Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1] 2 »   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: Image Deconstruction  (Read 7497 times)
Mark D Segal
Contributor
Sr. Member
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 7121


WWW
« on: March 22, 2006, 07:04:53 PM »
ReplyReply

I think when deconstructing an image, it is not only important to examine the content for the items it contains, but also for how artistic elements such as composition, focus and lighting contribute to understanding it. This photograph is a case in point. The horizontal lines of the signs on the roof and the verticals on the building below it all conduct the eye to the guy sitting on the roof - the human center of interest, and on the way there, we see the tell-tale clues of life within:  the bike, the baby bath and the bird cage. Very effective. Given what Michael says about the neighbourhood, I have a very simple interpretation of what is going on here. The bike is where it is to prevent it from being stolen, the young man is possibly unemployed outside the house, but wishes to be unemployed inside the house (from chores such as bathing the baby or washing the bird cage), hence sitting on the roof "away from it all" is a "way of life"! Of course, there could well be other explanations too. Good photographs, like good paintings, lend themselves to a variety of interpretations - all in the eye of the beholder.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2006, 07:05:22 PM by MarkDS » Logged

Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
rfw
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 7


WWW
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2006, 03:47:08 AM »
ReplyReply

I agree 100%. There is a multitude of perspectives that will give interesting readings of this photograph. I do prefer the colour version but perhaps a more distressed B&W rendering would add something else, adding to the sense of isolation. The choices made in processing an image also can influence a reading. Who said a photograph is a transparent window on reality?

But just a quick nitpick: I think it would be better to choose another term rather than "deconstruction" for this kind of analysis as this term is actually a whole other can of worms and not really what is going on here. See this Wikipedia link for an idea: Deconstruction

Perhaps "structural analysis", "analysis" or even just "reading" are better bets?

One of my favourite books on reading photographs is Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida . It contains some very beautiful ideas on the experience of photography from a non-photographer.
Logged
BernardLanguillier
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8385



WWW
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2006, 05:17:40 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
One of my favourite books on reading photographs is Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida . It contains some very beautiful ideas on the experience of photography from a non-photographer.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=60863\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Funny that you should mention that, I am just reading the book at the moment (in its "la chambre claire" original French version).

Fascinating indeed.

Regards,
Bernard
Logged

A few images online here!
f2point8
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 2


« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2006, 10:10:41 PM »
ReplyReply

If nothing Reichman is deliberate in the elements he shows us. I think you are too. And myself.  You let your imagination roll away with itself. I think a greater point Reichman makes with the deconstruction entry is that the image can be greater when accompanied by the photographer's editorial. It CAN be greater.  Not every image needs to stand alone and speak for itself.  Sometimes the photographer's (or sculptor/painter/sketcher/actor/director etc) work can benefit greatly by commentary. I enjoy commenting on flickr. Often I stop to think that the photos would be nothing if not for titles or descriptions added by the creator. To be sure there are plenty of images that stand out as images alone. Enough to make it almost boring. But many times it is the photographers titles or description that set the images apart and get my attention.
Well, that's my two-cents worth. Thank you for reading.
-bruce

Quote
I agree 100%. There is a multitude of perspectives that will give interesting readings of this photograph. I do prefer the colour version but perhaps a more distressed B&W rendering would add something else, adding to the sense of isolation. The choices made in processing an image also can influence a reading. Who said a photograph is a transparent window on reality?

But just a quick nitpick: I think it would be better to choose another term rather than "deconstruction" for this kind of analysis as this term is actually a whole other can of worms and not really what is going on here. See this Wikipedia link for an idea: Deconstruction

Perhaps "structural analysis", "analysis" or even just "reading" are better bets?

One of my favourite books on reading photographs is Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida . It contains some very beautiful ideas on the experience of photography from a non-photographer.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=60863\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Logged
macgyver
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 510


« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2006, 12:07:21 AM »
ReplyReply

Bruce, I heartily agree with you.
Logged
russell a
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 389


WWW
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2006, 02:30:03 PM »
ReplyReply

Supplying verbal equivalents to accompany a work of art intended for visual, auditory, olfactory, or tactile consumption has the effect of substituting an intellectual experience for an intuitive experience.  Consumption of a label that someone else has created for a work effectively closes the door to an individual being able to have an authentic experience for him/herself.  Putting too much stock in a verbal equivalant that one constructs for oneself can also innoculate one against re-experiencing the work.  This is the (destructive) "work" that critics practice.  The only harmless cases of verbal labels for such work are those cases in which the label is clearly ambiguous to the point of being obviously misleading.  For good reason, one should treat statements by the artist with the greatest suspicion.
Logged
rfw
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 7


WWW
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2006, 06:40:21 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
For good reason, one should treat statements by the artist with the greatest suspicion.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=61077\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's a wonderfully quotable remark! But I have to read in your post that by extension any other person's statement about a work should be treated with suspicion lest it infect you against an "authentic" experience of it. What is an authentic experience? Isn't everyone a critic who has an opinion about a work of art? Isn't the very category "work of art" the product of an intellectual framing of a cultural artefact? How do we approach a work in an "authentic" way?

With respect to the Buenos Aires picture perhaps the only person who can claim any type of authentic experience is Michael Reichmann since he was witness to the view and made the decision to capture the scene - it was his intuition that judged it a decisive moment. It was his being-in-that-moment that has led to the work. Is that not an authentic experience? But perhaps the creation of a work should be treated as a separate type of experience to the perception of the finished product. It is true that many artists are the worst critics of their own works since they lack a disinterested perspective on their "children".

My point is that all readings or interpretations of works are informed by a person's experience, education, cultural and social background, prejudices, being-in-the-world ,etc., to a greater or lesser degree. How then do we define the difference between an authentic and an intellectual experience? Are they black and white concepts or is there a continuum of grey between these two experiences?

It is very easy to demonise critics, usually because we don't agree with them. A "critic" is someone who is perhaps paid to give an opinion because they have above-average knowledge in an area and thus can say something interesting (hopefully) about a work within a particular context. I agree that it is dangerous to slavishly adhere to intellectual remarks or labels regarding the interpretation of works but I have faith that people who are interested in something will take all these ideas and opinions, sift through them and make up their own minds. As such I agree that we shouldn't let anyone have the last word about a work, not even the artist, since a work is an open flux of meanings (a block of space-time producing affect according to Gilles Deleuze). But I don't think labelling or critical analysis damage our experience of a work. Such things are natural byproducts of making meaning of the world.
Logged
BernardLanguillier
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8385



WWW
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2006, 07:40:31 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Supplying verbal equivalents to accompany a work of art intended for visual, auditory, olfactory, or tactile consumption has the effect of substituting an intellectual experience for an intuitive experience.  Consumption of a label that someone else has created for a work effectively closes the door to an individual being able to have an authentic experience for him/herself.  Putting too much stock in a verbal equivalant that one constructs for oneself can also innoculate one against re-experiencing the work.  This is the (destructive) "work" that critics practice.  The only harmless cases of verbal labels for such work are those cases in which the label is clearly ambiguous to the point of being obviously misleading.  For good reason, one should treat statements by the artist with the greatest suspicion.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=61077\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I feel that analyzing an image has some teaching value, and might have some in terms of locating an image relative to art movements including their historical dimension. Would it only be because it might help us identifying original creations from mere theft of other photographers' work.

On the other hand, I feel that an image should be able to stand by itself, without the need for explanations.

In a way, providing verbal attachement to an image conveys a certain lack of confidence on the photogrpaher's part, as well as a lack of respect for the viewers ability to see what can reasonnably expected to be seen.

Regards,
Bernard
Logged

A few images online here!
Mark D Segal
Contributor
Sr. Member
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 7121


WWW
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2006, 07:59:45 PM »
ReplyReply

Bernard,

In general I agree with what you are saying. Of course analyzing photographs for teaching purposes is similar to analyzing paintings - and its being happening since any time I can remember. I think an important part of one's photographic education is the analysis of photographs that are worthy of being analyzed. One learns a whole lot about the language, cultures and styles of photography in this way - similar to what you see students doing in "fine art" galleries.

I also agree that good photographs don't need commentary, but there are situations where commentary can be helpful - especially about context and circumstances. As an extreme example, it would influence my appreciation of the work to know whether a photographer shot a war scene of actual events in the battle-field versus a Hollywood studio creation of the same thing.
Logged

Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
BernardLanguillier
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8385



WWW
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2006, 08:36:40 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
I also agree that good photographs don't need commentary, but there are situations where commentary can be helpful - especially about context and circumstances. As an extreme example, it would influence my appreciation of the work to know whether a photographer shot a war scene of actual events in the battle-field versus a Hollywood studio creation of the same thing.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=61099\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Mark,

Yes, I agree with you on this, but that is sort of another level isn't it? Those information are almost like metadata. A GPS locator and time stamp can basically play the same role.

Then, some background information can aslo save time to the reader by helping him identifying the context where the image was taken.

Regards,
Bernard
Logged

A few images online here!
rfw
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 7


WWW
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2006, 02:44:27 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
I also agree that good photographs don't need commentary, but there are situations where commentary can be helpful - especially about context and circumstances.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=61099\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

A couple of questions, Mark. How does one arrive at the judgement whether a photograph (or painting) is good or bad without some sort of analysis? How does someone justify such a judgement to others without some sort of commentary?

Perhaps I am mistaking you Bernard, when you say that "an image should be able to stand by itself, without the need for explanations."Do you mean on the wall/page beside it or do you mean without explanations in general? I can't image any cultural artefact being truly isolated from the verbiage around it.  

Michael is doing a critical reading of the elements in his photograph just as I'm sure most art school students are also taught to do these days. Don't you ever ask yourself the questions, "Why did I take this photograph?" or "Why isn't this one crap like all the others I took that day?"?

ja,
Richard
Logged
Anon E. Mouse
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 197


WWW
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2006, 03:50:42 AM »
ReplyReply

Critique can be used to help students who don't have a clue get a handle on a few things to get themselves going. But it is also the bane of most students. They cannot separate the intellectualizing of art from the creation of a work of art - two entirely different things (unless you are an intellectual). Most students get so caught up in the "chat" that they hit a wall. Their only resort ends up "talking" their way out of the problem - artist's statements, long descriptions and titles, and such things.

The author's essay is interesting as it shows HIS point of view regarding the image. But it is not a definitive statement. This presents a problem when the student does not agree with the author. They have two choices; to accept or reject the author's account. If they accept it, which is the normal behavior, they are then on the wrong track that is going to lead to many problems.

But this has been illuminating in another way - language is the clearly the only real form of communication. There seems to be very few that would accept photography without words. Words seem to be needed to justify and define a work. This seems to illustrate that humans do not trust their senses, but only what they are told. As the old joke about the adulterous husband goes, "are you going to trust what you see, or what I tell you?"
Logged
rfw
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 7


WWW
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2006, 04:52:03 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Critique can be used to help students who don't have a clue get a handle on a few things to get themselves going. But it is also the bane of most students. They cannot separate the intellectualizing of art from the creation of a work of art - two entirely different things (unless you are an intellectual). Most students get so caught up in the "chat" that they hit a wall. Their only resort ends up "talking" their way out of the problem - artist's statements, long descriptions and titles, and such things.

The author's essay is interesting as it shows HIS point of view regarding the image. But it is not a definitive statement. This presents a problem when the student does not agree with the author. They have two choices; to accept or reject the author's account. If they accept it, which is the normal behavior, they are then on the wrong track that is going to lead to many problems.

But this has been illuminating in another way - language is the clearly the only real form of communication. There seems to be very few that would accept photography without words. Words seem to be needed to justify and define a work. This seems to illustrate that humans do not trust their senses, but only what they are told. As the old joke about the adulterous husband goes, "are you going to trust what you see, or what I tell you?"
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=61113\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I think you are tending to tar and feather critical thinking as "intellectualizing." What is wrong with taking a step back and thinking about your work? Even during the process of creating a work? I see it as a feedback system that can encourage growth  - not as two entirely different things or a last resort for students with creative block.

We all seem to be speaking as pedagogues here. I am still a student, I will always be a student, just as I am a teacher. It is my experience as a student that helps me to teach. Though my perspective as a student/teacher/artist/intellectual/being seems to be different to yours.
   
But I really don't understand your second paragraph. How is not agreeing a problem? And yet how is agreeing also a problem? Do you mean that agreement in this case results in bad faith if in fact the student disagrees? Yes, that would be a mistake.

As for your last paragraph I will have to show my "intellectual" colours here: a photograph is a text, it is suffused with language, but not necessarily words.

cheers
Richard
Logged
jule
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 738


WWW
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2006, 05:35:05 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
I feel that analyzing an image has some teaching value, and might have some in terms of locating an image relative to art movements including their historical dimension. Would it only be because it might help us identifying original creations from mere theft of other photographers' work.

On the other hand, I feel that an image should be able to stand by itself, without the need for explanations.

In a way, providing verbal attachement to an image conveys a certain lack of confidence on the photogrpaher's part, as well as a lack of respect for the viewers ability to see what can reasonnably expected to be seen.

Regards,
Bernard
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=61095\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I enjoy it when an image speaks by itself without words, but reflecting upon a recent exhibition which until I read the artist statement, could not connect with the work at all. After reading a couple of illuminating paragraphs in the catalogue written by the artist, a link was made in my consciousness, and then I was able to benefit and respond to the images in a more worthwhile and beneficial manner.

I needed a bridge to help me connect with what the photographer was trying to communicate. I'm sure there were others who didn't need to read the artist statement to understand and connect more deeply with the photographs than I.

In some people's eyes the work may be deemed not good enough if it needed some commentary, and may demonstrate a lack of confidence on the photographer's part...which may be the case, but if the artist satement was not available for me to read at that exhibition, I know I would have left far the poorer.
Logged

HiltonP
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 137


WWW
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2006, 07:13:37 AM »
ReplyReply

I am reminded of a good friend who used to enjoy drinking wine. He liked it so much he decided to study it further and gained a diploma in wine making and wine tasting. He studied local wines, and foreign wines, and took part in blind tastings, etc.

Now he doesn't enjoy drinking wine anymore, because he knows too much. It's either too fruity, or not fruity enough. Or he ties himself into a knot trying to determine if there is a hint of cinnamon, or a wooded taste. Has it exceeded its shelf life, or is it suffering from bottle shock . . . Sometimes too much knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I enjoy a glass of wine. I also enjoy looking at a photograph. Often I enjoy them simply because they are . . . nice.
Logged

Regards, HILTON
Mark D Segal
Contributor
Sr. Member
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 7121


WWW
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2006, 07:30:13 AM »
ReplyReply

Bernard, yes I agree - talking context and circumstances is a different level of dialogue than, say, explaining artistic choices in making the photograph. The latter should be unnecessary and avoided outside of a learning environment.

Richard, I agree - I have no problem with image analysis as an educational initiative - I learned alot of what I know about photography from analyzing images (mine and others) and reading analyses done by other people. Sorry if I wasn't clear about that. As to what makes one picture "good" and another "crap" - well one could spend a lifetime on this - you name it - but the basics are subject matter, lighting, composition, technical quality of the print, and all the factors underlying those basics that the photographer implements to convey what he/she was trying to communicate. After doing enough of it, one can separate the wheat from the chaff instinctively, (and then go back to analyze why!).

AnonEMouse, I agree with Richard's response. Like anything else, analysis and critique of art can be well done or it can be botched. The mark of a good teacher is to keep the students interested and motivated to actually DO good work, not just talk about it, and there are plenty of good teachers about. Statements in these areas are seldom "definitive" - hence there will always be agreement and disagreement - to me these are non-issues. I don't know what you mean when you say "language is clearly the only real form of communication" - if by "language" you mean spoken or written words, I think this is incorrect. The fine arts, including photography and music are languages in their own right. Sometimes words help, sometimes not.
Logged

Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
russell a
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 389


WWW
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2006, 09:09:28 AM »
ReplyReply

Congratulations to you all for a thoughtful discussion.  I have about 50 years experience being exposed to misleading drivel as regards works of art in all media.  I had art history professors who described works under discussion in terms that the work couldn't support, another who subjected every work to Jungian analysis.  One the other hand I was quite fortunate to study photography with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind.  Callahan wasn't a word person; he preferred to allow his work to speak for him.  In fact, it is well known that Callahan hired Siskind precisely because Siskind could talk about art, and Callahan felt it was useful for someone to be able to do that in a learning setting.  And Siskind, who had been an English teacher, largely spoke "poetry" about art so as to inflict little harm.

 Taking a break from art school, I spent about five years as a Photographic Officer in the Air Force.  When I returned, as a greatly less naive person, to continue graduate art studies, there were two interesting "events" that influenced my attitude.  One was a course in 20th century American Art in which I was the only class member to receive an "A" because the instructor said I was the only one who understood how to make Art History.  I shortly realized that this was wrong - that, as practiced, art history and criticism indeed was about creating a "profession" that need, in the minds of many purveyors, have only a tangential relationship to the work in question.  One can easily detect an attitude by some that the works themselves only exist as fuel for critical combustion.  So, in another class, Symbolism in Art, my final paper arrived at the conclusion that "Art begins where Symbolism leaves off".  In other words, that content of a work that is without verbal equivalency is the most valuable content.  For this I was the only member in the class not to receive an "A".

Although, as one might expect, I usually avoid the gallery talks of docents, etc. as potentially toxic, every once in a while I sample the waters to see if the same fatuous malarky is being spread.  Alas!  Example:  the guides at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, where one cannot view the works without a blathering "minder", it is just amazing to hear them talk about the brilliant coloration of works which in fact are overlaid with 50 years of forced-air heating system grime.  And that's just for starters.  

Then, experimentally and perversely, I showed up at an exhibition of Atget at the time when a guided tour was scheduled.  As it turned out, I was the only one to do so that day.  I'm sure the docent believed she was doing what was expected of her and she had marshalled some interesting facts aabout various of the works, but when she began to interpret!!!  Saints preserve us!

This is where I'm coming from.

http://www.russarmstrong.com/
Logged
Anon E. Mouse
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 197


WWW
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2006, 09:09:33 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
I think you are tending to tar and feather critical thinking as "intellectualizing." What is wrong with taking a step back and thinking about your work? Even during the process of creating a work? I see it as a feedback system that can encourage growth - not as two entirely different things or a last resort for students with creative block.

Certainly thinking about art can be a useful process for students. However, you have not made a case for creating a work of art requires critical thought. Niether Picasso nor Ansel Adams believed art could be verbalized. There is a quite a history of art being an intuitive process, rather than a conscious one.

Quote
We all seem to be speaking as pedagogues here. I am still a student, I will always be a student, just as I am a teacher. It is my experience as a student that helps me to teach. Though my perspective as a student/teacher/artist/intellectual/being seems to be different to yours.

I am not a student in regards to photography, so I am not taking that position. But we are not disagreeing that thinking about art is not helpful for students, it is. However, the rules including classifications of art and the idea the art can and needs to be verbalized can be a hiderance. Studying grammer does not produce great writing. If you think it is simply a grammatical problem, then grammer is going to be your obstruction to learning how to write well.

Quote
But I really don't understand your second paragraph. How is not agreeing a problem? And yet how is agreeing also a problem? Do you mean that agreement in this case results in bad faith if in fact the student disagrees? Yes, that would be a mistake.

The student is ultimately taking a personal journey. There is no right or wrong solution in photography. But by concretizing art through definitions, you are creating a barrier for the student to find their own relationship to art. It is a paradox of teaching. The teacher becomes the final barrier. If I as the teacher say art is metaphysical, but that is not how the student experiences it, then there  is a problem. If the student out of respect of me just takes my definition, then the student is not in an authentic position and must go against their inner drive or inspiration. They must naturally reject it, but that is a hard path.

Quote
As for your last paragraph I will have to show my "intellectual" colours here: a photograph is a text, it is suffused with language, but not necessarily words.

That is a writer's metaphor. And there is no language without words.

There is little in common with language and a visual art - accept maybe traffic signs, but I don't think you are going there. First language is built on shared, defined symbols (words), images are not (cultural association are not required nor is the resulting interpretation of symbols (if used) guaranteed). Language is temporal whereas images are spacial. If I flip an image in photoshop, I have done little to the content.  Reverse this sentence - John kills Jane. Not the same thing because the temporal order does make a difference - there is no real spacial order as language is primarily spoken and the written language is just an approximation of the spoken form. What if I take the works in this sentence and just arrange them randomly? I will get nonsense. Randomly arranging elements in a picture never produces nonsense. And here is the clincher that no one will like because the opposite has been so ingrained - images have no meaning.

To throw in Mark's comment in reference to "language is clearly the only real form of communication," I was refering to our dependence on language. It is so great, that no one is willing to give up written words in regards to photography. Even when you go to an exhibition and the photographer does not give a title to a work, someone will stick a label under the picture "Untitled." Perhaps they think we will look on the ground to see if the label fell off the wall. Then we have a double problem, does the label indicate the picture has no title or the title is "Untitled"? Is Van Gogh's "Starry Night" a better picture because it has a name? A rose by any other name...

Certainly if the photographs are used in a magazine to educate, then information can and should be given. But the photograph is not simply serving itself, but a story, a product, a political agenda, an event, etc. But I have been to Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibitions and no words were needed. The power of the photographs were not diminished by the lack of words.
Logged
Tim Gray
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2002



WWW
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2006, 09:26:22 AM »
ReplyReply

Commenting on Russell A's post, I think there are potentially at least 2 kinds of experience one can derive from an image - both of which are authentic (at least neither one is "fake" to the extent that "fake" is the opposite of authentic).

The first is the visual experience with no context - written, spoken or otherwise.  Depending on the approach of the viewer that experience can be intuitive, intellectual or anywhere in the middle but I don't think any one point on that continuum is objectively better than any other point.  Actually, the concept of zero context is purely hypothetical as it is impossible to physically view an image with absolutely no context.

The second kind of experience adds context and while that context potentially adds complexity to the experience, I don't see it follows that context comprised of statements of "fact" made by the artist should necessarily be subjected to intense scrutiny.  The statement "the old woman is the young girl's grandmother"  adds context and increases the potential to enjoy the image.  Statements of artistic intent are probably a bit more suspect, but it's up to the viewer to decide if the intent was successfully executed or not.  Having Michael provide a walking commentary to his current exhibit at Pikto added significantly to my enjoyment of the images and I certainly had no reason to view his comments at anything other than face value.
Logged
rfw
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 7


WWW
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2006, 06:52:05 PM »
ReplyReply

For Anon E. Mouse,
Quote
However, you have not made a case for creating a work of art requires critical thought. Niether Picasso nor Ansel Adams believed art could be verbalized. There is a quite a history of art being an intuitive process, rather than a conscious one.

Well I could list quite a few people in various arts who incorporate critical thought into their work, among them Paul Klee (painting), Tarkovsky (film), Olivier Messiaen and Pierre Schaeffer (music). Ansel Adams certainly committed many words to paper in relation to his social documentary work but perhaps this falls in the category of metadata. I suppose I would counter your point by saying that a history of art would have to include artists who were comfortable being intuitive and others who were comfortable with a critical process surrounding their work. So I don't believe creating a work "requires" critical thought but I also don't think it is necessarily a hindrance. I don't think intuition and thinking are mutually exclusive.

Quote
That is a writer's metaphor. And there is no language without words.

I think most linguists would be surprised at such a narrow definition of language.

Quote
There is little in common with language and a visual art - accept maybe traffic signs, but I don't think you are going there. First language is built on shared, defined symbols (words), images are not (cultural association are not required nor is the resulting interpretation of symbols (if used) guaranteed). Language is temporal whereas images are spacial. If I flip an image in photoshop, I have done little to the content.  Reverse this sentence - John kills Jane. Not the same thing because the temporal order does make a difference - there is no real spacial order as language is primarily spoken and the written language is just an approximation of the spoken form. What if I take the works in this sentence and just arrange them randomly? I will get nonsense. Randomly arranging elements in a picture never produces nonsense. And here is the clincher that no one will like because the opposite has been so ingrained - images have no meaning.


I really don't believe that language is just a matter of grammatical structure. If you really want to conflate language with grammar then I will try another term: code. Photographs can be decoded, in fact we need to do this to recognise and read something as a "photograph". Michael's article on  abstraction deals with this to some extent. The case of the tribe who could not see the representation of reality in a film is a famous one. Representations still need codes to allow them to be recognised or read because they differ so markedly from the presentation of the world which our senses normally give us. To "see" a photograph and recognise it as such is to call on internalised codes in order to do so. The whole thing seems transparent or intuitive because it is so commonplace.

Your example of grammatical order and temporality only works for Germanic languages like English. Other languages have different orders for subject, object and verb. Your example does show that if you stuff up the rules of a particular symbolic system you can end up with apparent nonsense (or poetry) but I would hazard to say that the coded "rules" of photographic images often allow for spatial rearrangement of elements. But what happens if you turn an ordinary landscape photograph upside down rather than just flip it horizontally? The result might look interesting but is it still a landscape or is it nonsense? Or is it still within the coded confines of art?

I agree that inherently images have no meaning. They don't need meaning to exist or even to be registered by our senses. But the same can be said of the marks and sounds which we associate with words. They are arbitrary things to which we have to learn to attach meaning. This is why I can't read Hindi. But it looks beautiful as art if I read it that way.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 »   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad