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Author Topic: The 4 Levels in Art  (Read 74510 times)
Anon E. Mouse
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« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2005, 09:59:48 AM »
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The trick is to properly define the structure, so we can transfer/communicate the concept.
I would say that was a contradiction of your own philosophy. If I can learn language subconsciously, then I have learnt it without the need to define it. It is intuitive and requires no logical process. Since no definition and logic is required, then the point of art of having a "concept" is moot.

Obviously these are your personal definitions of art and you have found they help you. Nothing wrong with that. If we apply them in a universal sense, then they start breaking down. For them to work, they need to be based on a few unproven assumptions. In this case, "art is to communicate a concept" and "art has a definable structure" amoung others. The real problem here is that your are implying art has an absolute "artness." Art only has reality in reference to human perception (not just vision, but all processes that form our view of the world). And not just on an intellectual level, but something much deeper that goes right down to our biology.
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Dan Sroka
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« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2005, 10:10:35 AM »
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A predetermined message:
I presume we all agree that there is a difference between "Intent" and "Meaning". If you "intent" to convey a certain "meaning", then I call that "predetermination". Obviously, if the majority of your audience assigns a different meaning to your expression, then you have an opportunity to learn what kind of expression will effectively convey that different meaning.
I think that predetermination of meaning is an illusory goal. In my experience, the most success images are ones that transcend the creator's intent or ambition. When the art works, it achieves a complexity and richness that allows each viewer to take something different and personal from it. This is how I judge that a photograph I have created is art and not just a picture.

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I want to emphasize the idea that it is a loose definition. One that helps me to more effectively judge images on artistic merit.

Be careful about trying to analytically judge work as art. The definition of art is a simple binary, yes or no, that each person makes for themselves. The criteria: did this work go past your eyes and touch your heart or mind? If yes, then it's art... for you.

As to the question "are you an artist?" In my opinion, if you say you are, you are. If someone else says you are, you are. Being an artist is not a job, but a calling. We should not confuse being an "artist" with being a "successful" or "popular artist".
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2005, 10:29:53 AM »
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Edward Weston had some pithy things to say about the whole issue of art and photgraphy and composition:

"Now to consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk. Such rules and laws are deduced from the accomplished fact; they are the products of reflection."

I believe it was Edward who once said something like, "Composition is simply the strongest way of seeing," and "Let the subject generate its own composition."

And I seem to recall that for an exhibit once the gallery wanted to bill him as "Edward Weston, Artist", and he said "Scratch the word 'artist' and write 'photographer' -- of which I am very proud." (I'll check the exact quote in the Daybooks when I get home this afternoon.)

Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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DonWeston
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« Reply #23 on: September 28, 2005, 10:32:48 AM »
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A predetermined message:
I presume we all agree that there is a difference between "Intent" and "Meaning". If you "intent" to convey a certain "meaning", then I call that "predetermination". Obviously, if the majority of your audience assigns a different meaning to your expression, then you have an opportunity to learn what kind of expression will effectively convey that different meaning.
I think that predetermination of meaning is an illusory goal. In my experience, the most success images are ones that transcend the creator's intent or ambition. When the art works, it achieves a complexity and richness that allows each viewer to take something different and personal from it. This is how I judge that a photograph I have created is art and not just a picture.

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I want to emphasize the idea that it is a loose definition. One that helps me to more effectively judge images on artistic merit.

"Be careful about trying to analytically judge work as art. The definition of art is a simple binary, yes or no, that each person makes for themselves. The criteria: did this work go past your eyes and touch your heart or mind? If yes, then it's art... for you.
"As to the question "are you an artist?" In my opinion, if you say you are, you are. If someone else says you are, you are. Being an artist is not a job, but a calling. We should not confuse being an "artist" with being a "successful" or "popular artist"."

You have made some excellent points here, all too often the success part gets confused with talent. Sometimes they do coexist, and you can through academic credentials into the mix to confuse things more. Artist or not???Good question, some of the most impressive examples of any kind of 'art' come from sources that people do as a hobby, thus yielding the word amateur, in its truest form. Others function in a more matter of fact mode, take a wedding photographer as a job. First, there are those who do an adequate job with the best equipment and are successful. Others have much lesser gear, and do an even better job. Who is the artist? Either, both? Neither? Ultimately it is up to the viewer to decide if a particular type of work or image has that certain something. I'll accept either label, but luckily count on my main career outside of photography to keep food on my table happily.

Don't know how much I added to the conversation overall, but thanks for letting me be part of it, it is what drives any of us lovers of photography to go on and strive for improvement, great thread...
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Gordon Buck
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« Reply #24 on: September 28, 2005, 10:41:49 AM »
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Anon, defining a photographer as a person who makes photographs without regard to quality of the product is so overly simplistic as to be virtually meaningless. You probably don't really even use that definition yourself.

Is a writer only one who writes?
-- A painter only one who paints?
-- A poeter only one who poets?
-- A musicer only one who musics?

Such literal definitions would be so all encompassing as to be meaningless. By virtue of having a few years of elementary school education, everyone would be a writer, painter, poet, musician, etc. Nearly everyone in the developed world would be a photographer.

I'll bet everyone participating in this discussion would note the nuances of the questions: "Were you the photographer?" as compared to "Are you a photographer?".
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howard smith
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« Reply #25 on: September 28, 2005, 11:28:27 AM »
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Eric,

"Edward Weston had some pithy things to say about the whole issue of art and photgraphy and composition:"

I think he was also creditted for something to the effect that everything worth photographing wasn't very far from the car. Maybe Weston wasn't always so right.
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opgr
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« Reply #26 on: September 28, 2005, 11:42:50 AM »
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The trick is to properly define the structure, so we can transfer/communicate the concept.
I would say that was a contradiction of your own philosophy. If I can learn language subconsciously, then I have learnt it without the need to define it. It is intuitive and requires no logical process. Since no definition and logic is required, then the point of art of having a "concept" is moot.
To acquire a skill subconsciously does not contradict that you could acquire that skill more quickly if the concept was defined and the logic exposed. Nor does it contradict the more important fact that you would be able to communicate *about* the concept more effectively. So it is not entirely moot. But I agree that it is indeed not required.

And yes, there are assumptions, but it is more like: "Art is to communicate" and that in itself is the concept. From that assumption it follows logically that it has a definable structure. However, I am also a proponent of the assumption that "chaos is our inability to define structure". Structure is a filter we use to define our world. Art is part of that world, so it can be viewed through *a* structure. The fact that we have not yet found a meaningful or effective way to define that structure doesn't necessarily mean there isn't one.

On the other hand, if Art is indeed a deeper something or metaphysical concept, then it may well be that "pure reason" is not applicable as a tool.
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Oscar Rysdyk
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opgr
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« Reply #27 on: September 28, 2005, 11:58:14 AM »
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As to the question "are you an artist?" In my opinion, if you say you are, you are. If someone else says you are, you are. Being an artist is not a job, but a calling. We should not confuse being an "artist" with being a "successful" or "popular artist".
Agreed, and I believe that an artist needs to be a perfectionist with a scrutiny exceeding well beyond that of the audience.

To not call yourself "Artist" may also be a form of evading your responsibility. If I believe Edward Weston to be a true Artist and want to learn from him, and he only says: "I'm just a photographer, if you want to learn what I do, just come along with me for the better part of either of our lives, and perhaps intuitively you pick up the trade..." (but perhaps not), then that doesn't really acknowledge the responsibility both people have towards each other. (this is not meant as grave as it my sound).


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In my experience, the most success images are ones that transcend the creator's intent or ambition. When the art works, it achieves a complexity and richness that allows each viewer to take something different and personal from it. This is how I judge that a photograph I have created is art and not just a picture.

But this begs the question: does the resulting emotion need to be positive? constructive? Somebody sees your art and commits suicide. Apparently it was a profound experience for the person, but is it then a useful expression of art? (this is a genuine question to find the limits of the concept, no sarcasm).
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Oscar Rysdyk
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DonWeston
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« Reply #28 on: September 28, 2005, 01:12:18 PM »
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But this begs the question: does the resulting emotion need to be positive? constructive? Somebody sees your art and commits suicide. Apparently it was a profound experience for the person, but is it then a useful expression of art? (this is a genuine question to find the limits of the concept, no sarcasm).
As a medical professional, I would say that suicide over an image or any piece of art, is not so much about the "art" as the person who kills themself. No piece of art is worth that reaction, and I can't see anyone without other issues committing such an act. Now maybe if the artist commits suicide, that is another matter....maybe :-). I do not think it is the creators responsibility to guard against all possible acts resulting from viewing his work.

This is not to say, that some art could not be offensive in the extreme or plain outright disgusting. I can think of a few such items that could come to mind. BUT my reaction to them would  not elicit suicide from me. I think we need to leave out such things as death of kids as a possible subject, that might cross some offensive borders, but otherwise most 'art'for its own sake, should not elicit such reactions.

I guess one question would be "was it the artists'  INTENTION to cause such a reaction?" Other than that, any piece of art can cause a range of reactions from "I must buy that and put it up in my house and I love it" to "that is just junk thrown together...Yuckkk" "Why did they waste the time and material"....beauty is in the eye of the beholder type thing. Usefullness sort of falls into this kind of range.
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opgr
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« Reply #29 on: September 28, 2005, 02:15:47 PM »
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I guess one question would be "was it the artists' INTENTION to cause such a reaction?"
But that is exactly the question we are exploring; predetermination. (The suicide reaction is of course just a thought experiment). I personally have somewhat of a problem with the proposition that "if it evokes a profound reaction, then it must be Art". A profound reaction can be *provoked* very easily. So how can I tell the difference?
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Oscar Rysdyk
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DonWeston
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« Reply #30 on: September 28, 2005, 02:58:38 PM »
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I would say simply that it depends on what this 'art' is? IS it the artists intention to kill someone with his art? assuming it is not a poison delivery system made to be part of it...then it is NOT art but a weapon with a specific purpose...hehe. Yu are asking for specific responses, can you describe such art, and the artists motivation in making it? With such an example, we may be able to tell you whether this 'art' is ART. Art is supposed to be profound and provoke an emotional response, no doubt, but why make something so provacative to elicit someones death? Was it meant to kill a certain individual? What was the artist's rationale for making it in the first place? Did it have a specific target? Lots of questions.....
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Anon E. Mouse
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« Reply #31 on: September 28, 2005, 06:11:24 PM »
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Anon, defining a photographer as a person who makes photographs without regard to quality of the product is so overly simplistic as to be virtually meaningless. You probably don't really even use that definition yourself.

Is a writer only one who writes?
-- A painter only one who paints?
-- A poeter only one who poets?
-- A musicer only one who musics?

Such literal definitions would be so all encompassing as to be meaningless. By virtue of having a few years of elementary school education, everyone would be a writer, painter, poet, musician, etc. Nearly everyone in the developed world would be a photographer.

I'll bet everyone participating in this discussion would note the nuances of the questions: "Were you the photographer?" as compared to "Are you a photographer?".
I think you are confusing the case of a person in the persuit of an activity and a profession. This is why we have amatuer and professional photographers. I have seen some amateurs produce higher quality images that professionals. I have seen some professionals who produce work no better than someone who takes a random snapshot. If we can have good photographers, we certainly can have bad. Quality is not an issue.

Quality requires value judgements. At that point, what a "photographer" is, is simply an opinion. Then it is simply my criteria against yours. BTW, the dictionary agrees with me.
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Anon E. Mouse
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« Reply #32 on: September 28, 2005, 06:21:55 PM »
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Can I call myself an artist if I produce no works of art? I think the term defines what someone does. "Art" means skill. A cabinetmaker is an artist as well as a photographer or painter. I could call myself "the President of the United States," but that does not make it so. Even if everyone here called me that, I don't think I would be allowed in the Oval Office.
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Anon E. Mouse
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« Reply #33 on: September 28, 2005, 06:27:47 PM »
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Art is supposed to be profound and provoke an emotional response, no doubt...

Maybe I am misreading this, but why does art have to provoke and emotional response? Why does it have to be profound? Can it simply be well crafted?

If, for the sake of argument, that art should create a response. What if the audience does not respond. Is that the fault of the work, or the audience? Both? Then how do we determine which is at fault?
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #34 on: September 29, 2005, 12:59:17 PM »
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Does anyone else belong to the "It is art because I tell you it is art" school of thought?
Well, it is a good a definition as any. "I think it is art," would most likely be more accurate.
The opposite point of view maybe that it is Art if the viewer chooses to view it as Art, otherwise it is just a photograph. That way we avoid the need to intellectualise the discussion.
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howard smith
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« Reply #35 on: September 29, 2005, 01:26:42 PM »
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This seems to be getting back to a topic here some time ago.  I am a fine art photographer because I say I am, even though I'm sure what that is.  Like a "visual artist."  What's that?
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Smitty
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« Reply #36 on: September 29, 2005, 01:46:25 PM »
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"Art is anything you can get away with." - J. Campbell

Best of luck on shoe-horning visual expression into a verbal corset. What visual art expresses best is what words are least able to say.
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howard smith
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« Reply #37 on: September 29, 2005, 02:09:27 PM »
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Then what is a "visual artist?" Is it one of those things I can't define but I know when I see it? Seems to me that if one decribes himself as an artist, visual or whatever, he should be able to describe what it is he is claiming to be. I don't agree that just because it is hard to define what an artist is, I shouldn't have to do that before I decide I am one. Does it come down to "I am, therefore, I am."?

I ordered sushi and then found out it was raw fish!
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Anon E. Mouse
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« Reply #38 on: September 29, 2005, 06:16:18 PM »
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"Art is anything you can get away with." - J. Campbell

Best of luck on shoe-horning visual expression into a verbal corset. What visual art expresses best is what words are least able to say.
Except the person you quoted has a very definite idea of what art is.
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Robert Roaldi
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« Reply #39 on: September 29, 2005, 09:00:34 PM »
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For a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek look at art, in this case a sculpture, you might enjoy this blog entry I wrote:

Appreciating Art
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Robert
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