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2F/2F
06-18-2009, 11:57 AM
I see it even more simply: photos are either primarily art or primarily documentation.

So what of the photos used for purposes other than art or documentation?

nocrop
06-18-2009, 12:06 PM
My definition is over-simplified, but I've found that I when I take snapshots during vacations, shoot photos for others (never done commercial work and that has never appealed to me) versus art for art's sake, it comes down to either a bald document of what I saw or "art". You could go on forever about aesthetic principles and how and whether they can be applied in similar ways to either category, but for me, it just comes down to how it feels, how I value the experience. I paint, draw and make litho prints. Those are never documents, while most of my photos are documents, though I spend far more time thinking about making art.

Yeah, I see your point. My definition of "document" or "documentation" is too broad. Perhaps.

jnanian
06-18-2009, 12:32 PM
everything taken with a camera or put onto photo paper is a document or documentation.
if it is a commercial image, it is a document of something concocted, meant to show and sell ...
if it is habs/haer or a portrait, it is a document of something's likeness ...
if it is a landscape it is a document of where ever someone was ...
if it is a photogram or some wacky darkroom "stuff" it is a document of whatever was done, "physical evidence" ...
and photojournalism too ...

all photography is documentary and/or fine art, even snapshots.
i have heard of gallery exhibits of film that was found in thrift store cameras, and then processed ( someone else's family-documentation ) and then presented as fine art.
kids photographs in toy cameras documenting the shrub infront of aunt millie's house, snap shots to some fine art to others.

fine art - art - photography - snapshots ...
its all the same ...

Q.G.
06-18-2009, 12:59 PM
fine art - art - photography - snapshots ...
its all the same ...

No, they are not.

The big and real difference is in what people want it to be.
(Whether they achieve what they want is something else.)

You can separate the three by holding them up to their intent, or prentense, and the degree in which they achieve their pretense.

Snap shots, documents, etc. pretend to be just that. And they achieve that completely.

Art pretends to be more. To oversimplify something terrible: a statement.
And it succeeds in that very well too.

Fine art pretends to be art.
But it fails, since (like i wrote before) its subject matter is fully exhausted in being itself. It's purely a "look at me!" thingy, with nothing to look at.

Yes, yes, i know. We're supposed to go "Ooh! Look at that! How masterly crafted!".
So a nice thing for crafts shows perhaps. To admire the craft.
But how poor a thing is a craft when it itself is all there is, and it hasn't been put to its intended use.



Photography doesn't belong, because it is a medium. A tool to express something. Not a form of expression or an expression itself.

Brook Hill
06-18-2009, 01:35 PM
In my eyes a fine art photograph is one that stirs my emotions, whether it's the content or the sheer beauty of the quality of the print, or both; if it arouses feelings in me I reckon it must be art.

Tony

jnanian
06-18-2009, 05:10 PM
sorry qg

i beg to differ ... ;)

photographs that were taken last century (for example some of the
work of the french photographers latrigue and atget ) ...
they were not taken on the pretense to be "fine art" or even "art" but to day they are seen
to be just that. no statements, just child with a camera, and a documentary photographer with a paid commission ...

latrigue was a kid who took snapshots of french life, auto racing and picnics
( he wasn't even a teenager when the panned-speeding race car image was made ),
and atget's collection of old paris, and photographs of the gypsies, homeless and street venders ..
they were not taken to be anything more than documentary photographs, for the paris archives ...

today their works sell in fine arts galleries, and to some are the pinnacle of fine art photography -

fine art, art, snapshots, documentary photography whatever .. just labels

there are plenty of people who read things into photographs or paintings or sculpture or prose
or verse that were not intended by the maker,
even things that were never intended, including, being called " fine art " ...

Ian David
06-18-2009, 05:24 PM
You can separate the three by holding them up to their intent, or prentense, and the degree in which they achieve their pretense.

Snap shots, documents, etc. pretend to be just that. And they achieve that completely.

Art pretends to be more. To oversimplify something terrible: a statement.
And it succeeds in that very well too.

Fine art pretends to be art.
But it fails, since (like i wrote before) its subject matter is fully exhausted in being itself. It's purely a "look at me!" thingy, with nothing to look at.


Yes, I think that the intent of the photographer is important in drawing a line between "art" and not-art.

Sometimes I think that even the intent to create art is not enough. I generally would not describe myself as an artist, because I think that whether what I produce amounts to art is not for me to judge. Alternatively, perhaps the intent to create art is enough, in which case it is for others to judge whether it is good art or bad art.

In practice, I think the term "fine art" is often just used as a marketing term by galleries to justify high prices, or high praise, for questionable art.

jgcull
06-18-2009, 05:36 PM
For me, a fine art print is one I like so much I want to hang it on my wall. I want to look at it again and again, and show it to my friends and family.

Ian David
06-18-2009, 05:37 PM
fine art, art, snapshots, documentary photography whatever .. just labels

there are plenty of people who read things into photographs or paintings or sculpture or prose
or verse that were not intended by the maker

I agree with you John that some pictures that were never intended to be "art" can come to be viewed as such. The intention of the creator is not necessarily the only consideration, but it often helps (if the answer is important).

I think the idea of art is a very slippery and incredibly subjective concept. In fact, I think that trying to define exactly what "art" means is pretty pointless. But it no doubt keeps a few philosophers busy, and allows a legion of academics and curators to get away with writing gibberish.

Q.G.
06-18-2009, 05:48 PM
photographs that were taken last century (for example some of the
work of the french photographers latrigue and atget ) ...
they were not taken on the pretense to be "fine art" or even "art" but to day they are seen
to be just that. no statements, just child with a camera, and a documentary photographer with a paid commission ...

So the intent is in how we see them, not in what the maker wanted.

That's a fair point (were it so - and even if it were not).

Yet the distinction holds. We recognize these (assuming for now that they were indeed just pretenseless thingies, i.e. the makers thought nothing special about their subjects. Which begs the question why they shot what they shot so consistently) as important documents.
Important, because they are early samples of a new way in which people began to interact with their environment, their society, etc.

They however are clearly different, and still recognized as such, from most of the early family and other snap shots made by other photographers of that time.

Why would that be, you think?
It's not because for Lartigue or Atget the subject matter didn't matter. It did. They knew what they put in front of their lenses. They did have "a view" on things. Their view

They are not the pinnacle of fine art.
They are not fine art at all. Just as little as, say , W. Eugene Smith is fine art.
Both Lartigue and Atget were journalists.

And no, fine art, art, documentary, journalism: these are not just labels.
It's like saying, in a discussion about what makes a fine family car, "family car, truck, sports car, they are all just labels" and suggest a Mack truck as a good choice for doing the school run.
Don't know how anyone could think like that. ;)

And yes: people interpret things. That's part of communication. Nothing wrong with that.

The point here is that fine art has nothing to communicate, except the "look at me, because i am sonething to look at" thing mentioned earlier.
Not even "look at my grandma, i love her to bits", or "look at the pain and desperation, don't you hate war", etc.
Nothing. Just "look at me! I'm pretty, so you must look at me!".

Q.G.
06-18-2009, 05:52 PM
For me, a fine art print is one I like so much I want to hang it on my wall. I want to look at it again and again, and show it to my friends and family.

Which is perfectly fine, of course.
It begins to be interesting ;) when you know why. Why you want to look at it again and again.

jnanian
06-18-2009, 06:02 PM
I agree with you John that some pictures that were never intended to be "art" can come to be viewed as such. The intention of the creator is not necessarily the only consideration, but it often helps (if the answer is important).

I think the idea of art is a very slippery and incredibly subjective concept. In fact, I think that trying to define exactly what "art" means is pretty pointless. But it no doubt keeps a few philosophers busy, and allows a legion of academics and curators to get away with writing gibberish.

exactly!

jnanian
06-18-2009, 06:14 PM
you enjoy labels i do not.

label all you want...

it is what it is, i prefer not to use labels and pigeonholes ..


"fine art/art/whatever" has plenty to communicate other than "look at me"
you just have to find the meaning in it, like everything else in life ...
maybe it is an unintended meaning, who knows ... the best of it all
has some personal-connection ...

pretty ??

as neil ( cheech marin ) and pepe ( tommy chong ) said so well in "afterhours"
--- this sure is ugly, no man, its art, the uglier it is, the more its worth --

;)
john

Q.G.
06-18-2009, 06:19 PM
I don't enjoy labels.

The point is that they are not labels. They are words having a meaning, signifying real differences.

I enjoy those different things for the different things they are, and the differences between them.

Something you cannot if you think their proper names are pidgeonholes that are to be avoided.
You're missing out on a lot of good stuff! ;)

JBrunner
06-18-2009, 06:21 PM
For me, a fine art photograph is a photograph that stands on its own, without context or caption, and regardless of the intent or lack thereof.

Q.G.
06-18-2009, 06:34 PM
I think the idea of art is a very slippery and incredibly subjective concept. In fact, I think that trying to define exactly what "art" means is pretty pointless.

I disagree.
First, if we could not talk about subjective concepts, we would for ever be silent.

Second, trying to define (not the first thing you want to do) a slippery concept, talking about a slippery concept, rather than not doing so because it is a slippery concept, is the only way to deal with it.

The fact that it is there in a perhaps yet 'undefined form', means there is something there, even if we would choose to further ignore it.
It doesn't go away.

So the choice is to deal with it, or live in perpetual denial of something you can't help but acknowledge is there to stay (i.e. go, or already be, bonkers ;)).

It would be a terrible shame if only philosophers and other academics and art critics would keep themselves busy with art.
And it of course is not so.

It is also a terrible shame that indeed so much gibberish is talked about art (and many other things). But that can only happen because people allow that to go unchecked.

And if you can tell that it gibberish, you already have joined the philosophers etc.
So join in fully. If you can tell that it is gibberish, you can also tell why, and what there is to say that is not gibberish. Don't cop out because the concept is slippery. Get a grip!

Q.G.
06-18-2009, 06:38 PM
"fine art/art/whatever" has plenty to communicate other than "look at me"
you just have to find the meaning in it, like everything else in life

In (the western travesty of) Zen perhaps.

There is as much meaning in it as there is in a blank piece of paper.
All there is is that "look at me, i'm pretty!" thing. Anything else is pretense.

Fine art = pretentiousness.

2F/2F
06-18-2009, 06:49 PM
For me, a fine art photograph is a photograph that stands on its own, without context or caption, and regardless of the intent or lack thereof.

I agree, as I posted earlier.

Maybe I don't so specifically agree on the "without caption" part of it. Sometimes the caption and/or title is a part of the piece. Not all the time, but sometimes.

I think intent is in no way the determiner. It is the way it is used/presented that makes the determination. Is it there simply to be a photograph, or does it exist as a photograph primarily in order to serve a purpose other than this?

The line is blurred all the time. Documentary pix often blur the line, and sometimes even photojournalism, especially when viewed in retrospect. Additionally, you also see work that was originally commercial becoming fine art at a later date...but as I said, it is the specific use that is the determiner, not the original intent.

As an example of how I think on the issue: The Ansel Adams shots on the covers of his books are commercial, though they were originally intended as fine art. In this case, the shot is used to make the purchase of the book appealing; not solely to display the photograph. The shots within are fine art. They are placed there to be viewed as photographs. In his technical books, many of the photos that were originally fine art are used as instruction aids. Original intent, or the actual content or style of the photo has nothing to do with it. It is the use that matters....but not that it really matters what the definition is anyhow....

JBrunner
06-18-2009, 07:51 PM
I agree, as I posted earlier.

Maybe I don't so specifically agree on the "without caption" part of it. Sometimes the caption and/or title is a part of the piece. Not all the time, but sometimes.

I think intent is in no way the determiner. It is the way it is used/presented that makes the determination. Is it there simply to be a photograph, or does it exist as a photograph primarily in order to serve a purpose other than this?

The line is blurred all the time. Documentary pix often blur the line, and sometimes even photojournalism, especially when viewed in retrospect. Additionally, you also see work that was originally commercial becoming fine art at a later date...but as I said, it is the specific use that is the determiner, not the original intent.

As an example of how I think on the issue: The Ansel Adams shots on the covers of his books are commercial, though they were originally intended as fine art. In this case, the shot is used to make the purchase of the book appealing; not solely to display the photograph. The shots within are fine art. They are placed there to be viewed as photographs. In his technical books, many of the photos that were originally fine art are used as instruction aids. Original intent, or the actual content or style of the photo has nothing to do with it. It is the use that matters....but not that it really matters what the definition is anyhow....

Are the shots on the covers of AA books photographs? I don't think so. For me a photograph is a print, made by the photographer. Anything else is an image, including a reproduction of an AA print. Having seen original prints I have great difficulty in calling a copy a photograph as if it were made by a photographer. Of course that's my personal take, and it is pretty old school. You can find people that believe a cell phone image is a photograph, and I can't say that they are wrong, just that I disagree, if that makes any sense.

keithwms
06-18-2009, 07:57 PM
The posts placing highest value on aesthetics are probably in best agreement with the traditional definition of fine art.

It may actually be easier for us to agree on what 'fine art' and 'aesthetics' are not, than to say precisely what they are. (Critical theorists and artists themselves have wrestled with these definitions for a very long time, so... patience, patience y'all...)

I think we can probably agree that commercialism, mass production, imitation, etc. are not consistent with the ideals of fine art. That is progress.

Now, some may argue that fine art cannot be created in a casual way (i.e. in 'snapshooting' mode) but... I am not so sure. I find my own thoughts can front-load a photograph so much that whatever modicum of fresh aesthetic was present in the scene gets completely obscured. There is something very liberating about snapshooting sometimes and appreciating a scene for itself, as its own aesthetic.