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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Faldoni, parts 2728 2731

2728. Since seeing the orange square is predictable, the phenomena has been used in optical experiments. One of these experiments consists of the image of the American flag in which the red stripes are substituted with green, the white with black, and the blue is replaced with orange. One is asked to look at the odd colored flag for one minute and then to close the eyes and there in the darkness you will see a red, white and blue flag floating in the void until if slowly dissolves and fades away.  


2729. The colors the eye sees in the dark with the eyes closed are called phosphenes, and are there when the eyes are open but they go unnoticed. They are most noticeable at the edges of intense colors as a kind of halo, but we ignore them because they are so faint, and tend to disappear if we happen to notice them. 


2730. Blue will produce an orange phosphene, and not any other color; and red will produce a green phosphene. Purple will produce a yellow phosphene. The phosphene colors are always the complement of the color giving rise to the after image. Yellow is said to be the complement of purple in color theory, and red is the complement of green. The term complement is misunderstood, however.


2731. When orange is said to be the complement of blue, everyone thinks that the word complement in this context means, “Looks good with” as in “that sweater complements those shoes, and looks good with the scarf.” But that would be "compliment," with an i.

Faldoni, parts 2724 - 2727

 2724. Try, even though it is a physical impossibility, to keep your eyes fixed on one point right in the center of the blue square. Your eyes will complain and try to sneak off to take a glimpse at the border of the square, or even attempt to look away for a second to peer out the window, but force you eyes back to the middle of the square and keep them there. I  know it is hard, but just do it for one full minute.


 2725. At the end of one minute close your eyes and cover them with your hands and make a mental note of what you seem to be seeing. You will see an orange square. At first you will see nothing but blackness but after several seconds the orange square will begin to glow in your mind’s eye. It is not your imagination or an optical illusion as some describe it. It is an after image causes by the machinery of your retina continuing to vibrate after the stimulus has been removed.


 2726. It is like when your car is hot and you shut off the engine and for a few seconds it continues to run, and then finally shuts down. The fact that your car runs on for a while is called “dieseling.” The after image in your eye when your eyes are closed is like the car continuing to run for a while after it is shut off.


2727. Since the orange square is something one sees when one’s eyes are closed it is natural to think that it is a subjective, personal and private phenomena unique to the individual, but it is not subjective, it is universal. You can’t compare it to the hearing of voices or the having of hallucinations. But still, anything we see with the eyes closed has something unreal and magical about it.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Faldoni, parts 2720 - 2723

2720. Regardless of all these difficulties it is still necessary to attempt to explain what Faldoni was doing with his color mixing when painting his borders. My explanation is going to be confusing and in the end may be as pointless as is the attempt to describe tastes, but I have to give it a try, I don’t know why.

 
2721. To explain this theory of color we will use a copy of a new Architectural Digest, just as we did when we were talking about the relativity of color. We can use the February issue, it just came in the mail. Turn to page six and you will see a building that looks like it was made out of a gigantic piece of melted plastic.


2722. But it is impossible to use page six to begin explaining my color theory, which we have to get through in order to find out what happens to Faldoni, when on page six is a picture of a piece of architecture so annoying that it is difficult to go on. The best thing to do is to tear out page six and then cover the hideous building and everything else but the blue sky in the upper left hand corner. 


2723. Cover up the blue with some white printer paper so that it is surrounded by white on all sides and you will have a blue square about an inch and a half square. Next put your blue square under a table lamp so it is well lit up and then stare at the square with concentrated devotion as if you life depended on memorizing its tint, for a full minute.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Faldoni, parts 2716 - 2719

 2716. Sophisticated writers will try to combine these three memories of tastes, sensations and aromas and use those memories to get one to imagine a sensation of drinking some Merlot that they think is exceptional for its price.


 2717. Although referring to all those memories of the taste of such things as bananas and aluminum foil does set the mind to working in an attempt to concoct some idea of some taste, it ends up being a thought process lost in a maze from which it can find no way out. One just accepts that the writer likes something for some reason, and therefore you should like also.


 2718. So the wine critic fills up a text block knowing nobody will ever read it, and if they do it will not be taken seriously except in the instance that the article finds its way into one of those racks you find on the back of the seat in front of you on a trans-Atlantic flight.


2719. And those who write about color indulge in the same pointless exercise. There is no point to mentioning the color red simply because there are millions of shades of red and the word  can conjure up only one of them. Since this is so a person wanting to write about a color will resort to our memories are ask us to imagine the red of a certain sort of rose or the red of a sunset.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Faldoni, parts 2712 - 2715

 2712. But before I can explain how a color is adjusted, and why it is necessary to adjust colors, I have to take issue with, and complain about so many other writers who have attempted to explain colors in the past. In their attempts to make a complicated subject understandable they so simplify the subject as to render their observations useless.


 2713. Color is a very difficult thing to describe and explain with words. To describe color with words is similar to using words to describe taste. A good example of the hopelessness of the use of words to describe either color or taste can be found in any magazine devoted to fine wines. 


 2714. In those magazines one can find thousands and thousands of words devoted to descriptions of the various taste of fine wines but the fact is, all of those words are both useless and meaningless because no combination of words and explain a combination of tastes.


2715. Verbal descriptions of taste depend upon the principal of association. For example you know what a banana tastes like. You also are familiar with the aroma walnuts, and perhaps you also remember the sensation of biting down on a piece of aluminum foil by accident when a small scrap of the wrapper was stuck to a fresh piece of gum.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Faldoni, parts 2708 - 2711

 2708. I realize that at this point I am trying to explain extremely minute and peculiar details of the art of painting in the time of Faldoni. It is like I have a microscope, and I am looking into tiny details and considerations of what it was our hero was doing. Meanwhile, all the time I am trying to find a way to describe such tiny details, gigantic earth-shaking events like an earthquake, are about to occur in Faldoni’s life.


 2709. Faldoni, the Master, and all of the apprentices are about to be arrested by the ecclesiastical authorities and they are going to be put on trial for blasphemy. These events are going to disrupt Faldoni’s life to such an extent that I will no longer be able to bore you with considerations of how a color such as blue can be tinted with a tiny bit of green to make it more comfortable as it sits next to some shade of reddish brown.


 2710. The tints of various colors seem of hardly of any importance when a man is being questioned by Jesuitical inquisitors and the answers to the questions he is asked will determine whether or not he is going to be burned at the stake. 


2711. But still, even though I am worried about Faldoni’s fate, and I am extremely anxious to tell you about why and how he was brought before the inquisition, still I can’t help but tell you about this business of adjusting blue so that it looks better next to a shade of orange. I know it is trivial under the circumstances, but I just can’t help myself.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Faldoni, parts 2704 - 2707

 2704. The answer to this question is obvious. First is the consideration that the color of an area is affected and changes the color that surrounds it. Faldoni noticed this when he kept finding that when he painted the backgrounds after painting his faces, the colors of the faces seemed to change.


 2705. So, if a color changes as its neighboring colors are changed, so the last colors to be put into a picture are the only ones that can be completely accurate and perfect, unless the artist goes back and changes all the original colors, which is not possible with fresco painting. The borders of the paintings were painted last, since they took so long to complete and so the tints in the borders ended up being adjusted to perfection.


 2706. But how were the colors adjusted to perfection? They were adjusted in the same way Faldoni’s flesh color was adjusted, but the addition of minute amounts of extra colors to the tints already mixed up in jars. As Faldoni worked he was constantly adding a tiny amount of green to his red, or purple to his yellow, or black to his greens, adjusting and  tuning the colors as a violinist tunes the strings of an instrument.


2707. He never thought about the fact that he was altering the colors in-order for them to be more harmonious, he did it automatically, simply because the result was more satisfying to his eye. Like with all of the hundreds of faces he had painted, his borders contained thousands of little shapes, and each shape was altered very slightly to bring it into harmony with its neighbors.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Faldoni, parts 2700 - 2703

 2700. Even today if you visit to the Fiat factory in Milan you might hear a foreman say to a laborer, “Please faldoni all the headlight attachment screws, and when you are done with that you can faldoni the hood ornaments.”


 2701. But, you might say, the painting of pictures is very far removed from the procedures of assembling cars. Not only that, but it seems that the nearly mindless and soul numbing activity of repeating the same small chore from morning to night and then the next day, would be anathema to artists. We like to think that the creative act is constantly exciting and engrossing, and so has no place for  rote, repetition, or monotony. 


 2702. But the mass production version of Faldoni’s method is an unfortunate corruption of his discovery. In actual fact his procedure resulted in a finished painting which was obviously superior to the results of the previous method of painting everything to completion, section by section as one went along.


2703. At first nobody could figure out why Faldoni’s method should be more successful, but if you have been following this tedious and minute explanation of Faldoni’s development the explanation may have dawned on you. If I were some professor teaching an art history class, which I decidedly am not, I might pose these questions to my students, “What things did Faldoni learn in his cell, painting the faces that would result in his decorative borders being more perfect that previously painted borders?”

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Faldoni, parts 2696 - 2699

  2696. This alteration in the method of painting the borders was not noticed by the other artists at first. Whatever Faldoni was doing was so unimportant in the scheme of things that no matter what he was occupied with would not have been noticed. But at a certain point, after he had finished painting about two-thirds of his border for the third day somebody, I forget who it was, called attention to the method Faldoni was using.


2697. As soon as it was noticed, not a word had to be said for everyone to realize that the new method Faldoni had invented would make their projects go much faster and with a lot less mistakes and confusion. It was one of those situations where the utility of the idea was so good and so novel that it was immediately taken up and used in all of the surfaces of the paintings, so that all of the red sections were painted at once, and all the various blue sections painted together.


2698. So universal and important was this change of procedure that it was soon given a name. When an artist painted all of the sections of one color at the same time he was said to “faldoni” the painting. And the procedure itself was called “faldoning.”

 

 2699. At the time the importance of this change of procedure was not realized. It was thought that it only applied to the painting of pictures. But very soon the method, which by now you must realize is the beginning and cornerstone of mass production, was adopted for everything from the making of shoes to the tailoring of garments.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Faldoni, parts 2692 - 2695

 2692. Up until the day when Faldoni began to paint geometric patterns, the procedure had been the same from time immemorial. First all of the various colors and tints of the pattern were mixed up and put up in little jars, and then the pattern was drawn into the plaster with a pointed stylus.


 2693. Once this was done the artist began to paint in each little section just like a paint by numbers painting and each section was brought to completion with all of its colors before the artist went on to the next section of the pattern. This meant that at a certain point perhaps half the border might be finished completely and all the rest would not be started.


 2694. Faldoni, in his simplicity, attacked the project of painting borders in an entirely different way. Let us say for example that each section of the pattern had a red circle in the middle. Faldoni would take his jar of red and paint absolutely every single red circle in all the borders he was to complete on a given day, all at once.


2695. So, Faldoni’s method consisted of painting all of the sections of a given color together, and when he completed one color he would go on to the next, perhaps a black square, or a yellow triangle. By this method a point would be reached when the entire pattern would be half finished, as opposed to a situation where one half was completed  and the rest not even started.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Faldoni, parts 2688 - 2691

 2688. Just consider for a moment the Sistine Chapel ceiling. If one looks at the entire thing one notices how all of the various scenes are edged with decorative patterns. It is true that the decorative patterns used in the Sistine Chapel are much simpler compared to earlier work, and so seem more modern to the contemporary eye. 


 2689. But they are simpler because Mr. Buonarroti who painted them had to do all of them himself as he would not consider having any assistants working for him. He was no different from anyone else however when it came to painting endless intersecting geometric patterns and so he kept that part of his project to a minimum. 


 2690. He was heard to say to the Pope one time, “Muscles interest me, and so do the facial expressions of the dammed suffering the torments of hell, and the look of rapture on the faces of angels and saints lit by the glow of divine light, but I just can’t stand to spend my time carefully painting rows of little circles intersecting little squares and triangles all of which are supposed to remind one of inlaid marble work of the type of interest to simple people.”


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 2691. But Faldoni was no Michelangelo and he couldn’t have painted the faces of the dammed in hell or the rapture on the faces of angels, but the painting of circles and triangles intersected by squares and ovals filled him with passionate excitement. He ‘curbed’ his enthusiasm however and even groaned and complained to himself about his task under his breath in the same way he heard everyone else complaining about it.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Faldoni, parts 2684 - 2687

 2684. By this method the unusual leftover shapes produced by the architecture of the time were worked into the composition in a way that did not interfere with the arrangement of the figures in the paintings.


 2685. This method, which we could call the “decorative border style,” was not invented in the Renaissance, as it can be found in abundance in all medieval church decoration. The medieval artists did not invent the method either because it is found in most of the extant Roman wall painting.


 2686. This seems to indicate that it is a method that is inherent in the problem of the painting of entire walls from ceiling to floor and edge to edge in complex buildings, and seems to have been adopted wherever architectural walls are used for pictorial decoration. 


2687. The furthest we might go back would be to consider cave painting and there we do not find any sorts of decorative borders at all. Why this is I do not know, but I am sure there must be some reasonable explanation, it is just that I can’t think of what it is.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Faldoni, parts 2680 - 2683

2680. At that time and during that period of art history artists considered themselves fortunate if the church provided the funds and the opportunity for them to spend their careers covering great vaults of space and huge walls of gigantic church structures with paintings of all sorts, as long as the paintings they created were all grounded in biblical imagery and history.



 2681. But as fortunate as those artists were to have the church as their patron, still the jobs they were given presented certain almost insurmountable problems that required peculiar solutions. The most gigantic of their problems involved the odd shapes of the surfaces they had to paint.  Almost never was the artist given a simple square or a humble rectangle with right angles at all of their corners to project their vision on.


 2682. On the contrary, the churches were full of odd, distorted, stretched out curving walls, vaults cut off by truncated curving triangles, shapes next to windows whose tops tapered to slender points. How was one to put some humble image of a saint getting tortured as he is being flayed  to death into some niche above a door that is triangular on the right and elliptical on the left, and split by a flat pilaster in the middle?


2683. From the earliest times of church decoration, the device was hit upon to execute the paintings in a standard rectangle, either vertical or horizontal, or a simple square if possible, and then to fill up all of the remaining space, no matter how varied, with multicolor geometric borders one after another.