“Great” photography & Pompier painters, part 1/2

Ce qui est trop parfait met Dieu en colère
“What is too perfect makes God angry”

 

Academic Art is the art and artists influenced by the standards of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts. In the 19th Century, the French called it “l’art pompier”, especially historical or allegorical ones. It derives from the helmets with horse-hair tails, worn at the time by French firemen, which are similar to the Attic helmet often worn in such works by allegorical personifications, classical warriors, or Napoleonic cavalry. It also suggests pompeux (“pompous”).

Pompier art was seen by those who used the term as the epitome of the values of the bourgeoisie, and as insincere and overblown.

(Thank you, Wikipedia)

These painters (like Gérôme or Bouguereau) had a splendid technique, but they stayed in History, in this Pompier catégory : boring and perfectly made.

 

Now I admit there’s a guilty pleasure watching these guys’s works. But this is NOT what you want to study for months, right? Which I did with Manet…

There’s a pattern here : an annoying dance between “It’s splendidly made” and “It’s nowhere inventing here”, no emotion, just technique…

If we agree with the core of Arts (“What’s new here?”) – and that there’s nothing new here – we can watch this pattern/structure in other places, like photography. This will be the part 2!

Thanks for reading!

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“Do it on your cam” – Are you a photographer or a computer tinkerer?

No effects : “Do it on your cam” – Are you a photographer or a computer tinkerer?

Photography is a great hobby, and we all do it differently.

Digital and Big Giga SD cards allow us to take thousands of pictures. Then, for each, we can play a long time on our computer, pushing/pulling cursors for light, sharpness, special effects and filters. That’s fun!

In a way, I’m sure that we all realize one day or another that… it’s too much.

I heard many times about how photographers “invent” limits to reframe their Art. You have, as often, to invent some fruitful limits to climb into a higher level of… requirement.

Some go back to analogue, films. It’s expensive (you have to buy film rolls), therefore you really, suddenly, have to THINK before you trigger. It’s good to think about what we do!

What I chose to do is to know my cam enough to take the picture I want to get, without spending time to “fix” it on my Macintosh.

Thus, I often take the picture I want to get. I have to think about frames, grain, color, darkness and light, shadows. I don’t touch it, then. I sometimes reframe a bit, or add a little sharpness, that’s all. No filter, no color alteration, no RAW, etc…

I took these pictures today.

Voilà. The tool is yours : what will you… decrease, limit, in your Art-Too-Much? When you’re too rich on something, what do you stop, or choose 2%? What for? What would you win?

Thanks for reading!

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Working with what is around

ONE

I heard about a comic-strip artist who works with 3 panels. He says that he was SO used to work in this format that it became almost impossible for him to make longer stories.

TWO

As I bought a new camera, I decided yesterday to take pictures “outside viewed from my apartment only”. Here are 4 of them :

THREE

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xavier_de_Maistre was arrested – therefore he wrote “Voyage Around My Room”.

The Yoknapatawpha Rule – it’s when you write about what you know, what is around.

Fruitful Constraints & Creativity – that’s an old classic.

FOUR

There are two concepts here, who want to dance together :

  1. If you are limited by your capacities, your budget, or… what is around you
  2. If you DECIDE to invent limits and ties and constraints

You are creative. You HAVE TO.

Everything that goes wrong… goes right

TOOL

See me coming : do you need to invent constraints to be creative? Where? Can you invent? Do you have to ask someone else?

Isn’t a “given constraint” (Amor fati) a good thing? What about marriage? Or the size of a painting?

What happens when a modern photographer uses an analog camera, where he has to PAY for each picture?

What’s the difference between “What is around and you can use” (because you lack something, money or else) and “Working under invented limits”… just to be creative?

Thanks for reading!

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Treating the Fringe

When you work, there are often two parts :

  1. One part you have to deliver – and you’re paid for it. It’s the “main thing”, your job.
  2. There’s another part, where you treat yourself, or where you treat your audience…

 

“you offer them a treat” : what’s that word which is a noun and a verb? What’s that verb which sounds positive and lovely to me, and at the same time which need “well” at times : to treat well…

Question : does “to treat” contain “to treat well”, “to give pleasure”, or not?

 

It’s a two-parts-pattern all creative people know well.

If you’re a teacher and you have to teach a complicated maths lesson for 2 hours, if you’re a director and your job is to make a film to promote a train station, if you order books for a library, etc :

  1. you can do it the normal, proper way
  2. you can do it in a splendid inventive way
  3. you can play a cursor between both

 

This “3.” is interesting. How do you do it?

  1. Do you begin with pleasure and complexity aimed to an intelligent marginal group, THEN you add elements to help others to stay on the road?
  2. Or do you build the average normal job, then hide smart elements to be seen and guessed by the clever fringe?

 

If your fringe becomes too large, you’re elbowing them, good to you, but you lose the next one, who will look at you as a smart arse : not good, right?

On the other side, if you treat yourself with too much subtlety, it becomes a “private pleasure hidden, just for you”. And why not? :

Luxury is insular

 

Overthinking over it – two examples :

I talked with a friend who, in a way, complained that when you work and you add great and complicated elements on purpose, for the pleasure of resolving them (for example, a sequence-shot when you direct a movie), only a few percents of the audience will catch it (moreover : to find where to put the cursor is a mess).

Pablo Picasso explains that when he works on a complicated project for a cubist painting, he has to develop very subtle and complex balances, colors, masses, energies, frames, etc… This, as the core of his Art.
Then he adds little easy elements (like a necklace or a moustache) and then names the painting accordingly. This to… guide or please the unschooled, while the connoisseur will see the real purpose…

 

Thanks for reading! Have a great sunday!

JP

 

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Picasso’s Tools for bloggers!?

Picasso’s Tools for bloggers!?

Nah, not his cans and brushes : Tools for the mind!

Here’s what I did : I picked a great book about Picasso, from Philippe Dagen.

It’s a great book because it’s not about “Picasso’s life”, and it’s not a “catalog of paintings”. He looked for structures, patterns, tools for the mind, and showed how in many aspects Pablo Picasso is a great artist.

I took a pictures of these patterns he detected, and I’ll casually apply them into the blogging activity. You’re free, after this, to apply this toolbox to poetry, teaching, marketing, photography, baking, theater or music composition. Life’s cool, right?

  1. Discover the modern
  2. Express by the primitive
  3. Build until crumbling
  4. Invent some new codes
  5. Hold all styles in one’s hand
  6. Let loom the monsters
  7. Stare at inhumanity
  8. Pit against the present
  9. Never finish

 

These are terribly pleasant injunctions, right? It shows we can build our own roads, windows, tools and door. It shows we can dare, be casual, open, multiple. It shows we can play, have fun, plug things, juxtapose concepts, dance, be fast, and intelligent, and plugged to the now.

Have fun!

 

 

Not “Evil vs Good”, but “Chaos vs Order”

Many mainstream movies have this pattern : “Evil vs Good”, and a good villain is funny, right?

Today I’ll play a cross-game with another pattern : “Chaos vs Order”.

It can be similar : “Evil brings Chaos, and Good brings back Order”.

But of course you’re like me, sensing, that the contrary is true, and probably more interesting…

Evil = Order, like the First Order in Star Wars, and the perfectly aligned Nazis army.

Order means “every rule obeyed”, and that’s a bit 1984…

Yesterday I watched “A little Chaos“, a charming little film (directed by Alan Rickman!) : chaos brought by an inventing gardener hired by Le Nôtre – while Louis XIV was building Versailles, in France.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Little_Chaos

“Something uniquely French”? Order, but with a little chaos, or a casualness, maybe a slice of disobedience (to the rules), effortless elegance, imperfections embrace. Yeah, that’s the Parisian Elegance…

 

Well, I have this in mind since I saw “perfect gardens” – my brain was craving for fantasy! There’s a wiki for https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_garden_types –

 

Well, is it an article? Beginning with cinema, then France, then gardening? In what other fields of the human activities do we have to find our own frontier, balance, between chaos and order? In rocket science, 100% order, right? Art of Battle : 80%? What is discipline? What and where is invention? Can we have both at the same time? Differences of nature, quantity, places?

Have a nice day!

 

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“What do we displace, today, dear?”

There’s a French/English problem with the word “Translation” :

In English, you use the same word to translate a word (in a language to another language) AND to translate in geometry (which “moves every point of a figure or a space by the same distance in a given direction”).

In French, “to translate a word” is Traduire, and “to translate geometrically” is Translater. Which becomes for nouns : Une Traduction / Une Translation.

 

I had fun one day writing an article about concepts translations, which is, for example, to pick an architecture concept (“the door”, “the archway”) and to use it in another discipline (in poetry, in photography, or teaching).

“Displacing Concepts” : from Architecture to Poetry ?

 

I admit my brain is in some places connected like that : as soon as I notice a structure, I want to extract it and play with it around, in… another discipline.

  • The idea of verse in poetry would become interesting in photography.
  • The form “sonata” in music is maybe something in architecture.
  • Etc.

 

Today I take my magnifier and I realize we could do this “exercise” with other things than concepts.

  1. Methods
  2. Models
  3. Invention
  4. Team
  5. Supervision
  6. Training exercises types
  7. Risks
  8. Out of the box thinking
  9. Paradigm changes
  10. Etc

 

I know someone who studied how music pedagogy could be useful to language learning. That’s a fantastic idea!

Now this is a subject for an afternoon conversation, right?

If you don’t have a partner for that, read some prefaces or thinkers’ interviews, find the seeds and patterns, and apply them elsewhere.

What is impressionism (art) in teaching? What is a corridor (architecture) in marketing campaign? What is a fade to black (movie editing) in poetry? What can a street photographer bring to a lecturer? Etc.

Have fun. Thanks for reading!

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