Saturday, 12 January 2013

A Low Score

Jack read some of my recent blogs. He stung me: "You should aim at being comprehensible, not comprehensive".

I'm one year on from when I started posting.  My immediate justification was that one reason I took up doing this is to contribute some solid teaching thoughts into a medium overflowing with opinions.  My I say "received" teaching?  Some of your comments express appreciation for this.  I think I succeed in part.  It's not my unvarying content, but still, I don't dismiss Jack's criticism.

It's not often that I give space to my artistic bent.  I think that's what's at stake.  An artist selects a subject, or focal point, that guides the eye, intending disclosure, illumination or revelation beyond the obvious.  This encapsulates the message.   Much may be omitted that doesn't serve.  Since I've only been allowing myself one shot (occasionally two) on themes in teaching, I've erred on, "cover the whole thing, then nothing's missed out".

By contrast, if you checked though my laptop Pictures folders, you'd find some thoughtfully composed shots that follow a more artistic principle.  It's one reason I enjoy going to the Botanical Gardens.  There, I snap a nice flower - not the whole bush.  So, why don't I do it more (apart from the fact that the camera on my phone is useless for landscapes)?   And on these written compositions.

When I was about eight years old, and we had our first car, petrol filler caps broke into my consciousness.  I began to notice the position and type on every parked and passing vehicle.  Chrome ones; chrome ones with little chains, painted ones; fit-over-the-neck ones; and fit-inside ones.  Every car I drew, whatever else lacked in the draftsmanship, included a petrol filler cap.

Of course, the time came when I superseded this childish level of observation for scale, perspective, proportion, accuracy and uniformity of detail.  We smile forgivingly at the children's pictures of mummy, with a beachball head, dinnerplate eyes and myriad fingers.  An immature perceptual representation of the subject, not its objective image as we adults know.

Artists remain childish.  That repels me.

When the latest VW Golf GTI was announced, a magazine motoring correspondent compared it with the several (five, I think), antecedent models since introduction.  He let slip that the iconic focus of the first version was the filler cap and surround.  It was a tastefully engineered steel ring with eight countersunk screws.  It was lockable, set provocatively just above the waistline, hinting straight from motor racing.  When VW brought out the mark 2, they feared sales would crash.  It lacked this object of desire.  An enormous marketing risk.

Was the filler cap childish frippery, or artistic (or engineering) genius?

So 2013 has to see my postings perk up.  In any case, it sits well with the existentialist ruminations of recent months: whether I would be reassuringly stable, predictable, proper and responsible; or flawed, annoying, idiosyncratic, authentic and brilliant.

1 comment:

Aidan Ashby said...

Um, amen. I think.