Technique is no art

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by luvi, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. luvi

    luvi Inactive

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    Often in photography we speak more of the instruments than of the works. The photographer is foremost an intellectual and then a technician. The work of art comes from an idea full of cultural references. "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" was born from the idea of the fourth dimension and not only from the Picasso painting technique.
     
  2. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    A person paints a painting.

    A person sketches a drawing.

    A person sculpts a sculpture.

    A person designs and builds a building.

    But I merely TAKE a photograph. All the others use verbs that describe constructing or creating something but I must passively "take" or "accept" what is already there. Even if you use the verbs "shoot" or "capture" you are still not describing the creation of something. It almost describes the destruction, not the construction.

    Besides than "make" or "create," what are other verbs that can be used to describe the process of creating a photograph which are constructive or creative?
     
  3. Willie Jan

    Willie Jan Member

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    I first create a sculpture by using parts of plants/flowers/etc...
    After that I shoot a photo.
    After that I create an artwork by using a ancient technique which can not be reproduced a second time.

    Photography is for me a way of showing my idea onto paper.
    I also could have done this by painting,sculpturing or drawing. But I didn't.

    For me the negative is the first step in
     
  4. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I may "take" a photo, but then I "make" a print to show others what I saw in my minds eye.
     
  5. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I visualize a photograph. I craft the light falling onto the subject. I measure the light. I perfect (or try to) exposure. I cut off the extraneous object from the frame. I include important details. I adjust the element of the print. I enhance parts of the print. I expose the print, I develop the print, then I make the print.

    True, the part where I push the shutter and the film is exposed often takes fraction of a second. But, the part that leads to and follows exposure takes hours - sometimes days or weeks. This is a century old argument. The part the artist spends the most time is a little different from most other forms of art but it is still true, it's the artist that makes the art, not the equipment.
     
  6. ath

    ath Member

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    I guess we are lucky here in Germany. We photograph, you take pictures. OTOH we use a Sucher ("searcher", search for an image), the english speakers use a finder.

    It's only language but sometimes quite interesting...
     
  7. M Stat

    M Stat Member

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    ...and when we go into the darkroom, we BLOW IT UP!
     
  8. Monito

    Monito Member

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    You can speak for yourself and your way of doing things if you "merely take a photograph". Others, myself included at times, make photos. I research times and places and choose what weather to shoot in for landscapes. I build the composition by putting one lens or another on the camera and trying different positions. For work with models, I conceive of an image appropriate for a model, select clothing, arrange backgrounds, control many aspects of lighting, direct the model's poses, and sometimes post-process and retouch the image.

    Verbs? Make, create, photograph, produce, envisage, manipulate, arrange, combine, light, compose, .... That's without getting into verbs like print, dodge, burn, mask, reduce, tone, retouch, mount, frame, ....

    While a sculptor sculpts, a photographer photographs.

    It's bad enough when the public thinks out loud that "oh, anybody can take a good photo these days" without having practicing members of the {art, craft, profession} running it down as well in forums like this site.
     
  9. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    In line with some of the preceding comments:
    - see, envision, compose and capture your photographs (those are each separate elements);
    -develop (in a tailored fashion) and preserve your negatives; and
    - craft, refine, preserve and present your prints.

    There's nothing "taken" or "given" about good photography as far as I'm concerned. A fine print is conceived and realized with thoughtfulness and purpose throughout.

    I also feel there is some art to be found in technique and tools. It is their marriage with your knowledge, vision and dexterity that produces art. Deficiency in any one of these elements weakens our art as a whole.
     
  10. Monito

    Monito Member

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    "Technique is no art", but there is no art without technique. Just like the architect who uses technology and materials science and civil engineering to make great art, photography is a very technical art.
     
  11. Monito

    Monito Member

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    "The negative is the score, and the print is the performance." -- Ansel Adams.

    Like music, composition is key to photographing. Composition can be broadly interpreted to include all the activities that precede clicking the shutter, including study film/sensors to know how they respond, arranging and tuning lighting, positioning the camera for perspective, framing the picture by mounting one focal length, etc.

    Some musicians compose, some play. Both musical activities are creative arts.

    Some photographers compose, some print. Both photographic activities are creative arts.
     
  12. Monito

    Monito Member

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    Just like an idle stroller on a rocky beach might find a lovely piece of driftwood to toss in the back garden, so may an average guy happen to take a great photo.

    On the other hand, just like a master sculptor can carve a good sculpture out of almost any piece of their chosen material, so can a master photographer make a good photograph out of almost any lighting condition.

    Professionals make photographs, amateurs make excuses, most people take snaps.
     
  13. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I'm sure we have all seen some terrible professionals' photographs and some outstanding amateurs' photographs.


    Steve.
     
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  15. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    I give birth to a photograph
     
  16. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    I thought paper was expensive; imagine Bill's costs having an OB-GYN on call in the darkroom!

    Best regards,
    Leo
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i agree "technique is no art" :munch:

    a camera is a tool for mechanical reproduction.
    being a technician, knowing the limits and use or materials
    does not make an artist.

    picasso miro dali monet and the others created something ..
    granted they used tools and materials like someone who uses a camera
    but i wouldn't call knowing how to expose process and print a photograph
    an art, anymore than i would call knowing how to control perspective
    with a view camera an art ..

    in many cases our cousins who use modern media are more artists than technicians
    because they are painting and altering the faithful mechanical reproduction of
    whatever it was they photographed ... :whistling:

    1890 is almost here !
     
  18. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    While I agree that technique in and of itself is not art, art is comprised of many techniques used in union for creation.
     
  19. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    IMO... photography is an art form when those who view an image consider it to be art. Included in photography are a variety of media. Selecting the medium one wants to express his/her view is just the first step of many. Some but not all would include the format, lens selection, composition, filter or not, exposure and so on. Then the presentation such as paper selection, printing style, manipulation or not and so on. (You could but perhaps not here include digital.) The fact that photography includes the use of mechanical tools doesn't diminish it from being an art form.

    Sculptors use various tools some of which can be mallets and chisels, pneumatic, welding, casting and others. Painters use brushes, palate knives, air-brushes and paint on different materials. Some do realism even photo-realism and some abstract. There are pastels, pencils and charcoal.

    I believe Steichen, Stieglitz, Weston and many others past and present have solidly established photography as an art form.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com
     
  20. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    Photography is often a process of deciding what to leave out, or how to emphasize the right elements. I 'select' from a landscape.
     
  21. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    They did. Paint and brushes can be used to paint the walls of a house or they can be used to create great works of art. A pencil and paper can be used to make an artistic sketch or you could write a shopping list with it!

    Likewise, a camera can create art or documentation or illustration. It isn't necessarily art just because it was created with a camera (or paint and brushes or pencil and paper).


    Steve.
     
  22. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hi steve

    i see what you are saying ...
    i guess i just see things a bit differently -
     
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  23. mabman

    mabman Member

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    From the title I thought this was going to be another AA vs. Weston thread :tongue: Glad to be proven wrong.
     
  24. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Almost anything can be art. Walking down the street could be artistic. You could swagger like John Wayne or you could stagger like Jerry Lewis. (See also: "The Ministry of Silly Walks.")

    You can draw a picture with a pencil or you can jot down a list.
    You can paint a painting with a brush or you can paint a barn.
    You can also cut down a tree with a chainsaw or you can sculpt a Venus de Milo.

    What I was getting at with the verbs "paint," "sculpt" and "draw" versus "take" (a photograph) is the perception of art as it is related to the tools used to create it. When you see a paintbrush or a pencil in a person's hand you are inclined to think about the result as art, regardless of the subject or purpose of the painting, because you perceive that the painting comes from the artist. When you see a camera in somebody's hand, you are less likely to think of the result as art because you perceive that the photograph comes from the CAMERA.

    I think it is this misperception that gets in the way of letting people see photographs as art. If somebody shows you his painting, you're not likely to ask him whether it was painted with oil or acylic. You aren't likely to ask him whether he used a sable hair brush or a China bristle brush. If a guy showed you a copy of the Venus de Milo sculpted with a chainsaw, are you going to ask him whether he used a Poulan or a Husquavarna?

    So, what the hell is the difference whether a photographer uses a Hasselblad, a Rolleiflex, a Leica, a Pentax or an empty beer can and a roll of duct tape?

    I like the technology of making photographs. It's one of the things that draws me to photography. I'm the kind of guy who loves to tinker with things. However, I do not look *AT* the camera when I make a photo. I look *THROUGH* the camera, both literally and figuratively.

    It's not the paintbrush that paints the painting. It's the painter.

    It's not the camera that makes the photograph. It's the photographer.

    Just as it is up to the intent of the painter or sculptor to decide whether or not he will make art, it is up to the photographer to decide the same.
     
  25. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I thought I was agreeing with you!!


    Steve.
     
  26. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    The technical part of photography is so easy in the grand scheme of things. There isn't much to know before you are very technically sound...and it is also quite possible to get good results without having much technical skill. So it is no surprise to me that there is so much photography and so much technical focus. But finding a current gallery show or book that I actually think consists of great photography is near impossible for me. Whenever something catches my eye, I find out that it is vintage work, or at least new work from an older photographer. This generation just doesn't have much to say IMHO. Now get offa my lawn, dammitt!