Tag Archives: photo challenges

Thursday’s Special at Paula’s: Organized Noise

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The notion of son organisé seems to be central to composer Edgar Varèse’s understandung of music. “Son” can be translated into both ‘sound’ and ‘noise,’ and it is the ‘noise’ part that fascinates me. For music, it means broadening the material that can be used for a composition: Varèse apparently claimed that ‘noise’ is only another word for any sound one subjectively does not like .

In my eyes the concept of organized noise begs the question of its applicability to pictures. Photography is known to record ‘noise’ in capturing the old, the broken, the decrepit – the sights someone might not like subjectively. The medium appears to lend itself to this aesthetic choice, and it has been keenly criticized for it.

But there is also the aspect of organizing noise into music – or visual ‘noise’ into pictures. Some sights overwhelm us with their complexity, some with their ugliness or apparent meaninglessness. Nonetheless, I claim that photography can be a means of reducing this complexity, or making sense of the ‘noise.’

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So, how to approach this? Here is a couple of thoughts:

  • Take your pick: Not all available ‘sounds’ have to be heard at the same time – not all the available elements have to go into the composition of the picture. Get closer, eliminate some of the ‘noise.’
  • Look for a main voice: Find a visual anchor that dominates all the other elements. Or look for a visible hierarchy of 1st, 2nd, 3rd (etc.) voices. What’s dominant? What’s just background noise?
  • Find a rhythm: Straight horizontal or vertical frame-to-frame lines can convey such a sense.

For this challenge abstract pictures may work better than those showing recognizable objects. The abstract pictures in this post were made ‘using’ the battered trash container below.

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Schilder und Schriften

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Winter is almost over (as far as the dark time of the year is concerned) and yet I did not play around with city lights as much as I had intended, so Paleica’s Magic Motto Schilder und Schriften (signs and fonts) presented a welcome opportunity to do just that. I am not sure the Muses will be good to me again, so I think this is the final post for this challenge.

Be sure to enjoy the other participants’ entries!

 

Im Holz. 1

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DSC01597-kA contribution for Magic Letters: I. The challenge is to photograph Innen which means ‘the inside’ but also carries a connotation of ‘inward’ or even ‘subjectivity’. Im Holz would be ‘in the wood’ in English – which could also have been a title I liked – and part one features two older fruit tree fractures. Life goes on here.

Project 03 | Understanding Art. KIT – TAU (2)

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As I moved around the art, the art moved me..

Kunst im Tunnel (KIT) is one of Düsseldorf’s most original museum spaces. It is literally part of a tunnel, a little odd-shaped piece of concrete left over above the actual tube and beyond a beautiful riverside walk along the Rhine river. It is very low at one end and very narrow at the other, and between the two ends, it is shaped like banana, or rather a banana box. The place is worth a visit in itself.

Tau, on he other hand, is the German word for both dew and a rope. It was chosen as a title for the collective exhibition of a class of Düsseldorf’s academy of the fine arts. The leaflet explains that no single work is ascribed to a single artist, thus drawing a parallel to both dew and a rope which are both constituted by smaller elements (the droplets, the single threads).

As a way of exhibiting art, this seems to be halfway between the art school exhibition I showed before and the museum I plan to take you to in some upcoming posts.

Let me just add that being there with a permit to photograph, I felt like a kid in a candy store.

Project 03 | Understanding Art. Interjection

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Sometimes even the most dubious characters in a mystery novel have a lot to say. In Ben Aaronovitch’s Whispers Underground, an artist speaks his mind: “There’s no point asking what a piece of work means, you know? If we could express it in words, do you think we would have spent all that time bisecting a cow or pickling a shark? Do you think bisecting a cow is somebody’s idea of a fun fucking afternoon? And then to have stupid people come up to you and say, ‘It’s very interesting, but is it art?’ – yes, it’s fucking art. Do you think I’m planning to eat the fecking thing?” (p. 285)

I kind of like the reasoning here: Art can be defined by the use we make of it. And it is hard to talk about. So why not try to understand it non-verbally? That’s what my March/April project is about. You can participate! Details can be found here and on the ‘2015 Projects’ pages.

Project 03 | Understanding Art

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Making pictures helps me understand history and memory as well as architecture or nature or the aesthetics of a movie. In contrast to scientific understanding, I would like to call the insight I find using photographs aesthetic understanding. The goal may well be beyond language.

Now this idea seems to be supported by a rather new book about visiting museums. Among other things, the author suggests we make photos of the works we see: “Taking pictures is also a way of connecting to and participating in the art, as it unleashes our excitement and involvement. Taking a clever picture can lead to more meaningful interaction with art. […] Challenge yourself, not by attempting to capture the artwork itself, but your experience of it.” (Johan Idema, How To Visit a Museum. Tips for a Truly Awarding Visit. Amsterdam: BIS, 2014)

For this month’s project, the challenge is to make clever photos of a work of art, capturing your experience of it. If the museums you visit are too restrictive about photographing the exhibits, try to find an artwork that is displayed in public – I am sure there will be plenty of them once you start looking.
Since the projects I have in mind for this year are not simple, I decided to switch to a bi-monthly rhythm, giving us all more time to come up with ideas (or time to post more pictures).

The pictures in this post were taken at an art school where I happened to visit a students’ exhibition a couple of weeks ago. The works were on display in the studios, giving the exhibition an atmosphere of authenticity and immediacy, making the visitors part of it all.