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|Thesis | The World of Teruo Sato |Technique|2-Composition To Broad Band Index

2, Composition

  (1)  General Remarks

   In picture, the importance of composition is not always recognized, since the painter can freely create object and setting. This is in contrast with the emphasis put in composition in the field of photography.
   On the other hand, in architecture, there is no object or setting as the elements of composition, and hence architects ignore composition in a different sense. As a result, lack of understanding occurs between painter and architect. This indifference is though to cause significant losses in artistic creations.
   If new formative ideas created in the field of architecture are applied to the composition of picture, there is a possibility that great innovation would happen. In the times when wall pictures were of popular use, there used to be an understanding of the sense of interrelation between picture and architecture.
   However, when canvas was created and painters started to handle their work as their own personal belonging, this interrelation vanished away from their pictorial sense. The separation between picture and architecture starts this way, and an integrated view that united both began to fade.
   In the meantime, in sculpture, there is no such an element as setting, and the concept of composition is never present. However, if the sculptor wants to incorporate in his work the place where his object stands, a setting is formed and sculptural composition becomes possible.

(2)  The characteristics of Picture and Composition

   As shown in the work part, the characteristic of picture that differs from that of architecture or sculpture is its capacity to draw a three-dimensional space into a two-dimensional plane. The choice to draw on the picture's surface either a two-dimensional plane or a three-dimensional object determines the nature of the picture.
    If to express the three dimensionality of an object, one has to draw it into the picture's surface. In this case, as textbook explains, canvas is seen as a transparent screen. This is so called "perspective plan". If one is to express only the two-dimensional plane, everything that is seen is dropped onto the plane. This is the " projection plan". Thus, the composition is classified into two types: "perspective plan type" and "projection plan type", according to the nature of the picture.
    In "perspective plan type" composition, the picture's surface is considered as human's eye retina, which strictly reproduces the object that is reflected in the vision. This is "perspective". As shown in the work part, in Sato' work, canvas' surface represents the painter's eye; hence "perspective plan type" being the only composition used.
    In "projection plan type" composition, a picture's surface is divorced from human's sight. This type of composition is often used in abstraction picture. In the West, the two types of composition are clearly distinguished, but it is not so in the East. In Japanese "Ukiyoe" which uses "projection plan type" composition, perspective is naturally used. (As it is well known, the ones that use the "perspective plan" are called "Ukie".)
    "Projection plan" and "perspective plan" become the frame of composition and divide the picture's surface into several areas. Object and setting are placed in locations chosen by the painter within the divided areas.
    The locations created here are given specific meaning, both physically and psychologically. By overlapping these meanings with the meaning of the object and the setting, one can understand the various meanings of the whole picture. To consider only the cultural meaning of the object is not enough to understand the picture as a whole. It is necessary to relate them with the meanings that the specific area created by the composition carries.

However, it is impossible to attain a sufficient understanding of a picture only with factors related to technical instruments such as line and color, without an understanding of the composition that is derived from painter's world-view. The most important thing here is the understanding of symbol operation (in a wide sense) that is peculiar to picture: this is what unites the material figure (the physical side) with the ideal figure (the mental/ abstract side) of the object in the picture.
    Now, what sort of meaning would we find in composition plan, which becomes an essential element in understanding the meaning of a picture? Below we explain in detail about "projection plan" and "perspective plan".
    In "projection plan", every object that is to be drawn is reflected on the picture's surface. Therefore, the meaning of composition also limits to this surface. These are concerned to verticality and horizontality. Here, verticality is related to the sacred and horizontality with the secular. These are the meaning of composition in terms of world-view.
    As for verticality, upper part carries the meaning of God or heaven, and lower part of devil or hell. On the other hand, in horizontality, it is difficult to attach any universal meaning to right and left part that corresponds to the meanings of upper and lower part with verticality. However, as shown in the person part, Sato has his own peculiar way of attaching the meaning of life to verticality and of death to the horizontality, creating the peculiarity of his work. Thus, the composition meaning that is derived from the painter's world-view is created, according to the location on the picture's surface.
    In "perspective plan", such an effect is mostly seen when the three-dimensionality of a body appears as depth that is expressed vertically in the picture's surface. In simple words, the space seems to stretch toward the far back.
    In such a case, a foreground, a middleground, and a background appear on the picture's surface. These three are physically separated from each other and it is impossible to overlap them on the screen. Since it is possible to express depth, "perspective plan" seems to enjoy a higher degree of expression. But the more an object goes to background, the smaller it becomes, and hence its degree of expression decreases, too. Also in " projection plan", as is in "cubism", one may express many meanings by drawing things that the eyes cannot see. Thus there is almost no difference in the degree of expression between "perspective plan" and "projection plan". In the meantime, the meanings of world-view mentioned above (that is expressed in the verticality and the horizontality on the picture's surface) are the same in "perspective plan" and "projection plan".
    Usually, in "projection plan", the main object that becomes the theme of the picture is placed at the center and in "perspective plan", at the middleground. In "projection plan" the setting is placed around the object. In " perspective plan", usually the setting is placed at the background part and a subordinative object is often placed at the foreground. In other words, background is where the setting plays a leading role and foreground is where the object plays such a role. The middleground is, then, where both (the setting and the object) interlace.
    In "projection plan", one can place the object and the setting next to each other, creating a contrasting effect. Also, here it is possible for the setting to exert a strong effect on the foreground in "projection plan". On the other hand, in "perspective plan", one can increase the number of object and at the same time maintain its presence and thickness. These are the merit of each plan method.
    As shown above, there is no functional difference between these two plan methods, and both have their merits and defects. In Europe, from a historical point of view, "perspective plan" was first established, being then overthrown by the discovery of "projection plan". But this does not imply superiority or inferiority of either plan methods.

                                          ― Written, summarized and translated by Taketoshi Murayama ―                                                     ― Original translation is rewritten by Chigusa Tanzawa

This text must not be translated into any other languages without author's permission.

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