11
Apr
10

the golden mean & the physics of aesthetics

this is a subject of which i know nothing.  but it is a subject of which i feel inherently able to comment upon as its very basic essence seems one of which i am genetically predisposed.

the golden ratio/golden rectangle informed the art, architecture of ancient greece & was, allegedly, discovered by our favorite math wizard, pythagoras.   although some claim that the golden mean (phi) confirms a basic aesthetic proportion, others feel that there are too many of these ratios to accurately state that one is more ‘golden’ than the next.

although one can find the golden ratio/mean/rectangle/triangle/pentagram/isoceles triangle in much art of pre-history and again in renaissance art, it’s not until the 20th century that it (for itself) becomes a prominent dialectic in artistic circles.

we may also speculate on the neurophysiological basis behind the sense that the golden mean is a pleasant proportion.  of course, it’s a pleasant proportion & we know that these certain proportions create feelings (little synapses of pleasure coursing through your nervous system & sparking in your brain pan, all *POW* *WOW* *ZAP* *KERPOW*!)

A golden rectangle is one whose side lengths are in the golden ratio, 1: \varphi \, (one-to-phi), that is, 1 : \tfrac{1 + \sqrt{5}}{2} or approximately 1:1.618.  (via wikipedia) & may be easily constructed by following these guidelines.

A golden rectangle can be constructed with only straightedge and combass by this technique:

  1. Construct a simple square
  2. Draw a line from the midpoint of one side of the square to an opposite corner
  3. Use that line as the radius to draw an arc that defines the height of the rectangle
  4. Complete the golden rectangle

for me, though, the golden mean & the physics of aesthetics should be a given.  they say the golden mean does not occur in nature, which seems likely considering the chaotic nonchalance of the natural world (all that striving for dominance, evolution et al.)  but artists (& here i mean ALL artists; musicians, writers, painters, sculptors, CREATORS of art,) the great ones at least, utilize the golden mean, ratio, rectangle, triangle in much of what they do (it might be argued that the abstract expressionists did not and that photographers impose the golden mean upon their compositions.)

the next time you’re at a museum, or an art gallery, take a moment to consider the composition & the artist’s way with the structure of his subject matter, let it be the way, the path to discovering its pleasures, its theme, its beauty.

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2 Responses to “the golden mean & the physics of aesthetics”


  1. June 27, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Nice post! I thoroughly enjoyed your pictures too…


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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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