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Author Topic: Intreresting Article on Art vs Science vs Craft  (Read 13890 times)
Jack Flesher
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« on: February 09, 2006, 10:22:50 PM »
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I just ran across this article discussing the relationships between art, science and craft.  Written by a luthier, but perhaps also some relevance for photographers too:

http://www.cranfordpub.com/otis/craft_science_art.htm

Cheers,

Jack
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Brian Gilkes
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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2006, 03:03:36 PM »
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Thanks Jack,
The balance between art, science and craft and, unfortunately often, commercial realities,is very much applicable to photography.
Digital photography has in no way diminished this. The choices we make in taking, processing and printmaking are more than ever and can be made with greater precision. Just like making and playing a great musical instrument .Photography and music have a lot in common as A Adams and JP Caponigro have stated.
It's too easy to count pixels and make a bum note
Cheers
Brian
www.pharoseditions.com.au
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2006, 06:44:48 PM »
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It's too easy to count pixels and make a bum note

Boy isn't that the truth!  
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tedshado
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2006, 07:58:01 PM »
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Extremely well thought out and well written article. My slant on photography, is sort of through the back door.  Being a visual artist first, I wrongfully believed that photography was easy. The part of photography that takes time to understand, is how long it takes to get over the mere technical aspects of the camera. I also believed that owning a camera, and pointing and shooting it made me an automatic photographer.
An established photographer once told me; "if you want to be a photographer go and shoot one hundred rolls of film".  Initially I felt he was trying to blow me off.
His point for me today, is well taken in that it was a good piece of advice. Shooting pictures with a camera and being open to the possibilities, is an amazing learning/developing experience.  It is very hard to fake a good picture.
To quote Mies Van Der Rohe, "Less is more".
One good thing digital photography has done for me is to stop treating an image as a precious object.
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2007, 07:17:01 AM »
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This thread is from February last year. I happened to come across it now recent.

... ON CRAFT, SCIENCE, AND ART.

My background is in both engineering and architecture, perhaps aiding me relate to both technical (science) and artistic (art) ingredients in photography. Yet... craft... craft is the very essence in the shear of creation.

Very inspiring article.

Regards
Anders

EXPAT WITH A HOBBY
Photo Aspiration - Artistic Pointing of Camera at Natural Light
Engineer and Architect - Aspiration of Arts in Technology
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Ray
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2007, 08:20:55 PM »
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I agree the article is well written and thought provoking; definitely a subject for discussion and the issues are very relevant to our time of rapid technological development.

But I sense here the slightly imperious attitude that intuition belongs to the artist; the view that science cannot tell us why, only how.

I do not see that science is disadvantaged in any way as to questions of why. In the long run, science is likely to be more successful in answering such questions as to why, simply because it's prepared to take everything on board without prejudice.

For example, if you want to believe in ghosts, science is prepared to investigate the phenomena. It can even examine your active neurons during a 'ghostly' experience, or for that matter during an experience of sublime appreciation of the Mona Lisa.  

An unfortunate trend in modern society is the separation of the arts and sciences. Great scientists, I would suggest, use intuition as much as any artist and probably more than most. We must all have heard of the story of the ancient Greek, Archimedes, who, whilst working on the problem of how to tell the difference between real gold and fake gold adulterated with lead, climbed into a bath tub that was too full, noticed that a certain amount of water overflowed onto the floor as he lowered himself in, and shouted Eureka!

Goethe, perhaps the most famous of all German poets, was also a keen biologist. Isaac Newton was a very religious person, but in a rather unconventional way. No-one could accuse him of lack of intuition.
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Ray
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« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2007, 03:12:55 AM »
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Hhmm! This article is not attracting much attention. Could it be that we're all bogged down in plain materialism.

I sometimes wonder why this forum is greatly lacking in intellectual argument.

The issues of the day (or even the millenium) seem to get buried and unnoticed.
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2007, 07:46:22 AM »
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... An unfortunate trend in modern society is the separation of the arts and sciences. Great scientists, I would suggest, use intuition as much as any artist and probably more than most. ...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=124290\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Ray,

I agree with your statement. Personally in my profession I span two fields, engineering (structural, science) and architecture (art). It is difficult!!! Because... this world nowadays seem too specialized in one or the other in my profession. Material world have gotten our world so specialized in different narrow fields that we cannot see how they interact always, perhaps so also away from craft and art... It used to be that buildings and bridges were structurally designed and architecturally designed by the same person, the builder! In photography we have no choice. We must master the technical aspects in order to create art, and thus in such way we become craftsmen. They go hand in hand. Yet if we limit ourselves to being craftmen, then we loose creativity and innovation. Thus photography very well seems to relate to this article and beyond it. In retrospective, the article in fact overlooks this I feel very essential part that you touch upon; innovation or creativity. Yet the article is good and spur our senses and away from technology! Creativity and innovation is also in todays world what spur us off with new ideas and developments. Creativity and innovation span art, science and craft. It is what we need to create the art in our photos, and it is what it is required to be an artist. Of course... whenever it is proper to break the rules we have learnt, we should do so simply because our intuition and heart tell us to. Yet... perhaps many people in photography are instead into cameras, gear and nowadays the processing in computer..., fascinated by the technology, or science, referring to it as "craft", self certain that what they learn and do in computer is art because the programs lead them to interesting features of the photos, yet perhaps forgetting art and its creativity beyond technology (albeit not all are like this, of course). No matter what... art is what can be labeled as what intuitively touches our senses, perhaps with a touch of philosophy too. With it (art), science and craft... along with creativity and innovation is and that spurs photos that touch our feelings. Works of art...

Regards
Anders

EXPAT WITH A HOBBY
Photo Aspiration - Artistic Pointing of Camera at Natural Light
Engineer and Architect - Aspiration of Arts in Technology
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jani
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« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2007, 03:14:23 PM »
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I sometimes wonder why this forum is greatly lacking in intellectual argument.
Intellectual argument at anything but a superficial level requires the time and inclination to get involved; perhaps only a handful of people at a large forum site would have that.

The rest of use spend smaller or larger fragments of spare time.
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Jan
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« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2007, 10:22:46 PM »
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Intellectual argument at anything but a superficial level requires the time and inclination to get involved; perhaps only a handful of people at a large forum site would have that.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=124588\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That might be true, Jani, but there's something else in my opinion, upon reflection.

Art and notions of intuition have religious connotations. Perhaps we're on dangerous territory here. I'm very prone to digression and I know from past experience that religious discussions on this forum are a 'no no'.

I happen to think that the Christian/Judaic Bible is a great work of art, amongst the greatest.... And I'm an atheist.

My father earned a living as an artist; not as a well paid, famous artist like David Hockney, but a lowly paid hack who spent much of his life creating designs for advertising companies and womens dresses, in a textile company.

When cheap labour in Hong Kong caused the textile industry in Manchester to collapse, my father became redundant. I was not encouraged to pursue art as a career, although I got a few prizes at school for my paintings when I was quite young. At the age of 7 or 8, I was drawing things with a correct perspective whilst other kids were creating modern art, because they couldn't draw.

In the UK, photography has historically been considered more of a craft than an art. This was certainly the case in my household. Whilst my father had a life-long interest in photography, it seemed to be always subservient to painting. He used to earn extra money by photographing his designs of tea towels advertising Guiness, or floral designs for fabric for womens' dresses, for the salesman to show the clients.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2007, 10:33:04 PM by Ray » Logged
James Godman
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« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2007, 11:17:40 PM »
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I do not see that science is disadvantaged in any way as to questions of why. In the long run, science is likely to be more successful in answering such questions as to why, simply because it's prepared to take everything on board without prejudice.
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This is a very good point, and one that reminds me that my preference is for art that leaves me with questions rather than answering them.  Great thoughts on this thread!
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Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2007, 07:30:42 AM »
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Ray -I find great sympathy in my heart for your fatherīs problems with Hong Kong textile production. I spent many years shooting fashion in Scotland and had a very good client producing fully-fashioned knitwear. Each year Iīd go off somewhere and shoot his Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter collections for publicity releases and Iīd also produce 60"x40" blow-ups for stand displays around the world at the fashion shows to which his stuff would  go.

Then, what with the effect of socialist governments at home and the instinctive ill-will against industry that these people cannot escape reverting to, the entire UK fashion scene began slowly to vanish with London and its masive PR presence remaining as sole UK sentinel in that field. Anyway, the last shoot I did for him was very successful; the next one didnīt happen: he turned up at my place one day, somewhat shame-facedly, and asked me if Iīd print up several batches of pictures which heīd had taken during a trip to Hong Kong where he had decided to switch production; several months later the factory in Glasgow closed with the loss of many skilled jobs, followed soon by the label.

Would I have wanted my two kids to follow in my footsteps? Your Pop was right again: no effinīway!

Rob C

Edit:

Called away for lunch, so with interrupted  if not heavier head, I shall continue.

The dearth of argument, intellectual or otherwise, is possibly more to do with the power of expression than time. Not everyone is comfortable sitting at a keyboard, music providing the background and the physical discomfort of a badly fitting office chair on wheels doing its best to intrude and distract every now and then. There is also the thing that internet chat does tend to follow a pattern where views are expounded and once contradicted or approved there is no where else for them to go. There is so much more to personal conversation via eyes, smiles etc. that is simply not available to the internet version.

Anyway, once a position is taken one has  either to defend it or give way to a better one; not all souls are willing to admit they were mistaken. And thatīs also why you -and I - have fallen into the religion trap. I am not an atheist, though most organized religious groupings would certainly consider me as such; itīs just that my idea of a supreme power is personal and not particularly based on the mores of any established system of belief. I have no problem with people who do subscribe to established systems just as long as they do not try to impose their ways on me. Worse, impose their way on entire societies.

As far as photographic art is concerned, what is there really to say? Books have been written and shows curated with a wealth of obscurantist twaddle to project a sense of importance into things which, at the end of the day and if viewed without external input, would appear as pictures, good, bad or indifferent and nothing more.

The best imaginative photography that I can remember was perhaps produced in the 60s; styles were set and reputations established. TV commercials became quite interesting for a while and fashion magazines flourished in a hothouse of creative growth that seemed to die off in the more materialistic years that were to follow. I donīt know if the Pirelli calendar rings any bells in your country - in mine it was the best there was. And the best of those? For my money, the Sarah Moon and Francis Giacobetti ones took the prize, but where are those calendars now? They have become slavish followers of fashion rather than setting the fashion, just as Playboy lost its mind and became an upmarket clone of Penthouse, thus alienating zillions of subscribers, myself included.

One has to ask, where, in all of this highly visible showcase of photographic talent, stands the true amateur?

The late, great, Terence Donovan, said that the greatest problem facing an amateur was finding a reason for taking a photograph; I think he was absolutely on the money. Why indeed! When you take away the financial imperative you donīt really have a hell of a lot left other than the feeling that you SHOULD be doing something with your supposed talent; motivation is key. Where do you find it? I have the same talents or lack of them as I did when I was still earning a living from the business - now, time becomes the pressure and the depressing feeling that age might just step in and eff everything up just as the digital darkroom and the possibility of a new, Grandma Moses career in art awaits.

But even then, there is the problem of financial balance which dictates that you donīt spend more than you expect to earn! As I indicated earlier, just before lunch, my life was model based work and most of what flits through my mind is orientated that way still, and as you know, those girls are in it for the money. Being a muse is not highly rated, even if itīs just what I crave!

Landscape photography should provide an outlet, but rather than that, for me it provides a problem. I live on an island that feeds off the back of tourism; every day I see photographs being sold as calendars or postcards and I get the awful feeling that were some of those same images printed up large and on matt paper and put on the internet under the banner of some art gallery, they would be just as viable and valid as much of the rest of the stuff which sells itself as high art (photographic). I shall refrain from naming names - supply your own - but you have to admit that when the American West stays in colour and fails to go black/white, you will find it very hard to tell whatīs art and whatīs commerce of the most banal kind.

Off to water the plants - Ciao - Rob C
« Last Edit: June 24, 2007, 03:54:08 PM by Rob C » Logged

pixelpro
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« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2007, 04:28:31 PM »
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[Quote Ray "In the UK, photography has historically been considered more of a craft than an art"./quote]

I hope this trend is changing. For the first time, I believe, The current Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, has photographic entries. pp
« Last Edit: June 24, 2007, 04:29:51 PM by pixelpro » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2007, 01:13:29 AM »
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One has to ask, where, in all of this highly visible showcase of photographic talent, stands the true amateur?

The late, great, Terence Donovan, said that the greatest problem facing an amateur was finding a reason for taking a photograph; I think he was absolutely on the money. Why indeed! When you take away the financial imperative you donīt really have a hell of a lot left other than the feeling that you SHOULD be doing something with your supposed talent; motivation is key. Where do you find it? I have the same talents or lack of them as I did when I was still earning a living from the business - now, time becomes the pressure and the depressing feeling that age might just step in and eff everything up just as the digital darkroom and the possibility of a new, Grandma Moses career in art awaits.

But even then, there is the problem of financial balance which dictates that you donīt spend more than you expect to earn! As I indicated earlier, just before lunch, my life was model based work and most of what flits through my mind is orientated that way still, and as you know, those girls are in it for the money. Being a muse is not highly rated, even if itīs just what I crave!


[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=124646\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well, that's quite a rant, Rob. I'll selectively give a response, although I fear getting into trouble with the morality police. (Well, not really a fear, but a concern about wasted effort if the thread is closed.)

As an amateur I enjoy the taking of the photos; getting about and meeting people; the reaction of people who see you with an expensive looking piece of photographic equipment hanging around your neck; their willingness to pose or show off.

Humans are very vain. In a country like Thailand, reactions vary from completely shy (with hand over face) to completely exhibitionist.

I cannot show the completely exhibitionst shots on this forum you understand.

We had a fairly innocuous example of one of Michael's shots in the Amazon recently which produced a mind-boggling amount of objection. I don't want to revisit that scenario.

As an amateur photographer and an atheist, I enjoy the freedom of being an impartial observer. The real pornography of our times is the sight of starving children in Africa (or any geographical location). That's an abuse of children even worse than sexual abuse. Starvation literally robs you of life. Sexual abuse messes you up, but there's still hope.

I'm not sure I could photograph starving children. It would be too painful. But maybe I should be doing just that.

However, I have no compunction about walking in the red light districts of Bangkok photographing whatever catches my attention, with a camera such as the 5D which can take candid shots in low light without a flash. Here's an example at ISO 3200.

[attachment=2681:attachment]

Just as I enjoy walking in the foot hills of the Himalayas photographing mountain peaks and beautiful women selling their tapestry and  fine sculpted wares.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2007, 01:43:04 AM by Ray » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2007, 05:22:06 AM »
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Well, that's quite a rant, Rob. I'll selectively give a response, although I fear getting into trouble with the morality police. (Well, not really a fear, but a concern about wasted effort if the thread is closed.)

As an amateur I enjoy the taking of the photos; getting about and meeting people; the reaction of people who see you with an expensive looking piece of photographic equipment hanging around your neck; their willingness to pose or show off.

Humans are very vain. In a country like Thailand, reactions vary from completely shy (with hand over face) to completely exhibitionist.

I cannot show the completely exhibitionst shots on this forum you understand.

We had a fairly innocuous example of one of Michael's shots in the Amazon recently which produced a mind-boggling amount of objection. I don't want to revisit that scenario.

As an amateur photographer and an atheist, I enjoy the freedom of being an impartial observer. The real pornography of our times is the sight of starving children in Africa (or any geographical location). That's an abuse of children even worse than sexual abuse. Starvation literally robs you of life. Sexual abuse messes you up, but there's still hope.

I'm not sure I could photograph starving children. It would be too painful. But maybe I should be doing just that.

However, I have no compunction about walking in the red light districts of Bangkok photographing whatever catches my attention, with a camera such as the 5D which can take candid shots in low light without a flash. Here's an example at ISO 3200.

[attachment=2681:attachment]

Just as I enjoy walking in the foot hills of the Himalayas photographing mountain peaks and beautiful women selling their tapestry and  fine sculpted wares.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=124736\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Ray- itīs a funny thing, but that shot of yours is trying to tell me something about myself. After a longish career spent photographing girls in all manner of dress or without, I would find myself most unlikely to attempt a picture such as yours. I think this is all down to control and not a little fear. I like to control what is happening in front of the lens in as much that I try to create the conditions where a response, roughly in the direction of where I want to go, is forthcoming.

Doing what you did, Iīd feel slightly nervous about reactions: an attack by a team of abusive hookers in a foreign land and in a foreign tongue isnīt my idea of acceptable risk. You will note that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, given to photojournalism, which I can appreciate but not emulate. Furthermore, when the girls in question are wearing high boots in those conditions of heat and humidity, Iīd imagine their breaking point is not far away. Brave lad!

On the subject of pornography, I have to agree 100%, making the additional remark that to starvation Iīd add sadistic violence. TV or movie violence of the guns and smoke variety is simply funny but explicit surgical violence is something very else. No sliced eyes or funny dental work for this guy.

Ciao - Rob C
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Ray
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« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2007, 10:11:46 AM »
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Ray- itīs a funny thing, but that shot of yours is trying to tell me something about myself.

Fifty Gorgeous Girls and a few Ugly Ones. A summary of your life, Rob?  

Seriously, in a situation like that I feel a lot safer when I don't need a bright flash drawing attention to myself. People can get alarmed when they see someone raising a professional looking camera to take a shot. However, when there's no flash they tend to relax more, unsure if a photo has been taken.
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Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2007, 05:49:35 PM »
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Fifty Gorgeous Girls and a few Ugly Ones. A summary of your life, Rob?   

Seriously, in a situation like that I feel a lot safer when I don't need a bright flash drawing attention to myself. People can get alarmed when they see someone raising a professional looking camera to take a shot. However, when there's no flash they tend to relax more, unsure if a photo has been taken.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=124779\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Ray - a summary of the professional life; unfortunately, the rest of it has been fairly normal. On the other hand, perhaps that wasnīt unfortunate at all, adding a certain spice to the other. Itīs a shame how damn rapidly it all changes, or at least seems to change, the decades compressing so frighteningly fast...

Take care, out there in the Wild East!

Rob C
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larsrc
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« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2007, 07:56:07 AM »
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This is a very good point, and one that reminds me that my preference is for art that leaves me with questions rather than answering them.  Great thoughts on this thread!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=124624\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Funny, that's exactly what J. M. Strazchinsky said was his goal when making Babylon 5 (my favorite ever TV show).  It shows, too, there's a lot in there that's hard to digest and that keeps you coming back again and again, just like good art.  

I think two other reaons for the lack of discussion of photography as an art (apart from what's been mentioned already) are the modernist "anything can be art" reasoning and the relativist "everybody's ideas [on art] are equivally valid" approach.  Between the two, discussions on art quickly die out.  

-Lars
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Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2007, 09:35:23 AM »
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Funny, that's exactly what J. M. Strazchinsky said was his goal when making Babylon 5 (my favorite ever TV show).  It shows, too, there's a lot in there that's hard to digest and that keeps you coming back again and again, just like good art. 

I think two other reaons for the lack of discussion of photography as an art (apart from what's been mentioned already) are the modernist "anything can be art" reasoning and the relativist "everybody's ideas [on art] are equivally valid" approach.  Between the two, discussions on art quickly die out. 

-Lars
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=124961\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I hadnīt thought about that one, but you are quite right: assume that just about anything constitutes art and what can be said? Other than, of course, that it allows SOME galleries to continue with the con.

Ciao- Rob C
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Ray
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« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2007, 10:25:48 AM »
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I think we can say that photography has thrown a spanner in the works. There's no longer much incentive for an artist to paint the accurate detail and perspective that many renaisance painters achieved, whether through the aid of lenses and mirrors or not.
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