Sunday, July 04, 2010

You can appreciate the qualia unique to a work of art only when facing the real thing.

I once had an opportunity to admire at leisure the "Girl with a pearl earring" painting in its home of the Mauritshuis in The Hague, Netherlands. There is always a huge crowd eager to see this masterpiece (sometimes called "the Mona Lisa of the North") when it is on tour away from its home museum. When this painting travelled to Japan, there was a record number of people qeueing to take a glimpse of it. There was no question of establishing an intimate relation with the girl in the canvas.

It was thus refreshingly rewarding to come face to face at last with the beautiful girl of immortality wearing the famous pearl earring and a blue headpiece.

It is a practically interesting and theoretically intriguing fact that you can appreciate the qualia unique to a work of art only when facing the real thing. Once you have taken in the actual qualia, it becomes possible to "reproduce" them in your memory, aided or unaided by reproductins such as an imitation or a photograph. Unless you have seen the real thing, however, it is impossible to imagine what it is like to be in front of that piece of art, no matter how accurate the reproduction or how appropriate the description.

The mouth. From "Girl with a pearl earring" by Johannes Vermeer.


yuzu said...

I have remembered your lecture which was "everything starts from music".
You said that please appreciate the qualia of art directly from real thing. It was highly ardent and so fresh.I read your qualia journal about one year and half in almost real time. I think that it is your normal real life.I appreciate your power of response from everywhere and everything.

(ma)gog said...

Only "the real thing" must be able to fascinate a writer so that he/she feels compelled to create a world of fiction of equal quality of "the real thing".

I have been reminded by your blog of the book "Girl with a Pearl Earring" which belongs actually to my daughter. I started to read, and find it difficult to put it down.

Although I haven't seen "the real thing", the girl with a pearl earring certainly reaches me in a vivid way to tell me all about her joy and sorrow in her quiet life in 17th century of Holland.

so I started to follow the authoress Tracy Chevalier who is as old as me on twitter.