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Author Topic: Art 'n Science 'n Photography  (Read 46715 times)
Jo Irps
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« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2005, 08:49:33 AM »
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Further to John Camp's initial critique. I have looked up in the "Oxford Advanced Dictionary of current English" (Oxford University Press) what the words "science " and "technique" really mean.

Science: knowledge arranged in an orderly manner, especially knowledge obtained by observation and testing of facts; pursuit of such knowledge.

Scientific: of, for, connected with, used in, science; guided by the rule of science.

Technique: technical or mechanical skill in music, painting etc., method of doing this expertly; method of of artistic expression in music, painting etc.

Technology: study, mastering and utilization of manufacturing and industrial methods: systematic application of knowledge to practical tasks in industry etc.
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alainbriot
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« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2005, 09:10:48 AM »
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Jo,

Thank you for looking up these definitions.  Personally, I am very careful regarding which words I use in my essays.  I literally spend months working out details of my writings as well as verifying the definition of the terms I use.

Alain
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Alain Briot
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2005, 11:56:03 AM »
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Pardon me for intruding in a thread where people actually do know what they are talking about  

The 'technical' side to photography, or art for that matter is something that the photographer/artist must have under their belt before even starting. There is no point to taking a photo as an artistic endevour if you cannot use the equipment to express what you wish it to, ditto a painter who doesn't know how to get the correct mix of paint onto the canvas.

Cartier Bresson writes that a photographer needs to have the technical aspects of photography as a subconscious reflex, he compares it to changing gears on a car.

Once I do have that technical expertise, I can paint what I have in my mind, that which I want to express using the tools I have. If I have used my choice of film, lenses, filtration, exposure, post processing and printing to bring to life on paper the emotions I wish to convey from a particular scene, is that not art? Composition is not a science, it's not even technical, it could not be done by a machine programmed with all the technical aspects of photography. Composition is in essence how one 'sees' the scene, it is where photography stops being technical and starts becoming art.

As far as I understand, this basic theme is what has run as an undercurrent in the previous series of essays and is hinted at in this essay. Who cares how you define science?

If I've missed the point of this entire thread, I refer you to the first line of my post  
« Last Edit: December 17, 2005, 11:57:49 AM by pom » Logged

alainbriot
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« Reply #23 on: December 17, 2005, 01:19:00 PM »
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"As far as I understand, this basic theme is what has run as an undercurrent in the previous series of essays and is hinted at in this essay. Who cares how you define science?"

That is absolutely correct. The underlying theme is the same, but in the new series I address subjects that do not fit neatly in categories such as the ones I use for the Photography & Aesthetics series, namely composition, exposure, lenses, seeing, film choice, keepers, portfolios, personal style, being an artist and the upcoming being an artist in business which is currently 2/3rds done.  In this new series I address subjects that are more problematic, subjects that are rarely, if ever addressed.  

In regards to the definition of science, my take was that everyone agrees on the dictionary definition of science.  However, somehow the discussion took a different turn.  In my regard, that changes nothing.  As you say, there are two aspects to photography, and a world class photograph demonstrates mastery of both.  

Now most people find themselves, at first, stronger in one of those two aspects and that is the basis for my essay.  The goal is to excel at both, and to do that we have to bypass our natural tendency to lean towards the side we are naturally better at.  To do this we have to make changes, and to make changes requires a willingness to learn.  Change is good, but change is also difficult.  My next essay focuses on the concept of change, so we will be able to clarify what changes we are talking about.

Do keep in mind that this is the first essay in this series.

Finally, I do believe you know what you are talking about  :- )

Alain
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Alain Briot
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #24 on: December 17, 2005, 07:08:58 PM »
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Finally, I do believe you know what you are talking about  :- )

Alain
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Right! I suspect that everybody reading the essay would agree that there are two complementary "aspects" of photography (or at least of those types of photography that have anything to do with aesthetics), even if they might quibble about the names being used.

I want to thank Pom for bringing the discussion back to the main point of the essay, and I certainly look forward eagerly to the rest of the series.

Eric
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alainbriot
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« Reply #25 on: December 17, 2005, 10:28:51 PM »
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Eric,

Thank you.  What is very interesting is that this discussion has given me a unique idea for the next essay.  So there is good coming from exchanging views, and I want to thank everybody, whether they agree or disagree with me.  

Alain
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Alain Briot
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« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2005, 04:03:38 AM »
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To do this we have to make changes, and to make changes requires a willingness to learn.  Change is good, but change is also difficult.

Would that be a classic case of self-reflection?

If the majority of the readers understand the two aspects in photography to be "Art & Technology", then you might consider *changing* your choice of words...

For further reflections I propose the following sentences:
1. The Science behind Art.
2. The Technology behind Art.

I would think sentence 1 poses the same ambiguity as your example of "Art & Technique".

On the other hand: isn't it interesting that an essay about Art & Whatever raises a discussion primarily about "Whatever"? Is that a result of anal overfixation on the "Whatever" aspect of Photography? Word A fits better than word B. No, no, word B is better.

It is clear that one can "learn" the science behind technology, and one can learn to use the technology to ones advantage. Can one learn Art? Or Creativity? And if so, can one learn to balance Art and Technology? Is this what the essays will be addressing? I personally would like to see one of those essays titled "Art & Innovation". And I'll leave it open what aspect "Innovation" is referring at.

ps. for the colorgeeks: don't be too dogmatic about color. Shoot some golden jewelry. How do you know you reproduce the right color? Note that in painting you at least have the choice of using a gold paint...
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« Reply #27 on: December 18, 2005, 06:29:41 AM »
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Any of you ever seeing  Normall Rockwell, Painting?  He was a science ,or he was a GENIUS?  I really beleave he was I GENIUS.


BlasR
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alainbriot
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« Reply #28 on: December 18, 2005, 12:00:03 PM »
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"can one learn to balance Art and Technology? Is this what the essays will be addressing? I personally would like to see one of those essays titled "Art & Innovation"

These are certainly right along my line of thinking and at the core of the first essay.  To innovate one first has to free himself and be open to change.
 
Alain
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Alain Briot
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« Reply #29 on: December 18, 2005, 02:00:36 PM »
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Speaking for myself, I find that photography is a lot like writing poetry. There are some people who can produce decent poetry without understanding the intricacies of the language they're using, but the better poets usually try to understand both the artistic side of their craft and the technical underpinnings of the language they're using.

Of course, it's possible to know a language very well and to never write or appreciate poetry. Such is life.
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jani
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« Reply #30 on: December 18, 2005, 03:01:19 PM »
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On the other hand: isn't it interesting that an essaySixtine chapel  about Art & Whatever raises a discussion primarily about "Whatever"? Is that a result of anal overfixation on the "Whatever" aspect of Photography? Word A fits better than word B. No, no, word B is better.
Yes, and I find it especially interesting that the notion of art as a form of self-expression hasn't been challenged. The popularity of this notion comes from the 19th century.

Yet we still allow that e.g. Michaelangelo's on-demand decorations are not only art, but great art.

In Norwegian, the corresponding word's dictionary meaning stresses that it's an imaginative, creative achievement of an aesthetic expression of inner or outer experience.

Even this somewhat broader definition is rather recent in Europe, and in India art had strict and very specific rules on how things should be crafted until the 17th century. Yet we persist in calling it art and not a craft, don't we?

I'd say that seeing what makes a photograph is an art, but the technicality of delivering the vision with bytes, film or paint is a craft.
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Jan
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« Reply #31 on: December 18, 2005, 03:08:51 PM »
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I'd say that seeing what makes a photograph is an art, but the technicality of delivering the vision with bytes, film or paint is a craft.
I'd agree with that. The visualization of the final product/image is artistic, doing what's necessary to achieve the desired result is technique/craft. This applies equally to painting and photography.
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jule
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« Reply #32 on: December 18, 2005, 03:39:18 PM »
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The craft of Art.      
Julie
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John Camp
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« Reply #33 on: December 18, 2005, 03:54:10 PM »
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I'd say that seeing what makes a photograph is an art, but the technicality of delivering the vision with bytes, film or paint is a craft.
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I dunno. Perfectly realized visualization, combined with great technique, might also make a photograph a postcard. On the other hand,  "bad postcards" have recently been compiled by a famous photographer into an "art" book. That is, what a few decades ago was just tourist junk, is now art; and it's commonplace that what was art a few decades ago is now considered junk. I think nailing down what makes an "art" photograph is pretty slippery. I think Ansel Adams "Moonrise" is a serious work of art, as is "Clearing Winter Storm," but I'm not so sure that all of his photographs would qualify (and when I say 'I'm not so sure,' that's exactly what I mean: my mind could be changed one way or another.) Ultimately I have a feeling that what defines an object as "art" is the acceptance by a wide range of knowledgable people that a certain work IS "art," and that it would be difficult to come up with a more specific definition. It may be the plight of many technically competent photographers that what they believe is art is actually nothing more than postcards, and they'll never know differently, because the final verdict may not be rendered for 50 or 100 years...

In sculpture and painting, I have a very difficult idea accepting the work of many "minimalists" as art. The producers of this stuff wrote aesthetic treatises, worked like artists, acted like artists, were interested in art, sold their work in art galleries, and have had it installed in major museums...and yet, I think the final verdict may be that what they produced is junk.

JC
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #34 on: December 18, 2005, 04:38:56 PM »
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I stand by the "It's art because I say it is art" definition.
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jdemott
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« Reply #35 on: December 18, 2005, 04:52:38 PM »
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In the essay, Alain describes how the technical (scientific) aspects of photography can be a barrier to the aesthetic aspects of photography.  He asserts (correctly I think) that there are far more photos that are technically proficient but lacking in art than the converse.

Coincidentally, last night I watched a DVD that describes the converse situation--photos that have significant artistic strengths, but lack technical proficiency.  The movie is Born Into Brothels.  For those who haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.  It is a documentary describing a project to give cameras to children living in an impoverished red light district in India and to encourage them to explore their world through the cameras.

The children appear to be using simple point and shoot type cameras with color negative film.  All the scientific aspects of their photos have been thoughtfully provided by the engineering and research staffs of Canon and Kodak.  The children are of course totally unconcerned with the science of photography; instead, they evidence the simple joy of exploring the visual world around them.  While they do not have an adult's ability to describe art in terms of composition, line, form, contrast, etc., many of them have a fantastic intuitive ability to capture not only the emotions around them, but also to capture the colors and shapes artistically.  Some of the photos from the project can be seen on-line at http://www.kids-with-cameras.org/kidsgallery/.

In my own photography, I know that technical proficiency can certainly be a barrier to seeing the world artistically.  When I look at a scene and have my mind preoccupied with metering, dynamic range, focal lengths, filtration, etc., then I am not giving my full energy to seeing the real possibilities in the scene.  Certainly, I have produced my share of photos that are technically competent but lacking in spirit.  Perhaps for that reason, I find that some of my favorite shots are ones I took 25 years ago with an OM-1 that I scarcely knew how to use; the photos may lack a little on the technical side but sometimes I succeeded in capturing something that still seems significant today.  Perhaps that is also the reason why so many photographers seem to ask the question: what camera can I buy as decent digital point and shoot camera--a camera that produces decent results without interposing a barrier between the photographer and his or her vision of the world?  

Anyway, I you haven't seen it, the movie is worth watching.
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John DeMott
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« Reply #36 on: December 18, 2005, 04:59:52 PM »
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If the majority of the readers understand the two aspects in photography to be "Art & Technology", then you might consider *changing* your choice of words...

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Pesonally I would prefer Alain to use the term 'Arts et Metier', but the downside it would confuse all the non French speakers - though perhaps that would save all the discussion about which dictionary we are working to.    
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« Reply #37 on: December 19, 2005, 02:19:21 AM »
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So explain how it is that commercial and fine art photographers are able to match colors in their prints for the most demanding corporate clients using printing processes that use only 4-8 ink colors. What you're calling "laughable" is done every single day, and it seems to work quite well. Setting gamut issues to the side for a moment, are you seriously proposing that painings in general cannot be accurately color matched without using hundreds of ink colors?
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Well, they use software produced by engineers, and apply their experience and skill to get it to work for them.  The engineers themselves may have referred ro colour science, or optics, or other areas, and may even have conducted research. But the photographers are most certainly not "doing" science. They are, at best, using the fruits of science.

I don't think it is pedantic to insist on the correct use of terminology. Photographers are pretty damn pedantic when it comes to their area of expertise, and should extend the same courtesy to others. Sure, there is technique in art. And there is art in photography. And there is technique in photography. But, unless you are involved in the sort of work such as the guy who has come up with a way to focus images after the event, then science doesn't come into it.

Oh, and Jonathan, weighing into an interesting, and developing thread starting off with "This is ridiculous"... is this an example of the diplomatic tact and sensitivity that the US military is so renowned for ? Or are you just trying to bring us down to the usual level ? Just wondered.
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #38 on: December 19, 2005, 11:00:46 AM »
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It was a strained, contorted train-of-thought spaghetti bowl of flimsy assertions and weak similes that read more like a high school composition than a well considered essay.

Skipping all the discussion inbetween, the above pretty well sums up my feelings about this writing too...

If Briot wants to enter the mainstream of journalism, he'll need to learn to keep his articles focused on the point(s) he's trying to make instead of the arcane ramble exhibited in his recent articles on LL...  

Cheers,
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #39 on: December 19, 2005, 11:08:09 AM »
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Oh, and Jonathan, weighing into an interesting, and developing thread starting off with "This is ridiculous"... is this an example of the diplomatic tact and sensitivity that the US military is so renowned for ? Or are you just trying to bring us down to the usual level ? Just wondered.

Sigh....
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