Carlson, Chapter 3: Formal Qual in the Nat Env
79 Journal of Aes ed.
CARLSON ON NATURE OF FORMAL QUALITIES
1. Ned’s account: Textures, colors, lines (“sensuous qualities”) combine to form shapes, patterns and designs (“form”) and all 6 of these determine the formal qual of objects: balance, harmonious, etc.
2. Formal qualities of objects are qualities of such forms–being unified, chaotic, balanced/unbalanced, harmonious/confused
3. Sensory (sensuous) qualities vs formal (design) qual
a. Sensuous: Textures, colors, lines of objects
i. smoothness or sharpness of stone, sparkle of a crystal
ii. Theses qualities combine to form the form of object
b. Forms: shapes, patterns, and designs perceived from of an object
4. Qualities of such form–being unified, chaotic, balanced/unbalanced, harmonious/confused–that he calls formal qualities
a. Formal qualities are qual that objects or combo of objects have in virtue of that which constitutes their form
b. This includes not only shapes, patterns and designs, but also textures, lines and colors
c. So these above themselves aren’t formal qualities, but determine them
CARLSON ON FORMALISM
5. Carlson’s def of Formalism: holds that aes app should be directed at those aspects that constitute form–textures, lines, colors, resultant shapes, patterns, and designs
a. Only qual relevant to aes value of an object are the formal qualities (which it has in virtue of those aspects)
b. Object is aes good in virtue of having formal qualities (unity, balance) and bad in virtue of having formal qualities like disharmony or lack of integration
c. Carlson thinks formalism in art been shown to be implausible
6. Ned on formalism
a. Contrast with form is content, representation, expression (of emotion),
b. Examples of nonformal aes qualities in nature app,
i. Expressive qualities
ii. Qualities like gracefulness?, delicacy, and garishness
c. Formalism says these are not relevant or much less important to aes app than are the object's form or formal qualities
7. “Focusing on purpose, what things are for, undermines landscape appreciation as takes away from shapes, colors, patterns, and promotes an inattention to appearance and ignoring the aesthetic dimension of things”
8. Ned on Problems with formalism and natural aes value
a. Rolston’s disc over mountain example, whether its moon or satellite dish
b. Show picture of pipeline?
c. The mining off interstate 90 with its colors and immense proportion was aes positive, at least formally.
9. Formalism developed in early 20th century by folks like Clive Bell and it was useful because
a. Previously formal qualities had not been adequately appreciated
b. Led to acceptance and development of abstraction in art
c. Led to critics' and public’s willingness to respond to formal dimensions of art
d. Position has been subject to extensive criticisms and now there seems to be a balance of focusing on formal and other dimensions of art.
Discussion of those who argue formalism is way to app nature
10. Bell’s seeing a landscape as pure form
a. Instead of seeing fields and cottages, felt it as lines and colors
b. Got from nature what we get from art, because he saw it as pure comp of lines and colors
c. Valuing it as end in itself
11. Idea is that if we are to app nature aes must see in as pure formal combo of lines an colors
Landscape model of nature app (leads to Scenery cult) (one formalist approach to nature app)
12. Formalism been important in aes app of nature because landscape painting has been a model for how to app nature
13. Landscape model of nature app
a. Encourages perceiving and app nature as if it were a landscape painting
b. A certain kind of prospect (view or scene) seen from a specific standpoint
14. Claude-glass (illustration)
a. Small tinted convex mirror tourists used to view landscape
b. It makes things great and near look to be at a due distance and shows them in soft colors of nature; gives the view its highest coloring and just perspective
i. Like looking at nature with colored sunglasses
15. Modern tourists scenery cult (our own Claude glass?)
a. A preferred mode of appreciation
b. Frequent scenic viewpoints (where space between tourists and “view” and position enhances elements of color and perspectives)
c. Frame scene in viewfinder of their cameras and resulting Kodak slides
d. In the popular formally composed postcards of the scene
e. Taste is for a “view, for scenery, for a prospect”
16. Drive through the national parks is not unlike a stroll though a gallery of landscape paintings; we stop at each view point as we pause before each painting. 34
17. LANDSCAPE MODEL OF AES APP OF NATURE & SCENERY CULT ENCOURAGE FORMALIST APP OF NATURE
a. When tourists seek to perceive and app nature as if it were a landscape painting, guided toward formal dimensions
18. Claude glass, camera viewfinder, scenic viewpoints all make env more like landscape art, as tone down harsh contrasts, make detail less evident and accentuate overall relations and patterns
19. Enhances nature’s formal qualities at the expense of nature’s other aes sig qualities
20. The research on env quality that uses photographs also promotes a purely formal view of nature’s aes value
21. Argument that SCENERY CULT (APP NATURE AS LIKE A LANDSCAPE PAINTING) IS INAPPROPRIATE
22. Views nature as static, essentially two dimensional
a. Reduces env to a scene or a view
23. But Env is not a scene, representation
a. Not static or 2 dimensional
24. This mode of app requires that we app nature not as what it is and for qualities it has, but for what it is not
25. Scenery cult has mode of app that is inappro to actual nature of object of app
26. Lack of fit between mode and object of app is an aes deficiency of scenery cult
27. Like inappro, a deficiency, to app people aes as if they were only photo or portraits of themselves
DIFFERENCES PAINTING AND NATURE APP
28. Scenery cult ignores dif app nat env and app painting
29. Painting, unlike nature, is suppose to be
a. App from a specific point external to it
b. And with only one sense–sight
c. No point in smelling, touching picture, or walking around it
d. One can’t walk around in it
30. With nature all these are poss and appro and contribute to a rich aes app nature
31. NEC IN MIDST OF ENV WE ARE APPRECIATING
a. Aes app of nature not looking at objects or views from a specific point
32. But being in the midst of them, moving around, smelling, touching, hearing, feeling
33. To properly appreciate the natural environment, we must experience it as being in its midst
a. Active involved inside, not removed spectator
b. Rather than formal mode of app encouraged by pictures and scenery cult
34. SCENERY CULT FALSELY FRAMES OUR APP OF NATURE
35. Scenery cult, with viewpoint or camera viewfinder, frame and compose within the frame the nature viewed
a. Like what landscape painters do
36. Need to frame and cut apart the scene from the rest
37. Trad art objects are framed or delineated in some formal way, nature is not
38. Scenery cult, slides, and photos frame our app of natural env. and compose the famed scene poorly or well within that frame
39. Frame and formal qualities are related
a. Trad art objects are unified/balanced or not in relation to their frames
b. Formal qualities of art determined in large part by frame
c. So for framed objects (object appreciated within a frame), like trad art, formal qual are important aspect of work
d. Formal qualities of art can be easily app and evaluated and must be for full app and correct eval of work
40. Since nature has no frame (or infinite poss frames), its formal qualities are not sig for its aes app.
a. I thought he says that balance, harmony are important features of nature that we value? Are these a non-formal sense of balance/harmony?
41. CABIN EXAMPLE
42. If you are outside a cabin next to a lake near Jasper, nat env appears neither balanced nor unbalanced, neither unified nor chaotic
43. In the cabin sitting at window, its perfectly framed and balanced.
44. If you are back from window and mountain top cut off, its unbalanced
45. Only the framed view of env has formal qualities
a. (Of course it has the features that give it these formal qualities--colors, shapes, etc)
46. Nat env only appears to have formal qual when a person imposes a frame on it and formally composes the resultant view
47. Insofar as natural env has formal qualities, they are qualities with built-in indeterminateness, making them difficult to appreciate and thus relatively insig aspect of the aes app and evaluation of that env.
48. Stronger view: Why nature does not possess formal qual
a. App aes app of nature is active, by one in the env, part of it, reacting to it
b. This is not consistent with framing the env: to frame one must become static observer separate from env viewing it from a specific external point
c. Such a point is not compatible with being engaged, involved, active presence in env.
d. Can’t both be in env. one appreciates and frame it
e. Framing is an inapp way of trying to app/eval nature
f. But w/o imposing a frame, not possible to see it as having formal qualities
g. So appro app of nature will see it as having no formal qualities
h. “The natural env as such does not possess formal qualities”
i. “The natural env. cannot (or should not?) be appreciated and valued in terms of formal beauty,
j. Rather must be app and valued in terms of other non-formal aes qualities and dimensions, including expressive, emotional ones” 38
49. CONCLUSION: ABANDON THE ASSUMPTION THAT FORMAL QUALITIES. HAVE SAME PLACE/IMPORTANCE IN AES APP OF NATURE AS DO IN ART
50. For nature formal qual have little place and importance
51. Nat env can’t be (or shouldn’t be?) app and valued in terms of formal beauty, that is, beauty of formal qualities,
a. Rather it must be app and valued in terms of other aes dimensions, various non-formal aes qualities, esp expressive emotional qualities
52. Ask students if they buy this idea scenery cult inappropriate way to aes app nature
53. Has implications for policy
a. Instead of spending money on more scenic viewpoints at Nat Parks, spend it encouraging people to get out and walk into nature;
i. Boardwalks, campsites, ranger led hikes, etc.
b. Those trying to quantify scenic beauty by taking pictures and looking for balance, etc, are way off track
i. Much work on env. aes in 1980 by geography, forestry manage, rec planning and landscape architecture was emphasizing formal qualities
ii. Aim to identify, classify, evaluate and measure aes dimensions of nature
iii. Attempt to identify, map, classify areas of scenic value and aes qualities of different landscapes
iv. To quantify scenic beauty
v. Almost all of this focuses entirely on formal qualities
54. Ned’s concerns about argument should not appreciate nature for what it is not?
a. Does Brady’s imagination account of aes app, projecting into nature with imagination, e.g., seeing old man as a tree, also app nature for what it is not?
b. Neither Brady’s imagination nor scenery cult actually has false beliefs, but they are app it for what it is not
55. Has trad aes app of nature, that might support env. protection, been a scenery cult, with its over emphasis on formal qualities?
a. Is much aes app of nature shallow, trivial, and so aes app of nature will not provide strong political/practical support for nature preservation?
DON’T DO BELOW
56. Move: CRITIQUES ASSUMPTION THAT FORMAL QUALITIES HAVE AS MUCH PLACE AND IMPORTANCE IN AES APP AND EVAL OF NATURE AS OF ART
57. Problems with formalism and natural aes value
58. The mining off interstate 90 with its colors and immense proportion was aes positive, at least formally.
59. Show picture of pipeline?
60. Rode cuts on way to Madison, where undisputably ugly, a scaring of the land.
61. So two were the piles of rubble, outside Virginia City. Ugly, but they did have a cognitive interest as the result of mining.
62. Forest service aes enhancing clear cuts by thinning of trees near edges.
DO A BIT HERE ON FORMALISM?
63. Form/content distinction?
64. Formalism accepted as being as appro for nature as for art and has stayed with us in our view of natural aes value longer
a. Probably because not been big developments in aes app of nature to contest it as has been true in art.
65. Nature has openness and indeterminacy that makes it unlikely place to find formal qualities which depend on restraints and limits
66. Thus framing the env. --which is necessary to appreciate formal qualities--is inappropriate because it removes one from env.
a. (only makes sense to me for formal qualities like proportion, balance, etc; why do you need to frame to appreciate color?
b. Color is not a formal quality as Carlson defines it, but an aspect of form that results in formal quality
c. But didn’t Hepburn or others argue that since env. has no frame, one must frame it for aes app?