Source unknown – Title Unknown (197X)
Although this seems–initially–highly staged/contrived in an effort to balance the composition, there’s also something profoundly compelling about it.
I knew from square one that I fucking adored it. Putting my finger on the why of it took some time. But, last week I stumbled upon an article about a photo snapped during one of the many brawls in the Ukrainian Parliament and how it has garnered a great deal of attention because its composition resembles the Golden Ratio governing composition of Renaissance masterpieces.
It’s really the first time the how of the Rule of Thirds derivation from the Golden Ratio has made sense to me. But it triggered another correlation that’s generally overlooked in most work governed by the rule of thirds–the reliance on an increasingly dense deployment of negative space as thing spirals outward.
This realization reminds me of the wonderful–as per usual–analysis Every Frame a Painting presented of Nicolas Winding Refn’s grossly under-appreciated Drive and it’s use of a so-called Quadrant System of composition.
Granted Refn’s use of quadrants isn’t exactly in line with the Golden Ratio; however, I suspect if one had the time and energy one could demonstrate that the reason some of the unexpected cuts he uses work so well is actually due to an overall respect for the Golden Ratio across connecting scenes… the point is if you overlay quadrants over the rule of thirds and recall that one quadrant needs to be predominantly negative space, then the logic of the rule of thirds suddenly clarifies itself. (At least for me it does.)
I strongly suspect that the above image was originally composed according to the Golden Ratio and subsequently cropped prior to publication. It’s interesting to note that if something is rigorously composed according the Golden Ratio, then any thoughtful crop retains a logical consistency in composition.
Yet, what especially fascinates me is that although my first thought is stylized contrivance–looking at this now, I view it more as a lie about a lie that manages to tell something not unlike the truth.
I love her introspective expression, the way it conflicts with the obvious catering to the voyeur suggested by her pose and it now strikes me as disarmingly intimate and beautiful.