Ayn Rand's POV

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by brYan, Oct 27, 2006.

  1. brYan

    brYan Subscriber

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    Food for thought from Ayn Rand, philosopher, from the book "The Ayn Rand Lexicon": A certain type of confusion about the relationship between scientific discoveries and art, leads to a frequently asked question: Is photography an art? The answer is: No. It is a technical, not a creative skill. Art requires a selective re-creation. A camera cannot perform the basic task of painting: a visial conceptualization, ie., the creation of a concrete in terms of abstract essentials. The selection of camera angles, lighting, or lenses is merely a selection of the means to reproduce various aspects of the given, ie., of an existing concrete. There is an artistic element in some photographs, which is the result of such selectivity as the photographer can exercise, and some of them can be very beautiful--but the same artistic element (purposeful selectivity) is present in many utilitarian products: in the better kinds of furniture, dress design, automobiles, packaging, etc. The commercial art work in ads (or posters or postage stamps) is frequently done by real artists and has greater esthetic value than many paintings, but utilitarian objects cannot be classified as works of art.
     
  2. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    I wouldn't say that is an answer, more like an opinion..
     
  3. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    And like many of Rand's opinions...laughable.
     
  4. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    I disagree - while it is difficult to define art as we have shown since Ayn Rand wrote her stuff (I was a fan in High School, but no longer) I think intent is a key ingredient, and Photographers in many cases have the intent in showing something in an artistic manner. QED. She is wrong.
     
  5. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    In a few words (and pardon me for being so blunt and succinct, when I naturally tend to run on for pages about these things): Ayn Rand is full of bullshit. EOM.
     
  6. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Before I begin let me say that I am expressing an opinion founded in my personal experience which is a product of education, personal investigation and direct life's experiences.

    Having said that, I will go on to say that much of what we like to term as artistic expression in photography is pure and simple illustration. Illustration, as I have come to understand it, has very little to do with artistic expression. Illustration serves primarily to record the existence of something already present in objective reality. Whereas creative artistic expression brings into being something that does not already exist in our conscious awareness.

    Now it is not surprising to me that some people, such as myself, who have spent something over two decades engaged in the mistaken belief that I was being creative in my photographic output would want to defend our position...sometimes vehemently and vociferously. But that is purely and simply egotism in it's most dispicable, self limiting, and ruinous form.

    Now the question that we may benefit from asking ourselves is this, can photography be used as a technical means to effect a creative manifestation? Yes, I think that it can be. But for most of us it means stepping away from the familiar and redundant watering trough of illustration.
     
  7. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    At one point in the history of Fine Arts, many centuries ago, painting and sculpture were not considered Fine Arts. Where as rhetoric and mathematics were.
    Things change.

    gene
     
  8. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Where is John Galt when we need him? :wink:
     
  9. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I tend to agree with The Flying Camera.

    In general, I don't take Ayn Rand seriously. This specific instance is just a case of over analyzing a definition.

    My photography is not Art, just hacking around. However, I see a lot of it in the Gallery here.

    Matt
     
  10. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    Sounds to me like you have a few issues to sort through.... :sad:

    Why does this even matter, actually? You either do it because you love it, or you don't do it. Why do you need a label to put on it? The label is societal, and has nothing to do with a personal interest ultimately. THERE IS NO HEIRARCHY - all of it is a silly illusion because we are musing on this site AND NOT SHOOTING SOME PICTURES, uh, er, art, uh, er illustrations, uh, uh, uh .... ack!

    There is a good movie you should see - "I heard the Mermaid Singing" which is a great film about just this subject - doing what you love. I just hope you won't call the movie "Illustration!" :wink:
     
  11. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Thank you for your response, though one was certainly not called for or warranted.

    I don't think that I have issues to sort through and it certainly is not within your realm to make those sorts of determinations.

    I venture that I am making more photographs than many here.
     
  12. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    Sorry if you took offense, but I call them the way I see them. I am glad you think I am wrong, but I do think that sending a lot of time (apparently) agonizing about labels is not a very productive. "Illustrations" or "Art" as labels at the end of the day may not matter as much in the grand scheme of things. :wink:

    If you are worried about where you satand on a totem pole, you certainly would NOT attempt to be an artist (20+ years of experience of being a artist speaks to that one! :smile: :smile: :smile: )

    Congratulations on your prolific production of photographs, if you make this claim, I would not dispute it. I just was responding - and find it rather curious that you post to a discussion forum not expecting a reply? :confused:
     
  13. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I will leave it with this one last comment. My original post was in response to what Ms.Rand stated. Your post was in response to what I stated. Therein lies a world of disparity. It seems that you took offense to my position rather than commenting to the matter at hand. Perhaps it would stand you in better stead if you remembered that in the future. Have a great day .
     
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  15. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    Donald,

    This is Dianne, writing from Brent/Bromo's account. I have an BFA in photography and MFA in intermedia (photography, video, artists books). This comment you made about being in an artistic field and being under the "mistaken" presumption that it involves creativity...I recognize this as an artist questioning his/her decision from long ago to become an artist.

    I too have over 20 years experience as an artist, and have felt the ups and downs (mostly the downs) the whole time. While I don't have any pithy comments or advice that will sound sincere, let me just say that I can relate. Ultimately, I think it is up to you to determine whether your pursuits are worthwhile. Leaving it to other people (living or dead) to determine the worth of what you do is truly a disservice to you.

    Cheers,
    Dianne
     
  16. 25asa

    25asa Member

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    Flying Camera has it essentially correct in this observation.

    Rand is typical of extremely powerful bullshit, just like all internally self-consistent ideologies - extremely seductive.
     
  17. 25asa

    25asa Member

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    Is painting with oils an art? The answer is:
    “It hasn’t been for a long time. “
    To be fair, there are but a few exceptions in the oil painters of today.

    Today, most modern oil paintings are debatable as to whether it is a mere hand-eye coordination skill, not a creative skill. Art requires an objective rendering of existence existing. After “academic classicism” oil painters took a dive into depravity. An oil painter that performs the basic task of painting a visual conceptualization of an abstract imaginary realm disconnected with reality is madness, not art, and not objective. This is contrary to objective reality. Whereas the selection of camera angles, lighting, lenses, film, developing, etc are calculated by the artist as the means to artistically reproduce various aspects of the given, i.e., of an existing concrete. It is the technical in art that elevates and feeds and advances of the artistic human mind in all of its creativity. Technical tools are a true draw of an Objectivist Artist because it involves his cognizant mind -and photography is a magnificent tool that can supercede that of the mere oil and camel hair artist that is nothing but a pompous moocher.

    Thank you Ayn Rand and goodbye.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2006
  18. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    Isn't this what we all do?
     
  19. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Nope not even close. You might be surprised at the number of "parrots" around.
     
  20. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Hmm...so art is all about technical matter? I wonder how the "technical in art" manifests this tendency that elevates and feeds and advances the artistic human in mind in all of its (sp) creativity". Please tell me how that happens.

    Interesting judgement that you made of oil painters. I wonder how many viable and legitimate artists share your viewpoint.
     
  21. Pastiche

    Pastiche Member

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    To say that something cannot be an art because it is "a scientific discovery"... ignores the fact that other accepted "fine arts" have ALL been the subjects of scientific inquiry at some point in time, and ALL reflect and utilize advances in technique dirrectly related to scientific discovery. Scuplture, Painting, Print-making... each has benefited from advances in technology that dirrectly stemmed from scientific inquiry. I would venture (the idea is NOT mine) that artists are actually some of THE FIRST to utilize new developments in science... granted, often to ends unrelated to the scientific intent, but the receptivity and eagerness of consumption of innovations is definetly pronounced within artist.


    so is baking, so is building, so are a lot of things which have boundaries inherent to their definitions... but that does not mean that within those boundaries, creativity is not the critical ingredient which distinguished a "mechanical" rendition from the "inspired" excecution...


    I feel like you are saying everything you point a camera at will be rendered objectively when you trip the shutter... that's absurd. Photography is the ILLUSION of objectivity.... and never, even in it's most litteral excecution, actually objective.


    This definition seems oblivious to the fact that photographs can be non-objective. Not only that, but it also seems totaly impervious to CONCEPTUAL issues that exist in and around any form of artistic expression. Also, it seems like a poor argument to make, but, if rendering things objectively is the hallmark of something that is "not-art" would also mean that photorealism in painting would fall into some other category of expression than - fine art. As an argument - it's just bluntly obtuse.


    This seems to contradict some of the prior accertions contained in your quote.


    Again, another self contradiction, particularly note the use of the word "SAME" ... as in.. a concession that there is artistic elements present in the aforementioned subjects.

    Ever heard of Duchamp's "Ready-mades", like - Bottle Rack
    http://arthist.binghamton.edu/duchamp/Bottle rack.html

    I really enjoyed Atlas Shrugged... not so sure of the assertions made above. :tongue:
     
  22. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Dianne,


    Thank you for your post. I have reflected and ruminated on what you have written here because quite honestly what you seem to have said is totally disconnected from what I have written, stated or intended to say.

    You seem to take it that I am experiencing some angst in my creative endeavors involving photography. While that may have happened in the past, I assure you that is not the case today . I do have a differing viewpoint with those who think that most commonly produced photography qualifies as being artistic output.

    I do believe that art does have the ingredient of creativity and for you to say that I am mistaken in that viewpoint leaves me somewhat aghast.

    Nowhere did I say that I was leaving it to others to evaluate the "artistic worth" of my photography. I photograph for myself, first and foremost, if others take away something from viewing it, that becomes another matter entirely.

    Perhaps I need to explain a bit more about what I mean and where I am coming from. Taking photographs of "known objects" and rendering them as representation of the same on a print is simply "illustration" to me. I say this with the qualifier that the photograph tells us nothing more than that "this is a "known object". Photographs that illustrate seek to convey information and no matter how well composed and cleverly endered it may be it is conveying nothing more than information. IN most cases this is information that we already have and awareness that we already possess. Therefore it does not surprise me that these sorts of images do nothing to universally appeal, touch, or motivate.

    Art by comparison seems to me to seek to address more of the "conditions of human beings" and in so doing either has the capacity to touch us in a universal way or poses questions that we all might have rather than attempting to tell us something. Art is not only about beauty...while that may be part of artistic output, to limit it to that seems to be too short sighted.

    Illustration to me is about "things" while art to me is about "concepts, conditions, and ideas".

    I hope that this serves to explain more of what I mean when I say what I say.
     
  23. Pastiche

    Pastiche Member

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    I hope not to intrude -

    But -

    Donald, I think your formulation of artistic qualities is rather well put - i.e. on the money, gnat's ass, etc. etc...
     
  24. celluloidpropaganda

    celluloidpropaganda Subscriber

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    I once happened upon a site of Randroid film and art criticism and it blew my mind so badly I forgot to bookmark it.
     
  25. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Great heavens!! Why all this intense reaction to someone else's OPINION??

    I don't happen to share the same viewpoint, but hammering anyone's opinion into a gauge of "rightness" or "wrongness" defeats the entire entire process of "connecting to another being"!

    I see one major point in Ms. Rand's argument; that although there is a "soul connectivity" present in photography, there is also a (same? - debateable?) "soul connectivety" present in "purely utilitarian" objects ( ... oh the hell with it ...), therefore .... "It is of no importance."
    Say whut?? Anyone studying Logic 101 can construct the "circles" on that one. Condensing - the the presence of a characteristic in another, dissimilar, place doees NOT automatically deny its presence in the original.
    "Art" (anyone care to ressurect that discussion?) and its mainfestations are everywhere!

    What I see here is realy not an argument over whether photography - or anything else - is art or not; It is the classic discussion of "Creativity" or "Capture".

    Let us consider the time line ... what comes first?

    In my book it is the recognition of the "art" ... that ultimatey mystical process that fires our consciousness and causes us to begin the process of "capture". The factors affecting this are - or are close to, infinite - our life experiences; our "conditioning"; our education, social pressures, desire to "belong".... when do we get to infinty?
    Then, it is ALL "technical" - whether photography, or paint brush, or charcoal on the cave wall, or a chisel, or a pen on a piece of paper. Some may be more "effecient" than others - but that inefficiency in itself can become (and usually IS) a viable "ingredient" in the expresson of the "art".

    I think I just said. "The media is NOT the `art'". Closely related, though.

    Am I "right"? *I* think so - but I doubt (seriously - BIG TIME) that everyone else out there will agree.
     
  26. RAP

    RAP Member

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    John Galt! That was his name, Thank you Ralph. Yes John Galt and that elusive formula for extracting static electricity from the atmosphere. I read Atlas Shrugged for a philosophy class in college and reread it many times over since. John Galt was one of my heroes! But so was AA.

    Try doing some research in the psychology of the creative mind, creative genius, creative thinking process and science and the arts, the discovery of the double helix, bi-polar disorder. Also Einstein and Bach Fugues, watch that movie, "A Beautiful Mind" that Ron Howard produced.

    Technical/illustrative vs. art occurs across all mediums. Before the discovery of the camera and the photographic process there were only drawings, paintings to illustrate life, news, advertising.

    You could compare the paintings that were used to glorify war and great and noble battles with the early photographs that only depicted the stark, horrid reality of blood and dismembered bodies. Both evoked strong emotions from viewers, but from directly opposite points of view.

    Read up on Man Ray's work, particularly his rayographs or photograms, made without cameras, where essentially you place objects directly on top of light sensitive paper and expose it, the very heart of the technical side of the photographic process. I did these as part of my Photo 1 class in college.

    Well photography is art, technical and illustrative, but so are drawings, paintings, sculpture, etc, etc....All depends on your point of view.

    Not bad for a dreary, stormy 8:30 am in NJ. MORE COFFEE!!!!