Weekly Photo Challenge – Face – ep. 2

Philosophical banter

In the first post that I wrote in reponse to this weeks WordPress Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge topic of Face, I mentioned the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, whose famous bust has often been referred to as the pinnacle of beauty.  On this lovely Sunday, let’s ask ourselves: What is beauty?

Nefertiti_bust_(right)
Nefertiti

Beauty is a characteristic of an animal, idea, object, person or place that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure of satisfaction. The experience of “beauty” often involves an interpretation of some entity as being in balance and harmony with nature, which may lead to feelings of attraction and emotional well-being. Because this can be a subjective experience, it is often said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

There is evidence that perceptions of beauty are evolutionarily determined, that things, aspects of people and landscapes considered beautiful are typically found in situations likely to give enhanced survival of the perceiving human’s genes. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, culture, social psychology and sociology. An “ideal beauty” is an entity which is admired, or possesses features widely attributed to beauty in a particular culture, for perfection.

The experience of “beauty” often involves an interpretation of some entity as being in balance and harmony with nature, which may lead to feelings of attraction and emotional well-being. Because this can be a subjective  experience, it is often said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

There is evidence that perceptions of beauty are evolutionarily determined, that things, aspects of people and landscapes considered beautiful are typically found in situations likely to give enhanced survival of the perceiving human’s genes.

Bianca-Babine_MG_10186
Bianca

 

The earliest Western theory of beauty can be found in the works of early Greek philosophers from the pre-Socratic period, such as Pythagoras. The Pythagorean school saw a strong connection between mathematics and beauty. In particular, they noted that objects proportioned according to the golden ratio seemed more attractive. Ancient Greek architecture is based on this view of symmetry and proportion.

Plato considered beauty to be the Idea (Form) above all other Ideas. Aristotle saw a relationship between the beautiful (to kalon) and virtue, arguing that “Virtue aims at the beautiful.”

Classical philosophy and sculptures of men and women produced according to the Greek philosophers’ tenets of ideal human beauty were rediscovered in Renaissance Europe, leading to a re-adoption of what became known as a “classical ideal”. In terms of female human beauty, a woman whose appearance  conforms to these tenets is still called a “classical beauty” or said to possess a “classical beauty”, whilst the foundations laid by Greek and Roman artists have also supplied the standard for male beauty in western civilization. During the Gothic era, the classical aesthetical canon of beauty was rejected as sinful.

Later, the Renaissance and Humanism rejected this view, and considered beauty as a product of rational order and harmony of proportions. Renaissance artists and architect (such as Giorgio Vasari in his “lives of artists”) criticised the Gothic period as irrational and barbarian. This point of view over Gothic art lasted until Romanticism, in the 19th century.

Philosophy is interesting, but, of course, all of us know that there is more to life than the pursuit of beauty, unless one talks about inner beauty that radiates from a person.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Inspired by the Daily Post WPC – Face

Author: jansenphoto

A Fresh Perspective Photography is more than just a vehicle for capturing the world around me; it provides me with a palette and a set of brushes, with which I paint not only what I see, but also look to express the emotions that are evoked by the scene in front of me in that moment. Growing up in the Netherlands exposed me to a wide cross-section of visual arts that laid the foundation of my photographic view of all that surrounds me. Early influences were the Dutch Masters of the 17th century, to whom I was introduced by my grandfather during museum explorations; favorites among them are the scenes of quotidian life depicted by Jan Steen and Frans Hals and the vivid landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael. My classical high school education was supplemented by the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum, where I spent many a lunch hour exploring its great collection. Here I was introduced to surrealism with a particular love for the approach taken by Salvador Dali; Dali also rekindled my appreciation for the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who often showed the folly of us mortals. Universal Connections My approach to any photographic subject is to look for understanding first; in this I look to establish either a connection between the viewer and the subject or capture the connection of the subject with its surroundings. The captured image then aims to portray this connection from a perspective that is part of my personal interpretation. This interpretation is often a form of externalized introspection, which may alternately display the connection of isolated beings and items with their environment or highlight the whimsy of the profound world, in which we find ourselves. The universe is full of connections, many of which are waiting to be discovered; part of my journey as a photographer is to document these connections. Any assignment, be it an event, a product shoot or a portrait session is always approached through communication with the client; this is where the first connection is established. Ideas are exchanged and a collaborative plan of action forms, ultimately resulting in a set of images that aim to exceed the expectations of each client. And, lest we forget, it is important to have fun while practicing the serious business of photography!

10 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge – Face – ep. 2”

  1. Thank you, Frank. I’ve struggled with my own conception of beauty – outer and inner – and your blog helped to remind me that I’m not alone. 🙂 Also, I love what you said about inner beauty radiating out from within. That is definitely my experience. Blessings.

  2. This was very interesting. I highly believe that some of our underlying attraction to another is based on qualities that will be genetically advantageous to our offspring. Although I think this is at a subconscious level and I have pondered this as I have later reflected on certain genetic qualities that we have passed on to our children.

    1. Glad that you liked it. Evolutionary biology supports what you say across a wide variety of organisms. Beauty has varying definitions across differing organisms, but it does tend to translate to genetically advantageous.

      Having read quite a bit on evolutionary biology, I find it interesting to observe the rapidly changing definition of beauty in society, as the pace of change is clearly outstripping the genetic rate of change.

      Lots of interesting things to think about!

      Be well,

      Frank

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