Saturday, January 27, 2007

Blackpool semi-abstract

click photo to enlarge
What's the difference between represent- ational art and abstract art? Well, most people would say that abstract art doesn't depict objects that you can see in the natural world, whereas representational art does. That gets somewhere near the heart of the matter. However, many artists have a problem with the term "abstract", and prefer "non-figurative" or non-representational" to describe their work.

That being the case, how are we to describe, say, Cubism - the early twentieth century style of Picasso and Braque. Their images included people with compound faces seen from multiple points of view, guitars that are unlike real guitars, and shapes and colours that intersect with recognisable objects, but which are like nothing found in the natural world. Interestingly, these paintings were, at the time, and for many years after, described as "abstract art". Today however, with the experience of decades of completely non-figurative art, we would no longer use that term. "Semi-abstract" is now sometimes used as a description of art that uses a mixture of figurative and non-figurative components, or that uses figurative components in a way that emphasises, say, their pattern, colour or shape. And, what applies to fine art painting also applies to photography.

I was thinking about this when I was deciding how to categorise this image that I took on Blackpool's South Promenade. It features the "fish-tail" of the vane that revolves a seat to ensure that the users are always turned away from the wind; the 235 feet high summit of "The Big One" roller coaster; some odd clouds that were originally vapour trails; and a deep blue sky. The image doesn't seek to tell you anything about each of these components - it is semi-abstract. Instead you are invited to take pleasure (if it is there to be found!) in the odd juxtaposition of these strong, strange shapes, and the combination of intense and subtle colours. Oh, and (if you haven't read the description above) to wonder what on earth these things are! To capture this image I used a wide zoom lens at 28mm (35mm equivalent), with the camera on Aperture Priority (f8 at 1/500 second), with the ISO at 100 and -1.0EV.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen