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  1. #1
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Music as analogy for LF photography

    An old entertaining thread titled “Rock Music” (LF images of rocks) inspired me with this question for you:

    Do you "hear" music when you see well composed LF images? If so, what type of music?

    Or maybe you sense the math that some say is intrinsic to both. I’ve heard a similar claim about music and architecture. I’m pretty sure that was Frank Lloyd Wright.

    Sometimes I catch myself humming in the field in response to a scene I like while composing it, but usually not when I’m working in the darkroom, holding prints in my hand, or seeing famous photos in books or on the computer screen.

    Please share your experiences, and if it’s possible, can you explain it? Even better, can you show an example?

  2. #2

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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Music is my primary thing but I don’t really ever mix artforms in that way. I’ve always found that sort of thing artificial/forced. It’s easy to draw whatever parallels one wants, but I don’t see much of a point. If something like that happens to occur honestly, without effort/thought, that’s nice I guess.

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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Outliers are a necessary variable, if we are all in 'tune' we don't mutate and evolve

    A General Model of Dissonance Reduction: Unifying Past Accounts via an Emotion Regulation Perspective

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    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    I'd love to hear your thoughts.
    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    I'd love to hear your thoughts.
    Please, if I may ask for just a moment of your patience, I just might be able to organize a few more thoughts.

    I’d say I’m close to 95% agreement with your beautifully clarifying post above, so I don’t think my thoughts below qualify as a significant disagreement with them. In fact, some of it echoes what you say, even while stating differences, concerning mainly temporal organization of art, cognition, psychology.

    I’ll start with a simple claim: If viewers need a period of time to perceive art, then it is impossible for any viewer to experience an art that exists, as you say, only in a static moment (such as architecture, sculpture, painting, LF prints). I’m sure you noticed your ideas slightly straining, eloquently, and with a nice summersault thrown in, to have it both ways. For example, “a painting, sculpture, structure or photograph exists in its entirety at a given instant,” and then later, “We need time to take them in and recognize [rhythm].” In a phrase, I think if a work can exist “entirely” in a given instant (and maybe it can), then the work, as such, is beyond our comprehension. We won’t perceive it because, I agree with you, we need time. The time necessary, for example, for our eyes simply to take it in. You say columns when looking at the Parthenon and dune ripples when looking at a print “really don't come one-after-the-other in time,” but I hope you might consider that they really do come one-after-the-other (yes, literally) as our scanning eyes take advantage of the requirements of time – looking left to right, up and down, sideways, jumping from point A to point B – whether we’re attending a show of LF prints, visiting Athens, or standing on Maui watching real waves. To be sure, even a work associated with perfect physical stillness, let’s say Rodin’s “The Thinker,” will offer-up rhythm, movement, and other elements of time as we stand before it and admire its contemplative tranquility. Our mind can do no other. I will quickly add that I know this isn’t an iron-clad argument. For example, I’m aware that I’ve left out any mention of Plato’s cave and the eternal, timeless forms just outside the entrance which is at my back.

    And I didn’t even get to music and the irrational. Euripides, Dionysus, and Oliver Sacks will all have to wait. BTW, do you remember that old thread about how the eye works? Maybe it's one of the links above by Bernice. Also reminds me of Paulr. This is beginning to remind me of those fun times.

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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Heroique,

    I agree with everything you say. My only point, and the only substantial difference between a viewer scanning through a photograph in time and a listener experiencing a piece of music in time, is that in the latter, the temporal organization, i.e., the order and speed of presentation, is determined by the composer/performers and the listener experiences the piece in that way only. When scanning a photograph or painting, etc., the viewer decides the order, the speed, if something gets left out, revisited, etc. In this latter case, scanning with one's eye, the brain is really working to get an impression of the object as it exists as a whole; it's instinctive and basic to visual perception. When listening to music, the brain has to be trained to recognize form, repetitions, variations, etc. as they are presented in time, using tools are aren't simply instinctive, but which require a higher order of processing; something learned.

    The difference is not huge, but important. However, so are the similarities you point out, which lead to the myriad comparisons of two-dimensional, plastic and architectural art to music. Again, I'll posit that these comparisons are by way of analogy - i.e., extended meaning of those musical terms used for comparison, and are not really equivalent. They are nevertheless similar enough to make the analogy valid.

    Sure, the artist often has tools to direct the viewer's attention in a certain order, but I really think that the experience of a static work of art is fundamentally different from that of one dependent on temporal organization.

    I've got Oliver Sacks' book on the way. We can discuss that when I've read it (and digested it ).

    Best,

    Doremus

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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    Heroique,

    I agree with everything you say. My only point, and the only substantial difference between a viewer scanning through a photograph in time and a listener experiencing a piece of music in time, is that in the latter, the temporal organization, i.e., the order and speed of presentation, is determined by the composer/performers and the listener experiences the piece in that way only. When scanning a photograph or painting, etc., the viewer decides the order, the speed, if something gets left out, revisited, etc. In this latter case, scanning with one's eye, the brain is really working to get an impression of the object as it exists as a whole; it's instinctive and basic to visual perception. When listening to music, the brain has to be trained to recognize form, repetitions, variations, etc. as they are presented in time, using tools are aren't simply instinctive, but which require a higher order of processing; something learned.

    The difference is not huge, but important. However, so are the similarities you point out, which lead to the myriad comparisons of two-dimensional, plastic and architectural art to music. Again, I'll posit that these comparisons are by way of analogy - i.e., extended meaning of those musical terms used for comparison, and are not really equivalent. They are nevertheless similar enough to make the analogy valid.

    Sure, the artist often has tools to direct the viewer's attention in a certain order, but I really think that the experience of a static work of art is fundamentally different from that of one dependent on temporal organization.

    I've got Oliver Sacks' book on the way. We can discuss that when I've read it (and digested it ).

    Best,

    Doremus
    Just like we don't have to take courses on English and grammar to speak and appreciate a good speaker, we don't have to understand music as a musician might have to. The brain has a natural affinity to appreciate music without knowing how to read a note. The same with photos and art in general. The ability of people to have art inspire feelings within them is in-born.

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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Klein View Post
    Just like we don't have to take courses on English and grammar to speak and appreciate a good speaker, we don't have to understand music as a musician might have to. The brain has a natural affinity to appreciate music without knowing how to read a note. The same with photos and art in general. The ability of people to have art inspire feelings within them is in-born.
    I don't know Alan... I regularly decry the lack of literacy, both in the written word and in the appreciation of art and music. What you get out of a work of art, piece of music, novel, play, dance performance, etc. is completely dependent on what you bring to it.

    How do we expect people who can't conjugate verbs, use the subjunctive mood correctly and only have a rudimentary vocabulary of mostly slang to get anything out of King Lear? These people have learned to speak, and likely to read, but not at a high enough level to understand Shakespeare's expression.

    Similarly, those that only know music as four-beats-per-measure, three-chord harmony, diatonic melodies that span no more than an octave and simple three-minute AABA song forms will never get a handle on Strauß' "Der Rosenkavalier," not to mention Berg's "Wozzeck" or even Thelonius Monk, unless their understanding is expanded somehow. I don't think that comes automatically.

    There is an analogous visual and spatial vocabulary that needs to be learned and then brought to visual art and dance (add knowledge of gesture and conventional mimicry to this latter). All that talk of golden mean, leading lines, proportion, figure-ground relationships, tonality, graphic organization, iconography, symbolism, allusion, etc., etc. isn't for nothing. They are parts the basic lexicon needed to understand the art works.

    We may have a "natural affinity" for many things, but that is only potential. Without it being developed, we really end up without the basic tools and vocabulary to appreciate greatness.

    It has ever been thus: the more culturally and artistically educated are able to understand more deeply and get more out of every aspect of art and culture. The fact that such education is now practically absent from our elementary schools only means that more people will be ill-equipped to benefit from the enjoyment of great works of art in any medium. I find that unfortunate.

    Best,

    Doremus

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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    I don't know Alan... I regularly decry the lack of literacy, both in the written word and in the appreciation of art and music. What you get out of a work of art, piece of music, novel, play, dance performance, etc. is completely dependent on what you bring to it.

    How do we expect people who can't conjugate verbs, use the subjunctive mood correctly and only have a rudimentary vocabulary of mostly slang to get anything out of King Lear? These people have learned to speak, and likely to read, but not at a high enough level to understand Shakespeare's expression.

    Similarly, those that only know music as four-beats-per-measure, three-chord harmony, diatonic melodies that span no more than an octave and simple three-minute AABA song forms will never get a handle on Strauß' "Der Rosenkavalier," not to mention Berg's "Wozzeck" or even Thelonius Monk, unless their understanding is expanded somehow. I don't think that comes automatically.

    There is an analogous visual and spatial vocabulary that needs to be learned and then brought to visual art and dance (add knowledge of gesture and conventional mimicry to this latter). All that talk of golden mean, leading lines, proportion, figure-ground relationships, tonality, graphic organization, iconography, symbolism, allusion, etc., etc. isn't for nothing. They are parts the basic lexicon needed to understand the art works.

    We may have a "natural affinity" for many things, but that is only potential. Without it being developed, we really end up without the basic tools and vocabulary to appreciate greatness.

    It has ever been thus: the more culturally and artistically educated are able to understand more deeply and get more out of every aspect of art and culture. The fact that such education is now practically absent from our elementary schools only means that more people will be ill-equipped to benefit from the enjoyment of great works of art in any medium. I find that unfortunate.

    Best,

    Doremus
    Wow. I don't think much of this holds up at all under scrutiny, nor has it been my experience in a life of music and art. Seems extremely elitist, not to mention likely leading to little more than a fairly vacuous technical appreciation rather than anything genuine.

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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R View Post
    Wow. I don't think much of this holds up at all under scrutiny, nor has it been my experience in a life of music and art. Seems extremely elitist, not to mention likely leading to little more than a fairly vacuous technical appreciation rather than anything genuine.
    To move this into sports, my experience with sport indicates that a sport is much more enjoyable to view and better understanding can be had of the activities being viewed if one has a decent understanding of the rules, strategies, and athletes of the sport. Or is Joe Blow at the end of the bar being an elitist for knowing the batting averages of the major players in the National League?
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  10. #10
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Doremus’ post is magnificent and I’m sure he knows how potentially explosive it is.

    He can count me among his generals.

    Sadly, our hieratic armies will be no match for the demotic gangs on the way.

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