Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Blank Horizon or Crowded Wall?

All of the seemingly simple things we see in the natural world are underlain by complex phenomena. As we learn by "taking apart” we come to analyze “complex” vs. “simple” in the phenomena we observe.

I sit on the MFA European paintings Gallery, an imposing room of heroic proportions surrounded by dramatic paintings of the late Renaissance. Each painting is filled with detail, sparkling with movement. Each painting provides challenging images of great depth, perspective, and visual insight.

As a museum patron I am asked to focus on each painting individually. But I expect I am also responsible somehow to take in all these images at once, like some kind of ornate circus. Why else would they be organized the way they are in this room?

Immediately my mind is drawn to the opposite--or is it the opposite-- scenario? The beach at Reid State Park on George's island, Maine. There the waves crash or roll gently onto a mile-long strip of sand, their noise a thousand concerts, their breaking arcs a baroque empire of color and contrast. This is where I first discussed with Victor the question of blank horizon vs. busy wall.

Are the waves on the beach and the pictures on the wall different? Or are do they both share similar qualities? Both are replete with images and sensed impulses, noisy even as they are silent.

And there at Reid I pick up my head and stare at the horizon. I search for a swell, a cloud, a bird, an island. I see only the lonely horizontal of the spot where sky meets the ocean. That place is simplicity itself. A straight line against an open space, the bisecting signal between two great panels of color. Yet in its silence it is somehow alive with the noise of life and a living planet. The noise I feel (I cannot hear it) is a visual noise as well, borne in the tension between two great masses, the atmosphere above and the water below.

So I ask, which is "busier," the horizon or the wall packed with art? Which is more peaceful? Which one more pleasing to the senses? Aside from their major difference (one is the product of human endeavor and the other a purely natural phenomenon), how do we distinguish between the two?

Which of our senses do we engage when observing, comparing the two? What kind of meaning, if any, do we invest in them? Is there a value to one above or different from the other?


  1. Yes this post makes sense to us because it was written with great fluidity and language that is easily understandable. You are trying to explain the connection between are and science that takes place in the MFA. Well when you are in the MFA you are there to observe and analyze the pictures in front of you. Likewise, at the beach you are absorbing the beauty of the horizon and documenting it through this blog post, through the series of questions at the end talking about natural phenomenon, human endeavors, etc. It directly connects art and science. Through the observation of art you analyze the aesthetics of your surroundings. I would add a picture of the two contrasting views that you are discussing.

    Sammy Nassif
    Alli Armstrong
    Meg Shepro
    Alana Rockoff

  2. Kate Schade
    Molly Gagnon
    Tali Sandel
    Haley Carter

    Blank Horizon or Crowded wall?

    The essence of the horizon is more calming and peaceful in comparison to the crowded wall with art. It's pretty obvious whats going on in the horizon, less for interpretation, you can analyze for a while and really appreciate the essence. For the wall full of art, there's more chance to miss something, you can analyze for a long time and still have the opportunity to miss important facets of the art displayed. When looking at a painting on the wall, the painter wants us to use our eyes to analyze the art, but the crowded walls and rooms of museums triggers the rest of our senses, and can influence our analysis of the art on the wall. When analyzing the horizon, all of our senses should and can be used. The horizon has more of a personal value, the paintings have more of a cultural and educational value. Although it is not necessarily right to pick one over the other, most people will pick the horizon to view because it has more of a creative and intimate value to us.

    Solving Problems...

    Its important to analyze the individual pieces, but just as important to remember to put the details together in order to get the big picture and big impact. It's really hard to sum up an analysis in one word and still ensure the reader understands the content of the piece. Collectively, we think that thinking abstractly helps solve problems, not only in art, but in every day life - and science - therefore we agree with Prof Hammer. We are excited to apply this technique to our learning experience this year!

  3. We think the posts in "Solving Problems by Taking Apart & Abstracting: An Exercise in Aesthetics" shows us how to interpret and present details in words capable of conveying a message to people. It clarifies how to explain interpretations in a way other people can understand. They approach the idea of connecting art and science by observing things in its natural, blatant state to convey the artist's abstract point of view. These posts relate to aesthetics because the things we feel with our senses directly connect us to our surroundings. The pieces of art crowded on the wall are experienced differently depending on the viewers while the sand on the beach feels the same to everyone but we interpret these senses differently by feeling our own independent emotions.

    Indira Plaisimond
    Doug Lewis
    Josh Freeman

  4. Both of these posts made sense logically; the language used was both thoughtful and relatable. It's clear that the purpose of both of these posts was to convey the relationship between art and science,and how both elements are essentially inseparable when you delve a little deeper. In both of these works, observation is the opening factor. The observation of artworks and nature is where we begin. Our goal of documenting is met through the description of the artworks and natural phenomena, and in particular, the second post's special attention to the WAY we document our findings (i.e. limiting to a certain number of characters). The analyses of both situations are first, analyzing an aesthetic experience in terms of both scientific and artistic examples; and second, analyzing a work of art using a scientific process. The process of aesthetics is realized in both of these posts by representing subjects that are aesthetically pleasing as well as offering a sense of how one might respond or analyze either situation. In relation to Darwin's "Tangled Bank", which praises nature's instinctive and effortless kind of artistry, the first post addresses directly what he describes through the description of Reid's Beach. However, while an artist himself might create an artwork with significantly more effort, the elements and details that he includes can create a sort of "tangled web" as well. We all thought that the posts were quite thorough, and did not need any supplemental work.

    Abby Danowitz
    Elyse DaSilva
    Michelle Grbic
    Jake Denike

  5. We think both posts, "Blank Horizon or Crowded Wall," and "Solving Problems by Taking Apart & Abstracting: An Exercise in Aesthetics," are not difficult to understand with the right amount of analyzation and abstract thinking. We as a group found the two posts easy to understand because the way in which they were written; they took a complex idea/thought and explained it through a means in which was easy to understand [simple descriptions for paintings and the comparison of museum walls filled with paints and the horizon of the ocean]. In the post, "Blank Horizon or Crowded Wall," I think the point trying to be made is that all things have complexity, no matter what is perceived at first by the viewer. The museum wall is crowded with paintings of the Renaissance and possibly artwork that one's mind may not understand at first, therefore making appear complex or "loud." On the other hand, the horizon line against the sea appears serene and simple, however, with deeper insight and knowledge one can understand that complexity lies above and below the line of the horizon. Our goals in this class to observe, analyze and document align perfectly with these two posts because they encourage the reader to practice all three of these processes to understand the true complexity that lie within these somewhat simple ideas or thoughts. These posts connect art and science in the literal sense, that a natural phenomenon is being compared to a man made art display-- but also, we are using a process of analyzation that would be used in the scientific world to understand the complexity of artwork. Aesthetics is in both posts in the pure way of what in these two circumstances is appealing to the eye and how that sense analyzes the picture or image to better understand it's meaning in the world. "Abstract and Articulate" connections: the whole idea of a wall of art being "loud" is an abstract idea, while the horizon on the ocean is more of a straightforward view point. In the end each individual observes their surrounding differently through their senses, these perceptions of the world can and often do lead to the connecting of science and art. If we were the writers of these posts we would have added visuals for the viewer.

    Kevyn Garcia
    Sasha Atigehchi
    Sam Raheb
    Camila Levinson

  6. Both of these post were read by Lauren Backus, Anna Dreyer, and Alyssa McFarland. The first post, "Blank Horizon or Crowded Wall?" reminds us both deeply of our first semester at BU, when we covered the idea of the sublime in rhetoric. After reading classic transcendentalism articles, we read an article by BU author William Giraldi, who spoke of his struggle to find the sublime in the city, for his young son, and worrying the sublime could only be found in nature. They make us feel familiar with the material addressed, and wonder once again whether the life in nature or the life in the urban environment is to be preferred. After visiting places like Walden Pond this past semester, we all can understand first hand how in nature, and in complete and utter silences, the world can seem very loud. Suddenly all the problems and all the worries of our lives seem to both come to the surface, yet we manage to feel at peace. Being in nature puts things it total perspective. It's harder to find that in the city, but it is indeed possible, like at an art gallery. There is not one better than the other, we must learn to appreciate the best parts of each place. They are the blend of art and science in our lives, and the beauty and wonder at each place is what makes us human. We do wonder how the article could have been advanced if the word "sublime" had been mentioned, however! For the second article, we were all reminded of the social media of today, specifically twitter. Twitters, like the ones we just created, can only be spoken on in 140 characters, which is not too far off from the word counts the author writes about. On another note, the shortened explanations of the art in the second reading reminds us of an abstract type of poetry, focusing on colors, the senses, and feelings. Once again, we are reminded of how art and science, words and emotions are connected, and that nothing is as distant and disconnected as it seems. Some of the descriptions seem more public than others, even more obvious, while others seem incredibly intimate, almost like we are reading a secret. The colors and shapes make us wonder at the artists true intent, for the author of this article, as we as readers as well, could be totally, completely off. Both works definitely give the reader perspective, and illustrate how the human world is more connected than we often realize.

    Lauren Backus
    Alyssa McFarland
    Anna Dreyer

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  8. Yes, these posts are understandable because we broke it down in order to interpret the meanings of each blog. Both blogs took complex ideas that were not understandable before and broke it down into sections in order to easily understand what the authors were trying to get across. I think both blog posts were trying to get across that even though things are complex, you would understand the ideas if you break it down. The posts lead the reader to a different way of understanding the world around us. The posts provide a way of reaching the goals by showing us the way to properly observe, analyze and document what we see by breaking images down and viewing them as separate parts of a whole. In the natural world, we must be able to recognize processes and objects as whole entities comprised of smaller particles and components. In similar fashion, art must be looked at with an acute consideration of many components. Artists take great strides to create pieces that are complex, while remaining aesthetically pleasing. This appears naturally in our world. As the posts are brilliantly written, we would add nothing.

    Allie Silber
    Carly Klein

  9. We think the "Blank Horizon" post is very straightforward and was very personable, but the "Solving Problems" seemed a little more confusing. Both stories touch upon the need to critically think and go beyond the first impressions of things. In "Solving Problems," each wood carving was "decomposed" in the sense that it was described in simpler components. This is similar to what needs to be done in the laboratory.More complex concepts need to be taken apart in order to be understood. Science and art are essentially the same in that they both take complexities and break them down into simple forms in order to truly understand their function or message. "Solving Problems" describes the picture and the visual impressions that it portrays. "Blank Horizon" explains how viewing art and nature are both pleasing to the eye. As the writer, we would add more opportunities for readers to sense the same experience as what is described. We each have different aesthetics, so we would all experience events differently.
    Rani Pan
    Carina Cruz
    Edo Ohayon
    Neil Browne
    Nick Schroth

  10. We think they do a lot to enhance our own concept of how we learn in relationship to the idea of metacognition. The disparities between the two depictions of waves in the MFA and in real life allow for an expansion from how we would typically go about observations. They ask you to not just consider one thing, but multiple so that you can get a better idea of your basis for understanding. It encourages a consideration of every interpretation provoked by the study of the two aesthetic forms. It demands an expansion from our typical concept of analysis. It offers a stimulation of all the senses, and helps them grow with a more unconventional observation of aesthetics that is made possible by a fusion of art and science. The second blog post about the word limit illustrates how the precision of science offers a communicable articulation for the more abstract art world that may have been previously inaccessible. It relates back to the idea from the first readings that stress the importance of using the small specific details to gain a greater understanding of the whole.

    Hallie Armstrong
    Hayley Krugman
    Renee Wool

  11. Blank Horizon or Crowded Wall
    The article confuses me, it seems to have an underlying proponent that makes the reader question beauty as a definition, and especially whether man made creations can be as beautiful as natural phenomenon. It also touches upon paradoxical complex simplicity found in life. The article directly states observation and analysis, however there is not much physical documentation. Mental documentation in the form of memory is present, unfortunately it can often be unreliable. It connects arts and science through a metaphor comparing the beach to a baroque painting. Aesthetics is the philosophy of beauty and what is beautiful, the article compares nature to man-made creations viewed as beautiful. If I was the writer I would add in another example, or metaphor to compare nature and man-made objects, to strengthen my argument.

    Solving Problems by Taking Apart & Abstracting: An Exercise in Aesthetics
    The second article, Marshall, makes sense in that it tries a “less is more” approach. I’m not entirely sure how they relate to our goals of documentation in a more conventional scientific sense, but I can understand the process of heavy analysis in order to create a concise description of it using only a single word. I suppose it connects art and science through analyzing the science of aesthetics and using contemplative learning to identify why one enjoys a piece of scenery and thus come up with a better understanding of how to analyze it? I suppose I really wouldn’t know what to add since it feels like such an abstract and personal piece.

    Joe Renzi
    Matthew Pinheiro

  12. In our group, both blogs made sense to us. We saw the importance of detail and analyzing each piece of art. Although they were a little complex to understand at times, especially the second one, the main idea was clear by the end. They are trying to get across the idea of describing objects in a way that it can be understood universally. In terms of our goals of observing, documenting, and analyzing, it's a perfect example of how we should go about them. In the second blog, it describes those three steps perfectly. The three different descriptions of the artwork shows exactly what we should be able to do when we analyze the work. The less words the better as long as it's a concise statement. These posts relate to the process of aesthetics, because they both connect the appreciation of the beauty of the artwork/piece with the readers own analysis and thoughts. They're both aesthetically pleasing just in different forms. If we were the writers of these posts, we really don't think there's much to add. The only thins is that in the first post, the author describes the horizon with details and thoughts beyond what he literally sees. Therefore, maybe if he could do the same with the wall of artwork it would be nice because it would his deeper thoughts in regards to the wall.

    Michael Dillon
    Gina Ford
    Jessi Mitrovich
    Ashley Toppel
    Alexa Vazquez
    Angie Buitrago

  13. The "Blank Horizon" makes each of us question what we see. Being at the location of a painting allows oneself to create their own views on what they are seeing, while looking at a painting allows one to see the perspective of another person. A painting allows people to see an interpretation of reality. Our group would each rather be at the location ourselves and form our own views, and process the effects of what we see individually. In the "Exercise in Aesthetics," by narrowing down what we see in a painting, we can get to the true essence of what the painting depicts. These two articles helped us learn how to break down a painting and simplify it to different factors, in addition to looking beyond just the bigger picture of what is being shown. These relate to aesthetics because our way of analyzing what we see, uses our sense of sight to create our own conclusions. Through these exercises, we can get an idea of the abstract, and through that, get to the articulate. If we could add to the articles, we would mention that these exercises involve a lot of deep thought and creativity, and conclusions cannot be made based off of a simple glance at an artwork or view.

    Casra Salehomoum
    Maura McGrath
    Eric Rogan
    Brandon Mojahed

  14. How we feel about visual stimuli, I feel like it heavely depends on how peaceful we feel inside. I've been to the MFA quite a few things, and sometimes I feel overwhemelmed by all the ornate works in the European galleries, and more at peace at a more spread gallery, usually the Ancient Greece one. When it comes to contemplating the world in a fuller way, using all the senses, where there's no premeditated angle or focus, and we have to create a perspective for ourselves, or none at all, that's complexity. I think both can be as busy or tangled, but it is easier to come to the conclusion that the scene at Reid is more peaceful since it's easier to connect to nature.

    Alejandra Rodriguez