Friday, May 25, 2007

Idar-Oberstein #1


Idar-Oberstein view.JPG

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.

students workbenches
students' workbenches.

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
stone cutting workshop.

amazing stone cutting machine!
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...

Manuel Vilhena ring

But I don't think that this is beautiful...

Manuel Vilhena brooch
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 cut stone tableau.JPG
the ubiquitous Idar-Oberstein gem stone tableau.


kait said...

I look forward to hearing more about that talk. Being in an area of the U.S. where "Midwest Nice" can reach toxic levels, I know that there are times when "that's interesting..." can, in fact, be the most cutting of insults. And yet, sometimes I do see jewelry that interests my intellect, though I would perhaps not wear it. I often critique art by whether or not I would want to "live with it." But perhaps that too is an avoidance of making an honest statement of "beautiful" or "not beautiful"....

j vorwaller said...

annadee, you are so cementing my desire to travel to europe with these posts of jewelry and castles...

also understand what it is like to sit in on beautiful talks and get 50%, that bi-lingual thing is tricky.


annadee said...

Hi guys, Thanks for your comments. I'll post more on the beauty debate when I receive Manuel's equations.

marta miguel said...

The beauty is the origin between the order and the chaos. The splendor of the form through the matter. The internal beauty in the people. The beauty is what is pleasant to the senses and that therefore cause to please, but everything what it causes to us to please does not have so that to be beautiful. The beautiful thing of one is inside the matter, of the cells of the particles that form to us. What we did not reach to see but to feel is most beautiful and beautiful. The absence of something, of somebody also is it if it remains in our dreams.

shula said...

What a beautiful place.

What a blast this all must be for you.

Uschi said...

I don't know, if I catched every idea right ( the bi-lingual-thing;)).In the German language I can make a difference between "pretty" and "beautiful". The first one is mostly concerning the surface of an object(or a subject- human being), the second one means the whole object: the deep approach to the idea or the material used; or in case of a "subject": the charisma a person has, regardless, whether she's pretty or not. I don't know if you make this difference in the English language, too..
In any case, even here "intersting" has become a form of insult....

Uschi said...

ah...and the mushrooms make me shiver......KITSCH!!

Anonymous said...

i love living in germany but i miss my family in the states im leaving in june but i eat at alot of fancy restraunts there pretty