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  1. #1

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    3rd Yr Extended Essay on Alternative Processes

    Firstly I hope I've placed this in the right category. Since it is about alternative/historical processes I made the decision that this was the appropriate thread. I will apologies in advance if this is not the case.

    I've placed this thread as additional research associated with my 3rd extended essay (BA (Hons) Photography), let me provide the working title:

    "Are historical photographic processes a valid art form in todays art scene"

    The reason I've chosen this as my subject is that out of my year, and most likely out of previous and preceeding years, I am one of the few (if not the only) students who produces work using alt processes. I am intrigued as to whether alt processes are a valid art form in the current trend of contemporary art practice or whether it is an indulgence of just a few inquisitive soles. Obviously, I am on the side of the inquisitive soles but would dearly love to see more work of this nature in the public arena.

    I am therefore interested in peoples thoughts on this very matter, do you feel alt processes are a valid art form or do you think other wise? You comments, thoughts and time are most appreciated.

    Many thanks

    John

  2. #2
    Kimberly Anderson's Avatar
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    I have an idea where this conversation will go. I'll make some pop-corn.

  3. #3
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Without getting too deep into in, has anyone noticed that they are still making oil paintings and ceramic art pieces...how almost neolithic!

    Basically, it is not the material/media, but what is done with them that defines if something is art. There was a resurgence of alt photo methods in the late 60's and 70's. I believe we are in another one now, which is even heavier into historic processes than the 70's surge.

    Vaughn

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    Let me put on my dusty professorial hat just for a second here. The operative word in your research statement is "valid". As in "valid art form". Unless very tightly confined in an operational definition, you will be very quickly chasing after speculative propositions. To begin with, what we currently term alternative processes are alternative only relative to dominant contemporary streams. At the time of their emergence and practice, they were just that: manifestations of an evolving stream. I'll take off the dusty hat now and shove it back into the old bin.

  5. #5
    Jim Noel's Avatar
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    I would ask what art form is not valid?
    Of course the antique processes are a valid art form. so are gelatin silver prints, water color paintings, oil paintings, solar plate prints, lithographs, and any other method you can name.
    Is every alternative print a piece of art? Perhaps in the makers eyes and no one elses. But the same can be said for any other process.
    I don't believeyour study, or anyone elses, can determine whether a process is pr is not an art form. I suggest you find a more important topic.
    This is exactly what I would tell any of my students who proposed this as a paper for a course.
    [FONT=Comic Sans MS]Films NOT Dead - Just getting fixed![/FONT]

  6. #6
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    As another practitioner of alternative processes as his preferred medium, I'll second what Jim said. If there were any doubt about "alternative" processes being valid media, then watercolors, oils, clay, stone, silkscreen, and any number of other media would also be invalid as they have been technologically eclipsed by acrylics, steel, and inkjets. I am applying to MFA programs now, and my portfolio and artists statement will include my use of alternative processes. Many of the top fine arts schools here in the US include alternative media in their curricula.

  7. #7
    Ian Leake's Avatar
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    There's art and then there's fashionable art.

  8. #8
    davido's Avatar
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    I agree with both Jim and theflyingcamera, that any artistic medium is 'valid' within itself. When I first read your thread topic, I took it to perhaps mean 'commercially valid' as in how popular are 'alternative' processes in the gallery world. Are galleries and artists selling more alternative process work than they were, say, 10-20 years ago. Of course this would be hard to prove as, it seems that, there are more artists producing alternative process work now than ever.

    david

  9. #9
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UKJohn View Post
    "Are historical photographic processes a valid art form in todays art scene"
    Your title should suggest something about your argument instead of being only a reflection of your hypothesis. But I digress.

    I'll add my weight to the others' on the meaning "valid." Whose definition of art are you using, and why is it the authority? Having a definition of art is one thing, but your title suggest that you have found THE good one, and that it adjudicates between what is art and what is not. That's a lot to argue for in an undergrad essay. Most definitions of art I know of are instead trying to explain what is art, based on the available material. In other words, when you want to define art, you more or less have to start with what people call "art" and then work your way up toward something more organized.

    If you have a look at the book "Photography's Antiquarian Avant-Garde" you will find that alt processes are in fact the new black in contemporary art circles. So if your goal is only to answer to your question, I fear that your essay will consist of one word: yes.

    So if you want to talk about "validation" you are stepping into the domain of the politics of the art market (either the market that employs money or the one that employs ideas and fame), and then you're making a sociological study without having to delve too much into the content of works.

    You should look instead at something more substantial: for example, elucidate what makes contemporary artists like Chuck Close, Jerry Spagnoli, or Sally Mann, people who have earned their success with other media, or with silver gelatin, devote themselves to labour-intensive projects such as daguerreotype or collodion. Is it only a question of personal preference? Is there something in the market and the value of artworks that's an influence?

    You could also think about drawing parallels between contemporaries' use of alt processes and recent trends in photography. Have a look at "The photograph as contemporary art" published by Thames and Hudson. It's a really good introduction to major themes, artists, issues, styles, etc.

    There is a special link between contemporary art and alt processes, and it might have to do with our current position in history, digital, the current global crises, who knows, but it's worth elucidating.
    Last edited by Michel Hardy-Vallée; 12-18-2007 at 09:31 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Using film since before it was hip.


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  10. #10
    Kimberly Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    As another practitioner of alternative processes as his preferred medium, I'll second what Jim said. If there were any doubt about "alternative" processes being valid media, then watercolors, oils, clay, stone, silkscreen, and any number of other media would also be invalid as they have been technologically eclipsed by acrylics, steel, and inkjets. I am applying to MFA programs now, and my portfolio and artists statement will include my use of alternative processes. Many of the top fine arts schools here in the US include alternative media in their curricula.
    :::brief hijack:::

    Where are you applying to school?

    I am currently finishing up grad. school and applying for jobs. Currently out of all of the teaching positions I'm applying for, only one has not specifically mentioned alt. processes as either a requirement or a strongly weighted consideration.

    Your work in alt. media will go far into getting you into grad. school. Be warned though - there is this idea that the portfolio that got you *in* to grad. school shouldn't be the one that gets you *out*. Sucks, kind of, but it's something to think about.

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