Idar-Oberstein is a small town in Germany, in between Frankfurt and the French border. It is most famous for its gemstone cutting and dealing industry but also for the jewellery department of the University of Applied Sciences.
The school takes students who have completed the equivalent of a jewellery 'apprenticeship' and they then spend another 4 years studying contemporary jewellery with a focus on stone work.
stone cutting workshop.
an ultra-sonic stone cutting machine!
Each year they hold a symposium called "Schmuck-Denken" (jewellery ideas) and fortunately this year, it coincided with the Davernator does Europe world tour. The theme of this years symposium was Beauty and there was a mixture of talks by artists and by theorists. Unfortunately it was also in a mixture of German and English and being mono-lingual, as I am, meant missing about 50% of the lectures. The talks I did hear, however, were interesting and inspiring. You can see the program over at the symposium link above.
The topic of beauty and jewellery is an interesting one and seems to have been overlooked in recent dialogue and debate about "what is jewellery" (please correct me if you think I'm wrong and point me in the direction of where I can find something about it). The Portugese artist Manuel Vilhena gave a very entertaining and insightful talk about the determination of beauty and how the judgement of aesthetic beauty can become corrupted by the beauty of emotion and intellect. He also developed some hilarious but ultimately quite truthful 'equations' for determining the beauty quotient of an object. I have requested copies and I will post them here when they arrive.
He also spoke about the ownership of opinion and was encouraging us to bravely declare whether we found things beautiful or not and to resist using phrases like "I think it's interesting". So I will end this post by declaring that I find this work beautiful...
But I don't think that this is beautiful...
both images from Velvet da Vinci
Notice my cowardice in not using the word 'ugly', and I also chickened out by choosing two works by Manuel himself. I have effectively given him two compliments and one criticism, so I'm safe!
And I leave it for you to decide whether you think this is beautiful or not.
the ubiquitous Idar-Oberstein gem stone tableau.
Friday, May 25, 2007