Monday, 23 July 2012

Susie Smoking: Nick Knight

 Click here for the image
This has been one of my favourite photos from the moment I set eyes on it. There are a number of things that strike me about it, but first and foremost is the very formal nature of composition with the vertical through the smoke and the horizontal that runs across the top of her thigh complying almost exactly to ‘rule of thirds. In addition the harmonic diagonal from bottom right to mid left runs along her leg and chin line.
But, what interests me most about the formality however is the way that her posture mimics the layout of a classical rikka style Ikebana flower arrangement. The smoke fulfils the role of ‘shin’ with her head at ‘shoshin’ (true faith perhaps), and the flowing curve of her legs following the classic lines of ‘nagashi’. Her elbows fill other positions, and the tail of the coat provides the traditionally solid trunk from which the arrangement flows.
At the same time the overall composition, with the top right 2/3 of the shot essentially empty is quite modern and western minimalist in style – much of the fabric is in semi-silhouette and reveals little detail.
So overall the picture balances a formal western modernity with Japanese tradition and creativity which, in a picture for a Japanese fashion designer could hardly be more appropriate.
I have no idea how much of this Knight pre-conceived – I suspect quite a lot -but for me it is an example par excellence of using composition, and reference to other forms, to create a story or impression.

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