Shadow and Darkness (symbols)

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Julie H, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. Sorry, my sentence was malformed. What I wanted to say is, shadows can be used as symbols of pattern or texture over a subject. See these fine examples from the Converging shadows NW. Converging shadows, lets beat it to death (one more time!) and Converging shadows, lets beat it to death (one more time!)

    To me, shadows in these examples are like a clothing or covering through which the subject is seen.

    Then there are cases, like Steve's chair or my own example below, shadows transcribe the subject, taking away the texture, leaving only the form, albeit distorted. However, they look like separate entities rather than mere shadows due to the solid black in them (texture being replaced by solid black).

  2. Here is shadow used as a pointing element

  3. And this the last one, I promise
    Shadow as container of light.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  4. Supriyo, I already said that a shadow that's used to make something else is not a "shadow" anymore. See:

  5. But .. but, a rabbit ear drawn with chalk on the wall is different than rabbit ear made with shadow, right? The shadow aspect of the shape is very much in play, and symbolic too, IMO. A rabbit ear made of shadow resembles more of a dark creature than a rabbit, there comes the symbolic aspect of shadow.
  6. For me, night is shadow - it's the shadow of the Earth. Earth's shadow - Wikipedia
    sjmurray likes this.
  7. Julie said
    "Verbally, there can be no sentences without words, no words without sounds. Meaning is not inherent in either the sounds or the words."

    Yet sound, words and sentences can convey meaning and without meaning, they are not language. Without presence of both light and dark, there is not a photograph.

  8. Ignoring the first sentence, which ... LOL ... let's consider the second.

    I just took a picture of a page in my dictionary. Light and dark. What does that have to do with the symbolism of "shadow" or "darkness"?

    Without the "presence of both light and dark," there would be no begonias, either. Which might be a good thing. On the other hand, I would miss lima beans. I love lima beans.

    In a photograph? Does the sun ever come up in Phil's night picture?
  9. From the perspective of the photographer’s eye, shadows define contour, three dimensio 16x20 farm girl.jpg nality, etc., and it arises from the directionality of the light. You need light and substance to have contour. We are in constant evaluation of these properties when looking through the lens. I appreciate what you are saying about “darkness,” which is more of a symbolic element: the unknown, mystery, emptiness, “lack of light”, etc. Personally, I am very attuned to contour, but much less interested in the darkness theme. Here’s a portrait that definitely has contour, and maybe a little “darkness” in the background

  10. Everything is made of something. Paintings are made of paint. Statues are made of stone. What we see is made of tones and colors. But if I ask ten people on the street what the various pictures posted to this thread, or linked in my second post, are "of" some of them would be "of" what people call "shadow" and many of them would not, even though they obviously contain, and/or are made out of, shadowing and/or have shadows.

    Your most recent picture, for example, is not "of" anything I would call "shadow." There is a hint of "darkness" that might or might not attract attention via its meaningful connotations.

    Your chair and curtain pictures, posted earlier, do contain "shadows," but I claim most people would not see them as being "of" or at least "about" anything in particular to do with "shadow." Rather, I see them as being to do with pattern and rhythm, which could just as easily have been rendered, in a black and white photo, via tone that is on the wall or the curtains (gray marking, paint or stain, rather than shadows) without it making any difference to the meaning and effect of the picture.
  11. Your most recent picture, for example, is not "of" anything I would call "shadow." said Julie. That's my point. One of the most important qualities of shadow is to define contour, dimensionality. Another is the graphic element as you mention about my chair and curtain photos. Shadow by itself is a relatively obscure theme.

  12. True. And yet you see people slathering black all over their pictures in post. What's with that?

    Even where "shadow" is used, I find that it's often not used well. For example, this looks like it means something, but I can't think what:

    John Gutmann The Jump 1939

    This one, however, I think is really interesting (and unusual) in that rather than shadows making the people, the people are used to make the shadows: harsh, jagged shards of obliterating shadow (purple adjectives used in hopes of provoking people to actually look):

    Tina Modotti, Workers, Mexico, 1924
  13. I think Julie is referring to shadows that have distinct personalities of their own, to have some sort of an independent life. That way, viewers can separate them from any known object and not imagine them as say, a pattern or something that's familiar.

    It's probably a little easier to make such shadows using organic shapes, like trees and bushes. When I was very young, I used to be scared seeing the shadow created by two tall trees next to our house, which always seemed to me as a monster with two huge legs. It's not that I didn't know they were shadows of trees, but every time I looked at the shadow, I couldn't convince myself that it's a mere shadow, such was it's personality.
  14. To me the Modotti image of the workers uses lack of light (darkness) to emphasize the de-personalization of the workers: we cannot see their faces, which would make them "people," "individuals."

    I guess "distinct personalities" of shadows is another modality.

  15. Is there any other kind?

    (not being a smarty; just thinking ... )
  16. This:

    Erwin Blumenfeld, Wet Veil, Paris

    ... is made out of shadows, and acts a lot like a shadow, but it's not a shadow. It's not a "trace" either (such as the shroud of Turin or a hand print), because the woman is there, she's just not visible. Considering this question has given me an enjoyable few hours (I'm doing slow masking) thinking about how clothing, especially fashionable and loose clothing, can do some of the same things as shadows, symbolically.
  17. I was hoping to have more time this morning to say the following, but I don't so I'll just have to sketch it out. Phil, you're already posting to the same tangent; I love it when that happens ...

    What I was thinking about was how "darkness" seems to have distinct flavors. If you compare the feel — quality, emanation, call, whatever it is that "darkness" does — of an Atget to that of a Sudek (what I've been thinking of) or a Braeckman (perfect additional example) that Phil has linked, they "work" differently. It's as if you can smell the particular artist in what is ... dark. Context, proportion, whatever; they're using "darkness" in a consistent, recognizable way that is surprisingly distinct, IMO.
  18. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    Phil, this is weird. Your description of Braeckman's photos remind me of the Passchendaele mud; mud that sucked life, not light, out of everything, where soldiers suffocated- couldn't breathe- even the texture of the surfaces is similar.

    (my comparison is not that odd. Braeckman is from Flanders and I had been reading about Passchendaele this week as it is the 100th anniversary of the battle at the end of the month)
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
  19. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    i'd like to see those but in person.

    to me, a lot of Braeckman's photos, at least superficially, give off a feeling of serenity and although there is an absence of the light i don't see them as 'dark'.

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