How can we truly define framing when there is an entire category of abstraction that has its own way of framing… or lack there of? Some of the pieces that I have been drawn to throughout this process are those that depict perhaps a lack of subject and more of an abstract pattern or image. The term abstract can be defined as “expressing ideas and emotions by using elements such as colors and lines without attempting to create a realistic picture.” This raises the question of traditional framing, and whether we can only understand the frame within realistic images depicting a subject? How far can we take this concept of “framing?”
A trend in our search for the right group of images for our exhibition has been an attempt to look at framing outside of what we know as the discourse of a frame. We know a frame to be an “open structure that holds something.” This is the physical frame of an image. But searching for new ways to define this term, I was inspired by the idea of abstraction as a frame. When we look at abstract images, we can either completely understand the message the artist is trying to portray, or we can be lost and mystified by the lack of any recognizable image or icon within the picture.
In looking at abstract images and searching for their frame, we try to find an answer or reasoning for the artists’ creation of the image. One way we are lead to a certain conclusion about the message is through the title. For example, László Moholy-Nagy’s How Do I Stay Young and Beautiful is framed not only in its negative space and with the circle, but also with the title that makes us question how this might relate to the image itself. Was the figure that is falling trying to get into the ring where he could stay young and beautiful like the figure inside? We can call this abstract because it is not a “realistic picture” and it expresses emotions by using lines without being a realistic scene. The negative space enhances the figure falling into infinite space and places the other figure into the abyss of the circle.
It is important to recognize abstraction as a form of framing because it frames in its own way and can be as representational of the concept of framing as much as the subject of femininity as a frame. I feel that abstraction is important to include in the discourse of framing because to me it demonstrates a sense of creativity that people might not understand, but it breaks the bounds of real life and crosses into another world where we must reframe our own minds to understand the abstractions.
By Haley Knapp, Class of 2015