I have been accused, justly, of setting aside all consideration of aesthetics in my poking around with the word trame. I think I could have got off if I'd stuck to just using it as a word, "whatever it is that a photo evokes" but I didn't, I charged ahead and rendered judgement based on it.
So, apparently, in my mind trame is the basis of some sort of framework for judging pictures, or at least for scoring them. And, indeed, it is so. That is exactly the score that I think matters, and it is indeed the basis of my judgement of pictures. All I've really done, though, is define a word. I've left the framework out, and failed to show my work. Sorry about that. Let me dig around a little...
So what does it mean to have left out aesthetics? Looking the word up and doing some reading, we find that our memories are more or less right, it's a bewilderingly broad term, with a meaning that has evolved horribly over the centuries. My memory was "it's really about beauty, right?" but I had a nagging feeling that this was an incomplete notion, and by golly, it sure is. Wittgenstein, apparently, felt that it was a description of the entire culture.
Indulge me, and let me try to refine the accusation leveled at me, then.
Trame explicitly refers only to things outside the frame, to the meaning inferred from the picture, and explicitly ignores the actual picture itself as a first-order thing, as the object of our attention. To say that I have ignored aesthetics, I think, is to say that inside the frame there can be value. The picture itself can be beautiful, or interesting. The picture, the artwork of whatever sort, can arrest our attention, can enlarge or ennoble us, or whatever it is that Art is supposed to do.
This is, I think, something I can and do agree with albeit in general terms. The trouble is, and I speculate without actually knowing that this is what Wittgenstein was on about, that it's Really Hard to disentangle the trame from the frame when you really start looking at it. So, it's beautiful. What makes it beautiful? What's so great about it being beautiful?
I remain convinced that we suffer from too much pointless beauty. Long ago, beautiful pictures, beautiful Art, was rare and difficult to make, to obtain. Beauty, pure beauty, was seen by some as an uplifting, enlarging, ennobling thing all by itself. Perhaps it was, I did not live then. I live in an era where pure beauty, abstracted away from meaning, is common as sand. Any doofus can churn out endless pleasing seascapes, endless beautiful sunsets, endless balanced still lifes. Where once, perhaps, it uplifted the miserable, it is now part of the background.
Is it reasonable, though, to suppose that beauty within in the frame -- supported by meaning, or by emotional content, or at least by the possibility of such, the open door, as it were, for meaning, for trame -- is a good thing in and of itself. While we cannot divorce it fully from the support it enjoys, we can say "stipulating that the support is there, this beautiful thing is wonderful and valuable, and I love it."
There, that ought to muddy the waters up good and proper.