Inspiration

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Ed Sukach, May 19, 2005.

  1. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I've searched the Forum index for the right place, and "Inspiration" - the stimuli that can "fire us up" doesn't seem to fit anywhere else, so here goes.

    The contact with a few words that rattle our bones, change our vision in approaching the world, or simply put, make us want to grab the camera and DO IT, or have supplied that motivation to others would be on topic.

    No requirements whatever as to logic, making sense, justification, etc.

    To start ... From "Alfred Stieglitz, A Biography":

    Odilon Redon : "To transfer human emotions into arabesques" (- with "arabesque" in the sense of "An ornate, whimsical composition, especially for piano".)
    Georgia O'Keefe studied under Odilon Redon - "Or the link between Georgia
    (O'Keefe) and Pamela (Colman) may have been their shared preoccupation with trying to express in visual terms their reaction to music."

    I wonder how the inclusion or rather the increase of musical influence might affect my work. Increase the volume of the system in my studio, use headphones working with landscapers - or..
     
  2. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Rock on Old Daddy!!
     
  3. stark raving

    stark raving Member

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    My urge to grab the camera comes from visual cues. Either from looking at other folks' photographs, or from "seeing" pictures (most usually when I don't have a camera handy or don't have time to stop and shoot!) "Seeing" pictures runs in spells with me -- the last two weeks have been dry -- but there have been times when I didn't have enough time and film to capture everything that I saw. I don't exactly know what turns the switch in my brain from "dry" to "visually inspired." Wish I did.

    Music does not turn the switch. I'm a trained classical musician, and I might experience music differently from folks without that background. All music fully engages me, and I automatically analyze it: that's an interesting chord progression, that tempo's too fast, that's a banal melody, etc. There is no such thing as "background music," there are no casual musical experiences. If it's keyboard music (I play piano and organ) the analysis is especially intense: is that hard to play? there's a clever passage that sounds impressive but would be easy to play, etc, etc.

    I suspect my prevailing level of visual inspiration comes from something deeper down. In musical performance, we sometimes talk about getting oneself "out of the way" and allowing the music to flow by itself. Only a metaphor, but useful. I wonder if visual inspiration works the same way -- by getting the ego and the "controlling" part of the brain out of the way? If so, that would explain the last 2 weeks for me.... the project I manage has been in a phase that requires me to change, control, manipulate, push, etc. Things are not flowing, I'm having to push them. Perhaps that spills over and muddies the visual waters?

    Jonathan
     
  4. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I think you have said something for more eloquently and with greater effect than I have. I agree ... there is the element of "getting out of the way, and letting things flow".
    It is the opposite of "overworking" and trying to bash the "self-being" into action with some sort of sledgehammer. That never, or at least extremely rarely, works.

    I can hear the disciplinarians on board now: "But... but.. you always HAVE to try to do your best!!" True, but there is a right and wrong way to try. With me, and with an awful lot of accomplished Artist-Photographers, it is exactly that - "letting go". That IS the way for ME to do my best - and it takes a great deal of discipline to gain the ability to let go.

    "Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. It will come. IT WILL!!" - and probably as a result of becoming at ease and confident with yourself, and "letting go".
     
  5. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Stark: I'm curious...You say that you analyze the music that you hear. Does this preclude you from hearing the whole piece?

    I often wonder, as I learn more about what goes into making a good photograph, will I start to lose sight of the entire image?

    I think/hope not, because I tend to be a first impression kind of viewer. I look at the image and take in the whole thing. Does it please me? How does it make me feel? Does it engage me? Does it hold my interest? I then start to look at the details of the image; composition, contrast, tones, grain, shadow detail, colors (if any), lighting, sense of movement, etc.

    I then step back and look at the whole image again. Do I still like it? Does it give me ideas for my own efforts?

    Back to the music: Music doesn't seem to motivate me to pick up the camera. But it does seem to help with work in the darkroom. I never really tried to bring it with me when in the field..a portable cdplayer (I'm too cheap to do the mp3 player) might be a pleasant addition to my backpack.
     
  6. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Three Exlax, a walk around the block, ten minutes of privacy and I am as inspired as I get. Not raring to go though since I already did that.
     
  7. stark raving

    stark raving Member

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    If I'm not careful, yes, certainly. Particularly a piece I've prepared to perform myself. I have to be away from it for years before I can hear it as a whole again.

    Jonathan
     
  8. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

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    music does alot for me in the printing stages and while working in the darkroom. its almost a must that I be listening to music while working in this manner.

    but while out shooting music is usually the last thing I would want... isolation almost entirely dominates my photography choices.... the subject (usually old buildings, barns, houses, storefronts) the places, the locations, myself... and these places are almost always in the middle of no where and usually there isnt another human around. so the quietness and concentration I can center on feels almost essential.

    just my measly two cents worth
     
  9. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    Sound's familiar... Lots of great choral works where I can only hear the bass part!


    My main inspiration is Light. So I'm fortunate in living somewhere where it changes all the time, I guess...
     
  10. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    Hummmm... Ed, we have to get together sometime. Except for some politics, we seem to have a lot in common. :smile:

    I have no idea where my inspiration comes from. I wish it would come to me now! But there have been many (almost always) times when a particular piece of music will come to mind while making and processing an image - not the reverse. Perhaps I should try your process (soon as I get out of this present crisis).
     
  11. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    I don't think music has any concious effect on me except when tree huggers are over banging those blasted drums and giving me a headache :sad:

    For me it's get out there and smell the air, see the colours and symetry of people and backgrounds passing each other forming interesting forms, objects that I usually walk passed but on that day the light catches them and brings them to life.

    For me inspiration comes from life and from life, inspiration.

    Now all I have to do is to learn to capture them the way I see them so that others can experience what I did :D
     
  12. mark

    mark Member

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    For me inspiration is a swiftly moving epiphany. A moment of perfect clarity and emotion that will pass quickly if I am not listening. I have no idea what causes it nor how to harness it, but my best images and writings are created if I am allowed to stop and capture that moment of clarity.

    I have discovered that I best hear these moments when I am someplace where life's noise does not drown it out: the car, walking in the mountains, etc...

    I am not always the best listener though.
     
  13. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    you'll get there!
    it takes years - been there..

    I to am a trained musician (the flute) and I have trouble hearing flute music with ease..
    But I love OPERA more than any other kind of music, and that inspires me a lot - and I often hear loud opera while being in the dark room - time flyes...

    other than that, I mostly get inspired by the "normal" things: sound/silence (just heard the nightingale for the first time this year...) - light/darkness - mood and so on..
     
  14. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    IMHO: That sucks! (No offense intended.) But it may be my viewpoint. I like Impressionist paintings, because you have to step back and view the whole thing...

    But, I can relate...In my line of work I'm privy to conditions of the human specie, which many are not. I often see them at their worst and am constantly in danger of having this alter my perception of mankind in general. I constantly have to step back, figuratively, and "see" the whole...
     
  15. Saganich

    Saganich Subscriber

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    This may sound silly but light, eyes, and action inspire me, pretty much in that order. If a nice light is striking a garbage can on the street I have to stop and photograph it. When all three come together I damn near pass out.
     
  16. Shane Knight

    Shane Knight Member

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    My inspiration comes from images that are inside my head.

    When I exhibit my work I get ask alot which is my favorite piece.

    I tell them I havn't taken it YET, but I will keep trying.
     
  17. stark raving

    stark raving Member

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    It's an occupational hazard. To learn a classical piece thoroughly to be able to perform it effectively, I have to break it down and understand it in every way possible- harmony, counterpoint, rhythm, texture, rhetoric, symbology, tonal architecture, physical demands, historical & social context, relative position in the composer's oeuvre, etc, etc, etc. Once I do that, the "magic of the whole" is easily lost, and it can take a long while to get it back.

    There's probably a parallel to the visual arts here. But I'm not a serious student, just a casual photographic hobbyist who occasionally makes a shot I like, but doesn't know enough to break it down to understand why I like it!

    Jonathan
     
  18. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Continuing..

    This is an attempt to destroy one of my bete noire - black beasts.
    I have been thinking - too much - far too much - about art, and inspiration, and the human condition and God ... to the point where my "action" has suffered. Hopefully "venting" can ignite thoughts from the company here ... and I'll check - participate from time to time, during necessary breaks from darkroom work.

    I DO NOT PRESENT THESE IDEAS AS ULTIMATE TRUTHS !!!

    I am sure that others have views of art that are equally as valid as mine - even MORE equally valid - and it will be a expanding and illuminating exercise to consider and study those .. just as it is to experience other's works in a Gallery.

    Having established a shield of words ...

    "Art is what I see/ say is Art!"
    At first glance, this is inconceivably pretentious. WHO is the author to set himself over the intelligentsia, the established and "respected" Keepers of the Flame - the Art Critics, the Art Educators, the Galley Curators... BUT...
    The most important person in this equation is .. ME! I am propounding a definition for ME - MY use, not as some sort of universal truth.

    The works that I find myself labelling "Art" are the products of INSPIRATION. To me the connection between the inspiration, that stimulus from some mysterious internal well, is of absolute necessity. A work produced without that link to the mysterious well, does NOT speak... it is voiceless, inert, dead-- it has never lived.

    A point to wonder, and marvel, about, is that nearly infallible sense that inspiration WAS involved ... and the level of intensity of that inspiration.

    I've worked in that branch of photography that carries the label "Commercial".
    That is essentially, producing images with great skill: images that are identifiable as the product, but biased to "make the product look good". The inspiration for that work usually comes from others... I will be able to inject some minor amount of mine -- but it will invariably, be very little. The result will ususally be a "pretty picture" but only rarely will I, or anyone else consider it to be "Art".

    At the other pole, I think I -- actually, confidently believe, that I understand - FEEL the same amount of inspiration accompanying some of the Great Works of Great Artists ... I still remember the emotions I felt in viewing Renoir's Torse au Soliel - Nude in Sunlight for the first time -- and the same emotional reaction is echoed every time I see it now. It is easy, at least as far as I am concerned, to feel the rush of that inspiration ... the increased blood flow, the fervor ... Renoir must have "pre-visualized" that image, and reached, in a near frenzy, for his pallette and canvas...
    .
    Art, and the rare times I produce anything that *I* will call art, contains .. is born, from inspiration. That is not to say it is invariably deliberate .. the inspiration does not have to precede the image... sometimes, I'll only recognize its presence after the work has hung on my wall for months.

    So, what about it, group? How whacko do you think I/ all this sounds?
     
  19. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Ed: I like where you're going with this.

    Just to stir the pot a little...

    I believe that art is, or should be, a very personal thing; especially for the artist. But I think that his/her art should also communicate something to others (on a personal level). Even if it is simply to communicate beauty or emotion. This, I believe is more that creating a pretty picture.

    But the main point is that at some level, I think that what an artist produces, in whatever medium he/she chooses, has to be viewed by others and must say something to them. If the artwork is created to simply to be viewed by the artist, how do we that it was created at all. The self actualizing artist will say, "I know, and that's all that matters".

    But is it really? I think not. I think that artwork is created for the benefit of humanity and must be shared in order for it to achieve its full potential as artwork.

    Okay, I'll stop now...before I start to ramble...
     
  20. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Ed like I used to your thinking too much and it hurt my brain.

    Choose one camera and fill your pockets with film, then go into the fresh air and just observe life. When something makes you feel different inside, maybe sad, happy, lustful, plain emotional or stories start to run through your head then don't ask where it comes from just set-up and capture it.

    I'm still as mixed up as I used to be, but now I know why I shot something and it's connection to other shots I have.

    The bad side is that everything I have before I adopted this method are now just archive stuff, the good side is that my work now has meaning to me.