Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Formulaitic Insight into Aesthetics

Parthiban presents the Fibonachi golden mean

A certified graphic artist adept at web design, multimedia and “now photography”, PSM’s Communications Director.. Parthiban combined the sciences with research to present a gripping session on ‘The art side of photography’, on February 22, 2014 evening.

One of his ice breaking appetizers was: “Photography shows what a thing is. Great photography shows what else a thing is”. Even as one was savoring, he illustrated how like vocabulary needs grammar to produce literature, elements have to meet principles to create great visual frames. Elements (line, colour, shape, tone, texture, space) are the building blocks and the principles (balance, direction, space, emphasis, placement, harmony, and more) the eternal truths of aesthetics. 

Parthiban dipped into examples from films to illustrate his points. These principles are the reason the villain always plots the heinous murder sitting in dim lit environments, where as the lead pair get to romance in the open, in sunshine.

His illustrations of symmetric and asymmetric balance had the colour and clarity of Montessori lessons. A horizontal frame has an innate stability, and it is calming. By the same logic, a vertical capture has a sense of dominance and power. A diagonal composition uses the diagonal power line and has shear kinetic energy. Curves are the idiom to express emotions.

Then Parthiban introduced the golden spiral. Going beyond the more commonly known rule of third, the golden spiral is a perpetual sequence. It is a series of squares, each 1.6 times the next one, arranged along a spiral path, either clockwise or anti clockwise. The resultant trajectory traces eye movement. Aesthetic frames have elements stacked along the spiral.

As the audience was taking in this new template for aesthetics first proposed by Italian Fibonochi, came the climax. It was like the revelation scene in classic drama, when the missing fragments of the puzzle come together to form the magical icon. When superimposed on some famous and some familiar photos, Fibonochi’s spiral template sat snugly, almost as if fitting back into a groove that moulded it. Classic. Convincing. Forcing one to look at all pictures through a new prism.

As I was leaving the hall, I found myself feeling my nose. Then a fleeting thought: hey, how well does it fit an imaginary Fibonochi spiral covering my face in profile? I smiled at the thought, but such was the impact of the new gospel, forcing an involuntary re-evaluation of even the familiar and comfortable compositions.

Testing Golden Spiral - in Portrait,  Photo by Srinivasa Krishnan

Article Author: Thomas T Abraham
Design: Parthiban T
Photo: Srinivasa Krishnan


  1. Great Parthipan...Record these sessions and share the video so we also can learn it.

  2. I agree with Sarith! Please share the video recording of such seminars

  3. Superb work Parthiban. Looking forward to attend your repeat session this Saturday!

  4. Dear Mr Thomas thanks for writeup.I have missed previouly as I was out of station and is going to miss it again on 15 as I am going again out of chennai on 15th morning