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Perception and has it improved?
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liveinabin1Offline
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PostPosted: 12-12-2013 22:12    Post subject: Perception and has it improved? Reply with quote

I heard someone mention yesterday the phrase from Homer, 'the wine-dark sea'. This has been quoted as suggesting that there was no word for blue in antiquity.
It was questioned that could it show a change in our perception overtime? He was not the only person to use this phrase to describe the sea.
My question further to this is art. Ask any decent artist and they can draw you a good representation of a human. However when we look back at art from 1000 years ago even the finest artist seem to not draw as well as an artist can today. Is this because of the style of the time or because people just didn't have the same level of perception as we do now? Or maybe the skills of drawing had just not developed?
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 12-12-2013 22:19    Post subject: Re: Perception and has it improved? Reply with quote

liveinabin1 wrote:
Is this because of the style of the time or because people just didn't have the same level of perception as we do now? Or maybe the skills of drawing had just not developed?


A combination of all of the above.
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liveinabin1Offline
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PostPosted: 12-12-2013 22:26    Post subject: Re: Perception and has it improved? Reply with quote

Mythopoeika wrote:
liveinabin1 wrote:
Is this because of the style of the time or because people just didn't have the same level of perception as we do now? Or maybe the skills of drawing had just not developed?


A combination of all of the above.


Thanks for clearing that up, as you were.
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escargot1Offline
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PostPosted: 12-12-2013 23:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

Representation is culturally defined though. What we might recoginse or need to see in a drawing of a human is probably very different from what the people who did the cave drawings would.

An artist can represent a person (or an animal, or a plant) with just a few lines. It is possible to argue that these few lines are enough - we have Man, or sabre-toothed tiger or whatever, in those few lines and anyrhing more is just detail.

Very early art is not inferior. It is like another language that we can't now understand. We can grasp those few lines though, and see what the artists saw.

I would LOVE to see the Lascaux cave paintings. They have fascinated me all my life. Cool
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kamalktkOffline
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PostPosted: 13-12-2013 02:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now we stand on the shoulders of giants. I remember from my art history class learning about a clear progression in increasing realism as artists slowly figured out things such as perspective. The artists of today may be able to paint more realistic 2d representations of 3d scenes, but that's because they have learned the rules their predecessors figured out for themselves.

Also, greek Mavrodaphne wine is dark purple http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mavrodafni, and is suggested here: http://www.nytimes.com/1983/12/20/science/homer-s-sea-wine-dark.html
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Pietro_Mercurios
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PostPosted: 13-12-2013 09:12    Post subject: Re: Perception and has it improved? Reply with quote

liveinabin1 wrote:
I heard someone mention yesterday the phrase from Homer, 'the wine-dark sea'. This has been quoted as suggesting that there was no word for blue in antiquity.
It was questioned that could it show a change in our perception overtime? He was not the only person to use this phrase to describe the sea.
My question further to this is art. Ask any decent artist and they can draw you a good representation of a human. However when we look back at art from 1000 years ago even the finest artist seem to not draw as well as an artist can today. Is this because of the style of the time or because people just didn't have the same level of perception as we do now? Or maybe the skills of drawing had just not developed?

Thought about this exact example a while back. Met theosophists who insisted that the ancient Greeks had less developed colour perception than us more spiritually and perceptually developed modern types. However, thinking about it. We only really see wine as 'red' or 'white' because we keep it in glass containers and drink it from glass. The Ancients did have glass, but usually they would drink wine from clay, leather, or metal vessels. Red wine would look dark under those circumstances. Especially at night, by the light of flickering oil lamps and fires, when poets are declaiming at their best.

A quick look at recovered polychromatic paintings from Ancient Egypt, or even better, the wonderfully lively wall paintings of Ancient Knossos, would show that perceptually the ancients were at least as advanced as us.

As to tricks of depth in paintings. The Ancient Greeks and Romans were doing some wonderful tricks with, Trompe-l'œil fresco painting, to make rooms look bigger and suggest vistas of gardens, lakes and mountains, two thousand years ago, or more.
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GwenarOffline
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PostPosted: 13-12-2013 13:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think some of the inferior art liveinabin is referencing was not art for art's sake, but art as information. And, the smaller the work, the simpler it had be. So you have characters drawn in uncomfortable positions to show dress and headdress using simple lines, and the size and position of each characters is symbolic.

I agree about Lascaux and Knossos. When they were fresh, there might have been even more depth. The wall decorations in the palace were definitely done for pleasure. When information isn't being conveyed, the artist has freedom to paint what he sees.
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Anome_Offline
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PostPosted: 13-12-2013 18:29    Post subject: Re: Perception and has it improved? Reply with quote

Pietro_Mercurios wrote:
[However, thinking about it. We only really see wine as 'red' or 'white' because we keep it in glass containers and drink it from glass. The Ancients did have glass, but usually they would drink wine from clay, leather, or metal vessels. Red wine would look dark under those circumstances. Especially at night, by the light of flickering oil lamps and fires, when poets are declaiming at their best.

This has always bothered me. Disclaimer: I haven't read Homer, and especially not in the original Greek. But the choice of words is interesting. It's not "wine coloured", but "wine dark". Red wine is certainly dark. Especially under the circumstances Pietro mentions above. The sea can also be dark, especially at night or in stormy conditions. Plus, it's poetry. The point of poetry is to find imagery and language that evokes, rather than describes.

Finally, Homer is generally thought to have been blind, anyway. So he wouldn't know the difference between a dark wine and a dark sea. They're both wet. He didn't say "wine flavoured" or "wine scented".
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 13-12-2013 22:24    Post subject: Re: Perception and has it improved? Reply with quote

liveinabin1 wrote:
Mythopoeika wrote:
liveinabin1 wrote:
Is this because of the style of the time or because people just didn't have the same level of perception as we do now? Or maybe the skills of drawing had just not developed?


A combination of all of the above.


Thanks for clearing that up, as you were.


Did you want me to ramble on about it or just put it in a nutshell? Cool
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JamesWhiteheadOffline
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PostPosted: 13-12-2013 22:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

A fascinating subject and probably best explored through the pigments which were available to early artists.

The very name of the brilliant blue Ultramarine, derived from lapis lazuli - once more precious than gold - suggests that the opportunity to represent the sea as blue was seized when it became possible.

Smile
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OneWingedBirdOffline
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PostPosted: 14-12-2013 11:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was on a first aid course on Monday where the tutor asked the class what colour they thought blood was before it was oxygenated.

So i said blue, knowing it isn't literally blue but it does get called that... however apparently it is dark red now. The tutor said that people only thought it was blue because science teachers took the diagrams in their books too literally and told people that. Confused
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jimv1Offline
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PostPosted: 14-12-2013 11:55    Post subject: Re: Perception and has it improved? Reply with quote

liveinabin1 wrote:

It was questioned that could it show a change in our perception overtime? He was not the only person to use this phrase to describe the sea.
My question further to this is art. Ask any decent artist and they can draw you a good representation of a human. However when we look back at art from 1000 years ago even the finest artist seem to not draw as well as an artist can today. Is this because of the style of the time or because people just didn't have the same level of perception as we do now? Or maybe the skills of drawing had just not developed?


I'd be interested in how well you can draw and what your perception of good art is liveinabin1. Early cave paintings like those in Lascaux are elegant and stylised. The level of sophistication is what you'd usually see developing after artists learn to portay their subjects more realistically. These aren't the images a child would draw. For instance, they used an occlusion technique to differentiate the legs on the far side from those on the front. A child would draw a body and 4 legs in a row hanging off it.

It's been suggested that these early artists were capturing the spirit of these animals in the hope they'd become more prolific in the real world.
The cave as birth chamber.
People who have seen these paintings on the wall have described how they almost look like animation in a flickering light.
So they had a grasp of how to produce a sophisticated image but when it came to depicting fellow humans, what we see is so different they could be described as the first cartoons.

Of course the level of art relies on the availability of tools, materials and pigments.
Light and location are just as important but pale into insignificance against the luxury of time to develop the skills. The fact these exist at all shows the value placed on art by a people struggling to survive day to day.

Compare this to the luxury of time, all available materials and the ton of cash Damien Hirst has. All he produces is pretty shit.
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MonstrosaOffline
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PostPosted: 14-12-2013 13:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liveinabin1 never mentioned Lascaux, that was Scarg.
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jimv1Offline
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PostPosted: 14-12-2013 15:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monstrosa wrote:
Liveinabin1 never mentioned Lascaux, that was Scarg.


That's missing the point of the example of early man/woman adopting a stylistic approach to the world around him/her.

I asked for liveinabin's perception of what good art is as it could be argued that appreciation of art by today's mass culture could be on more simplistic and less sophisticated terms than earlier in our history.

The amount of times I've heard ' That's so good - it's almost real' as a comment shows that some can be superficially overwhelmed by technique but fail to get any meaning or form any sort of relationaship with other pieces.

Lascaux is a great example and totally relevant to liveinabin's question... If Scarg hadn't brought it up, I would.

Edit... If you want realism from antiquity, just look at some of the sculptures from ancient Greece or Rome. No lack of talent there - even by today's standards.
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liveinabin1Offline
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PostPosted: 14-12-2013 19:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, my background is that I did a small amount of art history as part of my degree, but I have forgotten all of it. Mr Cake is a trained artist and illustrator. I was taught to draw by my uncle who is an art professor.

What I am talking about is not actual art that you may see in a gallery, but more sketches. Ask Mr Cake to draw a person from life and he will draw an accurate representation of a person with all the correct proportions etc.
I'm not saying that an accurate drawing is better or more valid than any other, what I am asking is could the medieval artist draw in 'realistic' style but then chose to draw in the way that they did because that was the style of the time, or was that how they interpreted the world as they saw it?

This question wasn't meant to be about art and it's validity but about human perception of the world around them. What I consider to be 'good art' isn't the question. That said, I agree that Damien Hurst is shit, you can keep your Tracey Emin as well.
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