This is a photo of Chinese writing tools and is a good prompt for thinking about the East and West of words, writing and art.
Susan says, “These Chinese writer’s tools are so different from those used by western writers. Excluding the mechanical assistance of a computer or typewriter, we westerners typically use a pen or pencil. Some people add flair and expense with fountain pens or the augmentation of calligraphy, but generally the purpose in the west of putting ink to paper is to communicate quickly. Westerners chew on their pencils and write with disposable pens. Here we are seeing something very different. Are we in touch with a significant difference between east and west? Are we looking at the intersection of art and the utilitarian? And not in the sense a novelist might mean, where the art is the selecting of the right word to express the idea and the utilitarian is the pencil. But instead the words themselves are the art. No lined legal pad or sharpened #2 yellow pencil will do. Instead we are looking at a process that involves many beautiful brushes each with a specific purpose, an ornate brush stand, a decorated brush cup, and three pronged brush rests.”
Lucia says, “For me, this is all about composition. Someone did a lovely job of setting up this display of Chinese writing implements. The photo itself is also well composed. The brushes are the focal point here. Imagine if I’d filled the frame with the brushes and excluded the paper. It would have been a completely different photo. It would have been interesting, but I don’t think it would have captured the feel of this scene. I’m sure the display was intended to look as if the calligrapher had just stepped away for a few moments. Including the paper in the photo puts the brushes in context, as we see the result of their implementation. And photographically speaking, the slightly blurred paper in the foreground gives the composition depth and draws your eye to the main attraction – the brushes.”
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