So what of the photos used for purposes other than art or documentation?
Originally Posted by nocrop
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
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.
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 ...
No, they are not.
Originally Posted by jnanian
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.
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.
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
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 " ...
Yes, I think that the intent of the photographer is important in drawing a line between "art" and not-art.
Originally Posted by Q.G.
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.
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.
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).
Originally Posted by jnanian
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.
So the intent is in how we see them, not in what the maker wanted.
Originally Posted by jnanian
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!".