What is beauty?

Many things.

The mirror art left is by Russian artist Francisco Infante-Arana who formed the Russian movement group in 1964. His simple gestures, while a subtle visual disruption to nature, reflects back to the viewer the essence of the invisible beauty which is accentuated in the visual perception of the artist when he contemplates nature.

Modern definitions of Western beauty have been given as ‘the unification of variety’, ‘the sensual manifestation of the idea’, ‘freedom in appearance’ and ‘the infinite expressed in the form of the finite.’ For Onishi, modern Western aesthetics in founded on the congruence of opposites (coincidenta oppositorum.) See ‘A History of Modern Japanese Aesthetics.’ ed Michael Marra 2001.

10 thoughts on “What is beauty?

  1. Tom Turner

    It is a beautiful photograph of a beautiful relationship. How much of the beauty derives from the natural world and how much from the man-made contribution? Would it the sculpture be equally beautiful on a patch of paving outside a shopping centre? I once spent a morning photographing a scrubby rag doll in various positions in the wild (by the roots of forest trees, on the shore of a lake, amongst rushes, etc). I liked the results but the doll would have been nothing in a shop window.

  2. Christine

    Someone has suggested ‘beauty in things exist merely in the mind which contemplates them’.
    [ http://www.flickriver.com/photos/photogenetics89/4360908147/ ]

    While there is some truth in this statement in the sense of an ability to percieve beauty at an abstract level – the perception of beauty [ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/perception ]and the appreciation of beauty [ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/appreciation ]are different capacities.

    This photograph demonstrates that aesthetic appreciation has both a visual (composition) and moral (content) quality.
    [ Unexpected_Guests_Polar_Bears-1600×1200.jpg ]

  3. Tom Turner

    One certainly can’t imagine that when polar bears see an igloo, an icecap, a human sculpture, or a tasty Inuit, they have similar perceptions or appreciations to ourselves. So yes, the appreciation of beauty depends on what one has in mind.

  4. Christine

    Also, the Inuit inside the igloo as they perceive and appreciate the polar bear’s nose (not being too aware of how you would actually know there is a polar bear out there…) would probably view the situation in a remarkably different way from ourselves. Although it is possible to imagine how they feel.

    For instance they probably wouldn’t be thinking about the perils of global warming for the polar bear’s habitat or of polar bear conservation [ http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/where_we_work/arctic/area/species/polarbear/population/ ], nor that their predictament might have any relationship to overfishing
    [ http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5360 ] or oil spills.
    [ http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/where_we_work/arctic/area/species/polarbear/threats/ ]

    Inuit are not the usual food of polar bears. [ http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info-books/polar-bear/diet.htm ] See foraging and eating – stalking birth lairs. Although the hunting position looks more like the description of stalking ringed seals.

  5. Tom Turner

    I used to see a very, very, very, sad, sad, sad, pathetic polar bear in Cairo Zoo. Most of its hair had fallen off and sweat dripped from its nose. Perhaps it was fed on Fool Medames instead of seals.

  6. Christine

    Poor polar bear! [ http://mideastfood.about.com/od/vegetarianrecipes/ig/Vegetarian-Food-Photo-Gallery/Ful-Medames.htm ] I suppose you would almost feel tempted to go buy him some fish and somehow rescue him from his predicament.

    Apparently Knut got rather fond of croissants until the Berlin zoo put him on a diet.
    [ http://www.animalorphanagekenya.org/blog/2007/09/19/cute-knut-on-a-diet/ ] It would be very very sad if eventually the only polar bears in existence were in various warmer-than-today-climate zoos. Lets hope not.

    Somehow the polar bear has become the icon of climate change:

    “The sculpture was launched to provide a warning to members of parliament of the dangers of climate change and to launch Eden, a new natural history television channel.”
    [ http://www.independent.ie/multimedia/archive/00265/polarBear_265946s.jpg ]

  7. Christine

    Well, I for one would not attempt to cuddle a polar bear….beyond the size of a one year old. Even nine month old Knut looks like a few lessons in polar bear handling wouldn’t go astray.

    And yes – ever since Teddy Roosevelt inadvertently introduced the teddy bear – and used the toy bear as an election mascot – bears have come to be linked to cuddly mascots rather than being perceived as (wildlife) fauna. [ http://www.faktoider.nu/teddybear_eng.html ] It seems that the first ‘cute’ toy polar bear dates to this time too.

    So I suppose Teddy Roosevelt can also be credited with being ‘green’ and associated with the early fauna conservation movement.

    However, the issue continues to be fraught, as environmental values evolve over time. The use of furs in apparel and furnishings is an example. Apparently polar bear rugs can still be purchased on the internet and it is supposed that some are killed and sold legally with CITES permits. [ http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/2233922/Sun-investigates-Sick-web-trade-in-polar-bear-skins.html ]

    Surprisingly the fur garment industry flourishes in tropical Hong Kong.
    [ http://www.hkff.org/en/info.do?method=home ]

  8. Tom Turner

    ‘We live in hope and we die in despair’. So young people can hope the polar bear will be saved and old people see it going way of the dodo – with the human race finding the conditions on Easter Island prevailing everywhere. That grim line of Easter Island statues even looks like a line of skyscrapers, perhaps on the Dubai waterfront. I wonder if dodo feathers were ever used to make clothing. ‘The etymology of the word dodo is unclear. Some ascribe it to the Dutch word dodoor for “sluggard”, but it more likely is related to dodaars (“knot-arse”), referring to the knot of feathers on the hind end.’

  9. Tian Yuan

    There is another sculptor: Anish Kapoor.His works also use the beauty of reflection from environment,especially the city landscape and architecture.

    It is a very clever way to combine natural and artificial to create beauty. The sculpture may play a role as “medium”—not only a sculpture itself. I think it has ‘spirit function’ to reflect the ‘genius of the place’. As Norberg Schulz’s theory:’A place is a space which has a distinct character. Since ancient times the genius loci, or “spirit of place”, has been recognized as the concrete reality man has to face and come to terms with in his daily life….’


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