Beauty Through Abstraction

Defining something as beautiful or ugly is a task that is almost impossible to accomplish. As much as todays world and the overload of images being thrown at us tries to define these words in society, it is something so subjective that a concrete definition can never exist. The strategies artists and designers have employed in order to grasp the attention of it’s audience has evolved and changed along side the inevitable change in society, yet these two words have remained fundamental indicators. The difficulty of defining these words such as beauty, ugly, shocking and sublime have drastically changed through out history but the desire for the shocking, ugly and the unpleasant in visual culture has remained a constant.

As Michael Kammen said “It is neither accidental nor coincidental that many of the most controversial artists of our time have explicitly declared the desirability of ambiguity. ”  Ambiguity is something that is open to an infinite amount of interpretations, making the definition of what one is looking at hard to define. The removal of a concise definition in our restricted language both extract an anxiety as one views and creates beauty within the mystery. The beautifully ugly is an exploration of a method of finding beauty through abstractions by collection 100 images of visual culture that has been branded ugly and extracting out of context enough for them to loose there original definition. I research and analysed the so called definitions of words such as beauty, ugly, shocking and sublime through out the last two centuries in order to choose the images. The importance of language is such an inherent part of our being that if we don’t have the exact words to define a possible infinite amount of definitions, it almost becomes impossible to comprehend, as society changes daily, shouldn’t the words we use to describe it alter as well?

Credits & details
Constanza Pinto

@constanzapinto 2023