Watching the royal wedding this past Saturday, with the other two billion people tuning in, I couldn't help marvelling at how picture perfect and near flawless the wedding was in nearly every aspect. From the sun shining at the correct and best angles as Meghan climbed the stairs of St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle and walked down to aisle, to the careful proportions of the crowds as they filled the street, to the precisely timed ceremony and countless dreamy moments worthy of cinema (that Jaguar ride with the beautiful couple was everything we wanted!), the photo ops were endless and abundant but also calculated and replete with visual meaning. In the hours and days following the wedding, the hundreds of visual cues created around the event were quickly unpacked and assessed by all of us-- from the meaning and symbolism of Meghan's dress, to the colours worn by the Queen and the royal family, to the gestures and narrative created through the traditional and non-traditional elements of the ceremony, right down to the shape and placement of the wedding cake. We all unpacked the wedding-- its form, content, and context-- like a well constructed painting. This of course is fully intentional, and part of the representational power of royal weddings and their special significance as moments marked out in art history.
Centuries earlier, the prospect of a royal wedding had its own set of visual representation challenges that were mostly calculated for final effect in painted form. Every detail, every gesture, every colour and beam of light, carefully chosen for a particular meaning. Without the pressure of the ever-present camera, however, the control over representation was largely negotiated between the artist and the crown, and of course limited to one or two official works of art. Today, that power has transformed to a more democratized and shared form of meaning making via the millions of photographic and moving images, amateur and professional, circulating around social media. Indeed, the most interesting and beautiful still images are certainly not the official ones that have just been released by the royal family. Take for example the photograph I chose for my lead image this week-- an overhead image of the couple from an impossible vantage point-- at once abstract and visually provocative and compelling. One hundred years from now, when art historians look back at this event, it is intriguing to me which set of images will end up marking this historic day. It is also something to keep in mind as we all mark special milestone moments in our life-- events that are mostly out of our representational control. Enjoy the remainder of the long weekend (for those in Canada), and enjoy the links!
- Thoroughly Modern Meghan
- New Database Highlights Overlooked European Avant-Garde Artists
- 1968: Year of Counter-Revolution
- Hong Kong’s Youth Culture, Captured in Disturbing Animations
- The Gray Market: Why Portia de Rossi’s Art-Tech Startup Has a Hard Road Ahead
- 12 Crucial Takeaways From Last Week’s $1.9 Billion New York Auction Cycle
- Interview Magazine, founded by Andy Warhol, folds after nearly 50 years
- Exploring the Art Market’s Best (and Worst) Practices (PODCAST)
- A New Vision for Ancient Art at the Getty Villa (VIDEO)
- Does Performance Art Need to be Experienced Live? (VIDEO)