The Vignette as an Expressive Tool

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by DavidTriplett, Sep 7, 2017.

  1. "There was a child went forth every day,
    And the first object he looked upon and received with wonder or pity of love or dread, that object he became,
    And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day....or for many years or stretching cycles of years.

    Gently teased from my 1860 Thayer & Eldridge edition--mystically encased in green and gold--living and speaking things of life and wonder and sadness and laughter. Laugh with me sister, for our time is short--bring your finest and I shall bring mine.

    But you have created a disruption in the weft of my daily fabric. Now I am left to ponder again just what Walt is doing with his left hand in this evocative print;,_steel_engraving,_July_1854.jpg

    Shades of Capote and Halma, vignettes of other voices, in other rooms. TILT. The silver orb careens to its beginnings--only to rocket forward once again.

    This is all too much. I am compelled to forgo meaningful work this morning to take up Mr. Master's plaintive cast (1916 Macmillan Second Edition); wandering the vignetted panels of his Spoon River and the childhood banks of my own time on Spoon River. Where are Ella, Kate, Mag, Lizzie and Edith? On the hill, where I go to commune with them now...

    P.S. Don't get too large, that's bad for your health and you will not be able to fit into a vignette.

  2. I'll have to be brief, as the day job is cascading in around my ears, but... In my school days we routinely received assignments to create a construct that would be representational of a design principle or a structural concept. These would include such issues as "compression", "tension", "flexibility", "elasticity", "centrality", "linearity", "verticality", "torsion", etc., ad nauseum. As students we would spend long hours, late nights, and weekends, trying to figure out how to encapsulate the idea we had been assigned in an object we could afford to make and transport to the studio for a jury, all within the too-short time available before the next weekly assignment would come. I wish I had photos of some of those projects, but those records are long gone now. (I think I burned them along with a lot of other stuff following graduation. It was an emancipating step.) Like PT said, as students we invested an enormous amount of energy, intellect, time, emotion, and blood, sweat, and tears in the process of bringing concepts to life in material form. Because these projects represented and encapsulated "ideas", I would certainly call them vignettes, though of a slightly different flavor. They certainly were very personal, and directed towards a very specific concept. We also did many, many projects where we would take a building we had designed and construct a small detail component as illustrative of the themes embodied in the building design. This was necessary because we could not, obviously, ever build the whole thing. The kicker was to, first, create a building design that truly embodied the ideas and principles we said it did (There are few more traumatic yet routine abuses of the ego than an architectural jury.), and 2, then extract and construct a detail from that design that successfully illustrates those concepts. This is, in my view, the essence of vignette as I have presented it for discussion here.

    I proffer that these examples are exactly vignettes, as they respond in whole and in part to Julie's requirement that they self-consciously "show from the inside", with specific purpose and intent. Woe betide the architecture student who comes to a jury with any uncertainty about what s/he has wrought, what it means, and why...

    As translated to photography, the same principles apply. A successful vignette is meaningful in and of itself, in that it intentionally and knowingly leads the viewer to larger and more complete ideas than only that which is contained within the image. The image is symbolic of the greater whole, even if that whole is open to a certain degree of interpretation, as noted in my discussion of the coiled ropes, above.
  3. You've been an architect for too long. I mean that in the best possible sense — of inhabiting your field to the point of forgetting the paper design is not real. You've got the language so ingrained, you forget that it is mere lines on paper that you present: to you it is immediately a structure. "What s/he has wrought" is something pointed at by those lines, but it is not "there." In a photograph, it is there and the sinews and ligaments that make it belong to a single core are what the vignette is founded upon.

    "A poem [or an architectural design] does not come into existence by accident. The words of a poem ... come out of a head, not out of a hat." [Wimsatt] No such proposition applied to photographs, which more or less came out of a box. — Robin Kelsey

    [PapaTango, we are sympatico on the ... um ... can we all it a mind? ... that roams. Many, many are the times I have set out to find a book (I can never find the book) and, several hours later, resurfaced having been led from one (other) book to another (other) book and lost all memory of whatever it was that I set out to find (which invariably turns up when I'm looking for a book other than it).]
  4. Julie, now you have definitely taken the role of wisenheimer. A photograph is, by definition, an abstract, visual representation of something else, just as a drawing, painting, a model, or any other representational work is not actually the thing being represented. See Magritte's This is not a Pipe. There is a duality in any representational work, in that the meaning of the work is founded in the thing or idea being represented, but the work itself is an object as well. So, my photograph of the ropes is not rope, but represents rope, and through the rope, a whole league of nautical possibilities. The act of creative seeing and presentation belies Kelsey's assertions. If not, then photography is not and can never be art.
  5. David, a eulogy for the 120 hours sketching, cutting, glueing, revising, form through precise physical layers--all to be subsumed in a single, cutting jury; then to suffer the final indignity of demise as a discarded totem too large and now too inconsequential to preserve. To Dempsey Dumpster world with ye....

    DavidTriplett likes this.
  6. That. Is. Gorgeous!!!

    LOL. We're losing him, doc! Flatline! Clear! Applying the paddles. WHUMP

    Come back, David! [that'll heimer his wisen]

    But is Magritte's pipe a vignette? You will not divert me by offering so many tempting tidbits on which to diverge. Vignette. Vignette. Vignette.

    Your description now fits all photography. We are all wisenheimers! Wait. We already knew that.
  7. On a personal note (for me): Whether found only on paper, or in a computer, or constructed, my ideas are as real as anything else of human creation. The only difference is in how those ideas are wrought in the physical world. I take umbrage with your backhanded compliment. I know exactly what is real, physical, material, and what is intellectual, and how the two are intrinsically connected and dependent one upon the other. A drawing is no more simply lines upon paper than a photograph is simply pixels on a screen or emulsion on paper. The representational content, to the degree such exists, makes both drawings and photographs more than simply the materials of which they are comprised. Neither would exist without what AA called "the 12 inches behind the camera".
    All photography is representational. What it represents and the degree to which it does so successfully differentiates. Now, back to work for me. I'll be back later.
  8. I shall withhold all future compliments. It was *not* backhanded.
  9. Shades again and shadows....

    "Blue, blue windows behind the stars,
    Yellow moon on the rise,
    Big birds flying across the sky,
    Throwing shadows on our eyes."

    Sing it, Neil. The pungent aroma of Dunhill "Royal Yacht" wafts from Magrittes pipe. A treachery of images--real or imagined--personal or proletarian.

    I am a vignette.
    Or am I a caricature?

    The blue smoke swirls, coalescing into Gandalf-like ships of mist. Are we wizards--or magicians of place and light?

    That is a pipe.

    The reality is sullied by the coarse intrusion of PhotoShop. Must vignettes manifest authenticity? Only my hairdresser knows for sure.

    Vignette, artistic veritas, or Vicoden? Make mine 10mg of dreams.

    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  10. PT, are you sure that's Royal Yacht in your pipe?
    PapaTango likes this.
  11. [checking very carefully to see if the eyeglassed eye in PapaTango's is the same eye as the spectacled eye in the center of Supriyo's ... and they're both looking at me ... ]

    ... adding after careful study: is it PapaTango on the library with a pipe [do you remember Clue?]

    ... or is it (trying unsuccessfully to squeeze PT into Sherlock Holmes's plaid) ... Watson?
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  12. We're all looking at you, Julie. You are under constant surveillance. Big Brother (from behind your flat-panel TV), the all-seeing eye of Mordor, and the mouse in the hole in the kitchen baseboard are all looking at you and noting every move... :rolleyes:
  13. David, would you please PM me the web address for the video feed?
    Supriyo likes this.
  14. Papa, thats showing unnatural interest in a woman's private life! What's there to see anyway, except Julie banging her head over our comments, 24/7. :p
  15. All right, this has gone far enough.

    I am going to have to ask both of you gentlemen to go to this thread:

    Poll jumper

    .. and place your face very close to option #3 in the poll at the top. Remain there while I check to see if the eye disappears from the eye in the photos in this thread. If it does NOT, then you are free to go. If it does, however, I stand VINDICATED. We have ways of finding you out when you think I don't know that those eyes are up to all kinds of peepery.
  16. Consider yourself stared at!!

    DavidTriplett likes this.
  17. Ha! So you know that I have been wearing this brown paper shopping bag over my head for three days now. But do you know that it is "I" or is it not? If the brown bag that you see is a vignette, you should construe all of me therefrom.
  18. Three days only. What about before that?
    BTW, its not me u should be worried about. I am not the one pointing a camera in my profile pic.
  19. If you have a paper bag over your head, what shall we construe? Certainly not everything there is to know about you, but perhaps one specific trait? I recall an episode of Happy Days in which the Fonz asserts that "A girl who is described as having a good personality should probably have a shopping bag over her head.", or words to that effect. Now, I'm neither saying nor implying that this applies to you or anyone else. But, how might a photo, intended as a vignette, of a head covered in a shopping bag be interpreted? From where I sit, if I were to present such an image, any meaning to be derived would likely depend heavily on background, pose, and other context-giving content. An image that provided no more than a person with a bag over his/her head would likely be difficult to interpret, except, perhaps, as a commentary on the subject's self-image or the attitudes of society regarding standards of beauty, both of which could be worthwhile, but perhaps not take one as far as we would hope.

    Perhaps, then, this is the challenge (HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT TO FOLLOW!): Please (everyone, not just Julie) submit photos of a person or persons with a bag over the head, in images that are specifically intended and presented as vignettes, representational of a larger meaning or message. I'm very curious to see where this takes us.

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