Cosmosis

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Posted by David - January 24, 2007 - 11:01
A few more quick thoughts on aesthetics

Andrew and I met over tea (which, I daresay, was excellent) and discussed a great many things last night. A common theme in our conversation was a question of aesthetics, perhaps starting in part from what I wrote yesterday about the known and unknown, and how I said I changed my mind, a bit, after only a day and would like to reword some of what I said.

To start: I quite like the imagery of following the "horizon of the unknown", and that it is the possibilities or potential of the unknown, based on the known, which makes something interesting. We talked about how so many systems work like this -- Human vision, for example, is based on actually seeing only a very few details while the brain builds an impression of the scene that one believes is detailed but is actually largely interpolation. Just so regarding the computer graphics method I believe Jeff Boyd mentioned yesterday about, what's it called, adaptive polygon something? - in which the world closer to the camera gains more detail while those areas that aren't seen, or aren't seen well, are rendered with little detail. This gives the impression that the whole world is built in great detail because someone can only ever look in one place at once and their mind builds a detailed impression of the world.

And just so in literature! An author uses language to construct a world by giving just the right touches of description, then it comes alive as a rich and detailed impression of a world in the mind of the reader.

"Good" art perhaps gives the right touches of description (or 'information', 'the known') so that the viewer actively wonders what lies "beyond the horizon of the known". It is not about keeping things hidden or withholding information but rather about telling in a manner that reveals beyond what is told. To do this well, perhaps, is good art.

I can only hope that our project can be so suggestive beyond itself.



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