Fred Foldvary: Pictures at a Web Exhibition
|April 11, 2005||Posted by Fred Foldvary under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Pictures at a Web Exhibition
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
If you are reading this in a public place, I suggest you attach earphones to the computer, because this article is audio-visual. We about to enter another world, an art gallery. When we visit an art gallery, we leave the ordinary world and are placed in world of imagination. In a good art gallery, the paintings are placed so that they create a complementary universe. The imaginations are not concocted out of nothing, because the artists’ visions reflect interpretations of the real world and can help us see our realities in a new light.
Open a new computer window, to Pictures at a Web Exhibition . If you have muted or disabled the sound, turn it on, because you will hear the symphony, Pictures at an Exhibition, by Modest Mussorgsky. Here we see six pictures. The symphony sets the tone for viewing the pictures.
What is the overall theme of these “Pictures at a Web Exhibition”? The theme is the human experience. In the Mussorgsky symphony, each picture has its own musical interpretation. So too at this exhibition, each picture has its own song. Enter the first, leftmost, picture.
“The Alien on the Blue Moon” shows three beings on an alien planet. One is a child, and in the upper left corner we see an animal in the distance, a dinosaur. This painting by a child depicts a archetype alien being, with horns, big teeth, and one green eye. But this is a friendly monster, smiling, holding the hand of its child.
The music is “Blue Moon,” written in 1934. It became a hit sung by the Marcels in 1961. In the lyrics, the blue moon turns to gold, like the orange color in the painting. This painting represents the forces of nature, alien and strange, yet providing life and the resources for life. The world can be cold and blue, but we can also turn it to gold.
Now hit the back button and return to the pictures. Go into the next picture, Dyana’s “Apples in the Mist,” accompanied by Tannhäuser by Richard Wagner, an opera about a ministrel who must choose between sin and redemption. The beautiful haunting music hints of sadness and trouble.
The orchard represents the works of man, applying labor to nature to produce goods, such as the apples here. Like the minstrel, we choose between production and destruction. Nature provides us with the potential for plenty and beauty, but we make a mess of it.
Now go back to the gallery. The third painting depicts mars. Enter it and you see a photo of the red planet. The music is the movement for mars from the symphony The Planets by Gustav Holst. Mars was the ancient god of war and still serves as a symbol for war, captured brilliantly by Holst. War at first brings out exuberance and valor, but ends in agony, death, and sorrow. Here we can view mars and listen to Holst while pondering war and peace.
Let’s go back to the gallery. The next painting is The Card Players by Paul Cezanne. Enter it, and you hear music by Johann Sebastian Bach, “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring.” What is man’s desiring? Most folks seek spirituality, love and peace. The two card players represent friendship and leisure. A card game represents friendly competition, a voluntary game with rules that people agree to, in contrast to the god of war.
Go back again to the gallery, and enter the next picture. It depicts Romeo and Juliet, in love. The music is the “Dance of the Knights” from the ballet symphony Romeo and Juliet by Serge Prokofieff, the Russian composer. This vivid, captivating music elevates us into the world of exhilarating love. Dancing expresses the human joy of living. Here we have supreme human happiness, Romeo and Juliet falling in love. But their families disapprove, and the love becomes a tragedy. Again, the potential of happiness, but marred by all too human conflict.
Back to the gallery, we enter the last picture, the Gadsden flag from the American Revolution. The rattlesnake is a symbol of the American revolution, and all revolutions against tyranny. The motto expresses the right of all human beings to be free from the harmful interventions — tredding — of others.
The music is the French National Anthem, The Marseillaise celebrating the French Revolution. It was composed by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792 and was played at a patriotic banquet in Marseilles, France. The French composer Hector Berlioz later arranged the song for a chorus and orchestra. It begins:
- Allons enfants de la patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivi.
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L’itendard sanglant est levi.
Arise, children of the nation!
Our day of glory is here.
For against us we see raised
Tyranny’s bloody banner!
The American and French revolutions are closely linked. Both inspired revolutions against tyranny world-wide. But many revolutions, like the Russian one in 1917, ended badly, with yet another tyranny. Only when people understand the universal ethic will the spirit of liberty at last be realized.
Let’s return to the gallery. After viewing all the pictures, pondering and interpreting their expressions and impressions, we can appreciate the meaning and beauty of the world the collection takes us to. We see here nature, production, war, friendship, love, and revolution. It is the human experience. I hope you enjoyed the “Pictures at a Web Exhibition”!
Copyright 2005 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
Also read these:
The Universal Ethic
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