Gesture (symbols)

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Julie H, Jun 24, 2017.

  1. It has to be that one, Tim, if you look at the mom's and the kid's hands. The other one that you linked has no role of gestures in it, the way Norman described.
  2. The first time I saw the Migrant Mother image in high school history class I told myself that was my people I grew up with in south Texas in the mid '60's and didn't associate it with poverty. I didn't see it as a symbol of poverty. I didn't think I was poor. I saw it as rural farm life.

    But my history teacher made that all go away to where I saw this as some political comment on how the government needs to help these people without giving any background on who this migrant mother was and her circumstances. Was this image functioning as a documentary or a work of art?

    I never wanted to look at that image again. My history teacher made it into a symbol I didn't want to be associated with.

    I now stay away from people that look like that some of which are recovering meth addicts.
  3. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

  4. Steve that's a gorgeous picture — and perfect for our discussion.

    Look, not only at her expression and hand but at the slight lean, tilt, torsion of the body, neck and head.


    If you start from a dancer:

    Arnold Genthe, Doris Humphrey Dancing Naked, 1916

    ... body torsion plays an obvious role.

    Move to this portrait:

    Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia Engelhard, 1921

    ... and the subtle tilts and torsions with the play of hands are still at least as important as the face (and the door).

    Go to an informal picture of a public "body":

    Robert Doisneau, At the Café Chez Fraysse, Rue de Seine, Paris, 1958

    ... and, if you're looking for it, you'll notice how much her (and his) body posture and head tilt/turn contributes to her perfect hand gesture.

    Finally, please look at the Princess:

    Edward Steichen, Princess Youssoupoff, 1924

    I love this picture. Princess Youssopoff ... is not dancing naked. Compare her to Doris Humphrey, linked above. Yet I find Princess Youssopoff's still, perfect pose at least as gesturally powerful as that of Doris.
  5. Phil, I enjoyed your video. I think it may take us too far from photography, but it made me think of this:

    Gesture to history:

    Joel Peter Witkin, Canova's Venus

    Witkin is making a space: trying it on, feeling it — as well as commenting on it.

    I sometimes will "try out" a gesture that I see in a picture. I imitate it slowly, thoughtfully (hopefully nobody is watching). Feeling it by doing it seems to tell me more about it.

  6. I don't think that matters at all. It's the picture that is gesturing to me. For example, in the following, the photographer has made the bird's wing into a gesture:

    Barbara Norfleet, Catbird and Bedspring Debris

  7. Definitely. In portraits, or any other close person to person situation, there's a dynamic between the personality of the photographer and that of the subject. Rather than put my foot in it by trying to describe that, I'll give two examples to look at. Consider the photographer-and-the-subject, and compare the two pictures:

    August Sander, unemployed man

    Richard Avedon, Juan Patricio Lobato, carney
  8. I don't know ... I think you can find examples of the symbolism consuming the person (serving the photographer's ends) and you can find examples of the symbolism in the service of the person in both Avedon and Sander.

    Using two other photographers to give examples, first:

    Nicholas Nixon, Joel Geiger-Perkins School for the Blind

    In that one, I think the obvious symbolism, picked out by the photographer, completely dominates the (beautiful) face of the boy. Or to put it another way, it uses the boy's face to its ends.

    Compare to this one:

    Jerome Liebling, Blind Home

    In this, by contrast, I think the symbolism is in perfect concert with, is generative of, supports and amplifies, the conception of the man's character.

  9. I don't think that *is* a gesture. It's the consequence of a gesture; as are many, many things ... everywhere.

    What do you think of this one?

    Barbara Morgan, Spring on Madison Square, 1938

    There are two overlapping fields of gesture (big man's; little people's), and the picture's gesture is somewhere between the two.
  10. Phil, the text you linked is really good. It's probably wishful thinking to imagine anybody else will read it ... but thank you. It's good ...

    Kertész had an amazing eye.

    Here are a few more examples of his work — with gestures:

    Ballet [Phil, look, it's your performers with "real" people watching ... and painted people not watching]
    The Broken Bench
    Self-Portrait with Life Masks
  11. uncle basil.jpg Another favorite of one of mine. In this one Uncle Basil's gesture is the central focus of the image. He is telling a story and all eyes are on him.
    Norma Desmond likes this.
  12. buddies.jpg Here's a spontaneous, non directed photo of two friends of mine who were roomates. I love their chosen postures and the natural use of their hands. I love the curve of the woman on the right as she leans on her friend in a very relaxed manner.
    Norman 202 and Supriyo like this.
  13. Steve, really down to earth and unassuming captures. Makes me feel relaxed looking at them.

    It's probably wishful thinking to imagine anybody else will provide a quote from an obscure writer to explain how it can be defined as a symbolic gesture.
  14. Do not give a thumbs up or a circle with your thumb and forefinger (means A-okay here) in Russia.
  15. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    I'm picking up a bit of (visual) tension there the way the woman on our left has locked hands in order to sit like that and support her friend.
  16. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    i feel the opposite. neither of those sitting positions(poses) looks very comfortable to me.

    boys and young men always used to able to sit crossed-leg (proving they weren't wearing skirts :) ) which is another way of sitting that doesn't do you any good long term
  17. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    more clenched fists. did the sculptor have this in mind?


  18. One of the most mysterious semi-speculations is, one would suppose, that of one Mind's imagining into another.
    John Keats, Marginalia to Paradise Lost

  19. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    imagining, not melding, is so pre-spock

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