Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Human Face as a Landscape

This a portrait of an old man by Marxhausen drawn on scratchboard. Using a scratchboard is like drawing in reverse; the artist starts with a simple black board, and uses a tool to cut white lines. Creating an image on scratchboard is tricky because you can't erase, and any fingerprints you leave are nearly impossible to remove.

When Marxhausen gave a talk to members of nursing homes, he explained that aesthetics is more than looking pretty or cute. An old face can be incredible aesthetic.

Your face can be understood to be like a landscape. We walk and enjoy the sunsets, the trees, and the driftwood and the barns and the houses. Maybe we could look at our faces, the cavities and the grooves, as a kind of landscape

Just like nature, which is constantly changing, the human face is gradually changing as well. Because of that, seeing a human face and finding aesthetic beauty is much like trying to find aesthetic beauty in nature, which is constantly changing. One must make a deliberate effort to see.

I think we all have preconceived ideas of what we look like. And actually, as we go through life, we mark moments when we’d like to remember. Our confirmation picture is taken in a very official way. And so there are times when we go to the photographer and he sets up the proper lighting, and we take our picture. Probably the most true pictures of what we look like are our passport pictures and our driving license picture, which are taken spontaneously and without too much makeup. But most people don’t like their passport pictures. It’s not the way they really are. So while we’re changing and going on, we think we look like that picture in the wallet, we look like our wedding picture. Actually, we’re changing.