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Author Topic: The Evolution of Pretty  (Read 2088 times)

32BT

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The Evolution of Pretty
« on: October 18, 2018, 08:41:52 am »

Lately i find myself preoccupied with evolution. It has always fascinated me one way or another, but what I can't seem to get my mind around is the reciprocity inherent in the concept. We humans tend to think in cause and effect relations and it is easy to fall into that rut when considering evolution.

We look at a certain orchid and how it catches all kinds of insect except for a particular fly or bee, which magically manages to escape the trap, but only after some sticky reproductive element of the plant hitches a ride on the buzzer. This we then couple to a necessity for reproduction etc, but it always makes me wonder how it came to grow that relation. It's not like the orchid preselected this particular bee at random or because it tickled the right nerves or whatever. The insect falls into the same trap as all other insects, yet this insect somehow managed to escape at some point, and then did so more often than some other insect. By natural selection then this insect and plant became best friends.

It's a feeble means of survival though considering the many other methods of reproduction. Just let seeds blow with the wind for example seems a far more effective method.

Evolution also is interesting because it can be applied to every conceivable scale of consideration. From the smallest microcosmos to the entire universe. If you consider the beauty of a seed flying in the wind spawning an entire family of plants elsewhere, one can easily see a comparison with life on earth as a result of some initial seed hurtled through space hitching a ride on a comet.
(see for example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptobiosis and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milnesium_tardigradum).

How is this related to photography. Well, our reaction to the available light is a direct result of our evolution within that light and recently I wondered why in the heck we love the colors of autumn so much. And I mean literally: why do we appreciate those colors, why do we perceive those colors as beautiful? It's a sure sign that a relatively horrible time is about to commence with less food and cold temperatures. But most of us consider both the light as well as the colors as near magically beautiful just prior.

It is kind of relevant because the colorcombinations offered are usually the colorcombinations we appreciate. green-yellow-orange-red. They are just the available colors that resulted from the way our eyes and brain evolved in the context of the energy we detect. 

So there must be some kind of advantage to this appreciation. For example: by appreciating these color combinations we accumulate enough endorphins to survive the night, or make it though the winterseason without getting depressed or scared to the point of selfdestruction. Depression and fear can result in immobility, which obviously is detrimental to survival.

And perhaps that is the best idea to have spawned from evolution theory to begin with. The idea that we are all survivors, or at least copies of survivors, yet fortunately, to keep it interesting, not exact copies.

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RSL

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2018, 09:36:48 am »

Well said, Oscar.

Alan Klein

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2018, 09:54:40 am »

- The first thing God created was light.  God said it was good.

- Without human appreciation of beauty, there would be no art. 

- Photography is art because it reflects beauty and light.  It is good. 

Paulo Bizarro

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2018, 10:58:13 am »

Good thoughts, well laid out.

But sometimes, I just like to appreciate things for what they are, without having to understand the "why":)

Telecaster

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2018, 06:03:03 pm »

When you consider it, the how of things becoming the way they are is an amazing & wondrous & contingent process. Think about your own existence: your parents had to conceive you precisely when they did, else they may well have created a child anyway, maybe even of the same gender and born the same day…but that child wouldn't be you. The same goes for them, and for their parents, and so on all the way back to the beginning of life on this planet. A second here or there at any given point—this sperm fertilizing an egg instead of that one, a meteor barely missing the planet rather than a meteorite hitting it, a car swerving to avoid hitting a pedestrian or not, etc.—and the entire mix of life changes, maybe subtly but also maybe dramatically.

I think about this a lot: how cool is it that we've made it through the gauntlet of probability and are not only here but to some degree capable of grasping the wonder of it?! I also think about all the humans and other creatures who could've been but *never were nor will be. And the people I've known whose lives were cut short by chance occurrence.

-Dave-

*If the relative state (aka "many worlds") formalism of quantum mechanics is correct then all possibilities are actualities somewhere.
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MattBurt

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2018, 06:49:37 pm »

This is a concept I have also given considerable thought. Just what is it that makes us think something is beautiful? It's not all universal but there do seem to be universal themes of beauty that cross cultural boundaries (like autumn leaves or the power/serenity of the ocean) but I have to wonder why that is. I tend to think much of beauty, especially as it relates to people is a social construct. On the micro scale we have the ever-shifting fashion culture where what was beautiful last year may no longer be this year. Or things like the lip plates used by some African cultures to enhance feminine beauty. Many of us outside their culture (myself included) do not find that look to fall within what we consider a beautiful presentation of a woman. But they do.
Like many things that are social constructs, I like to try and give beauty an objective look and try to define exactly what that is. But I can't. I can only really say with confidence what I think is beautiful and why (well, not always why). And that might be boring or even ugly to someone else. But I feel that feeling of appreciation and awe when I see beauty. Even if I might see the same thing another time and not feel it. It's a fickle concept.  8)

My art school buddies and I once had a long mushroom trip in the mountains where we pondered the concept of beauty for hours. I'm pretty sure no consensus or conclusions were reached. If they were, we forgot. :o
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Rob C

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2018, 05:40:52 am »

The old one about beauty being in the mind of the beholder may well be more than just an old saw. It could be the basic truth, beyond any conscious reasoning, about everything we hold dear.

Perhaps time also anchors us to a concept of the ideal, the desired. Why do I still lust for that '59 Coup de Ville and turn a blind eye to the supposed charms of the Mercedes S family? Why does the earlier BMW Series 3 coupe turn me on whereas the last version did nothing to excite my envy gland? Orginal Mustangs have a sex appeal that the latest, muscle-bound ones do not. In some cases, tiny dfferences are as heavy as huge ones.

Apparently, blondes are more desirable than brunettes; I married a brunette but found blondes better for photography.

Why does there exist a love for the Leica rangefnder ethic or the Nikon F, even amongst those who have never owned either? Beauty; perceived functional beauty?

Rob

32BT

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2018, 07:53:11 am »

It's interesting to note that after billions of years of evolution there is apparently some advantage to a certain failure rate. Part of the crop falls prey to disease and part is mutated. There is an overlap in sets there where some mutations may turn out to be better resistant to the disease. That failure rate may therefore be optimal to guarantee flexibility in fighting the possibility of disease and other mayhaps.

That btw is a strong argument against the bayer and monsantos of this world. It seems highly unlikely that genetic manipulation really yields superior crop in that respect.

Now, it may not have been obvious, but in my original musings i wasn't referring to individual differences which may or may not protect us from really bad taste, but i was thinking about a universal appeal.

It is notable for example that within the tricolor response we discern a distinctly different color between red and green, namely yellow. Colors within this range apparently were important enough for us to separate them or have a higher acuity for them. Clearly this color range is associated with warmth, heat, or energy which is a rather vital part of survival. So it does stand to reason that we would eventually universally value these colors higher than others.

The question though is why the autumn colors, the decomposition process in particular, yields exactly these colors as well? Again, we should attempt to avoid our desire to stick to cause and effect only, and instead find the reciprocity relation that i am fairly certain must exist.
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Rob C

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2018, 03:26:30 pm »

Oscar, in your last paragraph, why do you want to, or how can you separate decomposition from purely chemical effect and its resultant pigmentation signals?

That's chemistry, and possibly entirely removed from the spiritual sophistry of mankind with its inquisitive conceits, its assumptions - or at least expectations - of a greater affinity with everything that exists. Yes, we do all, roughly, share the same neighbourhood, but perhaps our family units, in the sense of the family of man, are slightly more restricted in bandwidth and thus able to retain distinct areas of unconnectedness. Entirely remote passengers on the same spaceship.

It's at least a possibility.

32BT

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2018, 03:55:47 pm »

Oscar, in your last paragraph, why do you want to, or how can you separate decomposition from purely chemical effect and its resultant pigmentation signals?

That's chemistry, and possibly entirely removed from the spiritual sophistry of mankind with its inquisitive conceits, its assumptions - or at least expectations - of a greater affinity with everything that exists. Yes, we do all, roughly, share the same neighbourhood, but perhaps our family units, in the sense of the family of man, are slightly more restricted in bandwidth and thus able to retain distinct areas of unconnectedness. Entirely remote passengers on the same spaceship.

It's at least a possibility.

Well, i once caught an interesting tidbit of information, one of those seemingly irrelevant little microbits of data that shouldn't clog the gray cells but does much like dust accumulated in the corner of the room where the vacuumcleaner can't reach because of the round shape of the nozzle, and it more or less was something like this: trees actually expend additional energy to turn the color of their leaves???

Sure there is a possibility that our coexistence is purely random and determined by mere chance, or even perhaps by the hand of god, but, well, he (or she, i don't want to be condemned for being politically incorrect here) has bestowed upon me an inquisitive mind. So what's one to do during a dry spell of photo opportunity?
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Telecaster

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2018, 05:04:14 pm »

Re. GMOing crops, there's a short-term gain to be had from such tweaking: a crop is made more disease-resistant or produces more of the desired grain/fruit/etc. per plant. But long term the GMO'd species will genetically vary just as with non-tweaked species. The designed-in gains could well diminish or even lead to undesired side effects. So once you start on the GMO path you also need to embrace your continuing responsibility for maintaining the species you've modified. You "break" it, you own it.

-Dave-
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KLaban

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2018, 05:07:02 pm »

Well, i once caught an interesting tidbit of information, one of those seemingly irrelevant little microbits of data that shouldn't clog the gray cells but does much like dust accumulated in the corner of the room where the vacuumcleaner can't reach because of the round shape of the nozzle, and it more or less was something like this: trees actually expend additional energy to turn the color of their leaves???

Sure there is a possibility that our coexistence is purely random and determined by mere chance, or even perhaps by the hand of god, but, well, he (or she, i don't want to be condemned for being politically incorrect here) has bestowed upon me an inquisitive mind. So what's one to do during a dry spell of photo opportunity?

Take a picture, any picture, (even if only using the cellphone).

Never crossed your mind?  8)
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32BT

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2018, 05:46:34 pm »

Take a picture, any picture, (even if only using the cellphone).

Never crossed your mind?  8)

Ha, you see? Reciprocity!
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Rob C

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2018, 04:11:41 am »

Two points:

1. making a picture because you can't think of one worth making seems slightly perverse to me. Putting the mechanics before the function doesn't dong my gong;

2. I learned the frustratingly hard, commercial way not to compromise the future of images by making them on a cellphone!

;-)

32BT

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2018, 06:16:16 am »

Just to clarify: a dry spell in photographic opportunity is not an inspirational rut. I have several pictures still lined up in the required queue, and could think up several others if you blindfolded me and dropped me randomly anywhere. I just need to find a way to change some context to induce more camera time and opportunity.

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KLaban

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2018, 08:12:53 am »

Take a picture, any picture, (even if only using the cellphone).

Never crossed your mind?  8)

Just to clarify: this was merely a right-back-at-you addressed to Oscar.

It certainly isn't something I do or would recommend doing.

;-)
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RSL

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2018, 09:12:41 am »

Strikes me that the idea isn't to trip the shutter without raising the camera to your eye. I'd agree with Keith if what he meant was: raise the camera to your eye and make the best composition you can with what's in front of you. It sort of goes along with HCB's "Looking is everything." If you've hit a dead spot. . . look, and shoot. You can, and probably should, dump the result later, but at least you're trying to get your head and eye aimed back in a useful direction.

32BT

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2018, 09:43:13 am »

Sure, this is what i mean by camera time, to be able to walk around with the camera and the eyes open. Not just randomly click with a blindfold. It does help though to have a clear and receptive mind, personally speaking.
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Rob C

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2018, 05:29:38 am »

I suppose that what Oscar has just said is where I find myself today: walking about, now and then, carrying a camera I would rather not have to carry. Why can't my head be the only camera I need?

This leads me to a few ideas or conclusions about the status quo:

1. I do not really like cameras as much as I used to think that I did - or perhaps acually did;

2. cameras are really the weak but essential link in the artist's imagination train; weak because they compel a set of restrictions which then have to be navigated and turned into positives, but worse, cameras make the photographer obvious at the same time. I am aware of the argument that those very restrictions can give rise to identity or style, call it what you wish;

3. not ever being subject to that image-oriented creative desire might really be a better state in which to be.

I base no.3 on the observation that all of the many people I know, who are devoid of creative urges similar to mine, seem to be every bit as content - or more so - with their lot than do I. For a start, they all appear to enjoy far more disposable income in their dotage!

Rob




32BT

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Re: The Evolution of Pretty
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2018, 06:03:34 am »

I suppose that what Oscar has just said is where I find myself today: walking about, now and then, carrying a camera I would rather not have to carry. Why can't my head be the only camera I need?

This leads me to a few ideas or conclusions about the status quo:

1. I do not really like cameras as much as I used to think that I did - or perhaps acually did;

2. cameras are really the weak but essential link in the artist's imagination train; weak because they compel a set of restrictions which then have to be navigated and turned into positives, but worse, cameras make the photographer obvious at the same time. I am aware of the argument that those very restrictions can give rise to identity or style, call it what you wish;

3. not ever being subject to that image-oriented creative desire might really be a better state in which to be.

I base no.3 on the observation that all of the many people I know, who are devoid of creative urges similar to mine, seem to be every bit as content - or more so - with their lot than do I. For a start, they all appear to enjoy far more disposable income in their dotage!

Rob

I was this close to becoming a DJ in highschool and in hindsight i should have made the choice. Considering the disposable incoming relative to the required iq, it must be the easiest money that lack of gray matter can buy. I'm not talking about the top of the EDM scene. That's hard work and being lived. I'm talking about the talking heads on the radio glueing together half played songs with really bad jokes.

Unfortunately, when i was in highschool there was a general tendency towards the idea that making good grades and finishing school, preferably in a direction like technology, would land you a decent and safe job with ditto salary.

Of course, trying to push a creative into a bourgeoise straightjacket is a sure fire way to failure. I'm certain, Rob, you came closer to living the dream with the choices you made, then any of the non-creatives you mention.
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