just blew me away that one man painted that in that time period, and how amazingly beautiful it is.
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Re: Too much focus

Postby Kineticka » Tue Jan 01, 2008 8:14 pm UTC

There are also artists who blend science and art. These pieces are beautiful.

http://www.bathsheba.com/

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Re: Too much focus

Postby Dream » Tue Jan 01, 2008 11:31 pm UTC

Frh wrote:So, does anyone have any suggestions to help enlighten a scientist to the world of arts? Anyone else find themselves in similar situations? Perhaps the other way around?


Nope. Sorry. It's impossible to give a catch all "here's how to 'get' art" primer, let alone to do it over an internet forum. You ust have to make the effort to see as much art as possible until some of it affects you. It's unlikely you're so different from the majority of people that there is no art anywhere that will appeal to you in any way. It might well be rare, and hard to track down, but when you do, art will keep rewarding you forever. It was only last year that I first saw a Richard Avedon photograph in real life. It stayed with me for days. I saw Tarkovsky's Mirror years ago, and loved it. But when I saw his Andrei Rublev recently it absolutely floored me. It took me days just to process the whole thing, and I still can't describe it to anyone in words.

So my advice is simple. Look for something that makes you feel something that you can't put into words. When you find that, you'll never give it up, and will spend years searching for a way to find the feeling again. Then you'll feel what I feel about art.
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Re: Too much focus

Postby MFHodge » Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:03 pm UTC

One of the first times that I was really floored by some art was at a travelling Monet exhibit. He sometimes painted the same landscapes over and over. There were two paintings of a seaside cliff that were from an almost identical viewpoint, but had incredibly different emotion. Because they were side-by-side you were able to see very quickly how the type of brush stroke, the contrast of the colors, even the thickness of the paint all contributed to make you have a quick gut reaction to the two pieces. I feel like I learned a lot about art just by having those two next to each other.
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Re: Too much focus

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:22 pm UTC

Alot of appreciating art isn't 'getting it'. If you can throw around complicated terms or reference obscure artists, your not more intelligent then the next guy, just better at making yourself appear insecure in conversation.

Do you like that painting? Can you think of any cultural/historical commentaries it may be attempting? Talk about it. Savor it. I mean, I would say its a lot like enjoying fine dining. Anyone can taste quality, and subtlety, just because I cannot detect the hint of oakey undertones with the critrus-ey playful bouquet doesn't mean I'm not enjoying it.

Theres a famous piece that was incredibly scandelous at the time of its release, because a mostly naked and particularly curvaceous woman is looking directly at the viewer (instead of off to the side). SCANDELOUS! they cried, for she was acknowledging the act of voyeurism, she was not just an object to be observed, she was not submissive and pouty. Big deal says I, its a well painted image of a beautiful naked woman. It just so happens that it sparked some sort of grand debate on propriety. You can appreciate the painting from either perspective.

In fact, as a scientist who was in your position a few years back, I'd say you ought to be indignant at the people who claim you don't get art. Fuck them. If your trying to enjoy and appreciate something that was created for the purpose of making people enjoy and appreciate it, then who the hell cares if you don't get the reference being made by using that particular vantage point or whatever.

If you want to get more into art or veer away from being a one-trick pony, then do it! Diversity is the spice of life, specialization breeds weakness, hyper focus breeds stagnation!
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Re: Too much focus

Postby Pesto » Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:32 pm UTC

See if there is anyplace you can take an adult* education class. I got a catalog in the mail a while ago about someplace called the Discovery Center, or some such generic name. They offered language classes, sports classes, dance classes, etc. for pretty reasonable rates. I imagine someplace in your area would have art appreciation classes.




* No, not that kind of adult.

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Re: Too much focus

Postby Kineticka » Mon Jan 14, 2008 6:06 am UTC

I was watching a Travel channel show briefly, and caught the bit in the Prado, a famous museum in Madrid. Two of the things the hostess pointed out reminded me of this thread, and I wanted to share them. :)

First off, fun facts are...well...fun. Look for different aspects that you find interesting. In one of the shown paintings, The Surrender of Breda, by Diego Velazquez, she pointed out a perspective trick that he used. If viewed from different angles, the foremost horse appears to be changing directions. While some people may view this as "This is a masterful interpretation of the Baroque style," and they would be absolutely correct, there is nothing stopping you from going "Oh COOL, the horse moves!" Find little things that you like, and actively look for them.

Along the same thread as above, historical connotation can also be interesting. Goya's The Naked Maja was painted twice -- once as shown above, the other as The Clothed Maja. The Naked Maja was hung on the wall of the museum for all to see, and The Clothed Maja was suspended from an intricate set of pulleys and curtains to be lowered over the original in the event a cardinal or other religious official showed up. I found that to be incredibly interesting, and in no small part amusing.

I hope all of you enjoyed that as much as I did. :)


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