An evening vision of the chapel at Doshisha University.
A very bold attempt, but I don't think this one is nearly as successful as some of your other images. This might work if you were allowing for text or title lines to run through the black, but as a stand-alone image feels too empty for me. I love the small details at the top of the frame but it doesn't feel like enough to carry the rest of the emptiness. The human mind longs to complete patterns and pictures with the visual clues it's been given (try drawing a circle with a tiny slice removed from it and see how your mind reacts), but here there isn't much here to fill in the blanks. Again though, a bold experiment, just not to my taste.
20 Jan 2009 5:33am
@Jon Whittle: Thank you so much for your kind and thorough thoughts. I appreciate them. I am willing to grant that this may not be the most riveting image I've posted, but I'd like to delve a little into the nature of your critique. What you say may be very much true in Western art, but in fact Japanese art has a long tradition of the hidden, the suggested. This isn't seen as "empty" in the sense that it lacks something or is unfinished. So I'm a little skeptical of the claim that the "human mind longs to complete patterns and pictures." In fact, Japanese artists have shown repeatedly "emptiness" can be artistically powerful -- even moreso than "presence." Look, for example, at traditional Japanese architecture which uses sparsity to create heartbreakingly beautiful use of space that is aesthetically complete because it doesn't fill in the details. Another example is the case of the great 16th-century tea master Sen no Rikyu (千利休). He once had a garden full of morning glory flowers, a great rarity in Japan at the time. The great warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi demanded to see these flowers at a special tea ceremony just for him. But when he arrived he was stunned to find not a single blossom on any branch. Entering the tea room, however, he found a solitary morning glory perched in a rustic vase. It was then he understood Rikyu's genius and the true beauty of the flower.
So perhaps what we're exploring here is two rather different aesthetics, clumsily labeled "Western" and "Japanese," that think differently about space and form. For those interested, a good place to begin (besides looking at a lot of Japanese art) is the classic text by Tanizaki Junichiro (谷崎 潤一郎) called In Praise of Shadows (陰翳礼讃). It offers a concise and beautiful explanation of the power that shadow and void have in Japanese art.
All that said, I again say that I don't defend this particular photo as a work of genius, but I do think that we need not be afraid of spaces whose meaning are not immediately apparent. In fact, an exploration of just how little an object needs to appear before it resonates with beauty has been a dominant motif in much of my work, I feel.
I appreciate the chance to engage with you in a serious discussion, and I appreciate your detailed comments.
NICE!!! Before I started to document my life with a camera, a pen and a sketchbook was my thing. I did it for school, and I saw sketching as an exercise for the eyes and brain. I dig this shot a lot because it reminded me of the sketches I used to do. It might be a super bad photo for your inkjet printer, haha, but it is no doubt a very creative shot, and it allows me- the viewer- to fill in the empty space with whatever my imagination takes me.
20 Jan 2009 9:13am
An excellent idea and a beautiful lavender.
20 Jan 2009 12:04pm
Nice touch my friend, love the Title, wow
20 Jan 2009 12:51pm
That's a very interesting perspective to consider a West/East division in creative ideals, and you certainly have some romantic and fascinating stories to add to the discussion! I remember being in school with a few Japanese students that often solved creative issues in a photograph in ways I never considered, and it occurred to me then how different cultures express ideas visually. That's one of the things I love about this photoblog community, is the far reaching group of individuals who come together to look and talk and learn collectively.
In the end it comes down to personal taste, and though I understand the mystery of this image, I still feel like just the smallest touch more of detail would give me a better idea of what I'm seeing. This image feels so incredibly heavy that I can't get past the huge weighty black space. One of the things I love about the rest of your shots is the dramatic interplay of deep shadows and piercing rays of light that divide them. I remain with the thought that you have many other shots that elegantly defeat this ones place in line...but above all I appreciate the interchange of ideas, and look forward to the next one!!
20 Jan 2009 3:31pm
@Jon Whittle: This is great! I really appreciate the comments and discussion. I think we have a slight difference in what we're seeing in this image. You see the black, and want more detail to flesh it out. To me the photo is about the tracery and the lavender, and the more we see of it, the less powerful it is.
I really, really like this one - I like silhouettes a lot and the colour of the sky is very beautiful. I also like the way the railings look like Japanese letters (I don't read Japanese obviously).
About the comment above - actually it was interesting to read your reply because I don't know too much about Japanese art but what little I've seen has appealed to me tremendously because on the surface it has seemed simple, but with more contemplation it leads to a lot of associations and thinking.
About the Western mind liking perfection in patterns -- actually, total perfection is subconsciously boring and people don't notice it. What makes an image "work" on the mind is imperfections. That's why a lot of adverts use pictures with almost imperceptible imperfections, so the viewer's mind "works" on the image and remembers it, by trying to complete what is missing.
20 Jan 2009 3:38pm
I am aware of some of the differences between eastern and western, and I think the eastern approach is more difficult to achieve successfully though it seems simple at first for to include an area of nothing. However, negative or “empty” space has to resonate, evoke and suggest. It is not enough just to have empty space – a blank, impenetrable dark area. And I do think that Jon is right about the brain part – the mind does (in all cultures) want to complete – that is just a simple psychological fact. In eastern art it simply solves the puzzle differently - the suggestion is the completion instead of an actual presence. Now whether something resonates or evokes can be very subjective and individual and also cultural. Since it can be cultural JGC”s point is well taken.
20 Jan 2009 4:04pm
I've been away far too long ... I've missed a wonderful collection of photos on Yakumo's World! You've stirred an interesting dialogue with this one ... I'm drawn to its simple beauty and that magnificent lavendar!
20 Jan 2009 4:35pm
Very original idea! Bravo!
20 Jan 2009 5:31pm
I think this is a fine image. That bit of detail at the roof edge is quite nice and the evening color is sublime. Although I don't pretend to understand art to any great degree, I think your images are great. So, keep surprising us from time to time with fine photos like the above.
20 Jan 2009 6:12pm
I think that the black area is too much
20 Jan 2009 6:15pm
A bet dared and surprising… I like the aspect of free imagination that you leave us in order to more precisely guessed this shade of residence, while framing the subject in a precise way by this superbly carved metal hedge and these branches of trees representing for me all connections of the possible one. The color violet of the sky opens also my imaginary, played well ;)
20 Jan 2009 8:28pm
Lovely black shadows with the sliver of lavender. thanks for this great shot of Doshisha
20 Jan 2009 9:38pm
Some interesting comments above. I find it hard to label art as purely western, Japanese, Eastern or otherwise, as there are so many movements across all cultures, and the exploration of the relationships of space vary from one generation to another. Today we are bombarded across the globe with the omnipresent corporate identity, it crosses all cultures, and stifles much creativity in its blandness.
I am really glad to see that GJC has bravely offered us another view, a bold and interesting image, to make us stop and think about the presentation of light, shadow and colour. The fact that it draws debate is fantastic, because as photographers, we are often subconsciously forced to frame, see, expose and present work in very formulaic ways. Any image by any photographer that breaks this mold and draws discussion and thought should only be congratulated for their bravery and encouraged to go further.
20 Jan 2009 11:19pm
Reads as black on my monitor at maximum brightness, only after following the thread was I aware of something more to be seen. best...jerry
21 Jan 2009 12:33am
@ordinaryimages: Thanks. I take that as a compliment. Like Rikyu's morning glory.
Have had an interesting time working my way back through your images.
Good stuff !
21 Jan 2009 1:54am
this is a very powewrful image ! i see mystery and intrigue, as if i am standing at the foot of a fortress wall. the softnesss of color tells me i need not fear what i cannot see. jim
21 Jan 2009 2:23am
I can hear the music.
21 Jan 2009 4:30am
What I'm saying is, if I'm supposed to be seeing some tracery in the black area, i do not. If i look at it from an angle from just a few inches I might see something. While I think I understand what you're doing there is not enough transparency in the dark to reveal it. best...jerry
21 Jan 2009 7:05am
@ordinaryimages: You're absolutely right: there is nothing but black in that black. No tracery. That was my intention. I'm talking about the area along the roofline with the trees and the railing at the top of the roof.
Very good idea and picture, but it would perhaps be more powerfull with a square frame (without the lower part of the image)
21 Jan 2009 11:42am
looking at it makes it harder to breathe, it works very well like this
21 Jan 2009 11:01pm
i like this very much. it draws me in - a quick look won't do.
22 Jan 2009 2:46am
i like this. to me the big chunk of black makes the branches look all the more delicate and spidery and the lavender more lavender.
23 Jan 2009 2:22am
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