Reflections on Cubism

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It’s been said that Cubism was the first style of abstract art.

It came at the start of the 20th century, when telephones, airplanes, motor cars and other inventions heralded the arrival of a new age. Art needed a way to reflect the modernity of the new era and the changing human condition that came with it. Picasso and his peers had to break traditions that had served art for centuries.

It was also around this time that Einstein’s theory of relativity was gaining ground. It was a radical way of looking at reality that broke centuries of classical physics. What used to be seen as fixed, three-dimensional reality can be bent, stretched and compressed in space-time.

And so  Cubism broke the classical point of view of a single, fixed perspective and offered multiple points of view at once. Reality was bent, stretched and compressed in both science and art.

It’s been over a hundred years. What will the next technological revolution be – machines smarter than humans? And I wonder how art will move in tandem to usher this new world.
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An Abstract Mess

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Two points of view:

“Art should look like art, trees and flowers and people, not weird shapes and splotches of color all smeared together.”
― Jennifer Estep

“Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an exploration into unknown areas.”
― Arshile Gorky

And from one of the most influential:

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.
– Pablo Picasso

We seem to be getting somewhere.

“To abstract is to draw out the essence of a matter. To abstract in art is to separate certain fundamentals from irrelevant material which surrounds them.”
― Ben Shahn

So when a photographer composes an image, choosing what goes into the frame and what does not, is he (or she), in essence, abstracting?

“Abstract means literally to draw from or separate. In this sense every artist is abstract.”
Richard Diebenkorn

I guess it only applies to artists then.

Never mind, sometimes snapshots are just as enjoyable.

Sometimes, they can be Abstract too.

Gratitude For Most This Amazing Day

At sundown today. A time for gratitude.

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“i thank You God for most this amazing” by E.E. Cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

——-
(Shot taken at dinnertime. Always a time for gratitude.)

Can Dogs Think About the Future?

I’ve often wondered if dogs can think about the future.

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Some stories of dogs “predicting” earthquakes or storms seem to suggest they can even “see” the future. But apparently, these are just cases of super-sensitivity to ultrasound or smell according to this article.

Dogs of course show excitement when reuniting with owners, and who can forget the loyalty of Hachiko, who waited for his owner for years at Shibuya station. But although these suggest that dogs can remember and associate, their perception of time is limited according to studies. Only humans have the ability to use episodic memory, which allows us to “travel through time, recalling past events and looking forward to future ones.”

I guess that ability is what allows us, humans (I’m assuming no dog is reading this post!), to plan the future. But it’s a blessing and a curse, because that probably is also what makes us worry about the future.

Worrying causes stress, specially worrying about the future.

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”
― Leo Buscaglia

But dogs have it all figured out – they rely on humans to solve almost any of their problems.

Don’t you just want to be a dog sometimes?

(Note: This is not a scientific or scholarly article, simply a string of thoughts brought about by the Future challenge.)

Talking About a Lifetime Plan

“Would it turn out right?
How to tell you, girl
I wanna build my world around you
Tell you that it’s true
I wanna make you understand
I’m talking about a lifetime plan”
– Little River Band, “Reminiscing”

Nothing beats the thought of committing to a marriage when it comes to thinking about the future. Even the act of proposing is fraught with suspense. This pair of adopted benches in Central Park, New York, seems to tell an on-going story. bench_8247bench_8252

The wedding itself is a joint commitment to the future.

Whether in Ghent with a horse-drawn carriage…
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In Saigon…
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Singapore…
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Or a beach wedding in the Philippines at sunset…
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It’s all about The Future, nothing else matters, it seems.

But it’s actually also about the present, because only when the present is full of hope and anticipation can we imagine a beautiful future.

“We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway…
And tomorrow we might not be together
I’m no prophet and I don’t know nature’s ways
So I’ll try and see into your eyes right now
And stay right here ’cause these are the good old days”
– Carly Simon, “Anticipation”

And oftentimes the future we imagine is one where we can enjoy reminiscing about today, because today is what we hope will become the good old days of tomorrow.

 

The Hills Are Alive Around Salzburg, Austria

“The hills are alive with the sound of music
With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing every song it hears.
– The Sound Of Music

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One of the most popular movies of all time is The Sound of Music. Though it was made more than 50 years ago, its message of hope in a time of war, expressed through music, has stood the test of time.

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(Lake Leopoldskron and Leopoldskron Palace)

The film was shot around Salzburg, Austria, and whether one likes to sing along to the soundtrack or not, everyone can agree that the beauty of the place is something that adds to its charm.

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(St. Gilgen)

The city of Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, is itself beautiful, but seeing the Lake District and the Alps around it was an even more heartwarming experience.

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(Lake Mondsee)

Like the film, it made me see a world where music can fill the soul, where one can be reminded of the beauty in this world.

But we don’t have to go as far as Austria. As the song goes:
“When the dog bites, when the bee stings
  When I’m feeling sad
  I simply remember my favorite things
  And then I don’t feel so bad.”
– My Favorite Things

We can always find a quiet corner in our everyday world, where we can hum a cheerful melody in our head.

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