August 6th, 2005

operesque

Beauty Week 3: Beauty changes

Disregard all the rubbish you hear about "timeless beauty". Beauty changes. Of course it does. That's one of the most beautiful things about it. Things that are beautiful from one angle are ugly from another. Things that look good in one context, under one type of lighting, look bad in another, under another. Surrounded by ugly people, you look relatively good. By beautiful people, relatively bad. As the ugly duckling found out, what's ugly today might be beautiful tomorrow. Not because some "true inner beauty" comes out, but because things are changing all the time, and because we move the goalposts and rewrite the rules. Some new ideal of beauty gets revived. Not only does everything change, but we also change our eyes and our ways of seeing.



This week the BBC website and the Shobus blog agreed on something: that candy-striped postmodern buildings from the 1980s were suddenly beautiful again. Buildings which look like Memphis furniture. Buildings like One Poultry and MI6 HQ in London, or Kisho Kurokawa's Softopia headquarters in Ogaki, Japan:

Here's Kisho Kurokawa discussed in O.lamm's entry on Shobus blog.

Here's Mullets. White jeans. Architecture?, an article on the BBC News site, which begins: "As with fashion, styles come and go in buildings. With the haircuts, clothes and music of the 1980s making a comeback, is its architecture due a revival?"

When I watch old buildings become newly beautiful, am I watching buildings change or watching my own eyes change? Or perhaps I'm watching change itself, and finding change itself beautiful.

Here are some people listening to their own ears change in an I Love Music thread called "Do you ever overload on a band or artist at a particular point in your life until one day you wake up and you just can't listen to them any more?"

Last night Hisae and I saw a really beautiful film, The Cave of the Yellow Dog. It's set in Mongolia, and gently dramatizes the life of a nomad family who live in a yurt. Hisae slept through most of it, though, having beautiful dreams!

Here's a list of records I'm finding beautiful at the moment:

Ariel Pink: "Worn Copy"
Fan Club Orchestra Japan: "20001: A Space Odyssey"
Various: "A Paen To Flexipop"
DJ Elephant Power: "No Si, No So"
Robert Ashley: "Perfect Lives"
Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto: "Vrioon"
Rusty Santos: "The Heavens"
Terrestrial Tones: "Oboroed / Circus Lives"

And some old kabuki record I bought last year in Omihachiman. Speaking of last year, here are some of my blog entries from one year ago, which contain a lot of beauty, I think:

Graphics: Generics or Chaotics?

A Postcard from Kyoto

Osaka, yukata, geta

Polyhedric

Very much my cup of tea

Here are two beautiful people:

May Kasahara

Eye Yamataka

Sixty years ago today one of the least beautiful things in human history happened. Nuclear weapons were used against civilians for the first time.