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Old 04-05-2005, 03:46 AM   #1
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Lightbulb BEAUTY: who, what, when, where, why and how?

As thesis of sorts...

The more we know what beauty is (creator/artist and partaker/viewer alike) the more beauty-in-art will abound and the VITAL need that it is will be more realized, nurtured and propagated.

I propose, that beauty is the arrangement of various physical elements for a visual presentation, proclaiming a power and or ability. Thereby one becoming the viewer/obtainer of the given object of beauty, one receives satisfaction in some way, be it through mind, body or spirit.

The principles and elements of design that are taught in the many schools of art and design are the foundations of this arrangement of physical elements. There are principles and laws that govern beauty. I think the saying, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" only works if the beholder is willing and able to tolerate defect. However, I also think that if something were to adhere to the "principles and laws" of beauty perfectly, that it would lose its approachability, thus in a sense becoming sterile and generic to degrees.

Beauty exists in many forms (visually speaking due to the nature of the discussion boards here). It is found in nature, man made objects and in people themselves. It also resides in memories and the eyes of the mind.

As humans we have a dire need for beauty in our lives. I believe without it we will die, just not as quickly or noticeably as a people without sound engineering. The more people understand this the better, because “ugliness doesn’t sell” (Raymond Loewy).

The double edge sword to beauty is this. If beauty is the promise of something to be gained, whether it is life, spiritual or mental inspiration, power, fame or perhaps even fortune, and if one is the partaker of beauty and the promised aspect is not delivered, then that beauty becomes fraud. It was merely deception in one form or another. Thus the partaker/receiver whether they know it or not, has not gained and has been deceived.

I think that as humans we tend to in degrees fill in where beauty's promise was not delivered as expected. However that does not happen without conscious or unconscious effort on our part. In other words it takes work (mental, spiritual, physiological, psychological or what have you) to meet the demands of fraudulent beauty. But even then, the frauded individual (s) has been lied to and is slighted. It will have an adverse effect, one that I think will be one more destructive than if there was no beauty to begin with.

The more we comprehend and can wield the tools of beauty then better our works will be. In doing so the better the viewers/partakers will be as they (whether they know it or not) will be more profoundly enlightened for the good.

…thus, BEAUTY IS TRUTH

Your thoughts?
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Old 04-05-2005, 05:06 AM   #2
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I think it's all survival. It has to be, nothing we are, do, or feel can have any other source, if you think about it. We started as slime, and a few billion years later here we are, shaped by only one thing - evolution. There's a logical evolutionary reason for every single little quirk of human behaviour, unless it's caused by some more or less abnormal malfunction.

From my essay on the subject:
http://www.androidblues.com/visualperception.html
Things we like to look at fall into two main categories:
Human -
here are roughly four subcategories:
Anatomy -
bodies, faces, eyes...
The reason here is obvious - members of a tribe or family need to bond for survival.
Shiny - We evolved to like the shininess of eyes, teeth, tongue, hair, juicy fruit, water, and that translates to other things like metals, jewels, silk...
Translucent - skin, flesh, teeth, food, which translates to other materials and objects; tropical fish, semiprecious stones, frosted glass, flowers, clouds etc...
Incandescent
- could be because of the caustics in eyes, back-lit skin and hair...
It could also be because we're daytime creatures, and so prefer light to dark. So now we like any glowing substance, any strong color or light... Non-Human - for example trees, coral, mountains, waves, lightning, fire, clouds, wide vistas, intricate patterns (snake skin, birds, butterflies)...
(As some categories overlap, and many types of objects vary, some objects fit in more than one category) My theory why we like these non-human things is developed in the essay (but please note it's a WIP)






 
Old 04-05-2005, 05:56 AM   #3
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I think it's often very oversimplified. When we look at a person not only do we see their forms but we also see expressions. I tend to find what is generally considered to be flaws or weaknesses to be really beautiful; hesitation, humility, embarrasment, insecurity, vulnerability and sympathy are some examples while I know a lot of other people respond to confidence, ambivilence and invulnerability. Catching a human and making him/her attractive has as much to do with forms as it does with character.

Even with forms I think it is to some extent subjective. I mean some people find fat to be attractive. Whose to say they are wrong or that their tastes are evolutionary "mistakes".

Our perceptions of beauty are colored by so many things, like our experiences, associations and expectations. Generalisations rarely work because it misses the subtleties of the actual truth and it has the effect of claiming some people aren't right for not following the taste of the masses.

In the end it just seems so irrelevant when it comes to art because ultimately you have to go with what you feel feels right. Teaching how to paint beauty... I don't know. It seems to me that if you truly want to learn how to express what you find to be beautiful you have to mostly find your own way. I'd say a good knowledge of anatomy and attention to subtle details is essential but after that it's all you.
 
Old 04-05-2005, 06:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
I think it's often very oversimplified.


I'm not saying people and beauty are simple, I'm saying the basics are universal. No one prefers scaly splotchy skin to healthy skin, for instance. Some people think it looks "cool" in a certain context (for instance in a horror movie, and there are evolutionary reasons for that too), but no one wants their own skin to be like that - unless their mind is abnormal.

Then, on top of these simple basics, our amazing brains build complexity and paradox. Culture, tradition, individual differences, all goes like a varnish over it all. That part is much harder to learn, maybe impossible, so I just started with the simpler parts, no big deal, just stuff that I wish someone had explained to me long ago.

Last edited by Stahlberg : 04-05-2005 at 06:55 AM.
 
Old 04-05-2005, 09:01 AM   #5
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Hi Stahlberg,

Just had a look at your link, my reply was actually mostly sparked by the initial post. I liked it, you bring up some great points. I do tend to agree with everything you're saying, mostly because it feels right what you're saying. But I guess that's sort of where I stand, you only have your own perception to go off of and I find grouping and generalising can be harmful if taken to literally because it closes your mind. I feel skills are good to teach, but an eye for what looks beautiful should ideally be developed naturally without rules.

Thanks for interesting read!
 
Old 04-05-2005, 12:59 PM   #6
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Hey, this is very interesting to me because although one of the most important aspects for me of my own work would have to be the certain mood and atmosphere, -a mood I want to share with people that i cannot explain with words- I have never attended an art college, simply because i rolled into the business back in the day when 3d was totally unassociated with art, and i really wanted to do 3d.

Sometimes i really wonder if i miss an important element that prevents me from being a "real"
artist because of my lack of concrete understanding in composition and lighting. And then again i think to myself, what is art and who says it has to be anything specific at all?

Usually I just want my work to get better and better but its all to do with my feelling of the picture. When i look at my work for example, its not all perfect to be sure, but most of the time the general feel that I want to achieve will be in there, and thats for me what people around me react to, and mostly positive.

Here in Holland though it seems as though not many people in a related business will say nice stuff about your work, i guess because putting down others work makes them feel less superior or something. This saddens me a bit and usually gives me the idea that it will stay hard for me to make my living doing what i like to do the most with out moving to another country.

But then again every "normal" consumer seems to enjoy my work. so that keeps me going.
I guess what it boills down to is this: If you have no concreet knowledge of art and what you are doing with your own work but you just "feel what works for you and what not, and people on the streets respond positively to it, does that make you an artist or does it keep you in amature status, or to put it in TorbjornO's words: doesnt it make you more of an artist to go by your own gut feeling then to follow all the prepaved rules?

Toink! (sometimes feeling the odd one out because of lack of art diploma :| )
 
Old 04-05-2005, 03:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stahlberg
...From my essay on the subject:
http://www.androidblues.com/visualperception.html...
...
I'm saying the basics are universal.
Thats also what I think.

Very interesting information on that page of yours Stalberg!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TorbjornO
I feel skills are good to teach, but an eye for what looks beautiful should ideally be developed naturally without rules.
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.

I was focusing mainly on the visual aspects of so-called beauty. Certainly there are countless other stimuli that influence people, such as culture, upbringing, environment, behavior, smells, sounds, touch, taste.... I don't have the expertise or the time to begin to analyze all that (even though its inseparable).

Realizing that the best tool is the rule, I've been working at better understanding what exactly makes something beautiful and something else ugly. Would beauty exist without ugly... lol. Why is something/someone of beauty more trusted than something ugly? Why does beauty sell?

The following three statements from some of my most admired designers have kept me questioning the visual aspects of physiology for some time. I'm sure I'll go to the grave still wondering. But I hope to be able to have the same grasp upon the visual construct as those guys did... everything they touched practically turned to gold, or so it seemed.

"Form follows function" (Louis Sullivan)
"Ugliness doesn't sell" (Raymond Loewy)
"Nothing is too beautiful" (Ettore Bugatti)
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Old 04-05-2005, 03:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toink
And then again i think to myself, what is art and who says it has to be anything specific at all?
One thing that I think has to be taught is that there is good art and bad art. Sure "art" can exist for the sake of art to a degree and it does. Just like music can exist for the sake of music. But try to make a CD of music that is bad and watch how that CD sits and brings in no money.

One of the reasons the "art gallery" was created in America in the late 1800s was to remove art that the masses didn't like, and give it a place to exist. The masses tend to have an odd way of sorting out exactly what is good and what is not. At the same time though, the masses may not give allowances for something "new" and "innovative" to be brought to light because they do not comprehend it, they fear it because they do not understand it, even though what that something "new" may be could be awesomely cool and visually satisfying and be so-called "good".
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Old 04-05-2005, 04:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stahlberg
...There's a logical evolutionary reason for every single little quirk of human behaviour, unless it's caused by some more or less abnormal malfunction...
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..).

But I do agree that you can drum up survival reasons for almost every beauty trait there is:

Large women, Skinny Women, Large men, Skinny men - There are survival based reasons for all. Most dealing with health and fitness with in the environment and culture.

In todays culture many find women with large eyes and large lips beautiful. These traits are also shared by babies and infants. Which came first? Did women develop these traits, mimicing the physical aspects of babies in order to evoke that instintive protectivness that most people feel toward infants? Or, did only infants survive, whoose physical traits are found pleasing? (I suspect the former, more than the later)
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Old 04-05-2005, 04:34 PM   #10
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By reading this thread it seems it's more of a cultural thing than anything else. Personally, though, I think it's subjective, and not really based on any one thing.
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Old 04-05-2005, 05:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slaughters
In todays culture many find women with large eyes and large lips beautiful. These traits are also shared by babies and infants. Which came first? Did women develop these traits, mimicing the physical aspects of babies in order to evoke that instintive protectivness that most people feel toward infants? Or, did only infants survive, whoose physical traits are found pleasing? (I suspect the former, more than the later)


The traits might be related but we don't have to choose between one versoin or another for why they are there. There may be many reasons.

There are certainly cultural differences between people but there are also many similarities and the similarities often arn't as simple as we might think.

For example, the desirable size of a woman varies a lot between cultures/individual preference, but the wide hip/breast - small waste/hands thing is a universal. I think supermodels might be an exception but they are often selected by women and Gay men (John ducks).

The fact that there is a biological component to our sense of beauty stands out more when we look at other animals.

For instance, why don't women go for men with purple arses? Or eyes that jut metres from either side of their head? Or a huge, streight tooth?

All of the above are things that other animals find attractive and they stand away from what we are used to as humans. You could say that humans are completely different as we are cultural but our cultures are very limited in certain ways.

There are some pretty odd historical beauty ideals but when you look at them, they often have something in common. A big unifying factor is that of wealth. For instance, dark skin is usually found unatractive as it represents a lack of wealth and the necessity of working out of doors. This is still the prevailing attitude in india and Pakistan. I once worked with a pakistani who refused to sit out in the sun because, as he said "he was dark enough already". However, some people consider a tan attractive. In England, this ideal came about when the privelaged rich could afford holidays to places like Grease. These days, many people can afford such holidays and the ideal of the tan is starting to look like a left-over from the the eightees.

The idealisation of skin colour is an example of where beauty ideal can run counter to morality. I would say however that the notion that morality and beauty are linked is fairly universal. Again, this is probably to do with wealth as the wealthy are more able to adorne themselves with beauty and also promulgate the notion that they are good.

Last edited by John Keates : 04-05-2005 at 05:15 PM.
 
Old 04-05-2005, 05:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Why is something/someone of beauty more trusted than something ugly? Why does beauty sell?


Interesting question. Since we all do it or feel the temptation to do it, even though most of us try to fight it, it must mean it's one of those basic instincts inherited from evolution. One guess could be that we, as cave people or migrating australopithecus or whatever, found that we could better trust a stranger who was healthy and well-fed, rather than someone who was starving and/or possibly carrying a deadly disease. Or it's simply a case of 'love is blind' - we're attracted to someone, and want to believe everything they say.

slaughters, you're right, it's of course much more complicated than I stated, it always is. Mutations are happening all the time, most are counter-productive and wipe themselves out, but some useless ones, like freckles, manage to hang on. (Personally I really don't care whether or not someone has freckles, on girls it's kind of cute even, which probably is the reason why it hasn't disappeared.)

But I'm pretty sure the appendix served a function once, millions of years ago, nothing as complex as that appears out of nowhere for no reason... and moles are just a localised malfunction, usually caused by UV rays.
 
Old 04-05-2005, 05:24 PM   #13
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One powerful factor in sexual selection is a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy. We find people attractive when we know that other people will also. If we have a gut instinct that a person is attractive then this is a sign that other people probably do also. If you know that a person will be found attractive then you know that they will recieve attention from others and become more sucessfull and be able to choose from a wide selection of mates. These are just the kinds of people who we find atractive.

So you get a strong feedback which represents a tautology. Atractive people are attractive because being attractive is an atractive trait.

What sets the feedback loop in this way or that may be governed by cerain practicalities such as signs of health or firtility but sometimes the seed can be a little random.

Also it is possible for more than one strategy to work within the same gene pool. For instance, whilst confidence can be attractive, someone with less confidence may themselves be attracted to week people as they feer a lack of control. If they were in a different social position then they might find other things attractive.

yadayadayada
 
Old 04-05-2005, 06:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stahlberg
...slaughters, you're right, it's of course much more complicated than I stated, it always is. Mutations are happening all the time, most are counter-productive and wipe themselves out, but some useless ones, like freckles, manage to hang on. (Personally I really don't care whether or not someone has freckles, on girls it's kind of cute even, which probably is the reason why it hasn't disappeared.)....
Actually, after I wrote that I started thinking of Beauty marks. Why do some people think that they add to a womans attractiveness.

Then I thought of something.

The contrast of a flaw like a mole on a face, actually draws attention and highlights the beauty of the rest of the face. It's the contrast which enhances the ideal. Much in the same way that a spot light in a dark room makes the rest of the room look much darker, than just the total absense of light would.
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Old 04-05-2005, 08:47 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chadtheartist
By reading this thread it seems it's more of a cultural thing than anything else. Personally, though, I think it's subjective, and not really based on any one thing.

I think it's a mixture between the two. On one hand we have our genetic proogramming that we so desperately want and need to secure. Our so called livelyhood or whatever. The other thing is that our brains are geared towards group life and most zoomorphs are.There's room for freedom in that tastewise. But it has been proven that certain types of women are attractive to all men of whatever race. But they would all certainly prefer something familiar to them. Something which they exerienced in their childhood as comfortable, but that's subject to conditioning.

Having stated and read all these cold observations I would still like to say that I believe in something more mysterious and something predestined. The mathematical perfection of life wouldn't have come about by a bunch of 3 celled creatures randomly evolving into something. And no offense, a bunch of over evolved monkeys theorising wouldn't have made the building blocks for what's here now. I see proof of preordained reality and thus a higher intelligence all around me. 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. Not much is in my opinion.

Blahblah, I feel like a jackass. As to the Thesis stated above, I find it quite "beautiful".
But I'd like to sarcastically point out something, just for laughs, if a brain is stressed more by seeing beautiful things wouldn't it be overloaded and die younger. Not that I mind, I'm an endorphine junkie anyway. with any hypotheses there must be adversaries, is it not.
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