I went out to another exhibition yesterday, the Karl Blossfeldt at the Whitechapel Gallery. The photography was quite stunning, really revelatory in places, and I was interested in the statements he had made about architecture in nature and its extension into our expression of art, also the prophetic idea, expressed by another in the 1930s, that those without cameras would eventually become the illiterate of a future age. Facebook, anyone? Any artist needs to make some kind of decision about what, if anything, their creations will represent, and, while I do not envisage some kind of sea change in my writing, it certainly gave me pause for thought.
Taking myself off to exhibitions, plays and so on is a relative novelty for me. For many years I worked extremely hard at teaching and the like, always promising myself that, once I hit forty, I would use what that strenuous effort had given in order to do what I wanted to do, hence the abrupt leap into the compositional unknown a short time back. Quite simply, I never used to have time for these peripheral enjoyments (although one could argue that they should be anything but peripheral), and it is taking some time to reeducate myself to unchain my fingers from the computer keyboard and go out and do things.
Of course, the symmetries and relationships found on the micro scale in a plant are the same as those found on the macro scale, as glimpsed in the Visions Of The Universe exhibition, but our current scientific knowledge also tells us that, at the very, very smallest levels, things are pure chaos. I rather like the idea of nature imposing order on chaos in its shapes, and think that it ties in nicely with a (or, at least, this) composer’s work.
I think of Beethoven 9 when I look at this second image, or, more appropriately, a Sibelius symphony, fragments of ideas which gradually coalesce into a whole at a pivotal and structurally important moment in the work. Maybe I should dig out Jean Sibelius’s 5th Symphony once again this afternoon and given it yet another spin around my head. No doubt I shall find yet more allusions therein, motifs in search of a theme.
Blossfeldt, by the way, was well into his sixties when he had his book of photographs published, in which all our human achievement could be found on the smallest of levels, sometimes looking astonishingly familiar, necessitating a double-take, at others lifting the veil into what alien worlds and forms might look like. Whereas in choral music I like to go with the lie of the text, I think that there are ideas swimming in the primordial swamp at the back of my brain which might just crawl out if ever that first symphony comes to pass.