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  1. #1

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    If it's automated, is it still (fine) art?

    As I spend some hours in my new darkroom light night, my brain was kind of chewing the topic.

    I'm no artist, far from it. But I've made I few prints I like, and more importantly - I value. They tend to be of my family, as this seems to be the topic I really care about. And frankly, I'm fine with that. Gone are the years of seeking the answer to existential questions, which fuel more open approach to art. So yeah, for me it's just relaxation and meditation. It's incredible really how mindful darkroom work is, specially compared to anything we do with computers.

    So back to my prints. There's a print I've made last winter, of my daughter in a street. I spent hours on getting that print just right, as the available light was tricky, plus I want to make it what I envisioned. I have a log of numerous trials what worked and what didn't. Sure, I was very new to darkroom so I spent maybe even more time than many of you would.

    But still, when I look at that print, I really look. It's not a snapshot. It's not just a good looking photo. It's something I've created. Spent considerable time, work, creativity in that one print. And it's unique. If you want to see it, you need to come to my place.

    This kind of too long overture brings us to the topic: great masters of art, whoever you name... Michelangelo, Picasso, Dali, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Ansel Adams... and many more... all of them spent a great deal of time and skill working on their creations to perfection. Is this kind of persistence a requirement for true art? Is art in many ways demonstration of personal growth through developing a certain skill?

    To approach the question from the other side: if today's Van Gogh used a computer to create his paintings in a fraction of time he needed with paint and a brush... would that still be art? Apparently, Van Gogh was a fast painter and didn't spend "more than a few days" on some of his well known works. But see here, how quickly it can be done today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eXSaJS0Gts

    Another example: if todays Michelangelo took a 3d scan of David (yes, such scanners exist) and have it 3D printer, would that still be art? OK, 3D printers are still a bit rough for a masterpiece like David, but how about a CNC stone cutter? Yes, such stuff exists: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3Ff0qwYMyY

    How many people would call the robotic sculpture art? And how many would call the digital paint art? (personally, I'd expect none for the sculpture, but some for the painting; would be an interesting research actually).

    My hypothesis is, that people inherently value something as Art, when it's hand made by another person.

    Certainly, I "like" the photos of my daughter I snapped and "manipulated" with a few clicks, and they do bring the value of the memory they store and aesthetic they have. They do not, however, "contain me". They contain more genius programmers who created the algorithms than me.

    That print. That one print, however - there's nothing but me in there. And that's what art is all about, isn't it?

  2. #2
    blansky's Avatar
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    Fine art is a marketing term.

    It has no real definition.

    Neither does art.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  3. #3
    ambaker's Avatar
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    What is art? Seriously?

    More has been written about what is and is not art, than any of us will be able to read in our lifetimes.

    I would like to say that it requires thought, and input, from the human mind, and then some fool mucks it all up with a painting from an elephant, or a monkey.

    Does it take long hours of effort and dedication? Is that what makes it art? Then does a copy of the Mona Lisa qualify?

    Does it need originality? Then do the monkey and the elephant become artists?

    Personally, if the result speaks to me on more than a superficial level. If it stirs something in my supposed soul, then I believe it is art. Whether it was created off a CNC machine, or by a monkey. If it pulls me in deep, and whispers a new message, an unthought word, makes me FEEL something. Then I call it art.

  4. #4
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    Rather than get in a debate as to whether art truly exists apart from a "marketing" term, lets work with the more common idea the word represents in order to address the question as we each interpret it. After all, words are merely signifiers to which we all _believe_ we agree in regard to meanings, and a treatise on any word, such as "marketing," seems too large to tackle in the context of the question.

    One may argue a photo is merely a replication, but we could counter by pointing out composition, lighting, manipulation when printing, etc. Art, when representing something real (as opposed to abstract), is not mere replication. It is the process, interpretation, representation, technique/skill, and the process as an whole. I have a good friend who is an artist. She does abstract paintings, and regardless of whether some like her work (I do), it is art. I could not paint anything myself and have it considered art.

    Regarding "paintings" using a computer - have you ever seen what some people did with M$ Paint over a decade ago? Yes, it was done on a computer, but essentially "by hand." No scanning or digital capture, each pixel or stroke was added, one by one, manually. What about the scenes some people can do with an Etch-A-Sketch?

    I don't know if I'd consider it art if it were scanning and then sculpting via CNC or 3d-printing. There is no real skill involved in letting a computer/machine replicate something exactly; that would be like photo-copying. However, if you hand-programmed the dimensions - each cut to the material - that might be a different consideration; but that's not really automated. Also, this might imply it is art to input x-y coordinates to cut a piece of plywood in half - to which I would NOT agree.

    I believe this brings me back to my fist paragraph - and to an example.
    Look at some of the wonderful photos on APUG that would be considered art. I take snapshots, I have used some of the same film and developers, doing it all myself, and mine certainly don't qualify as art.
    The tools and media, and even some of the processes, neither make something "art" nor "not art." I believe art is found in what the artist brings to the process.
    Last edited by Truzi; 11-30-2013 at 04:19 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Truzi

  5. #5
    tony lockerbie's Avatar
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    Really just the application of one's craft for no other reason than to evoke a pleasurable response in the viewer.Some works may appeal to a very narrow range of viewers (like family photos) or to a vast majority...like Michelngelo's works.
    I have an abstract painting at home, done by a local artist, that I never tire of viewing....to me that's art, others have no response at all. Your print of your daughter was wholly created by you, with probably a great deal of emotional input, and this is something that may only be obvious to you, but to you, it is most definitely art.

  6. #6
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jernejk View Post
    A
    My hypothesis is, that people inherently value something as Art, when it's hand made by another person.
    "Art" is all over the board. For example try pricing an original Ed Ruche "Every Building on the Sunset Strip." That seems to have quit a bit of value. He had his camera mounted on his vehicle. As he drove through the street and the camera automatically exposed the film used to make the book.

  7. #7
    cliveh's Avatar
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    With relation to “what is art”, I quite like Emile Zola’s definition. Later in life Emile Zola would have a dinner party every Thursdays at his home and regular guests would include people like Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro. I think the question of what is art may have arisen during dinner conversation (but I can’t prove that). However, Emile came out with this quote - “Art is a corner of creation seen through a temperament.”

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  8. #8
    chriscrawfordphoto's Avatar
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    A lot of people who are very highly regarded as artists did not print their own work. The fact is that no one cares how hard you work to make the print. The art world, with its galleries, museums, scholars, patrons, collectors, and artists all simply care about the final image and nothing else.
    Chris Crawford
    Fine Art Photography of Indiana and other places no one else photographs.

    http://www.chriscrawfordphoto.com

    My Tested Developing Times with the films and developers I use

    Become a fan of my work on Facebook

    Fort Wayne, Indiana

  9. #9
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chriscrawfordphoto View Post
    A lot of people who are very highly regarded as artists did not print their own work. The fact is that no one cares how hard you work to make the print. The art world, with its galleries, museums, scholars, patrons, collectors, and artists all simply care about the final image and nothing else.
    And what's wrong with that?

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  10. #10
    Richard Sintchak (rich815)'s Avatar
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    "Nobody cares how hard you worked"

    Good post about this by Ctein over on Mike Johnston's blog:

    http://theonlinephotographer.typepad...ou-worked.html

    "It's a really, really important lesson that all photographers should take to heart. If someone already likes your photograph, how hard you worked doesn't matter. If they don't, telling them how hard you worked is not going to change their mind."
    Last edited by Richard Sintchak (rich815); 11-30-2013 at 05:32 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    -----------------------

    "Well, my photos are actually much better than they look..."

    Richard S.
    Albany, CA (San Francisco bay area)

    My Flickr River of photographs
    http://flickriver.com/photos/rich815...r-interesting/

    My Photography Website
    http://www.lightshadowandtone.com

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