Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
|15th C. portrait of a woman holding a Forget-me-Not, hood adorned by a fly, unknown German artist|
The Painter and the Fly
Flies had featured regularly as decorative elements in the margins of medieval illuminated manuscripts and Books of Hours such as the Isabella Breviary. They began to appear in paintings from the fifteenth century onwards. Art historians who have tracked the appearances of the fly over the ensuing century and a half have divided decorously into two groups. For some time, the consensus seemed to be that flies were to be read as religious symbols, connoting sin, corruption and mortality (Kühnel 1989, Estella 2002). The well-known associations between the fly and the name of Beelzebub, ‘Lord of the Flies’, a local Philistine deity first mentioned in 2 Kings 1 and later promoted to the condition of Satan’s lieutenant, helped pin down the fly’s demonic credentials. A clear example of this is The Mystic Betrothal of St. Agnes (c. 1495/1500), by the Master of the St Bartholomew Altarpiece, in the German National Museum in Nuremberg. The Golden Legend tells us that St Agnes gave an unwanted suitor the brush-off by telling him that she was betrothed to Christ. In the background of the painting are two peacocks, symbols of virginity and resurrection, and a larger-than-life fly, symbol of the earthly lusts she has renounced......
....More recently, art historians have begun to wonder whether the fly is quite so easily to be swatted for symbolic purposes. For the fly seems also to be used, as Felix Thülemann has put it, as ‘a selfconscious representation of superior painterly prowess’ (Thülemann 1992, 543). The fact that representations of flies are often to be found in the vicinity of artistic signatures, especially those which have the trompe l’oeil form of the rolled or torn strip of manuscript, seems to heighten the association between the fly and the making, even the maker, rather than the meaning, of the work of art...
There is an ur-story of the painter and the fly, first told by Filarete in his Trattato di Architettura, written between 1461 and 1464, but known much more widely from Vasari’s brief reference to it in Lives of the Painters (Vasari 1996, I.117).
The young Giotto arrived in the studio of his master Cimabue, to find a portrait in progress on an easel.
Giotto painted a fly, seemingly poised on the nose of the painting’s subject. When the Master returned to the studio,
he attempted repeatedly to brush away the fly. Implicitly, this is the moment at which the genius of the young Giotto was noticed, and a new area of realism inaugurated. The story was quickly transferred to other artists. In his fictitious dialogue between Leonardo and Pheidias, Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo has Leonardo tell how the young Andrea Mantegna fooled his Mantuan Master by painting a fly on the eyelash of a lion in his painting of St Jerome; envious of his talents, the Mantuan master sent his uppity apprentice away to work with Bellini (Lomazzo 1974, I.93-4).
In these stories, the fly signals the art that conceals art of the painter, an ostentation arising in ordinariness, a perfecting defacement.....
When they stumble into art, flies are the ground promoted to the status of figure, a breaking through into visible significance of the blooming buzzing monotony of the insignificant, the accidental, the ignored; they are what Wallace Stevens calls ‘a repetition/In a repetitiousness of men and flies’ (Stevens 1984, 502). Where other lowly or loathly creatures have often been held to characterise the abject or the informe, flies have a more specific office. As embodiments of accident, of what just happens to happen, as synecdoches of the untransfigured quotidian, their principal signification is as the opposite of art. And yet, for that very reason, flies have whizzed and crept and tiptoed across art and writing for centuries, never quite achieving the status of a subject, of that which may be fixed in view, and yet irresistibly drawing the eye and soliciting the attentions of the forming hand.
Flies are, in two senses, a provocation to art – a nose thumbed at art’s grandiose self-esteem, and a challenge to the artist’s skill. The fly is always caught – as though on a windowpane - between the condition of emblem and phenomenon: at first sight a mere smudge, blot or blemish, which then becomes the emblem of its own obstructive phenomenality.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
During our residency in Tulsa, Oklahoma, many koi ponds decorated back yards from modest houses to the palatial Philbrook mansion. Collecting fish as a hobby has a long history. Color plays a role.
Modern goldfish, staples of aquariums and ornamental ponds across the world, are the descendants of small carp domesticated in ancient China thousands of years ago. The original fish were a silver color with the occasional mutation yielding a more colorful variation in red, orange, or yellow. The first such mutations were recorded during the Jin Dynasty over fifteen centuries ago.
It wasn’t until the Tang Dynasty, around 618 – 907, however, that the keeping of carp in ornamental ponds became popular. It was also around this time that people began isolating the fish with unique gold coloration to further breed them in hopes of producing more distinct coloration.
Even with the initial interest in the Tang Dynasty, there weren’t many truly golden fish; it wasn’t until the Song Dynasty in the 12th century that the goldfish really came into its own. Starting in 1162, the empress of the Song Dynasty ordered the construction of an enormous pond specifically for the purpose of breeding red and gold variants. From there, the practice of breeding and keeping goldfish became enmeshed and by the 17th century goldfish had even spread to Europe.
Color stands out in the murky water of ponds, no wonder the vivid colors of fish became so popular.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Gregory Ciotti explains why we are drawn to certain items because of their color. Marketers spend lots of money to determine color preferences of potential customers, so we need to know this to avoid being taken in by those who have studied color choices. Well informed = well armed, or becoming a savvy shopper:
Misconceptions around the Psychology of Color
Why does color psychology invoke so much conversation ... but is backed with so little factual data?
As research shows, it's likely because elements such as personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, context, etc., often muddy the effect individual colors have on us. So the idea that colors such as yellow or purple are able to invoke some sort of hyper-specific emotion is about as accurate as your standard Tarot card reading.
The conversation is only worsened by incredibly vapid visuals that sum up color psychology with awesome "facts" such as this one:
Don't fret, though. Now it's time to take a look at some research-backed insights on how color plays a role in persuasion.
The Importance of Colors in Branding
First, let's address branding, which is one of the most important issues relating to color perception and the area where many articles on this subject run into problems.
There have been numerous attempts to classify consumer responses to different individual colors:
Image credit: The Logo Company
... but the truth of the matter is that color is too dependent on personal experiences to be universally translated to specific feelings.
But there are broader messaging patterns to be found in color perceptions. For instance, colors play a fairly substantial role in purchases and branding.
In an appropriately titled study called Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone (depending on the product).
And in regards to the role that color plays in branding, results from studies such as The Interactive Effects of Colors show that the relationship between brands and color hinges on the perceived appropriateness of the color being used for the particular brand (in other words, does the color "fit" what is being sold).
The study Exciting Red and Competent Blue also confirms that purchasing intent is greatly affected by colors due to the impact they have on how a brand is perceived. This means that colors influence how consumers view the "personality" of the brand in question (after all, who would want to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle if they didn't get the feeling that Harleys were rugged and cool?).
Additional studies have revealed that our brains prefer recognizable brands, which makes color incredibly important when creating a brand identity. It has even been suggested in Color Research & Application that it is of paramount importance for new brands to specifically target logo colors that ensure differentiation from entrenched competitors (if the competition all uses blue, you'll stand out by using purple).