October 21, 2012

Art and visual perception by Rudolf Arnheim

Art and visual perception by Rudolf Arnheim

A Psychology of the Creative Eye.

[A great book on study of arts - explains how the eye organizes visual material according to definite psychological laws. There so much to take notes from this book and hence I am writing down couple of them]

Any stimulus pattern tends to be seen in such a way that the resulting structure is as simple as the given conditions permit.

In an absolute sense, a folks song is simpler than a symphony and a child’s drawing is simpler than a painting by Tiepolo. But we must also consider relative simplicity which applied to every complexity level. Compositions by adults are rarely as simple as the conceptions of children; when they are we tend to doubt the maturity of the maker. This is because the human brain is the most complex mechanism in nature and when a person fashions a statement that is to be worthy of him, he must make it rich enough to reflect the richness of his mind. Simple objects may please and satisfy us by serving limited functions appropriately, but all true works of art are quite complex even when look ‘simple’.

Great works of art are complex, but we also praise them for “having simplicity’, by which we mean that they organize a wealth of meaning and form in an overall structure that clearly defines the place and function of every detail in whole. This way of organizing a needed structure in the simplest way may be called its orderliness.

Appearance of any part depends, to a greater or lesser extent, on the structure of the whole, and the whole in turn is influenced by the nature of its parts. If they carried too much expression of their own, they would have marred the unity of the whole work. This is why dancers, who speak through their bodies, often wear deliberately blank facial expressions; and it is why Picasso, after experimenting with sketches of rather complex hands and figures for his Guernica, made them much simpler in the final work.

At the first stage of the first dimension, spatial conception is limited to a linear track.  There is no specification of shape. A two-dimensional conception brings two great enrichments. First, it offers extension in space and therefore the varieties if size and shape: Second, it adds to mere distance the differences in direction and orientation. Three-dimensional space, finally, offers complete freedom: shape extending in any perceivable direction, unlimited arrangements of objects, and the totally mobility of a swallow. Beyond these three spatial dimensions visual imagery cannot reach; the range can be extended only by intellectual construction.

In colors, red and green, being of equal intensity, divided retinal activity into equal halves, whereas yellow and violet were produced by a ratio of three to one and orange and blue in the ratio of two to one.  (Green & Red -1/2; Blue (1/3)& orange(2/3), violet(1/4)& yellow(3/4), black(0) & white(1))

A motion is the strongest visual appeal to attention. Motion implies a change in the conditions of the environment, and change may require reaction.  The three variables of the later system are qualitative: space refers to the path of the movement, which may be straight and direct or flexible and indirect; Force indicates the difference between vigorous strength and delicate weightlessness; Time distinguishes between slow lingering and a sudden start. In conceiving of his or her activities from the outside but by understanding the impulses that produce the desired effect. What a dancer or actor wishes to obtain is not like the sign language of a semaphore transmitting its coded message to the intellect of the recipient by gesticulation. It is rather a pattern of visual forces, whose impact is immediately felt.

Since, however to speak of movement is obviously metaphorical when one refers to painting, sculpture, architecture, or photography, where nothing moves physically, what precisely is the nature of the visual phenomenon thus desired? The one theory prevalent among philosophers and psychologists avoids the challenge by asserting that in such cases the observer is under the illusion that actual locomotion is taking place or more subtly but less clearly that the image feels as though it were in motion – perhaps because the viewer generates within his own body appropriate kinesthetic reactions. This latter theory can be found in Hermann Rorschach’s discussion of movement response to his inkblots.

October 3, 2012

Speak like Churchill and Stand like Lincoln by James C. Humes

Speak like Churchill and Stand like Lincoln by James C. Humes
21 powerful secrets of History’s greatest speakers.

Every time you open your mouth your capability as a leader is judged.

1. Power pause
I stand in pause where I shall first begin - William Shakespeare.

Try staging the strategic delay the next time you deliver a sales pitch or answer a query put to you during a conversation. Napoleon knew the keys to charisma and the power pause method was his key to magnifying his message. Before you answer, take time to look directly into the eyes of your questioner and hold his or her gaze a beat.

Stand Stare and command your audience

Before you speak, try to lock your eyes on each of your soon-to-be listeners. Force yourself before you begin your presentation to say in your own mind each word of your opening sentence. Every word you wait will strengthen the impact of your opening words. Stand, stare and command your audience and they will bend your ears to listen.

2. Power opener.
The prime time of any talk or presentation you give is during your opening words. Everyone in the audience is waiting to see what you look and sound like. Do not waste that psychological edge with trite blather. Go for the power opener. Begin with a bang. Prepare it, polish it and practice it.A power opener is an attention grabber and an audience awakener.

3. Power presence - “Clothes, which as it seems, makes thee” - William Shakespeare.
Clothes make a statement. The selection of garment should not be causal or by chance. Adapt a style that suits you and that people will identify with you.

Style for men: Shoe - dark brown or black cordovan. Two piece rather than three piece suit in gray or navy blue is appropriate. ‘The most underused and understates piece os clothing: the classic white shirt”. Straight collar with buttoned cuffs is hard to beat. A blue button-down Oxford is always appropriate

4. Power point - “Speak plain and to the purpose” - William Shakespeare
What is it you want the audience to do when the speech is over? what is the bottom line - in one sentence. Plan your speech like a Symphony.

5 Power Brief.
Less is more in an adage that has been identified with architecture and fashion. Terse is better than tedious. Shorter is sweeter. Short is sharper and brief is better.

Tell a story, not a speech.
The exceptional is often the unexpected -

6 . Power quote.
    First rule with quotes. Be comfortable with the quote;
Second rule: prominent and pithy (the name should be recognizable and the quotation brief)
Good communication spells the difference between a leader and a manager. Speech is theater - so dig up one apt quotation and frame it with props.

Dramatize and emphasize your quote to make it a power quote.
Produce present perform your quote.Before your next talk, look over your file and pick the most apt quotation for your talk or presentation, one that will support your data and reinforce your facts.

7. Power Stat - “A statistic should tell a story” - Margaret Thatcher.
Some statistics are cited precisely and up front to obtain immediate credibility; otherwise are frames more roundly to be remembered by the audience. Too many numbers numb an audience. Pick the strongest and the finest data (statistics).  round your statistics (such a way that it is easy to understand or correlate (Sweden is five times bigger than Connecticut than saying Sweden is 150 K sq. miles)
Relay your statistics to your listeners and compare to the familiar.
Audience remember odd number than even numbers.
Figures lie and liars figure

8. Power outage. “Too many slides make audience sleepy” = Richard Nixon.

Slides are no substitute for speaking.
A prop, not a crutch. If you aim to be a leader, let your slides be a prop , not a crutch.
Reinforcement rather than replacement. Visual aids should be used to reinforce, not replace the speech.
Keep slides simple.Don’t let your slides become your security blanket.
Slides: an appetizer, not the mean

9. Power wit. Don’t tack on jokes. The difference between a joke and a humor is the difference between a pornography picture and a love scene in a good move. Aristotle once wrote. “The essence of humor is surprise”. As Shakespeare observed, “It makes a speech amble easily”. Humor is a change of pace that refreshes.

Great speakers often use humor to lighten the mood of their audience.
The three Rs of humor. - Make it realistic, make it relevant and don't read it

Make stories realistic and relevant Leaders don’t begin speeches with stale old jokes; but they do spice up their talks with humorous anecdotes.

Adopt and Anecdote: The secret to presenting speech humor is to weave it in as part of your own experience.
Humor and poetic license:

Illustrating with a Parable: Benjamin Franklin also stressed the importance of investment with a story.

10. Power Parable.
Parables provide picture of abstractions
Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream
Turn concepts into concrete
Arsenal of anecdotes
Storehouse of stories
When you share a bit of yourself with others, you win their trust and affection and they will more readily buy into what you are promoting.

11. Power gesture.-
A master of body language and bonding through body language. Leadership sometimes demands more than verbiage. It requires visible acts. Ghose and use a power gesture.

12. Power Reading.
Memorize then conventionalize
Don’t speak while looking down
See-Stop - say technique: Pause are what make a speech sound conversational. When you pause, you sound sincere, as if you are trying to come up with the right words to express your thoughts.

13. Power poetry.
Churchill would argue that an article should be written for the eye and speech for the ear.
Transform a speech into poetry. If speech is prose, the phrase-by-phrase technique can transform it into poetry.
Make your layout luminous - for any talk, little or long, take your types speech and space it out in bite-size phrases.  Following are some of the rules that help to do so:

When you come to a comma, cut the line off
If your subject is followed by its predicate, don’t separate them
When a preposition is succeed by its object, don’t dissect the two
Never end a line with a or the
When you see a period, make sure to call a halt.
Churchill believed that in remarks directed to the ear, a semicolon was verboten, whereas a dash fit the rhythm of a speech of talk.

Let the layout leap out at you. The layout lets the key words and phrases leap out at you. You don’t have to be glued to the text. Secret of changing the old typed article layout into a format approaching that of verse. Students tell me that this way of laying out a talk into phrases is the most useful advice they have taken away from my class. Change your format to Churchill’s. Lay out your lines like a leader and you will sound like one.

14. Power line.
There Is a secret to coining a power line. And I doubt it will surprise you that Churchill reportedly came up with a formula that’s easily remembered by its acronym: C-R-E-A-M (Contrast-Rhyme-Echo-Alliteration-Metaphor)

Opposites attract (only answer to defeat is victory)

Versifier as well as speechwriters often turn to the Rhyming Nine - AME, AIR, ITE, AKE, OW, AY, ATE, EEM, AIN - for coining zinger lines.

AME - aim, blame, claim, fame, name, shame, same, game, reclaim, proclaim, flame

AIR - bear, care, dare, fare, fair, share, aware, swear, pare, declare, where, scare, prayer, beware

ITE - bite, cite, fight, fright, height, light, night, right, quite, sight, write, delight, foresight, ignite, tonight

AKE - ache, break, fake, sake, shake, stake, take, make, awake, undertake, mistake

OW - dough, flow, foe, glow, go, grow, know, low, show, slow, throw, ago

AY - day, pray, stay, say, way, pay, play, away, stray, they, array, display

ATE - ate, date, fate, great, late, state, slate, straight, wait, weight, abate, donate

EEM - beam, cream, dream, gleam, steam, scheme, seem, stream, team, theme, esteem, redeem

AIN - gain, pain, reign, stain, strain, wane, vein, attain, retain, regain, explain, remain, sustain,

The echo effect :
Echo is repetition of a word or a phrase. (only thing we have to fear is fear itself).

1. repeat the word in the second phrase that you used in the first.
2. Repeat the noun
3. Repeat the verb

Alliterate and activate:
Consonants are better for alliteration than vowels and the best of the consonant is P. Churchill once framed his secret of speaking in a series of P.
Vary the pose and vary the pitch and don’t forget the pause.

Metaphor (Analogies)
Aristotle once wrote: ‘the highest line of the poet is sometimes the hardest to image.

15 Power question
The question as a quip.
Know the answer - in cross-examination of witness, an iron-clad rule is to never ask a question if you are not sure of the answer.
Using series of questions:

Rhetorical power:
Sometimes rhetorical questions - those to which no answer is expected - are posed as a speech device to motivate listeners to get involved.

16. Power word and power phrases
Churchill would introduce compelling or unusual words with a deliberate stuttering pause.

17. Power active
Passive is pale and verbal constructions employing the passive voice too often suggest the passive state of mind

Avoid Whabby words  - such as Were, Have/Had, Are/is, Be/Been. These are potential overuse of pause.

Passive is for ‘cover-your-ass types and the active choice is for the take-charge leaders.
The active voice provides force to your speech, whereas the passive voice sounds spineless and deadens your delivery.

18. Power dollar.
We can describe the Franklin formula for fund-raising with these four words that begin with D:
Defiance, Design, Donation and duel.

Defiance is a strong word - it suggests presumptuous, audacious, or even cocky attitude.
Design - paint a picture
Donation - faint hear wins not
Dual: high noon at the OK.Corral.
Don’t think a letter will take the place of a personal visit.

19. Power Button.
power button says to the audience - ready-set-listen to set them up for the power line that follows.
Light up a line like a neon sign
Switch on the ignition with a power button.
One power button per speech.

20. Power closer.”Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending”- H.W. Longfellow.
A strong last impression
Scripture or Shakespeare
For a strong ending, said Churchill, you have to appeal to the emotions - pride, hope, love and occasionally, fear.

Apply their anecdotes and draw from history.
Create a Cathedral (story /history)
Pick proven closer.
Plant a flower
Crisp closer - electric endings

21. Power Audacity.
Surprise the audience - communication is more than just the words you express. it is also the impression you make.
Leader’s don’t always follow the script. They make moves that live in the memories of their listeners.
Stage your scene - speakers can’t gain podium power by doing the predictable and prosaic. One can gain a great deal by taking the risk of doing the unexpected. An unconditional display of courage can send an unusually strong message.