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Author Topic: Photo Technology Luddites: Can they be Great Photographers?  (Read 22126 times)
Bronislaus Janulis
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« Reply #80 on: May 20, 2009, 09:29:35 AM »
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Semantics, and personal taste, or preference.

I like other artists more than Picasso, so I would not rank him as the "greatest" of 20th. c. artists. Preference.

On my desk, there is a small "pot", made by one of my daughters, at about 8 or 9 years old. Not because of who made it, but due to its inherent qualities, it has a place of honor. In it sits an exquisitely crafted bronze Toad, about an inch square.   Likewise, the hollow knot from an Upper Peninsula pine tree, that holds my fountain pens. Functionality  aside, I consider them ART, sorry, art. Over my desk, there are some metal advertising signs, and though one features the work of Haddon Sundblom, who was an artist, these pieces are not art, just reproductions.

My wife, also in the arts, and I have filled our home with art, most of which was acquired reasonably. Value has never been a consideration; like, response, emotion are. Most has NOT been approved by the gods of ART, just us, and though others might see crap, well, that is just opinion. At one time Van Gogh was considered crap, as were many other, now "approved" artists. Opinion. ( Some of our crap has transcended into being ART. )

When art becomes ART, mounted on a lofty pedestal, available only to the "chosen ones", then we have lost our way. Art should be a part of the every day, as in Native American culture, though this certainly does not preclude either specialization or excellence.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2009, 09:30:16 AM by Bronislaus Janulis » Logged

Rob C
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« Reply #81 on: May 20, 2009, 11:38:11 AM »
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Quote from: John Camp
One big mistake in photography is to confuse competency with art; they are not the same. I think that "pros" are less likely to create real serious art than are "amateurs," because pros focus on the easy ways to do things, and more often produce glossy cliches than serious observations.

JC


I agree with the first sentence but question the assumption in the second that pros "focus on the easy ways to do things," when I feel that it is really quite impossible to make claims like that. Depending on the photographer, the client and the commission, the work can be almost anything you care to imagine it might be. In the case of, say, the passport snapper, you probably have a point and ease of repetition would be a decided plus in making the work profitable. In the case of the editorial fashion photographer, for example, I think your assumption is way, way off: the guy is there because of his slant on life - he wants to impress in order to advance his career within the commercial and advertising world where he might find the money to support the lifestyle and the expenses of the job. The last thing he wants from the opportunity of such a showcase IS the glossy cliché, which anybody of interest to him in his world would instantly recognized as exactly that!

Frankly, I think I have seen more art masquerading as photography in the better titles than the other way around!

And why on Earth should art consist of "serious observation"?

But that is just my own view and certainly doesn´t make yours wrong.

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #82 on: May 20, 2009, 12:07:14 PM »
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Quote from: Bronislaus Janulis
When art becomes ART, mounted on a lofty pedestal, available only to the "chosen ones", then we have lost our way. Art should be a part of the every day, as in Native American culture, though this certainly does not preclude either specialization or excellence.


I thought that it already was part of daily life; you pass it everywhere you go: in the street, in the subway; you hear it all the time, even when it comes out of somebody else´s earpiece.

You might not like some of it whilst another raves about that very thing - its very ubiquitousness is why we talk about it in places such as this. Hi Art Lo Art - it´s all the same thing but different; isn´t the graffiti star an artist? In the end, it´s all about putting something down on paper or performing on a stage or just on the pavement -  articulating, somehow, an emotion that began as an idea in somebody´s head. Were it otherwise there would be nobody left producing anything that might be thought to be art.

The arts always need money, mainly somebody else´s money, to survive. Without patronage of some sort it would never have stood a chance, so is it surprising that it might be found "on a lofty pedestal" as you put it, in a magazine, on a billboard, in a gallery? What was true for the middle ages holds today: there is one art for the pedestal and another for the prole, though either might be of equal merit or lack of such.

Rob C
« Last Edit: May 20, 2009, 12:09:02 PM by Rob C » Logged

Bronislaus Janulis
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« Reply #83 on: May 20, 2009, 12:44:24 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
I thought that it already was part of daily life; you pass it everywhere you go: in the street, in the subway; you hear it all the time, even when it comes out of somebody else´s earpiece.

LOL,

Rob C,

I may want it off the pedestal, but that doesn't mean I don't have some standards. What comes out of somebody elses earbuds, or car speakers, is not art. Definitely not art.



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Rob C
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« Reply #84 on: May 22, 2009, 12:21:23 PM »
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Quote from: Bronislaus Janulis
LOL,

Rob C,

I may want it off the pedestal, but that doesn't mean I don't have some standards. What comes out of somebody elses earbuds, or car speakers, is not art. Definitely not art.


But Bronislaus, you have no idea what might come out of another´s speakers; it could be Mozart (no pun intended), it could Jimmy Giuffre´s Train and the River, Louis Armstrong´s Potato Head Blues - anything at all which, to me, might be the epitome of art whilst to another just sound, part of the exhaust system of the rotting car, the cacophony of wheels on rail.

Perhaps the only thing that can be said about art, with any conviction, is that unlike what you say in your last sentence, nothing about it can ever be definite since even definition escapes it.

Rob C
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dalethorn
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« Reply #85 on: May 22, 2009, 01:09:56 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Perhaps the only thing that can be said about art, with any conviction, is that unlike what you say in your last sentence, nothing about it can ever be definite since even definition escapes it.

I don't think the definition escapes it as much as it escapes us.  Just my thought.
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fike
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« Reply #86 on: May 22, 2009, 01:52:25 PM »
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I think it is difficult to talk about artists and art, particularly when it comes to photography.  We are probably better off talking about people who are:
  • working photo professionals
  • Photographers selling in fine art gallery
  • Wedding photographers
  • documentary photographers
  • photojournalists
  • event photographers
  • hobbyists

Any of these people can and do produce art.  Everyday wedding photography or photojournalism really must be pretty formulaic and may as a result not seem very artistic.  

Back to my original question about great photographers: I don't think that you could become a great (or even moderately competent) photojournalist or wedding photographer without mastering many advanced photographic  techniques--from lighting to post processing, to color, and through the deceptively simple(complex) exposure and focus.  The speed and pressure in these endeavors require consistency and repeatability that are not tolerant of experimentation, trial, and error.

But art and artists...that is just too hard to pin-down.  Anyone can be an artist with a camera as their tool.  That is what is so great about the technology.  Photographic technology has democratized a previously arcane art.  The same is happening to video too.
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Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
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TrailPixie.net

I carry an M43 ILC, a couple of good lenses, and a tripod.
Bronislaus Janulis
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« Reply #87 on: May 22, 2009, 02:55:01 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
But Bronislaus, you have no idea what might come out of another´s speakers; it could be Mozart (no pun intended), it could Jimmy Giuffre´s Train and the River, Louis Armstrong´s Potato Head Blues - anything at all which, to me, might be the epitome of art whilst to another just sound, part of the exhaust system of the rotting car, the cacophony of wheels on rail.

Perhaps the only thing that can be said about art, with any conviction, is that unlike what you say in your last sentence, nothing about it can ever be definite since even definition escapes it.

Rob C

If I'm forced to interact with something against my wishes, especially a reproduction of something that may or may not be art, then I reserve the right to claim it is not art. This is another subject about photography; is the print something done by the artist, or some other entity? Are reproductions art? Is a Cole Weston print of an Edward Weston negative art? HCB didn't do his darkroom work, so can his prints be art? Well, that's another thread.

So, I stand by my definiteness.

My "loosey-goosey" definition of art is, my own, and the only correct one, I add.  I'm sorry, you're wrong and I'm right. So, there. :-) And, I'm definite.

I've studied and worked as a photographer, painter, gilder, paintings conservator, framer, frame conservator. I can fix my cars, and bikes, rewire a house, and operate a 10 ton electro-magnetic crane. I have a lot of technical skills and knowledge, none of which assures me of making art, nor prevents me from making art. I stand with Fike on the original question.

I have the confidence and experience to be able to decide all by myself if something is art. The only technical short comings I decry are those practiced by the teachers of art, they should be able to provide the students who want it, a sound technical basis, but that will not make them artists.

I blather, again. :-)




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John Camp
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« Reply #88 on: May 22, 2009, 03:12:34 PM »
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Quote from: fike
I think it is difficult to talk about artists and art, particularly when it comes to photography.  We are probably better off talking about people who are:
  • working photo professionals
  • Photographers selling in fine art gallery
  • Wedding photographers
  • documentary photographers
  • photojournalists
  • event photographers
  • hobbyists

Any of these people can and do produce art.  Everyday wedding photography or photojournalism really must be pretty formulaic and may as a result not seem very artistic.  

Back to my original question about great photographers: I don't think that you could become a great (or even moderately competent) photojournalist or wedding photographer without mastering many advanced photographic  techniques--from lighting to post processing, to color, and through the deceptively simple(complex) exposure and focus.  The speed and pressure in these endeavors require consistency and repeatability that are not tolerant of experimentation, trial, and error.

But art and artists...that is just too hard to pin-down.  Anyone can be an artist with a camera as their tool.  That is what is so great about the technology.  Photographic technology has democratized a previously arcane art.  The same is happening to video too.

No, most of those people don't produce art. They produce a kind of craft, equivalent to excellent basket-making, or excellent rug-making, or excellent chair making. Or not-so-excellent, depending on their skill. (Notice that I don't say unique, forward-looking, spiritual rug-making.) The photography may be truly excellent; it's not art.

No, not anyone can be an artist with a camera. As I said before, and I will argue this until the cows come home, there's a difference between art and art-like objects. One of photography's problems is that too many people who identify themselves as photographers insist that any photographer can make art -- which is why a lot of people who are serious about art still don't accept photography as art.

In the drawing/painting arts, because of a long history of argument, criticism and judgement, in which the artists themselves are deeply immersed, there is quite a finely-tuned understanding of what constitutes serious art. New Yorker cartoons, book illustrations, etc., can be extremely well done, but everyone understands that they are not really fine art. In most of the world, illustrators as great as Norman Rockwell and N.C. Wyeth are not considered fine artists, although they are universally recognized as exceptional craftsmen.

Photography has never come to a similar understanding, which is why so much photographic crap is called "art."

Further up this thread, there's a story of a piece of work that a child did and the father accepts it as art; that's fine, he's her father. But give the kid a bunch of boards, a drill, some screws, a screwdriver and a spokeshave, and using her "talent," try to produce a really beautiful and useful chair. She won't be able to do it...not without a few years of training. So is the argument here that "great art" is easier to produce than chairs? Likeable snapshots are -- the camera's automatic, after all. But great art? No. Ansel Adams only produced a half-dozen pieces of arguably "great" photographic art in his entire career.

So don't call your kid's pictures, or the wedding photographer's picture, great art. Or art at all.

Call it something else.


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Bronislaus Janulis
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« Reply #89 on: May 22, 2009, 04:18:50 PM »
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JC,

I understand your point, though the reference to my kid making a chair, is wrong, in that the chair would be craft, and probably poor craft. But, the craftsman, will on occasion produce something sublime. Is that not art? Or does it bleed mere craft?

I agree that photography is a difficult medium to approach art with; I've brooded on it since I was a teenager. I don't think, even considering my kid's piece, that art is easy, but I also believe, that, regardless of faith or religion, art can happen.

John Singer Sargent was IMO, the greatest, alla prima, technical painter ever. When he was "on", the paintings dominate a room or gallery. Sometimes, though, he didn't have anything to say, and the paintings are lovely, vapid, and not art. Ansel would probably agree with you, and I do as well, but the reverse can also be true.

The comment about illustrators brings to mind James M. Flagg's comment, that the difference between an illustrator and an artist, was the illustrator could afford to eat.

Maybe just a matter of degree, but I'm personally willing to accept that the sublime can happen, regardless of who, what, or what degree of hard earned technical proficiency.

 

 


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