Photo: © Will Datené

WILL DATENÉ 1948-2018

We are deeply saddened by the death of Will Datené on Monday November 5, 2018, while out exploring the West Coast’s light with his camera. Internationally-known photographer, teacher and mentor, Will was a founding member of Friends of the Cowichan Valley Public Art Gallery and fully committed to the creation of a world-class public art gallery and cultural centre for the Cowichan Valley.

Born in Aachen, Germany, Will emigrated at the age of 10 with his family to live in New York City. In 1968 he moved to Canada.

Will studied at The New School: a New York City university which was established in the early 20th C to offer students studies in multi-disciplinary academic and creative contexts, achieving new ways of viewing the world and social problem-solving. Here, Will joined alumni such as John Cage, Jasper Johns, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marlon Brando, Jack Kerouac, Christopher Hitchens and other seminal 20th C and contemporary artists, thinkers and innovators. Will’s professional career began as first assistant to 3 top fashion photographers, followed by work with a commercial product photography studio.

In Canada, Will studied in the BCIT Professional Photography Program, and taught professional photography with North Island College, and Continuing Studies photography courses, Camosun College. Latterly, Will’s creative work focussed on stock photography, represented by Age Fotostock (Spain/New York), First Light (Toronto) and Superstock (Florida).

To this beholder’s eyes, Will’s photographic vision is uncannily luminous and mystical. It juxtaposes earthy engorged colour with poignantly realized black and white tones. The affect is a rendering of — strangely classical — romantic decadence. A stack of antiquary books, for instance, piles melancholy green-decayed light on classically-gilded book leaves. A rooster flaunts violently erotic saturated hues. A Dog’s dark molten eyes mirror his Friend’s empathic gaze to the beholder. Adrift in sun motes issuing through a derelict doorway, the anachronism of a young cowboy clutches time’s breath.

This lyrically dark psychological stain shifts into Will’s other ludic voice, as seen in the CVPAG Society’s logo: a dog with a bone who playfully escapes the picture frame.

Authentic, warm and delightful as a person, Will Datené’s “passion and vision” emerge as a clear ethic “to seek out a more just, beautiful and better-designed world.”

Written by Wendy Robison

The Beholder’s Share — Colour

From: Kandel, Eric R. The Age of Insight; The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, From Vienna 1900 to the Present. NY, Random, 2012, pp.103; 341-6

“Klimt’s new style also incorporated another modern idea – that of the beholder’s share, the viewer’s relation to art. . . .

Color is uniquely important in the primate brain, much as face and hand representations are, and that is why color signals are processed differently in the brain than light and forms.

We perceive colors as possessing distinct emotional characteristics, and our reaction to those characteristics varies with our mood. Thus, unlike spoken language, which often has an emotional significance regardless of context, color can mean different things to different people. In general, we prefer pure, bright colors to mixed, dull colors. Artists specifically modernist painters, have used exaggerated color as a way to generate emotional effects, but the value of that emotion depends on the viewer and the context. This ambiguity with respect to color may be another reason why a single painting can elicit such different responses from different viewers or even from the same viewer at different times. Color also enables us to discern objects and patterns by enhancing figure-ground discrimination.

. . . our brain perceives forms largely through luminance (brightness) values, like those seen in black and white photographs. Color, therefore, can be used – indeed was used by Van Gogh and later artists – not simply to depict the natural surface of objects, but also to express a wide spectrum of emotion in new and more vivid ways. . . . Particularly important is the fact that we perceive an object’s color as much as 100 milliseconds before its form or motion. This difference in timing is analogous to the fact that we perceive the expression of a face before we perceive its identity. In both cases, our brain processes aspects of the image that relate to emotional perception more rapidly than aspects that relate to form, thus setting the emotional tone for the form – the object or the face – confronting us. . . .

Artists have long intuited the separation between color and form, often forsaking aspects of one to emphasize those of the other. . .allow[ing] the viewer to dedicate more of the brain’s limited attentional resources to the perception of pure color . . . their explosive chromatic range exerts an unprecedented emotional thrust.”