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Donald Miller
06-07-2007, 07:45 AM
Before I begin let me say that anything that I am about to say is as applicable to me a photographer, working in traditional photography, as it is of any of us. My thoughts, that follow, have been well considered and are the true and honest expression of one who struggles with artistic expression as a condition of my passion with photography.

Perhaps it is a condition of my thirty years involvement in photography...perhaps is is a condition of my advancing years...perhaps it is the ruminations of an overactive mind...I will own all of those as being true of me and my station in life.

What about photography for that matter is it truly artistic? Is most of what I produce and observe in photography simply illustration? Is the illustrative output of any value to either myself or to a prospective viewer? What defines artistic output?

Before we get into another "what is art" discussion...which quite honestly have risen to the level of gross and flagrant over intellectualization of a subject that most are ill prepared to discuss, let us agree that artistic expression has certain qualities that have held true since the beginning. The first of these is that it is an original creation of something heretofore unknown and heretofore unproduced and second that it engages both the senses and the emotions of the artist and a portion of those who may view the original work.

Taken those conditions into consideration, what then is artistic about that which we (you and I) produce? Since most of us are human beings at the very core of our condition...that furthermore our work is not singular in point of address, what conditions of human experience are we addressing in the production of our photographs? Does the record of the existence of a tree, a stream, clouds in a sky, the interior of a temple, address anything about the conditions that human beings experience? How does illustration of these "known objects" lead to any universal acceptance by others and how does the illustration of these "known objects" speak to the matters of hope, fear, despair, lonliness, joy, sorrow, hunger, plenty, peace, or unrest within the soul of man?

I have no answers for these questions. I have only questions...but they are damned important questions to me as a human being first and foremost and subsequently of one who aspires to artistic expression.

Your thoughts are appreciated. I would hope that this fosters a constructive dialogue...I have no interest in contentions that seek only to fortify the constructs of our egos.

MurrayMinchin
06-07-2007, 08:41 AM
So then by your standards music is the only true art form, as it doesn't visually represent anything?

The medium isn't the problem, it's the quality of the message being conveyed through it.

Good luck with this navel gazing session...just by asking these kinds of questions means you're willing to learn and grow, which is the only way to improve as an artist.

Murray

Roger Hicks
06-07-2007, 08:50 AM
The medium isn't the problem, it's the quality of the message being conveyed through it.


Dear Murray,

I could not agree more.

We are all born artists. Levels of innate talent vary. So does the amount of work that we are willing to put in. So does our flexibility of mind, about what is and isn't art.

And that's about it, really.

Cheers,

R.

Donald Miller
06-07-2007, 08:52 AM
So then by your standards music is the only true art form, as it doesn't visually represent anything?

The medium isn't the problem, it's the quality of the message being conveyed through it.

Good luck with this navel gazing session...just by asking these kinds of questions means you're willing to learn and grow, which is the only way to improve as an artist.

Murray

Murray, Thanks for your response. Perhaps we are misunderstanding the questions that I posed and what I was saying. I did not intend and don't think that I did say that the "visual" is a poor handmaiden of artistic expression...I think that you and I are in basic agreement when you say the "quality of the message"...just didn't want this to go far afield at the outset.

MurrayMinchin
06-07-2007, 09:06 AM
...let us agree that artistic expression has certain qualities that have held true since the beginning. The first of these is that it is an original creation of something heretofore unknown and heretofore unproduced...


A small portion of what you wrote, I know, but it forms a base for your questions. Music is the only thing which meets this criteria.

Off to work I go :)

Murray

TheFlyingCamera
06-07-2007, 09:11 AM
I think that by including the terms "heretofore unknown" you're getting yourself in to trouble. Any visual medium must have a referent in the known world to convey any sense of meaning. With post-modern abstract artwork, that referent is other artwork. With music, although it does not have a visual referent, it has an auditory referent to sound. While it would be possible, I suppose, to compose a piece of music that had no auditory referent to any known or recognizable sound, it would be utterly unintelligible. It sounds to me like you're just suffering from that age-old photographer's angst - "is what I do 'ART'?". Photos of rocks and trees and even other manmade objects remain at the level of representational records when no effort is exerted to structure that representation in such a way as to ADD meaning to the image. It may be simply a matter of composing the image to emphasize pattern, form, or texture, or it may be viewing the subject from a distinctly unexpected viewpoint. It may be photographing the subject in such a way as to most closely mimic the actual way the human eye sees the subject, and as such, raises questions about the human experience of interacting with the subject.

In short, to me the distinction between art and photomechanical representation is purely one of intent - if you have the intent to do more than create a photomechanical representation, it is art. This says nothing at all about how SUCCESSFUL the artistic endeavor is.

Donald Miller
06-07-2007, 09:31 AM
A small portion of what you wrote, I know, but it forms a base for your questions. Music is the only thing which meets this criteria.

Off to work I go :)

Murray


Murray...I can think of many other artistic expressions than music.

Donald Miller
06-07-2007, 09:31 AM
I think that by including the terms "heretofore unknown" you're getting yourself in to trouble. Any visual medium must have a referent in the known world to convey any sense of meaning. With post-modern abstract artwork, that referent is other artwork. With music, although it does not have a visual referent, it has an auditory referent to sound. While it would be possible, I suppose, to compose a piece of music that had no auditory referent to any known or recognizable sound, it would be utterly unintelligible. It sounds to me like you're just suffering from that age-old photographer's angst - "is what I do 'ART'?". Photos of rocks and trees and even other manmade objects remain at the level of representational records when no effort is exerted to structure that representation in such a way as to ADD meaning to the image. It may be simply a matter of composing the image to emphasize pattern, form, or texture, or it may be viewing the subject from a distinctly unexpected viewpoint. It may be photographing the subject in such a way as to most closely mimic the actual way the human eye sees the subject, and as such, raises questions about the human experience of interacting with the subject.

In short, to me the distinction between art and photomechanical representation is purely one of intent - if you have the intent to do more than create a photomechanical representation, it is art. This says nothing at all about how SUCCESSFUL the artistic endeavor is.


Whether it is original or not seems to be a qualifier of plagiarism.

juan
06-07-2007, 10:15 AM
As someone who was a music major in college, a union performing musician for 20-years and a photographic diddler for 40 or so, I've always thought my music and photography were the same thing.
juan

jimgalli
06-07-2007, 10:20 AM
"...gross and flagrant over intellectualization of a subject that most are ill prepared to discuss..."

This I feel recuses me from comment. Perhaps most of us. Maybe all?

Poco
06-07-2007, 10:33 AM
<Does the record of the existence of a tree, a stream, clouds in a sky, the interior of a temple, address anything about the conditions that human beings experience?>

No, but the choice of HOW to record it does. Compositional and relational decisions made in photographing allow us to reorder the world in a distinctly human way. The fact that the result isn't "wholly new" diminishes nothing and only shows that as an art -- as an act of re-creation rather than creation -- it's just more firmly bounded by the human condition than other forms of expression (maybe even uniquely suited to exploring it?)

bjorke
06-07-2007, 10:57 AM
There's a line in the otherwise jumbled and dreary movie Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle where Dotty opines something like: "I just cant see the word 'artist' as very flexible. If I did I'm sure I'd be much better company."

Mike Richards
06-07-2007, 11:10 AM
I once visited the caves at Altimira, Spain and wondered why some cave man did the famous paintings there some 30,000 years ago. I don't know the answer, but I'm reasonably sure we share the motivation.

Curt
06-07-2007, 12:01 PM
I once visited the caves at Altimira, Spain and wondered why some cave man did the famous paintings there some 30,000 years ago. I don't know the answer, but I'm reasonably sure we share the motivation.

With nothing better to do they discovered by accident that things in the environment make marks on other things. Then they found that the things they made marks of looked like things in the environment.

It took 30,000 years to get to the stuff that looks like things that make marks on things that don't look like things in the environment. We call that Art.

ilya1963
06-07-2007, 12:14 PM
Art is a piece of work that you HATE to part with , the rest of work is what gets you to that piece...

ILYA

jovo
06-07-2007, 12:28 PM
With music, although it does not have a visual referent, it has an auditory referent to sound. While it would be possible, I suppose, to compose a piece of music that had no auditory referent to any known or recognizable sound, it would be utterly unintelligible.

Very little music lasts very long without being part of some lineage or another. Even the serialists maintained traditional instruments (for the most part) when they departed from tonality. And that entire era will most likely end up as a footnote a hundred years hence because it strayed too far from what the listener could agreeably appreciate or even comprehend.


It sounds to me like you're just suffering from that age-old photographer's angst - "is what I do 'ART'?". Photos of rocks and trees and even other manmade objects remain at the level of representational records when no effort is exerted to structure that representation in such a way as to ADD meaning to the image.

For the most part I agree, but I think, if 'art' is made at all, it becomes so because the photographer experiences an emotional resonance and connection with the subject whatever it is, and in whatever style it is photographed. It becomes something even more significant when the viewer senses that emotional energy. I am highly dubious about whether or not 'meaning' has much to do with it, hence the uniqueness of musical, or visual work on its own terms.

Doyle Thomas
06-07-2007, 12:54 PM
How does illustration of these "known objects" lead to any universal acceptance by others and how does the illustration of these "known objects" speak to the matters of hope, fear, despair, lonliness, joy, sorrow, hunger, plenty, peace, or unrest within the soul of man?
__________________

I just had a look at your work on the website. It seems that of the above list the only item you address is joy as it is a joy to view them. Photography is about vision and Vision. The eye sees but Vision is in the Mind. The camera only records. You may already have your answer:

Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.


There can only be emotional risk to acheive what you seek. You must see a starving child before you can speak of that Vision.

Doyle

Daniel_OB
06-07-2007, 01:17 PM
Roger Hicks:
We are all born artists.

Roger, think twice.


D. Miller
… working in traditional photography.

This statement disqualify you as an artist. The way of thinking is in question. (There is no traditional photography, I think you are pointing on art…).

What defines artistic output?

Artist.
Artist is a guy that makes nearly perfect work with a great easiness (to other it takes very long time). What is very important (today) as a part of his (artist's) work to emphase is also his deep concentration while work, concentration by instinct not command. Connect this statement with my fist (... disqualify ...) statement.

We are different than trees or whatever in Nature. Human as a clone can be compared to events in Nature.

What you make is a simple illustration or art no one can say now, but the best judge are your friends artists, which you will find in internet 1 of 99999999999999999999999 cases.

www.Leica-R.com

DrPablo
06-07-2007, 01:30 PM
Irrespective of medium, representationality, or message, art to me is about an act of creation. And I don't mean this in a religious sense.

Creation is about ownership. It's about bringing something into being that is yours. With pure art it's about bringing something into being that is non-functional, though a gray zone exists with architecture, furniture-making, and even disciplines of entertainment.

When at least an element of your creation is non-functional, you have made that creative choice for aesthetic (or perhaps philosophical or narrative) reasons that don't require function, or efficiency, or economy.

To me there is an impulse in many of us to be creative. And whether the fruits of our creativity are representational or not doesn't matter so much -- they all stem from the same drive.


Incidentally, I've done some reading about musical aesthetics, and as I understand it most music really does not have much resemblance to naturally occurring sounds. Bird songs are atonal, for instance. Pieces of classical music that evoke nature (Beethoven's Pastorale, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, etc) don't really sound much like actual nature. I suppose the second movement of Mahler's 7th Symphony sounds a bit like bird songs, but in a very stylized way.

One exception to this is the African tama (the talking drum), which to an amazing degree mimics the inflections of the tonal languages (esp. in Nigeria).

Thomas Bertilsson
06-07-2007, 01:45 PM
As an aside, if you want to go on a musical journey (referring to the discussion about music as an audible medium only), check out 1970's recordings from a band called Tangerine Dream. If you don't get any visual stimulation at all listening to their music, you should try again. You probably won't like it, most people don't, but they did have an idea of how to visualize art with sound.
I'm sure that a few illegal 'additives' were ingested one way or another during the creation of this music, but it's interesting to know that the lead character Edgar Froese was a student of Salvador Dali. He is not a concert pianist, but he is an interesting musician, and an artist with a fairly unique approach.

If you actually like this, which I don't think you will, also check out Klaus Schulze (especially 'Timewind') and Karl-Heinz Stockhausen.

Check it out, if you don't like the music, you can send it to me.... :)

- Thomas