Reference Number: FASH20031
Camilla Lewis N0436588
What is Beauty? Module: Communication and Message Module Leader: Sarah Lewington FCP2
insi-De the What is Beauty? issue
3 Introduction 5 Inspiration and Influences 9 i-D 11 Concept 15 Conclusion
Fig. 1 Urs Fischer Problem Paintings (2011)
19 Image References
‘Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.’ - Confucius
Confucius, a Chinese teacher and philosopher, believed that ‘Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.’. Today, more than 90% of teenage girls aged 15-17 want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance (Heart of Leadership, 2011: Online). The fashion industry’s version of beauty, applies a domino affect onto the younger generation, destroying their self-confidence by leading them to believe they are not beautiful if they do not look like the models represented within the numerous fashion publications. Plastic Surgeon, Robert Tornambe, questions ‘if we cannot agree on what traits define beauty, because each of us perceives beauty differently, how can a woman discover her own beauty?’ (Tornambe, 2011: Online). Due to the confusion of what beauty really is, many vulnerable girls and boys are growing up to believe the industry’s definition, which is why such an alarming percentage of the teenage population want to change their appearance. Children should grow up with the sense of security that beauty is not only skin deep.
Fig. 2 Red Cabbage (2013)
Fig. 3 The Son of Man (1946)
we represent ourselves, something that is so relevant in today’s society with Facebook being number 1 priority in a lot of people’s lives. It is so easy to show the aspects that you only want others to see, rather than embracing who you are and having self acceptance. Contemporary artist Urs Fischer challenges the concept of modern identity and the vanity that may accompany it in his project Problem Paintings, 2011 (Nowness, 2013: Online). He does this by placing sliced fruit, vegetables along with many other things in front of a Celebrity’s portrait, with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, to disguise their identity - playing with the idea of: are they still recognizable when their face has been removed? We felt that Fischer’s work was greatly inspired by Magritte’s, though bringing it into modern society. The way he works with old and new brings a new element to the pieces, adding a humorous tone which we liked, thinking we could take this idea into our own images.
‘To be beautiful means to be yourself.’ - Thich Nhat Hanh 5
Fig. 4 Problem Paintings (2011)
Inner beauty is what truly gives a person a solid presence, identity and substance - not just a mannequin with a pretty face. The idea is to push forward that it is not always the evidently beautiful that are in fact, the most beautiful. Perception of beauty can change quickly if the beauty that is so visibly represented on the outside, may not be mirrored within. The question that we would like to pose is: why is it that our inner core, the thing that gives us our personality, knowledge and heart, is often bypassed for our visible features? Our concept for our photoshoot came together through many different aspects of inspiration from a number of tastemakers that aided us in creating our idea to be carried out in the studio. We began with the idea of distorting the face in some way or hiding a particular feature as another thing we wanted to question was: if the face wasn’t visible, can someone still be considered as beautiful? We looked at artists with a similar aspect to their work, something we found throughout our research is that all of our references link together in some way.
Miuccia Prada gains inspiration for her designs through looking at what society would naturally describe as ugly. ‘Ugly is attractive, ugly is exciting. Maybe because it is newer.’ she much prefers ‘the investigation of ugliness’ as for her it is ‘more interesting than the bourgeois idea of beauty.’ (The Telegraph, 2013: Online). Prada’s creations, which have stemmed from looking at the ugly, are certainly worlds apart from being associated with the word. She is taking Confucius’s philosophy by looking at something that people may not consider as beautiful at first glance, and manipulating it into something that is. We found Rene Magritte’s ‘The Son of Man’ a direct influence as his self portrait had everything but his face, as it is covered by a floating apple. His work was based on the idea that ‘Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.’ (Magritte, 1946: Online). As a surrealist, he makes us think about how
Fig. 6/7/8 Grace Series (2012)
‘My photographs are kind of studies of perception and experience, or of the interface between people’s external and internal spaces.’ -(Kella, 2002: Online)
As part of our research, we were interested in self portraits in photography that don’t focus on the face. Majaarna Kella uses her photos to represent identity in her project ‘Reversed’ created in 1996-1997. Her images are taken from various angles where the models gaze isn’t visible to the viewer, leaving them to make their own judgement on who the person is, what their emotion is and even possibly give them a story. This creates a more intriguing and interactive response as the viewer is getting involved with the photos. Kella believes that the face has become a facade, she tries to rework this belief by purposely excluding the facial features from her images, giving them more substance. Her work was important as part of our inspiration and is a key reference for our concept due to the positioning of the models, as well as the simplicity of the composition.
In regards of work revolving around inner beauty, Artist Jonni Cheatwood’s work focuses on a ‘plea for the inner beauty in humanity to come forth from within, outward, in an attempt to create a more beautiful world that we live.’ (Ignant, 2013: Online). This project of work is a self portrait, however, the face has been painted over with drips of paint - the man behind the painting is anonymous, in a way to say the face is irrelevant to who the person actually is. Letting the inner beauty shine through. There is a common factor in all the work we looked at from our tasa-
7 Fig. 5 Reversed(1996)
temakers, this helped us come up with us come up with a concrete concept which focused on looking at natural forms that aren’t necessary aesthetically pleasing to the eye from their outer skin, until you cut them up and reveal a surprisingly beautiful inner core. The objects we chose, represented our concept well, as, like the human body, they reveal a complex and detail structure, that is bypassed a lot of the time for how they look on the outside. Our props for the shoot were a red cabbage, geode stone, wood and a shell.
Who in the world is the most beautiful person in the world to you?
‘To me the most beautiful person to me is someone that has overcome hardships and still manages to show a sincerely happy face.’ - Sam White
iD To contextualise our images, the immediate publication we felt suited our concept best was i-D Magazine. Starting out as a punk street style magazine in London in 1980, i-D has kept itself consistent in fashion culture (i-D: Online). An aspect of the magazine that we found most appealing is that they give their models an identity as opposed to just being a mannequin. They do this by asking the models certain questions that correlate with the theme of the current issue, this is something that makes i-D incredibly individual up against all of their competitors. Keeping in key with this, we asked our models relevant questions surrounding beauty, to introduce the idea that it is perceived in different ways by everyone, there is no right nor wrong - something that is extremely personal to each individual. This is part of i-D’s unique selling point, therefore it wouldn’t be right if we were to miss this out.
Fig. 9 Sam with Red Cabbage (2013)
‘Good upbringing and knowledge makes you beautiful. I try to constantly absorb knowledge to expand my outlook on life and values.’ - Lotus Chan
Fig. 10 Lotus with Shell (2013)
What makes you beautiful?
Our approach for our photoshoot was minimal with a simplistic style. Keeping Marjaana Kella as a strong reference for our images, ensuring the models gaze wasn’t a clear focus point in the photos. Our props being the forefront, directing the eye immediately to the object. This would create some sort of dialogue between the viewers, questioning what the props are and what they represent. Hopefully the viewer will be able to see the link, that we are reflecting the beauty that is held within everyone that may not be strongly projected at first glance. Referencing Magritte, with his idea that people hide what they don’t want people to see, we are celebrating the human form from the inside and bringing it out. We placed our props in positions we thought would suit the composition best. If our model was lying down on the floor facing forward, we wanted to have the face covered in some way, to distract the viewer from seeing both the models face and the gaze at the same time.We played around with different angles and positions to ensure that we captured an unconventional gaze from the models, this was mainly done by communicating our vision clearly to the photographer so that she was able to create the shot in the way we had envisioned. The majority of the props were focussed around the face, we tried to place them in as many different places as possible, though, due to the shape they mainly were only able to balance over the eye, meaning we had to work around the models to produce more interesting and intriguing compositions. The use of white space was an important element in our photo’s with our models not always being in the centre. The white space gives us an empty canvas to help see the delicate beauty that is shown without having any busy distractions to clutter the mind.
What is your definition of beauty?
To give us more creative freedom we had a trial and error approach, which we feel worked out positively as it lead us to create some beautiful images that translate our concept in a modern and exciting way. The lighting used overall was a flat light with a spot to pick up the detail in the props. We wanted to ensure the lighting was kept quite natural to promote a positive feel, being bright and clean. We chose the image on the right as our main photo as we 13
felt the composition was strong, along with being a beautiful photograph. In this, we see the wood placed on her shoulder, which is rather subtle and acts as a part of her. Lotus’s gaze is to the side looking out in hope, towards the light, leaving the darkness behind her. The wood worked well as it is a symobol of beauty getting better with age, along with revealing a smooth inside compared to the roughness of the outer layer.
Fig. 12 Tuncay with Geode’s (2013)
Fig. 11 Reversed (1996)
‘My definition of beauty is natural. I’m not very keen on people who invest to make themselves more beautiful or make themselves more youthful. I believe that people should look more natural.’ - Tuncay Hassan
Fig. 13 Lotus with Board (2013)
‘We must educate our children to recognize that physical characteristics alone do not make a woman beautiful.’ - (Tornambe 2011: Online)
Bringing it back to Confusius’s idea that everything has beauty though not everyone see’s it. We want to promote this idea, hoping that everyone one day will see it. Our series of portraits explores the realisation that beauty is deeply rooted beyond the surface. ‘Inner beauty’ defies all modern perceptions that beauty is defined by someone’s physical attributes. With consideration of natural props, a visual representation of inner beauty masking the subject’s exterior allowing the viewer to study the intricate beauty of each - whereby for the first time a judgement is made on their innermost beauty before their physical appearance.
Anonymous, 2009. The Son of Man, 1946 by Rene Magritte [online] http://www.renemagritte.org/the-son-of-man.jsp
Anonymous, 2009. The Son of Man, 1946 by Rene Magritte [online] http://www.renemagritte.org/the-son-of-man.jsp
Anonymous. 2013. Grace Series [online] http://www.ignant.de/2013/01/16/grace-series/
Anonymous. 1996. Confucius Biography [online] http://www.biography.com/people/confucius-9254926
Duffin, C. 2013. Miuccia Prada, Head of luxury brand label, speaks of fascination with ‘ugliness’ [online] http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/news-features/TMG10264440/Miuccia-Prada-head-of-luxury-brand-label-speaks-of-fascination-with-ugliness.html
Anonymous. 2013. Grace Series [online] http://www.ignant.de/2013/01/16/grace-series/
Heart of Leadership, 2011. Statistics on Body Image, Self Esteem and Parental Influence [online] http://www.heartofleadership.org/statistics-on-body-image-self-esteem-parental-influence/ i-D. 2013. [online] http://i-donline.com/about-i-d/ Tornambe, R. 2011. What is Beauty? A Plastic Surgeon’s Perspective [online] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-tornambe-md/what-is-beauty_b_838472. html Zoetendaal, V. 2002. Marjaana Kella [online] http://www.claxtonprojects.com/books/marjaana-kella/ Wakefield, N. 2013. Urs Fischer x Garage Magazine [online] http://www.nowness.com/day/2013/2/6/2793/urs-fischer-x-garage-magazine
Duffin, C. 2013. Miuccia Prada, Head of luxury brand label, speaks of fascination with ‘ugliness’ [online] http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/news-features/TMG10264440/Miuccia-Prada-head-of-luxury-brand-label-speaks-of-fascination-with-ugliness.html Gagosian Gallery, 2011. Urs Fischer [online] http://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/urs-fischer--february-23-2012/exhibition-images Gruendl, M. 2002. Characteristics of beautiful faces [online] http://www.uni-regensburg.de/Fakultaeten/phil_Fak_II/Psychologie/Psy_II/beautycheck/english/prototypen/prototypen.htm Heart of Leadership, 2011. Statistics on Body Image, Self Esteem and Parental Influence [online] http://www.heartofleadership.org/statistics-on-body-image-self-esteem-parental-influence/ i-D. 2013. [online] http://i-donline.com/about-i-d/ Nisita, L. 2013. Ugly Fashion, Feminism & Prada [online] http://www.refinery29.com/2013/08/52238/miuccia-prada-ugly-fashion Tornambe, R. 2011. What is Beauty? A Plastic Surgeon’s Perspective [online] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-tornambe-md/what-is-beauty_b_838472. html Wakefield, N. 2013. Urs Fischer x Garage Magazine [online] http://www.nowness.com/day/2013/2/6/2793/urs-fischer-x-garage-magazine Zoetendaal, V. 2002. Marjaana Kella [online] http://www.claxtonprojects.com/books/marjaana-kella/
Fig. 1 Problem Paintings, Gasgosian Gallery, online (2011) Available at: http://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/urs-fischer--february-23-2012/exhibition-images
Model Interview Q&A Sam White:
Fig. 2 Cabbage October 2013 [own photograph]
What makes you beautiful? With regards to pinpointing what is attractive about someone I believe that there can be no self definition. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I’m a true believer in that fact. I could pick the most obvious of flaws in myself, but someone could easily class those as my best traits and vice versa Pardon the cliche but I believe my attitude towards that aspect is the most attractive attribute I possess.
Fig. 3 The Son of Man, Rene Magritte Biography, online (2009) Available at: http://www.renemagritte.org/the-son-of-man.jsp Fig. 4 Urs Fischer’s Problem Paintings Exhibition, online (2011) Available at: http://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/urs-fischer--february-23-2012/exhibition-images Fig. 5 Marjaana Kella Reversed, I like this art, online (2009) Available at: http://ilikethisart.net/?p=4347 Fig. 6 Grace Series, Ignant, online (2013) Available at: http://www.ignant.de/2013/01/16/grace-series/ Fig. 7 Grace Series, Ignant, online (2013) Available at: http://www.ignant.de/2013/01/16/grace-series/ Fig. 8 Grace Series, Ignant, online (2013) Available at: http://www.ignant.de/2013/01/16/grace-series/ Fig. 9 Sam with Red Cabbage October 2013 [own photograph] Fig.10 Lotus with Shell October 2013 [own photograph] Fig. 11 Marjaana Kella Reversed, I like this art, online (2009) Available at: http://ilikethisart.net/?p=4347 Fig. 12 Tuncay with Geode Stones October 2013 [own photograph] Fig.13 Lotus with Cutting Board October 2013 [own photograph]
Who is the most beautiful person in the world to you? Here you’re probably expecting something cliche like my mum or maybe an incredibly gorgeous celebrity, right? All considered there is a lot of obvious beauty within the world. But So for that reason alone I would say my grandmother. I shan’t go into details but she’s the most beautiful person I know. What do you get complimented on the most? I don’t see how I can answer this question without sounding obscenely arrogant. But, what I get complimented on mostly is my fashion sense and my smile. I take pride in how I dress so it’s only right I get recognised for it at least! What is beauty/what do you find attractive in others? What I find most attractive in others isn’t necessarily the most conventional aspects of beauty. There are a few aesthetic qualities that interest me: facial hair, red heads, good dress sense etc. But it normally boils down to what is inside a man’s head that attracts me. Ambition, drive to be someone better attracts me, having a quirk to your personality attracts me, a range of accents (not irish) attract me. there isn’t a set mould I would need to be attracted to someone but each individual is bound to have something I enjoy. What makes you happy/smile? Wouldn’t exactly call it happiness, but I thoroughly enjoy that moment of early morning around 2-3 with a cigarette. Nothing but my own thoughts, headphones with something relaxing causing everything to at once encapsulate and escape my mind. That feeling of awareness makes me happy/smile. White, S. 2013. What is Beauty?. Interviewed by Camilla Lewis [in person] Nottingham, November 2013.
Model Interview Q&A Tuncay Hassan:
Model Interview Q&A Lotus Chan
What is your definition of beauty? My definition of beauty is natural. I’m not very keen on people who invest to make themselves more beautiful or make themselves more youthful. I believe that people should look more natural as I believe it brings out more of their beautiful features. Also, I believe that people should grow older in age naturally because I think that every person has one beautiful natural feature that everyone will love.
What is beauty? Beauty to me is not only the appearance but about the intermost being. People with their own personality, self-confidence and personality attract me.
And what is your prized possession? My prized possession is my small football I’ve held for so many years, it was my dream to become a footballer when I was small and always use to kick about with it in hope I’d reach my dream. Also, when I look at my small football, as I hardly let go of it. It reminds me of the days of when I was a teenager and the days before I was a teenager, which reminds me of the person I am today.. a competitive, fearless individual. Also what do you think is ugly on the outside and beautiful on the inside? Shrek! Because he may look like one of the scariest/ugliest ogre’s around. But, on the inside, he is a warm hearted ogre who with his personality, manages to get Princess Fiona to kiss him. Who is the most beautiful person to you? And what makes you happy/ smile? The most beautiful person to me is my mum because of how she brought me up into a man and how I can rely on her for everything. Seeing and making other people happy is what makes me happy/smile.
What makes you beautiful? Good upbringing and knowledge make you beautiful. I try to constantly absrb more knowledge to expand my outlook on life and values. Who is the most beautiful person in the world to you? For me, anybody is special. If they have just a little advantage, it is enough, they are beautiful. What do you get complimented on? The paintings i’ve done and the clothes I wear. What do you find attractive in others? People with a ncie dress sense, passion for music and art. Chan, L. 2013. What is Beauty?. Interviewed by Camilla Lewis [in person] Nottingham, November 2013.
Hassan, T. 2013. What is Beauty?. Interviewed by Sayuri Standing [in person] Nottingham, November 2013. Word Count: 2, 059 Word Count with Referencing: 3,341