Looking & Seeing
Images and Music
Music and the visual arts are two completely different animals. The first develops in time and cannot be taken in, in less time than the piece is long.
A painting or so, is seen at a glance and does not develop in time.
But do they?
Music cannot be enjoyed if there would be no memory of the notes and rhythms before the actual moment. The present note, hit, sound only makes sense in relation to what has already been played in the piece, hence our memory. And the anticipation of what might come. The piece may fulfill this anticipation or go against it and cause surprise. Although music plays in time, we need to see the 'whole picture' as well to enjoy and appreciate music.
A painting of photo is not taken in completely in a glance. Our eyes wander over the image, searching their path and connecting different parts of an image. With a good image, the artist has constructed a kind of road map for the eyes. The viewer is led in a certain way by the composition, light-dark contrast and many other devices used by the competent artist.
So, although music and the visual arts at first glance seem to be fundamentally different, they have more in common than meets the eye.
Coming from music, I noticed that many principles that I had used in composing my music, I could, with a little translation to the new medium, apply to my photos. Examples would be the use of dynamics in music versus the use of contrast in images. The creation of tension and the resolution of it. The use of the expected and the breaking of that expectation. The principles are the same, it's just the materials one works with, that are different.
A composition is never the end product
As we listen to a finished piece of music or look at a printed photo, we all have a slightly different experience from one another. You and I do not experience exactly the same thing when looking at the same photo or painting. With some images, there is not so much room for interpretation or differences in experience. With others, there are different worlds to be experienced. It depends on the artist and how s/he makes her work.
In most of my photos I like the element of discovery. Meaning that different people can have a very different view and experience of the photo.
New interpretations over time happen as well. Sometimes I get feedback from people who see my work and their feedback makes me see my own work, which I have had in front of my eyes for a long time, in a new way. Those moments are great. To see a new depth, new meaning or interpretation is enriching and fun.