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Sunday, 21 April 2013

Act 1, Scene 8

The narrative began with Act 1, scene 1 on April 10, 2013.
To access all scenes, scroll to blog archive at the bottom of the page.

Well, for one thing, you have to consider the events of the time. Photography had become fairly commonplace, and photographers had begun their own experiments. They were certainly playing with new ideas of perception. Then there was electric lighting. Can you imagine how the brilliance of electric street lamps compared with the gas lamps we had grown up with? Suddenly there were harsh shadows and defined edges everywhere. You could not help looking at a carriage, for example, differently. Motion pictures, and stereopticons ... more and more change in the ways we saw the world. Do you remember playing with your grandmother's stereopticon? These little devices were fascinating ... still are, I think.


So, one didn't have to look very hard to find "new ways of seeing reality." To me, it seemed at first that these were all 'rule-breaking' when it came to perceiving the physical world around us. But then I thought, why not? We may not have been accustomed to these things, but they were here to stay. So, I began to wonder, if this, then why not that? If we can see a three-dimensional representation through the stereopticon, a revolutionary change in the way we saw things, then who's to say that objects in the world might not be analyzed and observed in still other ways?

And of course we cannot ignore the work of Edouard Manet ... a true genius. After Velazquez, we knew that we could take the viewer just slightly beyond the picture plane, into shallow space, and then beyond that into deeper levels within an illusion of three dimensions; and that we could then bounce that same viewer like a tennis ball off the deepest walls in the painting’s space and back to smash through the picture plane again and into the space in which he or she actually stands. And after Manet, we knew that we could also affirm the integrity of flatness. I gradually became more and more fascinated with pondering these various "planes" rather than concentrating on pictorial effects – atmosphere and so on, things that seemed more important to some of my Impressionist friends. But Monet's brush! Marvellous the shapes he could create in his brush strokes. In my own work, each brush stroke became a plane to manipulate. I suppose some would argue that my obsession with this sort of thing relegated other concerns, like colour, to lesser positions of importance; and while one cannot dismiss the power of colour to advance and recede, I do see evidence in my work for that point of view.

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Historically accurate anecdotes are especially welcome.