Instantaneity

 

As mentioned previously, I’m currently reading a book called Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light by Leonard Shlain. Since I only worked a half-day today and it was really sunny out, I spent an hour or so sitting by the pool with my book, enjoying the sun. I don’t know whether there is any truth to the connections he makes between what was happening in Western modern art and the advent of new discoveries in physics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but it is certainly interesting to look back and be able to at least read that interpretation into things. Here’s one intriguing passage about Monet and how he would paint the same thing (Rouen Cathedral, haystacks) repeatedly at different times to try and capture their essence:

 

In his concern for time, Monet enlarged the moment of the present by capturing the fugitive impression of now. He even invented a name for his style: He called it “Instantaneity.” This word comes not from the visual world of space, but rather from the abstract notion of time. Monet was not at all scientifically informed. He would have been surprised had anyone told him he had invented a radical new way to see time before anyone devised a correspondingly totally new way to think about time.

 

I’m a little farther in now and although I wasn’t especially impressed with his handling of what he calls “primitive” art, it was refreshing to hear an opinion that, while focused on Western art, still acknowledges that the many alternate worldviews are also correct and can exist alongside dominant ideologies.

 

And, you know how I like taking pictures of the sky? Well, when I looked up and was admiring the blueness of the sky and how the tall Douglas Firs intruded into it, I snapped a picture on my iPhone. And guess what? Although it looked like a fairly flat blue surface to my eyes, the camera captured waves of sunlight streaming down. That’s one thing I love about my iPhone. It may not be the most sophisticated device for photography, but sometimes the surprises that it does catch are totally worth it.

 

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