What is beauty to me?

I may find the Scotts Monument in Edinburgh beautiful because of the awe it inspires in me, but my friend might find the atmosphere created by this architecture eerie and creepy, making him dislike the entire building. Different people have a different set of criterion that defines beauty, and this is unique in every single one of us, so the “ideal” beauty will be different for every single person as well. Although there is a wide spectrum of ideas, there are three distinct groups – there is the man-made beauty, the beauty in nature, and the beauty of new discoveries. However, in my own personal opinion, I feel that beauty still lies in the third category, where originality and the breaking of new boundaries is the most meaningful.

After Man found the concept behind beauty, which is the discovery that beauty is something that appeals to people, it gave way to new forms of art, in the form of sculptures, paintings, and even buildings. For example, the Fighting Temeraire by J.M.W. Turner was a greater painting, which depicted the ruthless change of technology. The Temeraire was a renowned battleship from Britain, but was forced to retire due to the new forms of technology, like steam power. The painting of the ship is somewhat ghostly, as it is meant to show the “death” of the ship, and Turner mourns the loss of this ship. Similar to this, Guernica, one of Picasso’s greatest works, also depicts the German bombing of Spain, and shows the image of chaos and terror in the eyes of the characters in the mural. The Scotts Monument, with the dark surroundings, strikes fear in visitors. The key characteristic is that these works all evoke some sort of emotion in visitors, because men have come to realize that emotions differentiate Man from other objects and beings, even. Certain art works are well received because they incorporate some form of human emotion, like the experience of hardship and pain. In my personal opinion, I feel that not just the purpose, but the impact of the work is the key to beauty.  Although the art pieces above may be showing some sort of incident that evokes certain emotions, like pity and fear, it does not put a spin to how people view the world at large. If there is no change, then there is no concrete benefit to that particular work, other than it being aesthetically pleasing.

Some people are also astonished that nature can be beautiful, because of the fact that no person interfered with nature’s form. For example, people find the rocks along Australia’s coast beautiful not necessarily because of its physical form, but because it seems natural. There is the impression that everything that is natural is in its purest form, and is thus regarded as “purposefully beautiful”. Singapore has already tried to implement this form of beauty in the country by building the “Gardens by the Bay”, a cluster of man-made structures meant to show the vast canopy of trees. Indeed nature can be beautiful because it is formed through natural processes, and can even spur people to do more for the environment. However, I think that what nature lacks is the purpose. It cannot be confirmed if a cluster of rocks that form a beautiful image was created to be so, or was merely a coincidence.

In contrast to the above two categories, pushing of boundaries of imagination matches my idea of beauty the most. When I think of beauty, what I imagine are influential people like Gandhi, and works like installation art. People like Gandhi may not be representative of physical, external beauty, but beauty lies more importantly in the persons’ morals and his actions. Gandhi is the epitome of peace and courage. He lay down his life to form an independent India, and he managed to call upon many citizens to follow him in his cause for the better. Despite the stereotype at that time that people with dark-skin were less worthy and capable as compared to the white British, he called for a meaningful action, by showing, not through brute force, that they were deserving of independence. This really touched my heart, and his character and entire being is what I consider to be beautiful. There are truly no limits in this world, and it is up to us to test certain boundaries, to correct certain human mistakes. In addition, installation art represents the discovery that there can be many different possibilities, even when creating art. For example, Amy Warhol’s Soup Cans is her way of expressing her art sense – through the creation of certain shapes using soup cans. Not only is this largely meaningful, it encourages people to think out of the box, something that is largely needed. I am largely influenced by this form of art as well, because I have learnt to think of different alternatives when doing things, and asking questions to try to push boundaries. That is when I get to improve the most, because I not only give myself the opportunity to improve, I can also better understand the meaning in whatever I do.

It is truly hard to lay a finger on what my exact idea of beauty is, because this can change over time, but I feel that people, objects or places that seek to draw out questions the most beautiful. Most of the time, this form of beauty is generous, as it provides chances for a huge group of people, not just myself, to improve. 


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Hi guys, I'm a student in Singapore, and this are some thoughts and essays I have written over the years.