Looking slowly

I hope that you slowed down a bit yesterday, on the International Slow Art Day. It was a lovely thing to do, and I can’t wait for next year. I have to admit, though, that I toy with the idea of setting up a personal Slow Art Day in about six months – a whole year without slow looking is too long!photo2

We were eight people at the McManus in Dundee. Slightly less than I had expected, but it was an ideal number for the discussion of our experience that followed the art viewing. The artworks I have chosen were “Pictish Artefact No 3”, “Island“, “Fairy Tale or Summer Incident“, “Moorland and Mist“, “Love’s Young Dream” and “Demon Mask”. I chose the different types of “art” deliberately. Especially the demon mask is an artefact you would normally only pass by. I had done so several times before, and I can say for sure that it was worth looking at it in more detail.

Even though I study slow films, and have been arguing for a while now that they appear to be static, I had troubles at the beginning to stay with an actual static image for five minutes or more. For me, it was an entirely different experience. Similar to Slow Cinema, you have to learn how to look slowly at static art. No painting will attract you in the same way another one does, or even appall you. It is thus important that you find your way into it and learn how to look at it. From an angle, from a distance, standing up, sitting down – if you do this, you will realise (slowly) that the painting in front of you changes whenever you change. I had a particularly striking example with “Moorland and Mist”. The sun that came through the rooftop windows had a considerable effect on how I experienced the viewing. Once the sun disappeared behind clouds, the painting evoked a different atmosphere.

photoUnfortunately, I could find only a tiny image of “Island” for this blog. This was my favourite, and that of the group. I suppose it is the ideal painting for a day like this. It seems like a minimalist painting at first sight. If this was a film frame, I would say that it was empty and didn’t contain a lot of information. But because you weren’t distracted by dozens of objects and colours, it was a perfect painting to stay with for a long time. I could have stayed for an hour.

It was by all means a valuable experience, and I’m glad that I signed up to be a host. I merely wanted to find out what this was all about and how it feels to look slowly at art. Thanks to all attendees!

I’m keen on hosting the event at Stirling University next year and will post a registration link here once the event page is up and running.

To return to my actual topic, Slow Cinema, Catherine Grant from Film Studies for Free compiled a good list of writings on Slow Cinema. Worth checking this!

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