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Rhythm Vision: A Guide to Visual Awareness, by Dennis Roth. Intaglio Press, College Station, Texas, 1990; 128 pp. (softcover), $12.95.
Overall Rating: 8 (out of 10)
Difficulty Level: 6 (out of 10)
Recommendation: A sweet, en-lightful, book with wonderful sentiments, musings, and photography.
This is a cheerful, inspiring, and marvelous little discourse on the subjects of light, vision, and human awareness.
In his introduction, Dennis Roth tells us that "Visual Awareness is not the exclusive preserve of artists," and that:
If you can see the strangeness of a random assemblage of ordinary objects temporarily divorced from their utilitarian associations, the beauty of the cracks in the sidewalk, eroded street turn arrows and crosswalks, peeled paint, and the patina of trash cans and other artifacts exposed to weathering; if you can prize the mystery of leafy reflections on street signs, of objects distributed in space, see shadows as more than just projections but as part of the objects themselves and more generally accord equal rights to all visual experiences and not dismiss them as mere shadows, reflections, or distortions, then you have gone a long way towards a richer appreciation of the visual world. (emphasis added)
Clearly and forthrightly, Roth has set his sites on inviting our beginner's mind to appreciate the bloomin' buzzin' confusion of the raw visual world.
He does this, quite successfully, in three ways.
First, his lyrical, poetic, and philosophical vision brings across his powerful enthusiasm for seeing anew. For example, he implores us to:
Let light be your sometimes traveling companion as you walk by metal fences and railings and, as you part, acknowledge its presence with a gesture of friendship and gratitude. See the Maze Effect as light darts through water in the honey-combed cells of a man-hole cover or as it gracefully outlines a puddle of water...See the photonic scintillas from the carbonized remains of a burnt tree and then look at a Louise Nevelson sculpture in new light. See the filaments of light as it incarnates itself on telephone and power cables, as it strobes and flashes off insulators and mesh fences.
Admittedly, I don't even know who Louise Nevelson is, but now I'd really like to find out.
Second, he gives us a catalog of terms and techniques for seeing with Rhythm Vision (i.e., the "general principle behind viewing objects while walking to an internal beat"). His techniques and terms have names such as "Tree Dancing," "Seeing Sound," "The Orgy of Maya," "Curbaceousness," "The George Jefferson Effect," and many other examples which demonstrate his creativity and inventiveness.
Third, the book is illustrated with dozens of truly beautiful black and white photographs which are related back to the text and the techniques. You get to *see* what he has seen, through the magic of photography and book publishing.
Ultimately, this is a fun, endearing, unpretentious, and thoroughly enjoyable book. An earnest effort for all to see; a delight to the eye of the I; a pretty picture of one man's genuine efforts to enlighten us.
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