I was bumping around from page to page and from blog to blog, obsessively checking my email for no good reason the other day when I happened upon an interesting entry by Dups (Duleepa VerylongSriLankanNameThatICan’tRememberandRarelyCouldButAlwaysThoughtSoundedCool) about his photography and perspective. Defintely worth a read and think-through. It got me thinking (hold the snarky comments, please) again about exactly how we see and what we like to see. For instance, I would suspect that more people will immediately gravitate to the horizontal photograph of the two below. They contain basically the same subject matter, just from different points of view.
The first one is more dramatic, accentuates the height of the hill and the loftiness of the position of the building (Queen’s Battery, in case you were wondering). The second shot reduces the significance of the building and accentuates the sweeping view of the city and harbour (St. John’s, Newfoundland). Frankly, the first one is the more “interesting” shot, to my mind. It’ll be interesting to see which garners the more views and interest! My bets are on the horizontal picture, just because of the fact that the eye “likes” horizontal orientation better.
Perspective and consciously using it are fascinating things, though. Most of the time, we see perspective as something that controls our reactions to things, but when you are working with landscapes, be they photographic, painted, drawn or stitched, you realise that you control the perspective that controls the way in which people see your subject matter and work. I’m not just talking about whether you can make your lines form a believable building or if your colours work properly to convey depth. I’m talking about the conscious and unconscious choices we make that allow us to manipulate an image into something more than its subject matter. Exaggerating angles, eliminating certain features, rearranging colours and shadows; all of these are modifications of “reality” that in some sense make the artistic interpretation sing.
By making decisions about display and how to hang art, we also make choices about perspective. Hang it low, and people look down into it. Hang it high and they crane their necks, trying to see. Grouping pieces draws attention away from the individual works and onto the assortment as a whole and it’s arrangement on the wall, a favourable arrangement for less powerful pieces, but not too effective for eye-catching ones, regardless of size. Lighting draws attention and can accentuate certain colours or textures in the work more than others. It’s an on-going process and doesn’t end when a piece hits the gallery wall. People take art home, hang it in their houses or offices, where its physical perspective may be entirely different. Intriguing stuff. Gets your brain ticking.
Must go and see what’s singing out from the drawing board this afternoon….