Budapest – July 2006 (source)
I am enjoying your blog. You have just the right balance of visual interest, short articles, humor and a great deal of knowledge lurking about behind the scenes. This is what my blog should do, but it gets mired in earnestness and I don’t blog regularly.
With a colleague I am writing a book on what we call the principles. To be a principle something should be manifest at all levels and its withdrawal would make the universe as we know it collapse. This is a very modest project as you can see. An example of a principle is attraction: molecular bonds, gravity, sex, magnetism, planetary orbits, obsessions, addictions, flies and shit, money and misers. The list of attractions is infinite. Principles have the interesting quality of being evident only in their manifestations. You can’t see, hear, smell, touch or taste an attraction but they are everywhere and you constantly experience them.
My colleague, whose concept this is, believes that gesture is a principle. I am wrestling with the question. One problem is that gesture seems to be interpretive and communicative, so it seems to be for the human and animal realm. But, when I look at plants, flowers and trees each seems to have unique and characteristic sets of gestures. A prickly pear cactus, for example, has very different gestures than a Rembrandt tulip. My writing desk has scalloped ornaments, and curvaceous entarsia. These, it seems to me, have gesture, as does the grain of the walnut. At some point pattern seems to achieve lift off and take on what I can only call gesture. If you look at this portrait by Rubens, you can see gesture in the clothing, the feather on the hat and the background.
Does this use of gesture make sense to you? Is gesture only in the eye of the beholder and the intent of the gesturer? Can a marble cornice have gesture? Does gesture seem so fundamental that you could call it a principle?