The Sound of Beauty (as Music)
Scott Guyon 5/29/14
To ‘see’ a beautiful object or travel in a beautiful space is the experience of Beauty at the level of the visual. Now we will explore the nature of Beauty when it is experienced in the realm of ‘hearing’; that is to say, when the Maker embarks on the arrangement of sounds in order to evoke our deepest origins.
Music has a unique property that can be experienced as the most direct of all expressions. It is a property that vibrates immediately into our awareness. Setting aside the fact that it can be recorded and later replayed, it is an experience that comes to us, permeates us, and then it is gone! What is left behind is a kind of ‘ghost’ or lingering perfume that remains without any object-quality. This ‘quality’ has within it the source of our true nature; prior to thought or concept, and is seamlessly joined to everything it touches.
Beauty in its most subtle form……………….
Beethoven - String Quartet No.14 in C sharp minor http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBuBVmHPh54
Bill Evans-My Foolish Heart http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2LFVWBmoiw
Debussy: Nocturne (1892) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyZJ3rNb4xM
Blue in Green by. Miles Davis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoPL7BExSQU
The Painting of Beauty (as in Cézanne)
Scott Guyon 5/15/14
“One moment in the life of the world passes. To paint the reality of that moment and forget everything for that. To become that moment, to be the sensitive plate. To give the image of what we see, forgetting everything else that has happened before our time.”
Paul Cézanne, artist
The two-dimensional surface of the artist’s canvas can become a ‘platform’ for the expression of Beauty that can evoke the deepest connection with the core of our experience. Such is the case with the painter Paul Cézanne.
As Cézanne explores the world around him, he returns again and again to the same view or the same subject. This is not mindless repetition; it is, rather, his relentless fascination with the origin and essence of ‘seeing’ or perceiving. As his exploration deepens there is a dissolving quality of the viewed object in which the separation of pieces and parts begins to ‘melt’ into the seamless quality of oneness.
In this way, he is taking us back toward the source of our experience prior to the naming of the object. This is the territory that lies just prior to our minds rising up to explain (in words) what we are seeing. This is what we know to be true. This is the ‘gut’ feeling or the ‘heart-knowledge’ that is certain to us. This is the territory of Beauty!
The Space of Beauty ( as Space)
Scott Guyon (5/7/14 )
If Space is thought of as the counterpart of Form then it presents itself to us as what Form is not. In others words, an object needs the space around it to be known as the form that we perceive.
Now let us suppose that we are going to make a beautiful space that will not require an object within it for us to have the experience of the Space itself. When the Maker (artist, architect, etc.) of such a space proceeds from this premise then the resulting ‘shaped-space’ can communicate to us a profound sense of power and beauty.
The power of these spaces lies in an indescribable message that exists somewhere beyond our ability to name such a space as an object. Most of us, have at one time or another walked into a breathtaking space. In nature, it could be the Grand Canyon or in a building it can be found in a medieval cathedral. In any case, there is a shock-wave of awe that ripples through our senses as we are delivered right to the heart of Beauty……as Space.
The Form of Beauty ( as Form )
Scott Guyon (4/29/14)
When an apparent object is shaped or fashioned by a maker (artist, architect, etc.) it offers the possibility of entering a new realm. As we view or experience that object its quality arrives at the doorway of our senses as one complete perception. The mind will then rise up and begin to ‘divide and conquer’ the immediacy of the experience. We will question as to whether the object is smooth or coarse, thick or thin; or whether it belongs to this category or that category. However, if we stay close to our raw experience then the object will communicate to us the origins of its true intent…………and if the maker of the object is aligned with that essential nature then that object will enter a new realm.
This realm is Beauty.
It is surprising! It also becomes clear that although the object has so-called objective qualities (surface, shape, mass, etc.) the effect of this experience has a dissolving quality that suggests that the object is evoking this sense of Beauty while at the same time ‘giving way’ to its lack of solidness.
Whether the object is regular in shape or derived from the natural world or fashioned to depict a shocking ‘new’ form the effect is the same; it takes our senses out beyond any label and leaves us swimming in our direct experience.
Natural Beauty and the placed Object ( ‘diamond in the (beautiful) rough’ )
Scott Guyon (4/17/14)
"Art (architecture, music, etc.) heals the fundamental malaise of our culture, the feeling of alienation, despair, separation, the longing for love.
We do not view a work of art, we participate in it. The nature of art is to bring back the world we have rejected, the world that we have deemed other, separate, made out of dead matter…to bring it close, intimate, to realize our self as one with its very fabric.
……..The role of the artist (architect, musician, etc.) is to transmit to humanity the deepest experience of reality. Art is remembrance. It is love. It is like a sword that distinguishes between appearances and reality.
Beauty is the form of God. “
Rupert Spira, poet and teacher
We have previously looked at the ‘arranged’ natural landscape, now let us look at another approach to Beauty; the beautiful object ‘placed’ in the untouched or found landscape. As before, the maker(s) has the same objective …. to evoke, trigger and inspire that which is often lost in our daily experience; the encounter with our deepest nature. Whether this encounter with our ‘sense’ of Beauty is caused by an object made by a trained maker or it is inspired from a native intuition the result is the same. (see below- F.L. Wright’s house in Pennsylvania or the tribal ‘tree-house’ from Indonesia)
So, again and again, when the Maker is inspired by a calling that flows from our deepest nature the resulting ‘form’ will be saturated with this understanding and it will infiltrate our experience and leave us ‘speechless’……………. until the mind starts up again and attempts to explain the unexplainable.
Natural Beauty-‘Arranging the landscape.’
Scott Guyon (4/10/14)
“The greens should be ranged together in large masses as the shades in a painting; to contrast the dark masses with the light ones, and to relieve each dark mass itself with little sprinklings of lighter greens here and there.” Henry Hoare- landscape designer
If the maker of Beauty (artist, musician, architect, etc.) is to succeed in evoking a sense of our true nature then it is sometimes necessary to ‘rearrange’ or intensify what would otherwise be a ‘found’ or natural setting. Such is the case with a landscape garden or park.
All of us, at one time or another, have had a ‘special’ experience while standing or walking in a landscape. The combination of the sun’s angle, a dramatic contour or overwhelming greenery with floral color can trigger the experience of being ‘transported’ out of time and into the realm of suspended wonder. The landscape maker takes the elements of nature and ‘rearranges’ these elements to suggest a natural ‘place’ that in reality has been composed.
Why would we do this?
For the simple reason that when this designed landscape succeeds it engenders a powerful memory of our true origins. We have an experience that ‘jumps over’ the organizations of the mind and takes us directly to a connectedness with all that is. Heading ‘home’ is the direction it takes us and we love this journey because it rings with the sound of who we truly are.
Beauty at work.
The Color of Beauty
Scott Guyon (3/24/14)
Color is always a direct experience that goes right to the heart of our senses. It is ,after all, always derived from ‘white’ light. The daylight, when filtered through a glass prism, divides itself into a spectrum that we perceive as individual colors. It is as if we have ‘unlocked’ this display and are then invited to place these colors around our environment as a delightful reminder of the multiplicity and diversity of the natural world.
A field of wildflowers or the markings of a colorful bird are simply ‘reflections’ of the ever-present daylight expressed back to our eye at the particular vibration that we call ‘red’ or ‘green’ or ‘blue’, etc. Even beyond the phenomenon of ‘seeing’ there are other vibrational frequencies that a musician can use to create ‘sounds of color’ at the level of ‘hearing’.
In Architecture, color can be used to evoke a feeling of ‘depth’ in a room or to express a sense of playfulness. As with other aspects of Beauty, the message is delivered directly to our hearts in a way that ‘goes round’ the thinking mind and lingers as a kind of perfume in our experience. Again, our senses are the instruments that deliver to us this ‘food’ that we know as Truth but which words will fail to explain.
Approaching Beauty -“the nuts and bolts”
Scott Guyon (March 27, 2014)
The architect Frank Lloyd Wright was once asked if he believed in God. He replied, “Yes and its spelled N-A-T-U-R-E.”
While Beauty is an undeniable natural experience, it is also sometimes the result of an arrangement of elements placed by the artist, musician or architect in such a way as to evoke a deep memory in the viewer of a sense of harmony and Truth.
‘Nature’, with its forms and geometries, is a powerful reference for the creative maker. Countless systems of color and proportion take their direction from the natural world. Time and again these references will inform a human creation (music, painting, building, etc.) with a resonance that points towards its origin.
In Architecture, the use of geometries that flow from these natural principles can result in a kind of attunement with the viewer. “It took my breath away” would be an example of a direct experience of Beauty. This is not an intellectual experience, no special training or education is required. The experience bypasses the mind and goes straight to the heart of our true nature.
As an example, the Golden Section spiral (see below) , is common throughout the natural world. A golden section rectangle has the property that removing a square from it produces another golden section rectangle and this spiral uses that fact to create quarter arcs in each of the squares. When a space or an object takes its form from these relationships there is a natural and powerful “echo” that vibrates throughout our senses as we take in the experience.
(next time we will look at color in art and architecture, 3/27/14)
The Utter Practicality of Beauty
Scott Guyon (March 19, 2014)
If Beauty is to play a significant role in our lives then it must be present in our direct experience. In this way, Beauty is received as a practical part of each day and can be appreciated at any time and in any place.
Walking through a room can evoke the experience of Beauty. This is sometimes felt as a kind of suspension of our normal sense of time and it is sometimes accompanied by a sense of wonder or perhaps a feeling of ‘home’ or deep truthfulness.
What is the importance of this to any of us?
It is simply this;
When a work of Architecture (or music, art ,etc.) has its origins in this understanding it will possess the power to nourish this hunger in all of us. Instead of a longing for this ‘food’ we so desire, suddenly, we are home. Of course when our conditioned mind comes back into play it immediately downgrades the experience as being just a ‘lapse’ in its otherwise busy schedule.
When this experience of Beauty is received it seems to spontaneously return us to our true nature in way that is not found in customary activities. I remember walking into the public space at the Salk Institute by the architect Louis Kahn and suddenly noticing that I was present in the moment but I was not thinking. It would be later that day that I would recall something of the experience and decide; “that was Beautiful”! It was the best the mind could do in an attempt to explain the unexplainable.
(next time we will take a look at the ‘nuts and bolts’ of Beauty in a building, 3/19/14)
Why Beauty Matters.
If the experience of a work of Architecture (or any art object) is to move beyond its bare material presence then there must be some quality intended by its maker that transmits itself, invisibly, to the viewer.
Most of us, perhaps all of us, have had the experience at some point in our lives of encountering an object or a situation in which our normal sense of ‘time’ was suspended or altered. This can occur while walking in a landscape, listening to music, standing in a room or countless other situations. Often times this is referred to as; “overwhelmed by the beauty of the moment” or a similar phrase in which the mind attempts to explain the unexplainable. As we ponder our memory of these moments the flavor may linger but there is inevitably a longing to return to this realm that now seems to have been fleeting and temporary.
This is the experience of Beauty.
It is not simply a neutral alteration of waking consciousness; it is a rendezvous with our deepest nature. This is why we long for it, precisely because it is mostly veiled by the assumptions of the culture we live within. Our culture has deeply conditioned us to point toward a practical and materialist belief in measurable reality. This leaves us thirsting for the recognition of our true self. A true self that is not confined by the limits of ‘mind’ but rather is open, sensitive, unlimited and not subject to time. Beauty is one word that can be used to refer to our ‘true self’ when it is provoked to step forward and revel in the joy of an expanded experience.
Walking through a beautiful space in a building can evoke this feeling in all of us.
(more on that when we continue next time, dated 3/4/14)