BEAUTY: who, what, when, where, why and how?

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  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by slaughters: There does not need to be a evolutionary reason, there just needs to be no evolutionary impediment. You can have a trait, and as long as it does not actually decrease your survival odds, then that trait can be passed along even though there really is no evolutionary reason or function for it (Appendix, Freckles, Beauty Marks/Moles, etc..).



appendix serves as a soreroom of certain bacteria I believe humans have a lot of symbiotic bacteria in their guts,

freckles and such are left-over pockets of pygmentation from when we didn't wear any clothes and were constantly exposed to sunshine.

just a thought.
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  04 April 2005
Quote:
But the rules will exist no matter what, just like gravity. We can overcome it but hasn't gone away. The more we know of the rules the better we become at manipulating them.


This is what I mean, from my point of view, is a skewed perspective. What is a rule when it comes to something as abstract as beauty? What you perceive a certain % of masses think? Is that a "rule"? I've never understood the need for defining rules. It seperates people, it places a "right" and "wrong" on things that don't need those values attached to it. I see this as photography or writing. There's nothing wrong in learning principles that other people have found to be popularly embraced but it doesn't mean anything in the end. Your piece isn't any more "true" because it follows the set of rules established by people who have taken what conclusion they have reached and done something massively popular.

In my opinion, there are no such things as "rules". There are guidelines that we can use to our advantage.

Actually even with Stahlberg's article, I am keeping my mind open to that there might be one or two people on this earth who find the big black dots on white appealing. This might be an unfounded argument because I haven't looked into it, but weren't there dresses during the 50s/80s with very similar patterns? What if those designers had followed Stahlberg's article as a set of rules to follow? The danger with setting down these rules is that if you have someone reading them that doesn't feel they appeal to them, they will feel "wrong" because they don't adhere to the rules. This is dangerous.

It seems to be a very basic human need to divide, generalise and place into groups but in my opinion, just let it go. Let yourself develop your own sense of what you feel is beautiful. I find evolution to be logical but I am not going to close myself off to other possibilities by believing that our perceptions are only based on survival and procreation. It just seems pointless.

Taoists believe the greatest wisdom you can achieve is unlearning everything you think you know. As an artist in any medium I think this is the way to go. Perhaps especially with beauty.

Last edited by TorbjornO : 04 April 2005 at 12:25 AM.
 
  04 April 2005
Let me clarify TorbjornO. When I speak of rules, I'm not speaking theologically. I'm leaning towards the philosophy that if the rules are kept everything is fine and if broke the results are also fine. But the breaking and keeping of such rules should be with the realms of skill, talents and on purpose... "it was meant to be". I see way too much hit-and-miss with the rebellious rule breaking practice that often results in substandard works that leads me to believe that for one to break rules, one needs to have command of them.

Just because we don't break the laws of gravity doesn't mean that we are any better than those who break the laws of gravity. But those who break the laws of gravity better be prepared for the consequences just like those who keep the laws. Its just that there are many unexpected and unforeseen consequences when laws/rules are broken (simply because the rule has for the most part been kept and exist seemingly for safety).

Originally Posted by jmBoekestein: ...
So there is something mysterious to beauty, something is beautiful for a reason. I'm not saying however that evolution is not true, it simply is partly. Something must have been beautiful at some point for the first time though, it's not an accident.
...
I agree. While there is a lot of room to discuss beauty in a theological sense (and I believe things of beauty are a reflection of the divine) I tend to stay away from those aspects due the volatility of such past discussions, which go nowhere fast.

There is a tremendous and vast realm of aesthetics that is yet untapped. The visual senses are the most quickly and profoundly impacted in humans. Nothing gets into a person faster than through sight (except for maybe stray proton particles, hah). Artist and designer are at this helm. Think of the power, mwahahahaaaa! Seriously, think of the influence and the ability to move. Most people have no idea whats at stake. Good design/art is power!
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  04 April 2005
True, our eyes are the first organ to fully mature, at only 3 months of age! That's how important sight is to us.

Quote: I am keeping my mind open to that there might be one or two people on this earth who find the big black dots on white appealing.
weren't there dresses during the 50s/80s with very similar patterns? What if those designers had followed Stahlberg's article as a set of rules to follow? The danger with setting down these rules is that if you have someone reading them that doesn't feel they appeal to them, they will feel "wrong" because they don't adhere to the rules. This is dangerous.


True, in the 60's they had art and fashion that was as difficult to look at as those dots. Something called 'Op-Art' took it to it's logical conclusion, created paintings that made you dizzy to look at. All I'm saying is, now I now why that makes us dizzy. If you want to create that effect, go ahead. I never said, "Don't paint like that!" In fact in the graphical arts you often have to catch someone's attention quickly and only hold it for a few seconds (advertising etc). So it might be a good idea to overload on contrast. In art it works a little different, normally you'd want the audience to look at your painting for as long as possible. Now, if they're physically unable to do that, you may have overdone it.

That Taoist things sounds deep at first, but if you look at it, it's just another chlichee. It has some truth to it in some situations, like when you're trying to learn how to play golf as an adult, from a real pro, when you've never had instruction before... otherwise, my advice is, just play it as you see it. Don't unlearn anything, if you don't see the need for it.

Concerning theology, I had a feeling that would come up. Just to adress it, so we can all drop it again: you can definitely be religious while still believing in rigorous science, the two are NOT mutually exclusive.

Jim, I think you're putting the cart before the horse - you can't have beauty first, then evolve the senses to experience it. A random attribute comes first (pick one, anyone), then a lifeform may evolve to find it beautiful.
There can be no objective beauty at all. Aliens with outer surfaces like raw concrete who live in dark caves and communicate with radio waves might say the same thing you said about beauty, but they would mean completely different things. Why be anthropocentric about it? Our sense of aesthetics is not the only possible one. Take an example closer to home; to a dog some of the most beautiful things in the world are dog-butts and rotting flesh. Subjects which are hard to make aesthetically pleasing to humans. Possible, yes, if we make it look like something else, or almost abstract, by playing with lighting and composition etc. But not in and of itself.

Last edited by Stahlberg : 04 April 2005 at 01:50 AM.
 
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by Stahlberg: ...you can definitely be religious while still believing in rigorous science, the two are NOT mutually exclusive.
I agree 100%.

Originally Posted by Stahlberg: Take an example closer to home; to a dog some of the most beautiful things in the world are dog-butts and rotting flesh.
ROTFL!!! […must remove the mental image…] Well, I don't know what a dog is thinking when it finds such captivating interest in said subject, but I hope its much different than the beauty we are discussing. Besides, I think humans are on an entirely different level of intelligence than other life forms. Thus beauty is something on a higher level of existence.
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NOTHING IS TOO BEAUTIFUL -Bugatti
UGLINESSS DOESN'T SELL -Loewy
 
  04 April 2005
If you want to use people then,...

When we are poor and skinny,... fat is beautifull.
When we are rich and fat,... skinny is attractive.
When we are dark from working in the sun,... white skin is irresistable.
When we are computer freaks sitting in offices,.... the tanned body is sexy.

But thats not beauty, its just fashion.

What are we doing?
We are pushing the envelope.
An artist's quest is to push the limit and go to places others are not equipped or too frightened to go to and bring back something that will enrich mankind.
True cultural riches are far beyond commerce so beauty sells is only beauty commerce has observed and waited till it becomes marketable. There is beauty in what we percieve as ugliness only we havent learned to look at it yet and we are told constantly what we must value.

Beauty isn't just a chick or a coke bottle,... in which case I would sadly miss sound engineering .
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Last edited by Kanga : 04 April 2005 at 02:52 AM.
 
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by Stahlberg: There can be no objective beauty at all.


Part of my original proposal was that there is objective beauty (not to ignore subjective beauty). Has anyone ever studied the proportional relations of the human body? There are many geometrical properties of the body that follow the golden mean (the ratio of 1 to 1.616 of the golden rectangle, the golden rule or whatever its known by. I learned this in a college math class. The art/design professors had no idea about these issues... other than the simple golden mean and how the Romans and Greeks use it to no end in the architectural creations... perhaps thats because I was educated at agricultural/engineer/liberal arts based university. Do they teach these things at a full fledged design school, like ACCD and or RISD?). This ratio-relationship is also found everywhere in nature and other life. Hence, I conclude that beauty can and does exist beyond our senses. We should learn about it, study it.
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NOTHING IS TOO BEAUTIFUL -Bugatti
UGLINESSS DOESN'T SELL -Loewy
 
  04 April 2005
Interesting discussion.
Quote: This ratio-relationship is also found everywhere in nature and other life.

I think that's why we find it beautiful - not because it's something mysterious and transcendent, but because it pervades our environment and biology... it could signify growth, and I think it also introduces that variation-on-the-variation that I mention in the essay... A segment of a spiral curve (which is one way the golden mean works) is more beautiful to us than a segment of a perfect circle...
 
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by Stahlberg:
That Taoist things sounds deep at first, but if you look at it, it's just another chlichee. It has some truth to it in some situations, like when you're trying to learn how to play golf as an adult, from a real pro, when you've never had instruction before... otherwise, my advice is, just play it as you see it. Don't unlearn anything, if you don't see the need for it.



Well the point would be if you didn't learn it to begin with you wouldn't need to unlearn it. Maybe it was a bit of a statement that needed more explaining but basically it's about removing any assumptions. There's a big difference between feeling "this seems to work really well" and "this is the way it is". Having guidelines is great, having rules (stated "facts") isn't. A child learns at such a different speed to most adults, and to me it makes sense that that is the case because they don't make any assumptions of how things should work. They just seem to observe and imitate, and sometimes innovate. The more they learn that they begin to feel the presence of rules (assumptions), the slower they learn. Same with an artist.

While I respect that you read what I wrote as a cliche, it seems like a strange way of disputing something. Just because something appear cliche doesn't make it less true. Maybe if I had just stayed away from using Taoism as an example (avoiding the fortune cookie feel) it would of appeared less chiche. The only point I wanted to make was that every single person has different perceptions and while you can develop your own sense of what works for a large group of people, it's up to you to develop that. No one can teach you what is right and wrong in beauty. As soon as you state that something "is" you close your mind.

I feel I could probably write a lot more to explain myself, but no, I don't think you have to know rules so that you can know how to break them. GOT you mentioned that you've seen a lot of bad rebelling, well if there are no rules to begin with what is there to rebel against? I agree with you though that some people go against stated rules with no apparent reason other than to be different. My point is just that the rules are irrelevant. You claim the science of beauty is similar to the science as gravity, I don't really agree. Every time you drop a ball, no matter who's watching, it will fall to the ground based on the physical laws we are aware of.

I do know what you guys are going at though. It's obvious that there are certain characteristics more people find attractive. I just become very weary when people start laying down rules for what is, and isn't beauty. I just like seeing different people's intepretations of beauty. Same with movies. I don't mind watching movies like The Rock, but I love seeing different intepretations of beauty like Amelie.
 
  04 April 2005
I want to inject something into this discussion that I think will add another dimension to it.

Taste.

What is good taste, and what is bad taste? Is there an universal standard? Does the rich, educated, and powerful segment of the population hold the right to set that standard more so than the average people? Does people that listen to classical music have better taste than people that listen to Britney Spears?

Let's take an artist that some people love to bash, and some people worship--Boris Vallejo. The people that love to bash him think his work is all technique with no substance. All that knowledge he possesses as an experienced painter is used to render cheesy, trite, and garrish subjects that have stiff and silly poses, garrish colors, and severely outdated designs. The people that worship him think his works are fine examples of superior technique and understanding of the human form.

So, who's right, and who's wrong? Obviously, both camps feel they are right, and even if art history takes one side over the other, it still won't change people's minds. Look at Bouguereau--art history wanted to do away with him for decades, but the people who admired his work fought against the mainstream and worked hard to bring hm back into the limelight and demanded that he is placed back into art history in his rightful place.

In the end, everything is subjective. Do we take comfort in that conclusion, or is that conclusion cause for perpetual agitation in difference of taste?

Last edited by Lunatique : 04 April 2005 at 05:51 AM.
 
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by TorbjornO: My point is just that the rules are irrelevant.
In light of the discussion, a rule is simply a tool. The best tool is the rule. If one doesn't want to use the tools then more power to them. As for me, I'll use all the tools I can discover, understand and wield with grace.
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NOTHING IS TOO BEAUTIFUL -Bugatti
UGLINESSS DOESN'T SELL -Loewy
 
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by Lunatique: I want to inject something into this discussion that I think will add another dimension to it.

Taste.

What is good taste, and what is bad taste? Is there an universal standard? Does the rich, educated, and powerful segment of the population hold the right to set that standard more so than the average people? Do people that listen to classical music have better taste than peole that listen to Britney Spears?

Let's take an artist that some people love to bash, and some people worship--Boris Vallejo. The people that love to bash him think his work is all technique with no substance. All that knowledge he possesses as an experienced painter is used to render cheesy, trite, and garrish subjects that have stiff and silly poses, garrish colors, and severely outdated designs. The people that worship him think his works are fine examples of superior technique and understanding of the human form.

So, who's right, and who's wrong? Obviously, both camps feel they are right, and even if art history takes one side over the other, it still won't change people's minds. Look at Bouguereau--art history wanted to do away with him for decades, but the people who admired his work fought against the mainstream and worked hard to bring hm back into the limelight and demanded that he is placed back into art history in his rightful place.

In the end, everything is subjective. Do we take comfort in that conclusion, or is that conclusion cause for perpetual agitation in difference of taste?
Yes, taste is highly subjective.

Concerning who's right and who's wrong, regarding what you said, I don't think either side is wrong. However I don't think "everything" is subjective, but rather that we as humans subjectify most everything due to the immense power and ability of our minds. No problem with that, other than I'm looking to understand another dimension of life per se.
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NOTHING IS TOO BEAUTIFUL -Bugatti
UGLINESSS DOESN'T SELL -Loewy
 
  04 April 2005
wow. i dont envy those of us who study aesthetics from a theoretical approach. interesting stuff guys!
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  04 April 2005
Maybe "beauty - ugliness" is the wrong paradigm for what I'm trying to say. I feel it's much more basic than that. How about "interesting - boring", "pleasant - unpleasant", "able to hold our attention longer - not able etc"? Not much better, but maybe you see better what I mean.

For instance, we find movement more interesting than non-movement, it is hypnotically attractive to our eyes on a level so basic it's usually impossible for our conscious mind to resist the impuls to look - all for obvious evolutionary reasons.
But that doesn't mean that movement equals beauty! It's just another biological fact, it's how our visual system works. You can use this fact if you want to, or ignore it if you want to. But you seem to be saying you'd choose not to know it in the first place?

btw do you also feel that perspective and color theory are irrelevant?
 
  04 April 2005
Personally, I’ve always found attractive not so much the skin itself, as how you carry it. A great deal of the ‘beauty’ being found in the pattern of movements, the rhythm of gestures and the posture of the body. I’ll see someone with nigh flawless features but I still can’t seem to find him or her beautiful because of the way they move or present themselves, whereas someone with less physical beauty might appear as absolutely stunning to me because they have that certain ‘something’ in their eyes and in their body language. I personally prefer a graceful man far above the masculine, buff ideal that society seems to want me to subscribe to. I fancy ‘cute’ over ‘handsome’ and a set of nice lips over a healthy moustache.

(In art, I’ll see this as a beautifully painted or modeled character in an unappealing pose, truly putting me off to the whole concept, whereas one with a less than flawless face in a more thoughtful and intriguing posture will make me appreciate the beauty. I think people tend to forget that it’s just as much about the body language in art, too, as it is about the actual ‘looks’)

This having said about my personal taste for pretty people, yes, there is that thing about beauty that is bound to the physical self: society setting the standards for what we are supposed to think of as lovely. Everything from Barbie dolls to porn magazines adding on top of what might be genetically favourable. As a side note, I think that what women think of as beautiful women, and what men think of as beautiful women are two rather different things. We girls have a tendency to think that we have to be stick figures, because that’s what society is trying to tell us with its imagery, whereas the guys I know all seem to prefer some flesh on their girls’ hips. And men, well… a lot of guys seem to believe that girls care only about muscles, tallness, a wide chin and, er, extensive equipment so to speak… whereas most of my girl friends would quote things like “pretty lips”, “nice eyes” and “clean hair” (?!)

I just find it somewhat amusing, and even though I know that the super thin models you’ll see on the telly do not fit with every guy’s concept of beauty, this is still what we girls will always compare ourselves to.
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