Time for round 3? Ok!
In the book, Delsarte studies colors from stained glass windows, colors from India & Biblical tradition, and even Aztec painting, and splits the 3 primary colors into head/heart/body.
Heart is a cinch. Red. I never would have considered blue powerful or yellow enlightening, but it is surprising to see how it all fits. Some iconic pics:
Yellow was especially surprising to me, since it doesn’t strike me as a smart color. But light bulbs pop up over a character’s head when they get an idea and kings wear yellow crowns, so it makes sense.
The secondary colors are a mix of these. Purple is considered an immature color–is it because there’s no head color in it? Brown is considered down-to-earth, which is just a dark version of orange. I don’t know as much as I wish I knew about color, but our perceptions of it seem to match Delsarte’s. (Color though is so wibbly-wobbly…desaturated blue can mean something completely different than a zingy blue.)
WHITE and BLACK are iconic of course. White is pure and inspirational, whereas black symbolizes darkness and evil. Thank you Mr. Phantom :)
Ok! Practical application time! Keeping Delsarte poses & gestures & colors in mind, take a look at these Disney princesses below and see if you can peg which one is:
1) The most romantic
2) The most powerful
3) The most willful
4) The hardest to relate to
You have 5 seconds.
Got your guesses? Ok!
Most romantic goes to:
Pocahontas. She is in complete body stance–splayed gesture, her hair flows past her heart zone to the body zone, and her hem ends in the body zone too. (She also has a shoulderband you can’t see in the body zone that adds more contrast.) I think the yellow dress and necklace offsets this a little, but she is definitely a vital.
At the other end of the scale, this picture of Lady Gaga. She’s masked her face, form, and head, and so the audience is distanced emotionally from her.
Like a mask, the character’s clothes & shape can alienate the audience from the character. With the Delsarte theory it makes sense why big poofy dresses are considered so romantic–because they distance the person from the body/power zone and focus on the form in the heart zone.
(There are also divisions for the nose, mouth, around the eyes, etc…it’s a crash course so we can’t get in to all of that. But you can always read the google book.)
Hands (the head part of the body section) also have three parts: palm = body, back = heart, side = head.
The power & movement behind the head/heart/body divisions also had those three parts. The more powerful and convex is body, the least powerful, more head = concave, and the happy middle is the heart.
Delsarte took all these movements & pieces and created exercises and gestures that symbolized the characters’ emotions & desires.
Here’s a (rough) Delsarte gesture lineup:
1) Romeo, with a convex gesture, legs splayed, left hand in body area, comes off as mostly passionate and sensual. It’s softened by his hat & feather, giving interest in the heart & head zone, as well as his right hand (giving him a more soliloquy feel.)
2) 2 is strongly romantic, with both hands in the heart zone, and the hair ending in the heart zone as well. Her arms are bent in more of a head way (Arms out = body, arms square = heart, and arms acute = head) which tempers the romantic with concave shyness (concave, head).
3) This guy is a mix of all three parts. His legs are in a head position, left hand in the head zone, but with one hand in the heart zone and both arms in heart gesture. The belt or whatever that is adds contrast in the body zone, giving him a bit of a physical/sensuality
^^ These examples are really terrible. You’re welcome.
Ok so below we have our good friend the 1925 phantom, and then a Charlie Chaplin film.
The tone of these two pictures are strikingly different. Beyond the phantom trying to get Christine to Do It His Way & Charlie is giving the girl something, you can figure out why the emotions are so different using Delsarte.
The logic part of the Phantom, with dark rings around his eyes, makes him look eccentric. His gesture is splayed, which is very physical and forceful, and his hands are in the heart zone (almost in the head zone) making him look forceful, in love & complete fruit loops. Staging and values help that out, where he’s a dark figure towering over poor will-less, frightened (eyes and splayed fingers) & very romantic-feeling (both hands in heart zone) Christine.
Both of these characters are on equal standing–heart and head. Both of them are in concave, less willful gestures. Charlie has one hand in head, one hand in heart. The girl’s cupped hand = less force, hand in heart zone, a concave gesture of kneeling (a 90 degree heart gesture, leaning towards head). Her left hand is in the body zone, but with the back out. So the picture has a very romantically sweet feel to it.
Next time: Colors and applications!
When I was a pipsqueak in college, I took a costume design class where we studied Francois Delsarte’s systems of expression. Francois Delsarte was a Parisian who lived from 1811-1871, and believed that emotions and feelings could be symbolically expressed through visual means.
These are just a few Delsarte poses.
The idea caught on like a man on fire, and was hugely popular in America. Theaters, movies, even kids’ classes (complete with kids’ books of exercises) learned Delsartism.
Delsarte poses from “Phantom of the Opera” (1925).
A pretty good summation, I think, you can find starting at :13, from “The Court Jester”.
So, a pretty stylized way of communicating emotions. As popular as it was though, it fell hugely out of fashion (along with it’s buddy, melodrama) in favor of more realistic ways to tell a story. I think it’s still ingrained in western culture, however, and is used in more symbolic, stylized storytelling like animation and musicals & other children’s media. So, I’m pulling together a 3-post series on the system in hopes that people will find it as interesting as I do.
If not, here are a bunch of crummy drawings for you to enjoy anyway. Hahaha.
In the Delsarte system, the body was split into 3 parts:
Head: These areas symbolize logic and reason. Delsarte refers to it as “Mental”.
Heart: Emotion and feeling. Also known as “Moral.”
Body: Physical & passion. Also known as “Vital.”
Ok, that makes sense so far. Head = logic, torso = emotions/heart, and limbs = action & physical. Each of these segments also have 3 segments of head, heart, and body.
With limbs, the hands and feet = the more logical parts. Hands make gestures to show what we’re thinking, feet tap when we’re impatient, etc. Forearms and calves, the more emotional, cradling babies, embracing, that sort of thing. The upper arms & legs are the vital, and the more in action they are, the more passionate the pose.
(The elbow, btw, is known as “The Soul of the Arm”. In case you wanted to know.)
Shoulders as logic, chest as moral/emotional, and stomach & below as vital.
The head is split the same, the eyes and above as the logic, the cheeks & nose as emotional, and the lips and chin as the action & vital.
I know it sounds like complete crackerjax. In a weird way, though, it also makes sense. Kissing someone on the forehead has a very different feel than kissing them on the cheek (more affectionate) and kissing on the lips (more sensual.)
By this breakdown, it also makes sense why people think blondes are dumb–they have very little contrast in the head zone. People with light skin and dark hair, on the other hand, seem much smarter & more interesting. Similarly with glasses, we don’t assume people are smart because they’re straining their eyes from reading–it’s because glasses add contrast & shape in the logic area!
Anyways, if you can’t wait for the next two installments, read the Delsarte System of Expression, a book published in 1885 and now on the internet. If you like small words, though, wait around for the next post & I will try to do justice to this fascinating stuff.
I hurried them quick fast like a bunny into the freight elevator, closed the doors and saved their lives! Death Eaters have no idea how to work freight elevators!*
*or, um, how to use the stairs, apparently.
It started like this: The school headmaster decided to buy an air freshener for his car.
This was good news for his car but bad news for Harry and his gang.
Harry was like, “But wait Professor!! What will we do if the school is attacked??”
And Dumbledore was like, “Oh I’m sure you’ll be fine! TAH TAH!”
…but they WEREN’T FINE.
Just like Harry had predicted, the school got attacked! It got attacked by giant alien ships!
They beamed down a horrible little creature. It looked like this.
It’s a spider. But instead of having a head, it has a needle. The two scariest things in the world combined.
They immediately started taking over the school.
They, um, weren’t very aggressive though. They were mostly just underfoot. So, like, the dumb students? Yeah, they were the first to go.
Harry and his gang had to save the school!!
Harry had this awesome idea:
For the next few minutes of my dream, I was entertained by a very energetic Mexican kicking dance.
Anyways, that worked pretty well until they realized that the creatures were breeding, and had a gestation period of about two minutes.
This past week was shark week. A lot of people wrote sharky blog posts.
But no one posted about the real threat:
Unlike sharks, if it doesn’t catch you in water…it will find you on land.
You can’t outrun it.
You can’t outswim it.
There is no place to hide.
Unless you’re on an airplane. Airplanes are safe.
…UNTIL THE BEARSHARKTOPUSODACTYLS FIND YOU!!!!!
Telling stories to my neices and nephews. <3
Telling more stories to my nieces and nephews. <3