COMPOSITION: TRANSFER (Part 4)
The more abstract notion of closure is that of transfer, where connecting of dots occurs on a more symbolic level. To a large extent, abstraction itself is based on generalization and indirection, which means that we generalize the elements of the world around us and transfer them to similar ones in order to make sense of our surroundings. Just as much as all great paintings are basically just color on canvas, for the most part we perceive them not as abstract lines but as complete wholes. This applies to Monet just as much as Kandinsky, although their styles are a tad different. Just a tad. (Having had many hours of pleasure and pain in assembling art puzzles, this can also be a teaching tool for comprehension of both the basic composition of a particular art piece as well as realizing how transfer and unity work within the picture you’re assembling.)
Further, the visual information we actually comprehend is heavily filtered by numerous factors, from biological to environmental ones, so for the most part we are essentially living in “tunnel vision”, where the majority of visual stimuli is necessarily relegated to the peripheral. Similarly, mathematical equations are just as indirect, abstract and arbitrary, as is our knowledge of the universe based on them … which of course does not mean that it is necessarily incorrect. Transference then allows us to see common, easily understandable shapes in those that would otherwise make less sense, not to mention enabling us to see pattern within larger, more complex frames of thinking and reasoning. This is partly due to a deeply personalizing and personifying nature of humanity, but it is a fundamental feature of art in general. Think of the smiley face and how easy it is to see it anywhere and everywhere. We see ourselves as objects in nature; a tree can be seen as a standing person with outstretched arms and a keychain can look like a smiley face. Poetic personifications may not be far removed from this observation. Plus, probably my favorite idiom of not seeing the forest for the trees can be (mis)understood within this frame as well.
Cognition plays a crucial factor here, since the perception of elements and imagery in the mind must not be limited to what you see in a particular moment, but you sequentially connect all the singular visual moments that unfold in front of your retinas into an integral part of a larger whole, the world around you. Just as we are able to reason that two circles and a line underneath function as a face, we can observe that the characters in Picture 1 are arranged in a circle (or at least are grouped together) which implies equality. This is further stressed by them facing each other in a conversation, which strengthens the notion that Hellboy is part of humanity despite his devilish origins. And despite the fact that his red color still makes him stand out as paradoxically as his plight to fit in (which further foreshadows short-term storytelling for this particular comic and functions prominently in the long-term Hellboy canon as well). Another reading based on the principle of transference indicates that the group is equally in danger in the dark forest (yet, Hellboy’s color scheme again indirectly distances him and his abilities beyond those of his companions or the world he finds himself in in that situation).
Whether transference is direct or rather theoretical, it still adds volumes to the understanding of art. We can thus apply it also to allusion, allegory, metaphor and non-literary elements that make readings of any work as complex as its creation, yet through amazingly different personal layers.
For reasons of extreme prejudice, the author of this blog wishes to remain anonymous …