Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Observations, Art, practicing and inspiration from other blogs

Practicing in the art of description.

Recently, I have read few blogs that introduce the idea of practicing in describing art in order to improve the skill of description.

Describing what we see is essential part when we test complicated systems. Beyond being accurate, objective and concise, you need to take the system generalist role - be able to conclude.

Parimala Shankaraiah talks in her refreshing blog "curios tester" about painting the picture - she describes how she addressed the challenge in Marlena Compton blog post “Visionary Testing” . I am quoting Marlena:

I challenge you to find a work of art be it a painting, sculpture, installation or anything you deem “art-worthy” and study it. This can be in a museum, a coffee house or your mom’s living room. Once you feel you have an understanding of what you are looking at, try to communicate your understanding with words.

Not only that I decided, like Parimala to address it and post my notes in my blog, but I also told Parimala that I want to do that. She replied to me that I’ll let her know how I did this exercise, so now I am obligated to try this :-). Hopefully you will see that in few lines.

Another interesting thing was that Parimala wrote about different perceptions of different people, and that Interpretation requires more knowledge about the context.
We could see a deomonstration of of that if we will look at the example that Marlena gave in her post. she shows a picture named “Esther before Ahasuerus”. She describes Esther (the women in the picture) as “another chick in a dress who was fairly bitter about life in general”.

I guess that when Parimala(She is an Indian women) read that post, she might agree or not, but when I did, that description looked so out of the context. I also saw a women and a king, but reading the picture name rang all of my bells. As an Israeli and Jewish, I have heard the story behind the scene so many times, so for me Esther is not a “bitter chick” but a great women in a middle of a brave act that saved our people from destruction. Eventually, that gave us a great holiday - Purim, that we celebrate every year, having lot of fun.

As for the exercise of picking and describing a picture?

I picked the “The Raft of the Medusa” (1819) by Theodore Gericault. I saw the picture around 13-14 years ago, when I visited the museum Deorsey in Paris. I remember that I was very impressed, but don’t recall any specific observations when I saw it. Forgive me if it will be too depressing, but this is a really impressive piece of art. Let's go to my lab notes:

What I saw?

A raft full of survivors from a ship sink.
Survivors pack fills the raft with desperate and terrified people. exception for that is the black man that waves towards the horizon
the view behind is depressing dark skies with clouds that promise a storm that could sink the raft

What I inferred?
Depression. The end is coming. The black waving man looks like an exception that should be examined carefully.

What I saw?
On the lower left side, fainted, almost dead bodies. Near them a desperate man sitting hopeless perhaps mourning for them
On the upper right side, near the mast, few terrified people, probably seeing their death in their eyes. Going right – we could see the black man waving. His look is hidden, but we could tell that he is looking forward something (rescue? Freedom?). beneath him another man, bent is waving to the same direction few other figure point to that direction too

What I inferred?
The situation puts the different people in different states: some are lost their consciousness, some are mourning, some are terrified and some are hoping for rescue

What I saw?
Examining the different figures one by one, There is a gradual progress from one side of the people that lies down to the black man which stands up and waving. Some of the figures shows both the “hope” and the “terrified” situation

What I inferred?
A fragile situation, that moves like a raft, between desperation and hope.