Luminous Landscape Forum

The Art of Photography => But is it Art? => Topic started by: visualizer on December 17, 2016, 02:59:17 AM

Title: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: visualizer on December 17, 2016, 02:59:17 AM
This my first post to this forum. Understanding photography as art requires
understanding what makes photography a unique art form. I adopted photography
as my personal method of artistic expression 45 years ago. The question of "is
photography art" has had many contributors. Steichen and Steglitz, Weston and Adams,
Minor White and Susan Sontag. These were all important contributors to an answer.
Photography has some very unique characteristics. First is its believabilty as an
accurate record of the scene in front of the camera. Second its intricate detail, and
tonality, beyond the power of an artist working with a brush. Third its sense of a cropped frame,
before photography an artist visualized an image as complete. There were no half
houses, buggys, or cars, an artist saw and depicted these object as complete. Fourth,
the human eye operates at about a 1/30 of a second. Freeze frame high speed photography
added a new dimension to human vision. Fifth, the human eye does not perceive objects that are
out of focus. Photography again added a new way of visualizing. There are more characteristics
unique to photography, but the successful photographic artists exploits photography's inherent
characteristcs to offer the viewer a new view from his/her unique set of eyes. Camera vision
is photography. Don't create that which you have already seen, offer something new.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on December 17, 2016, 04:14:59 AM
Welcome aboard, hope you enjoy the trip!

Rob C
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RSL on December 17, 2016, 07:11:28 AM
Hi Viz,

Welcome aboard. A few questions:

1. Do you have a name?

2. Where are you?

3. How old are you?

I realize a number of people on LuLa hide that information, but it helps to have it when putting together responses.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on December 17, 2016, 08:42:53 AM
Hi Viz,

Welcome aboard. A few questions:

1. Do you have a name?

2. Where are you?

3. How old are you?

I realize a number of people on LuLa hide that information, but it helps to have it when putting together responses.

4. Too true!

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: visualizer on December 17, 2016, 11:52:45 AM
My name is John M Rohrer
63 years old
Living in Manitowoc, Wisconsin
I'll post as John R I started in photography at age 16, took
my darkroom to college, exhibited my work at regional
museums and galleries from 1982 to 1991. I taught
photography at a local college in 1988 and 1989. I took a hiatus
from galleries because of business commitments. In 2004
I found a window of opportunity to collect Chinese art.
I had 2 museum exhibitions of my collection in 2007 and 2008.
Semi-retired last year to get back to my photography. Currently
I have my work in several galleries, and I am working nightly
digitizing my negatives. I'm finding that I can be even more
expressive in a digital darkroom. 
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RSL on December 17, 2016, 12:04:12 PM
Again, welcome John. You've come to the right place. LuLa is loaded with interesting and controversial stuff. Arguments break out from time to time but we try to remain civil, and if someone doesn't he's usually on his way out the door before long. Sounds as if you have a pretty extensive background in photography. I can't speak for Rob, but I'm eager to see some of your work.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: visualizer on December 18, 2016, 10:06:02 AM
Russ,
Thanks for the reply. I have pictures to post. Should I post here,
or in a another part of the forum? I work in mostly black and
white landscape based images.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RSL on December 18, 2016, 10:29:51 AM
Hi John, I'd post 'em on User Critiques.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: BobDavid on December 24, 2016, 06:24:23 PM
Welcome, John. LuLa is a fine online community. I've been here since 2006. It's an excellent place to exchange ideas on art, technology, and ways of thinking and seeing all for and because of photography.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RPark on January 05, 2017, 01:59:33 PM
From one newby to another, welcome.

I wrote a long essay a few years ago, that addressed "the perennial question." (http://raymondparkerphoto.com/the-perennial-question-is-photography-art/) A severely abridged version, minus my personal anecdotes, might read "it depends." Just as with any medium, producing an image is no guarantee of its elevation to the rarefied realms of "art," which is in itself a malleable term.

I don't think much of what is recently popular in the photo museums is "art," however technically well-executed. At the same time, I've seen photographs made casually and without any of the conceptual baggage attached to today's celebrated photographs that, to my mind, are the best of what photography can produce.

Sometimes, despite my aforementioned lengthy essay, I think people like Stieglitz et al did photography a great disservice. At any rate, I concur more with photographers like Helmut Newton and Brian Duffy who had no time for the discussion. They saw the whole "fine art" affectation as a distraction from work.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RSL on January 05, 2017, 02:10:47 PM
Couldn't agree more, Raymond. I've been saying the same thing for years. Stieglitz made a couple very fine photographs, but for the most part he was a photographic PT Barnum, pointing people toward the "egress."
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RPark on January 05, 2017, 02:36:41 PM
Cheers, Russ. I thought I might get dissed (though it's early). Perhaps photography has reached the point (in part, perhaps, due to the noise made by groups like f.64) that it can stand on its own three feet, or in hand, or on a drone  ;)

Still, I think, ultimately, the question still persists because of a sense of insecurity among practitioners. Much better, imo, to just lose oneself in the process and leave the rest up to fate. Mind you, that's not what successful ateliers have done.

So, again, maybe An American Place was the first attempt to be recognized by an art world that turned its nose up at photography. We now have a entrenched elite who turn their noses up at anything other than conceptualism.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 05, 2017, 04:20:01 PM
Maybe digital has compounded the confusion even further by widening the possible sources of photographs. Too many people trying to get into the act (the 'art scene' one) will have the same effect as it did on mainstream professional photography: fewer will survive as the returns diminish. Sure, a few faux stars will continue to sell their crap for fantasy money, but remember that those guys are not selling photographs: they are selling investment. A few more cases of fraud, of fakery, and that market could just as easily collapse as could any other based on not a lot more than wishes and a gigantic pyramid. Prints are not yet gold, even if sold as such.

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 06, 2017, 05:05:08 AM
Absolutely, they are selling investment: conceptual art is a pure pyramid scheme. On the other hand, it has been that way since the 80's and I'm not sure fakery can even be defined. When Richard Prince can simply steal (sorry, appropriate) someone else's images off instagram, sign them and sell them for $30k each in a gallery, it suggests the market is robust to even the most extreme absurdities.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 06, 2017, 09:07:41 AM
Absolutely, they are selling investment: conceptual art is a pure pyramid scheme. On the other hand, it has been that way since the 80's and I'm not sure fakery can even be defined. When Richard Prince can simply steal (sorry, appropriate) someone else's images off instagram, sign them and sell them for $30k each in a gallery, it suggests the market is robust to even the most extreme absurdities.

http://literalmagazine.com/fakes-in-photography/

http://www.artnet.com/magazine/news/robinson/robinson12-2-97.asp

The list is endless. Meanwhile Larry Clark has taken to selling small prints for small money. Reminds me of the story of Damien Hirst, where he was supposd to be doing a big sale of all his stuff (on his own) and thus bypassing the gallery world which I think was (is?) still repesenting him... It almost looks as if the artists see the bursting of a bubble and want to get in quick before, as Georgie said, it's too late.

Clearly, I'm too late yet again.

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 06, 2017, 03:29:00 PM
All of which is silly: two objects which are in every useful way (ie looking at them) are the same should be worth the same. And photography is almost as well zdapted to mass production as literature: imagine if authors expected to make a living selling only 10 numbered copies of each of their novels...

Selling authenticity sounds remarkably like homeopathy, where the water is supposed to remember the presence of the active ingredient that has been so thoroughly diluted that there may be one or zero individual molecules in the precious vial. Should we also up the value of a particular print if it has been looked at by someone famous?
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RPark on January 06, 2017, 05:54:44 PM
Should we also up the value of a particular print if it has been looked at by someone famous?

In person, or via the Internet?

That refers back to your homeopathy metaphor. I'd say an image on the Internet has only a vague homeopathic relationship to an original print.  Then again, as a society, we seem to be moving closer to embracing virtual reality over "the real thing." All art is merely a reflection or interpretation of reality, a counterfeit, as I examined in my aforementioned essay.

Still, for my taste, I'm more inclined to admire a reflection of authentic place and time than rhetorical contrivance.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 06, 2017, 07:22:58 PM
Nice sounding words, but what is a "reflection" of authentic place and time, and what do you consider a "rhetorical contrivance"?
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 07, 2017, 05:06:11 AM
All of which is silly: two objects which are in every useful way (ie looking at them) are the same should be worth the same. And photography is almost as well zdapted to mass production as literature: imagine if authors expected to make a living selling only 10 numbered copies of each of their novels...

Selling authenticity sounds remarkably like homeopathy, where the water is supposed to remember the presence of the active ingredient that has been so thoroughly diluted that there may be one or zero individual molecules in the precious vial. Should we also up the value of a particular print if it has been looked at by someone famous?


Devil's advocate!

You are just giving galleries yet another point on which to raise prices!

Seriousy, though, I'd use a slightly different basis for evaluating value and vintage.

Where the photographer has also made the print, I would charge top dollar; where he has actually overseen the printing in person, I would rate as a step less valuable; where he simply handed the negative or file to a third party and then went out for lunch, I'd reduce the value to pretty much nothing more than a decent print from the erstwhile Athena emporium.

In my mind, one cannot separate photographer from printer. Where the single head performs both tasks, you get the real deal. If the photographer can't print, or is too lazy to do so or is simply producing commercial photography, then that's a different matter, where the print/image is being used in a specific way that is not much to do with any sense of being an art object, but a selling aid.

It's the same with old painters: their work existed for religious or social commerce/patronage, and wasn't born out of contemporary notions of the art value, and so having a studio full of assistants do the donkey work was cool, and absolutely essential if anything was ever going to get finished. In essence, factory art but without the title, as was once again fashionable for a while in the Studio 54 era.

I suppose that it further illustrates the value that an individual artist's painting has and which photographs sometimes have, but not always.

The idea that two things are of equal value because they look similar or even amost identical doesn't, for me, hold water. Simply put: if I had one of Vincent's paintings on my wall, I would think of him, the sadness and elation of his life, and how he had sat before that very painting and thought his deep or shallow or deranged thoughts as he was making it. That would be a huge part of the emotional kick or value for me, but a replica means none of that, just a copy. Might as well hold a clutch of worthless counterfeit €500 notes in my hand. Or go to the Ferrari dealership with my little credit card, expecting a favourable outcome.

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 07, 2017, 08:16:58 AM
You'd be surprised how many classic motorcycles have a large premium added to the price because they were ridden by this or that world champion... typically when someone loaned it to him for a few laps at a historic even 40 years after his retirement :) He may have brought it back early and declared it an unridable PoS...

I'd agree where the original photographer (or even the printer who traditionally always printed that photographer's work) produces something subtly different than would another... and when it come to dodging and burning and bleaching, that will likely always be the case. My concern is really when it is no longer possible to tell, other than by slipping slivers of the paper into gas chromatograph. If you can't tell which of two photos is original, then assuming you never wish to sell it, either should be as good for you as the other. They are functionally equivalent.

However the market requires rarity, which requires non-reproducibility... which in the absence of functional difference is a purely virtual concept, a piece of the artist's soul or the memory of water. An interesting case: on one of the Space Shuttle missions, an astronaut was asked by a friend to carry a couple of pens, so they could be sold afterwards as pens that had been to space. Aside from a miniscule increase in radioactivity due to the solar radiation in space, the pens would be in no way different from the regular store bought version.

The sad post-script is that it was the unfortunate mission with the defective fuel tank o-rings and the pens were lost with the crew: the owner then sued NASA for their loss...
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 07, 2017, 11:44:16 AM
But Graham, those bikes and pens are being bought by folks of a different mindset, outwith the art scene. Not, of course, that I assume an investor buying Vinnie's stuff necessarily loves art, per se, but definitely by extension on resale!

Regarding the pens: if you were not pulling my leg, I have both to marvel and despair at a lawyer who would handle such a claim. I wonder how it went down in court - if it got that far. But then, have you seen any episodes of Judge Judy?

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RPark on January 07, 2017, 12:39:46 PM
Nice sounding words, but what is a "reflection" of authentic place and time, and what do you consider a "rhetorical contrivance"?

As I argued, all art is intrinsically a "reflection." Forgive the pedantic descriptor for documentary-style photography, which I prefer to something that requires an accompanying essay to complete its "meaning." Kinda like this.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Telecaster on January 08, 2017, 04:35:36 PM
You'd be surprised how many classic motorcycles have a large premium added to the price because they were ridden by this or that world champion... typically when someone loaned it to him for a few laps at a historic even 40 years after his retirement :) He may have brought it back early and declared it an unridable PoS...

Circa 1992 a friend & I managed to talk our way into working a book-signing event for Brian Wilson, who had just put out his (first) autobiography. (We were both coders for a book distribution company at the time, and the company had ties to the bookstore hosting the event. We were both Beach Boys fans too!) So we found ourselves standing at the table where BW was doing his signing, opening copies of the book for him and rejecting anything that wasn't the book.

One sketchy-looking guy had a cheap Fender knockoff guitar that he wanted BW to sign, and of course we told the fellow "nope." But he was persistent and kept cycling back though the signing line. Eventually near the end of the thing BW gave in and took the guitar along with the guy's Sharpie. Which he then signed with a value-added extra: Don't be a dope and buy this piece of shit just because I put my name on it.  ;D  BW handed the guitar back with a grin on his face, the only time I saw him smile during the whole event.

-Dave-
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Alan Klein on January 08, 2017, 10:23:08 PM
I once read that art has no utilitarian value but rather aesthetic value.  I suppose if you're a police photographer recording crime scenes for presentation in court, that would have utilitarian value.  But most pictures we're concerned with might get hung on a wall for eye candy only.  So this kind of photography can certainly be called art.  Of course  to be considered fine art, you got to get someone to spend a lot of money for it. 
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 09, 2017, 05:49:54 AM
Circa 1992 a friend & I managed to talk our way into working a book-signing event for Brian Wilson, who had just put out his (first) autobiography. (We were both coders for a book distribution company at the time, and the company had ties to the bookstore hosting the event. We were both Beach Boys fans too!) So we found ourselves standing at the table where BW was doing his signing, opening copies of the book for him and rejecting anything that wasn't the book.

One sketchy-looking guy had a cheap Fender knockoff guitar that he wanted BW to sign, and of course we told the fellow "nope." But he was persistent and kept cycling back though the signing line. Eventually near the end of the thing BW gave in and took the guitar along with the guy's Sharpie. Which he then signed with a value-added extra: Don't be a dope and buy this piece of shit just because I put my name on it.  ;D  BW handed the guitar back with a grin on his face, the only time I saw him smile during the whole event.

-Dave-


Dave, I like you more and more!

I will never forget an early foreign shoot - for  a travel company - when I found myself in a small disco in Fregene, a favourite beach resort of the Romans, also featured (I believe) at the end of La Dolce Vita where the villa party breaks up and the self-invited and breaking-in guests wander off across the sand to where a beached whale-like creature lies. It would have been fun to have been on that gig, but the holiday company shoot wasn't bad either. The point of which preamble being, I think, that as I was trying to get my photographs of discotheque life, the Beach Boys were doing their thing with Barbara Ann. It took me a while to realise they were not singing about a lady hairdresser at all, and even longer to learn that they neither wrote the number nor had the original hit with it!

I still think California Girls is fantastic. That music, Jan and Dean et al. evoked notions that most of us living in grim old Scotland couldn't even imagine properly; most thought a Corvette was a war ship. I was ahead of the curve: I bought Playboy every month and, better yet, at the close of the decade I actually owned a copy of Harri Peccinotti's '69 Pirelli!

You Americans sure had a wonderful era. I hope you don't blow it all away.

Reverting back to that beach discotheque: had I had my D700 in the 60s, photographic life would have been a helluva lot easier and more productive in that club context!

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 09, 2017, 08:20:59 AM
I once read that art has no utilitarian value but rather aesthetic value.

To paraphrase Bernard Stiegler: in all the history of art from the cave paintings of Lascaux to the middle of the 19th century, no one asked questions about the definition or value of art. Its role was to be sumptuous; the role of the artist was typically to please the eye of a prince (or pontiff or merchant or...). It was only when mass reproduction via photography and sound recording appeared that there was a desire to distinguish art as a distinct aesthetic from that of manufactured object, and the possibility of creating a speculative market. Many art movements attempted to critique this (Fauves, Futurists, Dada, Surrealists etc) but none succeeded in countering the market logic.

BTW, apparently when Matisse became famous and signed with a prestigious Parisian gallery, he signed to take only 25% of the sale price... implicitly recognising the contribution of marketing to sale price.
His comment:
"All my future works are condemned to be masterpieces."
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 09, 2017, 10:04:35 AM


BTW, apparently when Matisse became famous and signed with a prestigious Parisian gallery, he signed to take only 25% of the sale price... implicitly recognising the contribution of marketing to sale price.
His comment:
"All my future works are condemned to be masterpieces."


Poor devil!

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RSL on January 09, 2017, 10:16:32 AM
Hi Graham. Evidently Bernard Stiegler forgot about engravings, which have been made since the unobservable recesses of time, and many of which were printed thousands and thousands of times once paper became available. That was mass reproduction for sure. But I'd certainly agree with the rest of the post.

What really gets me rolling on the floor laughing is "limited editions" of photographs, after which the negative (digital file?) is destroyed. You simply can't limit the reproduction of really great art. There sits the Mona Lisa, and people rush to see the original, but there are thousands of photographic copies of the painting, some of which contain everything of the original except the physical brush strokes. If you produce a limited edition of your photograph and it doesn't begin popping up on the web, and occasionally in print, associated with some critical writing to avoid copyright problems, you can be pretty sure it wasn't the kind of deathless work you thought it was.

I can understand wanting to make a buck with your art, but if that's all you're trying for you're in the wrong line of work. Check T.S. Eliot, who wrote "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," and "The Wasteland,"  two among a series of works of art that rattled the world of art -- visual art as well as poetry. Then check his day job as a banker.

If your photographs are selling for millions you can be pretty sure what you're turning out is crap latched onto by investors. It ain't gonna be deathless, except maybe as a joke.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 09, 2017, 10:54:09 AM
Indeed, plagiarism is the most sincere flattery.

For limited editions, I guess the book model of having a first edition, or a hard back, or a copy personally signed by the author has some validity: it appeases the collectors who are willing to pay more to be special. Otoh, assuming the author wants to be read, it's the paperback (or e-book) that really matters.

It'd be interesting to know how many writers make a viable living from fiction (excluding those who write it as advertising copy !) compared to the number living from painting, art photography and other visual arts.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RSL on January 09, 2017, 11:04:26 AM
It'd be interesting to know how many writers make a viable living from fiction (excluding those who write it as advertising copy !) compared to the number living from painting, art photography and other visual arts.

I'm sure it's damn few. And if you want to make big bucks in visual art you've gotta drip instead of paint. Dripping seems to turn on the investors. Maybe drip appreciation has something to do with name association.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 09, 2017, 11:30:14 AM
Paint? paint is very 20th century. Unless you pay someone else to do it, like Koons: it's all about the concept, man.

I do know a painter making a standard working class sort of income: he does what a critic referred to somewhere as "crapstraction", canvases sized to fit befind the sofa and be non-threatening, but recognisably "art". He takes himself very seriously but in reality he's an interior decorator, which is an honest profession. I quite admire his gumption, even if I think that he's a bit of a dick.

France has traditionally subsidized the arts quite heavily, so there is probably a far greater proportion of people surviving in theatre, visual arts and writing than in the US. Very few of them are making above average incomes, that's a sort of semi-socialism/free market trade-off. Just a pity the art schools here are so dreadful.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RSL on January 09, 2017, 01:15:02 PM
I know what you mean Graham. I've told this story on LuLa before, but I'll tell it again: I knew a guy who annually brought prints to our local art show in Manitou Springs, Colorado. He was pretty good, and I'd always spend time chatting with him. One year his work had its colors boosted to the point where the stuff was ridiculous. I said, "Looks as if you're really pushing the saturation slider." He said, "Yeah, and my sales have doubled."

Bottom line: kitsch sells.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Telecaster on January 09, 2017, 05:55:11 PM
I will never forget an early foreign shoot - for a travel company - when I found myself in a small disco in Fregene, a favourite beach resort of the Romans, also featured (I believe) at the end of La Dolce Vita where the villa party breaks up and the self-invited and breaking-in guests wander off across the sand to where a beached whale-like creature lies. It would have been fun to have been on that gig, but the holiday company shoot wasn't bad either. The point of which preamble being, I think, that as I was trying to get my photographs of discotheque life, the Beach Boys were doing their thing with Barbara Ann. It took me a while to realise they were not singing about a lady hairdresser at all, and even longer to learn that they neither wrote the number nor had the original hit with it!

I've got La Dolce Vita on Blu-ray. I should actually watch it (haven't seen the film in decades)! I should also spend some proper time visiting Italy. Been through it via EuroRail on the way (circuitously) from the Middle East to Germany, but that hardly counts. Getting paid to be there and observe does sound like a decent gig.  :)

In college I took a "blow-off" music history class that turned out to be terrific. A lot of it was devoted to incomplete works, whether the result of ill health, death or artistic failure/collapse. The Beach Boys' unfinished album Smile was the prof's example of a modern work doomed by the overreach of its creator. The creator being Brian Wilson. I'd always liked Beach Boys music, even though it was totally uncool in the '70s when I was a teenager and budding musicaholic, but other than Good Vibrations I'd never heard the hauntingly beautiful Smile songs the prof played for us (via bootleg). That's when I became a proper fan.

In 2004 the same programmer friend mentioned in my last post & I saw BW and his band play his completed version of Smile. Recording technology, and his much improved emotional/psychological health, finally allowed it to happen. The performance was excellently done. The album version is great too.

-Dave-
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RPark on January 10, 2017, 11:49:56 AM
So I've got it wrong! I'm pushing the slider in the wrong direction!

I know what you mean Graham. I've told this story on LuLa before, but I'll tell it again: I knew a guy who annually brought prints to our local art show in Manitou Springs, Colorado. He was pretty good, and I'd always spend time chatting with him. One year his work had its colors boosted to the point where the stuff was ridiculous. I said, "Looks as if you're really pushing the saturation slider." He said, "Yeah, and my sales have doubled."

Bottom line: kitsch sells.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RPark on January 10, 2017, 12:16:34 PM
I agree ... and I sell "limited edition" prints. They're a lot easier to reproduce these days with digital technology, once the file is nailed down (though I'm forever tweaking).

Still, just this morning I was thrilled to receive an email from a long-lost friend and early patron (he'd found me through one of my websites that tells the story, in words and pictures, of an ice climb, "Advertising Executives in Space" we pioneered together) He informed me that he still owns and takes as much pleasure from one of my (silver) prints as when he bought it 30 years ago. Being one of perhaps 2 or 3 of its kind, it really is limited, since I'm unlikely to return to the wet darkroom.

My old friend, an author and photographer in his own right, is not a well-known celebrity, but I believe that photo is more valuable for his many years of gazing upon it.

Beach Boys: I was never a great fan. I came to North america in my teens, from England, so I was already firmly entrenched in the English Blues camp. When Jimi Hendrix (who I saw live) pronounced from his orbiting spaceship:

"Although your world wonders me
with your majestic superior cackling hen
Your people I do not understand
So to you I wish to put an end
And you'll never hear surf music again."

That was it -- the Beach Boys were out!  :)


What really gets me rolling on the floor laughing is "limited editions" of photographs, after which the negative (digital file?) is destroyed. You simply can't limit the reproduction of really great art.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Telecaster on January 10, 2017, 05:27:35 PM
Beach Boys: I was never a great fan. I came to North america in my teens, from England, so I was already firmly entrenched in the English Blues camp. When Jimi Hendrix (who I saw live) pronounced from his orbiting spaceship:

"Although your world wonders me
with your majestic superior cackling hen
Your people I do not understand
So to you I wish to put an end
And you'll never hear surf music again."

That was it -- the Beach Boys were out!  :)

Yep.  :)  (Though Jimi was reportedly a fan of Pet Sounds. Maybe of Dick Dale too!)

Surf's Up, from Smile, is a melancholic masterpiece IMO. Brian Wilson's 2004 version is excellent, and the unfinished Beach Boys' version from the archival Smile recordings officially released 6–7 years ago is also quite fine.

I like numbered photographs, but in acknowledging modern printing technology & methodology I prefer editions to be open-ended.

-Dave-
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: visualizer on January 11, 2017, 02:10:56 AM
I wanted to add to my thoughts on  the state of art since
I posted my original message. I have followed virtually
every art auction for the past 10 years.
The answer to what is art is not there.
Currently the new art.....food.
Imagine that every broadcast television show,
online contributor, new book, and social media,
spent as much time on fine art as they do on food as fine art.
What if every new culinary school was actually a school of
visual arts. Every judge on a 'chopped' game show was
a respected curator of art, and the contestants had to
work with a basket of themes and media to produce the best art?
Where would our world be then?
Certainly not wiping off, hours later, this new digestible 'fine art'.
The taste buds seem to be easier to tantalize than the brain cells.

Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Telecaster on January 12, 2017, 04:34:49 PM
Ahi (big eye tuna), grilled rare, is some sort of art form for sure.  ;)

-Dave-
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 13, 2017, 05:15:16 AM
Tuna, skate and shark are the only types of fish that I have tried and positively do not enjoy.

The ones I like most are turbot and swordfish; cooking turbot seems to be an art form, one not everyone can perform well, and swordfish has to be saved from being cooked too dry. Nowadays, I think the species has to be saved; for sure one seldom sees it on sale anymore; it got rather expensive.

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 13, 2017, 05:55:17 AM
swordfish has to be saved from being cooked too dry. Nowadays, I think the species has to be saved; for sure one seldom sees it on sale anymore; it got rather expensive.

Very true unfortunately, it has been massively over-fished.

http://www.bigmarinefish.com/swordfish.html

Mind you, pretty much everything is over-fished now: we use fish to help feed cattle on feedlots so that we can eat them, or we feed them to our pets. Since there is a market and policing of ocean fishing is near impossible, commercial fishing is the modern piracy :(
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 13, 2017, 11:43:46 AM
Very true unfortunately, it has been massively over-fished.

http://www.bigmarinefish.com/swordfish.html

Mind you, pretty much everything is over-fished now: we use fish to help feed cattle on feedlots so that we can eat them, or we feed them to our pets. Since there is a market and policing of ocean fishing is near impossible, commercial fishing is the modern piracy :(


Be glad you're not a whale - you know how they get hunted, but for 'research' of course. You'd think by now those earnest scientists would have had time to do all the research they ever needed, or are they happier just chewing it over?

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on January 13, 2017, 09:40:04 PM
Hi visualizer,

re Photography as art - I spent the latter part of my time at university pondering whether or not it is art. I then spent my entire honors year continuing to try to nut it out even as I wrote my thesis. There are things about photography that just don't make sense in regard to it being called 'fine art'. I won't go into all those details because it would take too long and I'd bore myself, but ultimately, photography is simply contingency. There is an 'art' to taking a good photograph, but the photograph taken, is not art. By its very nature, it can't be. There is skill yes, the composition, lens choice all that, but all we do is press a button. I like photography for what it is, and continue to practice. It elevates what it describes, but art it ain't.   
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 14, 2017, 05:17:51 AM
Hi visualizer,

re Photography as art - I spent the latter part of my time at university pondering whether or not it is art. I then spent my entire honors year continuing to try to nut it out even as I wrote my thesis. There are things about photography that just don't make sense in regard to it being called 'fine art'. I won't go into all those details because it would take too long and I'd bore myself, but ultimately, photography is simply contingency. There is an 'art' to taking a good photograph, but the photograph taken, is not art. By its very nature, it can't be. There is skill yes, the composition, lens choice all that, but all we do is press a button. I like photography for what it is, and continue to practice. It elevates what it describes, but art it ain't.


All I can say is that I'm so happy I didn't have to waste years in a university doing that!

If all "we" do is press a button, then I think your "we" to be a pretty sad bunch, somewhat removed from the photographers I admire or even those about whom I simply know a little...

Try a cup of warm milk laced with brandy before you go to bed; it'll make you sleep soundly, and wake up brght, bushy-tailed and desperate to go out and make more photographic artworks! If that doesn't do it, then try it the other way around: lace a cup of brandy with a little warm milk instead. If it still doesn't do it for you, take up something else. Trump set a good example of moving on! Much to emulate!
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on January 14, 2017, 07:30:08 AM

All I can say is that I'm so happy I didn't have to waste years in a university doing that!

If all "we" do is press a button, then I think your "we" to be a pretty sad bunch, somewhat removed from the photographers I admire or even those about whom I simply know a little...

Try a cup of warm milk laced with brandy before you go to bed; it'll make you sleep soundly, and wake up brght, bushy-tailed and desperate to go out and make more photographic artworks! If that doesn't do it, then try it the other way around: lace a cup of brandy with a little warm milk instead. If it still doesn't do it for you, take up something else. Trump set a good example of moving on! Much to emulate!

I think you should take your own advice re milky brandy because it seems I've inadvertently hit a nerve. I also think you need to think out your responses with less personal affront and ad hominem, and more of why you happen to think that photography is fine art. It would be nice to get some intelligent feedback and not this nursery time nonsense. The purpose of university is to make one think, you should try it. 
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 14, 2017, 09:07:42 AM
I think you should take your own advice re milky brandy because it seems I've inadvertently hit a nerve. I also think you need to think out your responses with less personal affront and ad hominem, and more of why you happen to think that photography is fine art. It would be nice to get some intelligent feedback and not this nursery time nonsense. The purpose of university is to make one think, you should try it.

Dear boy, I am full of nerves; worse, I don't even like brandy though I had hoped that perhaps you might, and find therein something helpful...

However, there's just a chance that you might have been thinking of whether or not I spent years considering my photographic navel in a university: no, I did not, I just got out there and did it. Quite well, it seems to have turned out to be. What did you get out of those years of photographic contemplation?

As anything not in compliance with your point of view is obviously going to come across as an ad hominem, there's hardly anything left for anyone to say unless, of course, they are both your spiritual and mental clone. Do you see the problem?

Rob C
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 14, 2017, 02:15:30 PM
There are things about photography that just don't make sense in regard to it being called 'fine art'.

Well that's a relief, I'm glad you've been able to clear that up for us.

Next question, is text a suitable material for sculpture?

https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/4189
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 14, 2017, 03:20:59 PM
Well that's a relief, I'm glad you've been able to clear that up for us.

Next question, is text a suitable material for sculpture?

https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/4189


I would be more interested in a technique for bottle music. Can you imagine: you need a song, so you just open the cap and pour one out! Magical. On the street, it would probably be heard from within the confines of a brown paper bag. It's carbon footprint should be excellent, however it's heard.

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 14, 2017, 04:24:14 PM
I suspect it is already available, although the sound has to be developed by running the bottle contents through a body...
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Telecaster on January 14, 2017, 04:48:08 PM
Does this mean I can be a songwriter by conceiving of a melody, imagining what sort of lyrics I'd want to go with that melody…and then consider it done & dusted? Wow! Somebody give me a Grammy in advance! And "potential performance" royalties too!

-Dave-
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on January 14, 2017, 05:41:04 PM
Dear boy, I am full of nerves; worse, I don't even like brandy though I had hoped that perhaps you might, and find therein something helpful...

However, there's just a chance that you might have been thinking of whether or not I spent years considering my photographic navel in a university: no, I did not, I just got out there and did it. Quite well, it seems to have turned out to be. What did you get out of those years of photographic contemplation?

As anything not in compliance with your point of view is obviously going to come across as an ad hominem, there's hardly anything left for anyone to say unless, of course, they are both your spiritual and mental clone. Do you see the problem?

Rob C

Terrible, just terrible. You know, I was hoping that LuLa might be a good place to discuss these issues, which are actually quite relevant whether you agree or not. I guess it's just like every other silly internet forum where group think reigns. Anyway, whatever the case, I'll just ignore you from here on unless you start actually responding to point. Go see some exhibitions, take notes, discuss with friends. It's very rewarding.   
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on January 14, 2017, 05:44:37 PM


So, Let's get this straight.
Artist + paint = art.
Artist + photographic processes = art what exactly?

Documentation. Record keeping. Not sure entirely, but photography by its nature cannot create anything. Do you agree?

Artist and paint may or may not be art, depending upon one's definition of what art is. In post-modern society it's a vexatious issue. Duchamps really threw a massive curve ball with his ready mades with which the public is still struggling.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: JNB_Rare on January 14, 2017, 07:32:25 PM
Documentation. Record keeping. Not sure entirely, but photography by its nature cannot create anything. Do you agree?

Not at all. A photograph can create emotions and awareness and discussion, just as any other art form can.

I would agree that many photographs fall into the category of snapshots, documentation and record keeping. And some photographers seem to spend time trying to justify that what they produce is art. But I would also agree with others here that, for some, producing a photograph is far from pushing a button. The "elements of art" (color, line, shape, space, etc.) and principles of design (balance, harmony, emphasis, movement, proportion, rhythm, etc.) come into play just as they do with, say, a painter. BEFORE any button is pushed, there is pre-visualization and, depending on the subject, there may be elaborate preparations. After the image is taken, there is post-shot work to realize the initial vision. And that vision has the same goal as any painting or drawing – to communicate to the viewer or listener; to evoke a visceral or intellectual response.

In the end, what matters to me is the IMAGE (talking about two-dimensional representations), and not the medium. I have every bit as much respect for a photograph that resonates with me as I do for a painting or drawing. Is it art? The answer to that question, regardless of the medium, may always be moot.

Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on January 14, 2017, 09:34:43 PM
Not at all. A photograph can create emotions and awareness and discussion, just as any other art form can.

I would agree that many photographs fall into the category of snapshots, documentation and record keeping. And some photographers seem to spend time trying to justify that what they produce is art. But I would also agree with others here that, for some, producing a photograph is far from pushing a button. The "elements of art" (color, line, shape, space, etc.) and principles of design (balance, harmony, emphasis, movement, proportion, rhythm, etc.) come into play just as they do with, say, a painter. BEFORE any button is pushed, there is pre-visualization and, depending on the subject, there may be elaborate preparations. After the image is taken, there is post-shot work to realize the initial vision. And that vision has the same goal as any painting or drawing – to communicate to the viewer or listener; to evoke a visceral or intellectual response.

In the end, what matters to me is the IMAGE (talking about two-dimensional representations), and not the medium. I have every bit as much respect for a photograph that resonates with me as I do for a painting or drawing. Is it art? The answer to that question, regardless of the medium, may always be moot.

I'm not disputing how people 'feel' about their work, but ultimately it is just a push of a button. I agree with you that there is an art to taking a good photo, a point which I already made, and I also agree that one can't deny feelings evoked in the viewer when looking at a well executed photograph. However, for me, and as someone who has given this a lot of thought, perhaps too much I don't know, there is the undeniable fact that nothing at all is being created in a photograph. The photographer releases the shutter over a sensor and the camera records the light. As I've said, I enjoy photography for what it is, but I can't resolve the issue at hand, not as yet anyway. I don't expect anyone at all to agree with me, but I do like a discussion and you've provided that so I appreciate it. 
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Alan Klein on January 14, 2017, 10:06:28 PM
I'm not disputing how people 'feel' about their work, but ultimately it is just a push of a button. I agree with you that there is an art to taking a good photo, a point which I already made, and I also agree that one can't deny feelings evoked in the viewer when looking at a well executed photograph. However, for me, and as someone who has given this a lot of thought, perhaps too much I don't know, there is the undeniable fact that nothing at all is being created in a photograph. The photographer releases the shutter over a sensor and the camera records the light. As I've said, I enjoy photography for what it is, but I can't resolve the issue at hand, not as yet anyway. I don't expect anyone at all to agree with me, but I do like a discussion and you've provided that so I appreciate it. 

The viewer decides what is art, not the person who created it.  If I look at something created by someone and find aesthetic value in it, then it is art and I would call the creator an artist, one who created art.  Therefore  photography is art because it has aesthetic value.  It has nothing to do with the process of how it was created. 
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 15, 2017, 04:08:33 AM
However, for me, and as someone who has given this a lot of thought,

Marton, how old are you? Has it occurred to you that a LOT of people have given this a lot of thought? That the debate rages still between different critics and academics in both art and wider philosophy? Or that in simple logic, it isn't possible to declare or deny membership of a category until you can define that category, and that an even greater amount of thought has been spent while failing to reach a consensus on what is art?

Here for example is Bernard Stiegler (the most recent I've listened to): The question of what is art is simply a "cache-misère" to avoid the real question of esthetics. The basis of all esthetic judgement is erotic, we collect paintings because we are too well educated to have sex with everyone we meet.

Are you denying that photography has made a contribution to erotica?
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Ray on January 15, 2017, 07:54:51 AM
I'm getting the impression that some posters, such as Marton, might be using their camera in jpeg mode, allowing the camera to do all the processing according to certain presets, such as landscape, portrait and so on.

The creative aspect of photography not only includes pressing the shutter button at an appropriate and specific time, and composing the shot according to a desired perspective and choice of lens focal length, but processing the image in a program such as Photoshop.

That processing can be as time-consuming and meticulous as the creation of a painting.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: degrub on January 15, 2017, 12:57:03 PM
is the debate about how long it takes to create the product ?
painting, sculpture, imaging all take previsualization and some planning for production of the result.
The execution of that in painting and sculpture takes some time. Maybe the visualization changes during and part of that process. There certainly is time to do that.
In imaging, the execution is in an effective instant - a capture of what is available in the light. To change the image requires work in post, but it can only go so far before the image has to be re-executed - another instant.
So if the first two are judged by the viewer or the creator as "art", i don't see the difference with imaging just because the capture, painting, carving occurs with a button push. The same thought goes into to it, unless one is the victim of happenstance, just the mechanics are different.

Frank
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Ray on January 15, 2017, 10:51:24 PM
The execution of that in painting and sculpture takes some time. Maybe the visualization changes during and part of that process. There certainly is time to do that.


Yes, I think it must often be the case, perhaps always the case, that the visualization changes and is modified during the process of painting or making a sculpture. There are numerous examples of old art works that have been X-rayed to reveal hidden images behind the finished one, or at least different images that appear to have been later modified by the artist as his visual conception changes.

Even the Mona Lisa apparently contains a slightly different portrait underneath the finished one. Refer the following article:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3350687/Is-hidden-painting-beneath-Mona-Lisa-s-smile-SECOND-portrait-woman-spotted-Da-Vinci-s-masterpiece.html#ixzz4VxSSnLYw

The question here might be, did da Vinci finish the first one in accordance with his visualization, then simply used the finished portrait to create another similar portrait, instead of using a blank canvas? If that's the case, why would he do that? Was he desperately short of money?  ;)

I tend to agree with Martin Kemp (Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford) who is reported in the articles to have claimed: 'The idea that there is that picture as it were hiding underneath the surface is untenable. He disagrees that the different stages of the painting represent different portraits, but thinks they are more likely to show how the final painting evolved.'


As I process an image in Photoshop, I often refer back to previous stages by clicking on the various History states. The change in the image's appearance that is shown when clicking alternately on the first option 'open', then on the final adjustment, perhaps 30 stages down from 'open', is sometimes huge.  ;)
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: JNB_Rare on January 16, 2017, 02:16:57 AM
However, for me, and as someone who has given this a lot of thought, perhaps too much I don't know, there is the undeniable fact that nothing at all is being created in a photograph. The photographer releases the shutter over a sensor and the camera records the light. As I've said, I enjoy photography for what it is, but I can't resolve the issue at hand, not as yet anyway.

TAKING FLIGHT

I would not presume to call the attached image "art". It wasn't my intent to create "art", I just wanted to create something of interest. And, rather than art, some would might it "garbage" or "amateurish". Others might deny that it is photography at all. But the medium is photography. It is photons of light captured (in this case) by a sensor, and turned into numbers. And, yes, there has been post-shot manipulation to achieve my intent.

So, what is this a picture of? Does it matter? Would it surprise you to know that it is a picture of a peony bloom blowing in the wind, deliberately exposed with a slow (but not too slow) shutter speed? There was lots of experimentation during the taking, and afterwards, of course. Anyway, I don't post it as any shining example of "something created in a photograph". Just an image to perhaps discuss.


Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: JNB_Rare on January 16, 2017, 02:29:24 AM
Documentation. Record keeping. Not sure entirely, but photography by its nature cannot create anything. Do you agree?

NOVEMBER

Another example to ponder. What is it a record of? Does it really matter? Would it surprise you to know that it is that damn peony plant again? This time, I took pictures of the dying foliage, which I had clipped and taken inside. The image is a combination of two photographs. I used window light and a sheet of black mat board for  background. Manipulation was pretty simple.

Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: JNB_Rare on January 16, 2017, 02:43:54 AM
THE FISHERMAN'S NIGHTMARE

I realize that the above images may wander from what many people think of when they think "photograph". The following image is perhaps more recognizable as being from the medium of photography. It is a compilation of six photographs taken across a span of almost 10 years. The resulting image is, in fact, an idea that sprang from reading historical narratives about the lives of fisherman in the area in which I live. These stories were recorded on reel-to-reel tape decades ago by another photographer who lives here, and transcribed verbatim. Sadly, the audio tapes were destroyed in a fire; fortunately, they continue in print in the book. There were just so many tales of loved ones being lost at sea, or sometimes surviving against all odds. Despite advances in technology and forecasting, tragedies do still occur here. I wondered -- what would I think about, what would I dream about, if I were to have lived through what these fishermen have done?

Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 16, 2017, 04:23:04 AM
I tend to agree with Martin Kemp (Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford) who is reported in the articles to have claimed: 'The idea that there is that picture as it were hiding underneath the surface is untenable. He disagrees that the different stages of the painting represent different portraits, but thinks they are more likely to show how the final painting evolved.'


This reminds me of what happened after Frans de Waal established experimentally that many mammals have a concept of negative justice: they are happy doing a certain task for a certain reward, but once they realise another animal is getting a better reward for the same task, they go on strike. A few, basically the large apes, also have positive justice: they are upset to find they are getting more than their fellows.

The point is that he was then set upon by various philosophers, for whom it was "a fact" that justice was not only uniquely human, but was invented during the French revolution! Their ideology was supposed to have precedence over facts (which is another common feature of our fellow great apes, it seems).

So da Vinci didn't work (or may not have worked) according to Kemp's theory of art? The x-ray machine must have got it wrong :)
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 16, 2017, 08:45:15 AM
This reminds me of what happened after Frans de Waal established experimentally that many mammals have a concept of negative justice: they are happy doing a certain task for a certain reward, but once they realise another animal is getting a better reward for the same task, they go on strike. A few, basically the large apes, also have positive justice: they are upset to find they are getting more than their fellows.

The point is that he was then set upon by various philosophers, for whom it was "a fact" that justice was not only uniquely human, but was invented during the French revolution! Their ideology was supposed to have precedence over facts (which is another common feature of our fellow great apes, it seems).

So da Vinci didn't work (or may not have worked) according to Kemp's theory of art? The x-ray machine must have got it wrong :)


They clearly hadn't hear of old king Solomon, then!

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on January 16, 2017, 05:36:58 PM
NOVEMBER

Another example to ponder. What is it a record of? Does it really matter? Would it surprise you to know that it is that damn peony plant again? This time, I took pictures of the dying foliage, which I had clipped and taken inside. The image is a combination of two photographs. I used window light and a sheet of black mat board for  background. Manipulation was pretty simple.

Alrighty, now  we're getting somewhere. I have to add that thus far, and it's probably my fault, no one seems to have grasped my point about photography being nothing more than a click of a button as it relates to the sensor and what is created, but that's fine, I'm moving on. I'll just mention that I've discussed this notion with friends who are PhD's in art and it's a commonly understood fact. But as I say, moving on.

Here, you've posted some images which use photography as a basis for creativity, using what the sensor captures and manipulating it into some kind of self expression, rather than just another dead boring over-saturated sunset or sunrise over the water somewhere in the world, or worse...blurry water moving over rocks. Done to death.

I think as far as I am personally concerned, photographic art as you've described here is the future...for me...not for everybody necessarily. I've already begun experimenting with some of my old RAW files and compositing 3d constructions with them. In this way, and in other ways as you've shown here, photography can be something other than simple documentation. It's when it's used as an expression of an idea, or concept, that photography becomes genuinely interesting. 
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on January 16, 2017, 05:38:15 PM
THE FISHERMAN'S NIGHTMARE

I realize that the above images may wander from what many people think of when they think "photograph". The following image is perhaps more recognizable as being from the medium of photography. It is a compilation of six photographs taken across a span of almost 10 years. The resulting image is, in fact, an idea that sprang from reading historical narratives about the lives of fisherman in the area in which I live. These stories were recorded on reel-to-reel tape decades ago by another photographer who lives here, and transcribed verbatim. Sadly, the audio tapes were destroyed in a fire; fortunately, they continue in print in the book. There were just so many tales of loved ones being lost at sea, or sometimes surviving against all odds. Despite advances in technology and forecasting, tragedies do still occur here. I wondered -- what would I think about, what would I dream about, if I were to have lived through what these fishermen have done?

It's a great image, I wouldn't bother myself with worrying about whether or not some may or may not consider it 'photography'.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on January 16, 2017, 05:44:01 PM
https://issuu.com/betadevelopmentsinphotography/docs/beta_21

Some rather more interesting work to ponder
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: JNB_Rare on January 16, 2017, 08:39:37 PM
It's when it's used as an expression of an idea, or concept, that photography becomes genuinely interesting.

And this has been going on since the earliest beginnings of photography, and in a wide variety of genres. If I were infinitely wealthy, my walls would be graced with prints from all manor of photographers:

Wynn Bullock's Point Lobos Tide Pool (1957) and Tree Trunk (1971)
Paul Caponigro's Running White Deer
Irving Penn's 1950 Vogue cover, and his portrait of Jean Cocteau (1950's)
Arnold Newman's portraits of Stravinsky (1945), Salvador Dali (1951), and Wharhol (1973)
A selection from Richard Avedon's portraits of Twiggy(1968, with hair flying), Verushka (1967), and his portrait of Malcolm X (1963).
Ralph Gibson's Leda (the cover of his book, Days at Sea) and Ducktail
A selection of Elliott Erwitt
Perhaps a Diane Arbus (Child with Toy Hand Grenade?) Francesca Woodman, and Susan Burnstine (who builds her own cameras to photograph her dreams and nightmares).

And the list goes on and on. I'm sure that you would appreciate some of these photographer and their works, and perhaps not others. Some (Minor White springs to mind) have also written very eloquently about photography, and are worth reading. To me, it would be very easy to assemble a collection of images that I would truly consider art. And I imagine that most photographers of my (general) age could do the same.

Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Ray on January 17, 2017, 04:25:57 AM
And the list goes on and on. I'm sure that you would appreciate some of these photographer and their works, and perhaps not others. Some (Minor White springs to mind) have also written very eloquently about photography, and are worth reading. To me, it would be very easy to assemble a collection of images that I would truly consider art. And I imagine that most photographers of my (general) age could do the same.

Whether something is art or not is a dualistic concept that doesn't apply to most situations. Everything we make or create has some degree or component of artistic creativity, and most works that are considered to be pure art actually rely in part upon essential ingredients that are not considered to be art, such as factory-produced canvas, paint, brushes, easels and picture frames, and sometimes spectacles if the painter is longsighted.

Marton's point that photography is nothing more than a click of a button, is a flawed concept. The only images I've taken which I might describe as 'no more than a click of a button' are those occasional shots that I've accidentally taken whilst trekking along a rough path, by unintentionally hitting the shutter button on a camera which is slung around my shoulder and bouncing around as I walk. The result is usually an out-of-focus shot of a patch of earth or grass, with perhaps half a foot intruding into the scene. Some folks might consider such shots to be quite 'arty'.  ;)

Generally, even the most basic photography will involve more than merely pressing the button. It will involve a choice of perspective, decisions as to what to include and exclude in the scene through cropping and choice of lens focal length, what to emphasise in the scene through choice of aperture and selection of focussing point, and choice of exposure in accordance with one's visualization of the scene (is detail in the shadows more important than a correctly exposed, but uninteresting sky, for example, or vice versa), and so on.

After having captured the scene in all the detail one's camera can muster, shooting in RAW mode if one is serious, one can then continue developing one's original visualization of the scene through further adjustments in Photoshop, just as Leonardo da Vinci modified his original painting of the Mona Lisa by painting over his first interpretation.  ;)

The question is not, "Is Photography art?", but to what degree is photography art, or to what degree can photography be art? Other questions that might be relevant are, "Is painting, on average, a higher form of art than photography is, on average?"

For example, I think most people interested in classical music would consider that opera is the highest form of art because it includes so many different genres of artistic endeavour combined into one show. It includes singing, acting, and the music from perhaps as many as a hundred individual musicians, as well as the artistic endeavours of costume designers and stage designers. Wow!  ;D
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 17, 2017, 06:12:23 AM
I think most people interested in classical music would consider that opera is the highest form of art

Pffft! 18-19th century pop music ;) A proper music snob prefers chamber music  ;D
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Ray on January 17, 2017, 08:03:54 AM
Pffft! 18-19th century pop music ;) A proper music snob prefers chamber music  ;D

Everyone and anyone can have an opinion. The quality of the opinion depends on the rational justification and evidence provided in support of the opinion.  ;)
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 17, 2017, 10:00:59 AM
ROFLMFAO


There are now two such FAs doing the same trick!

Reminds me of the old but true one about those who can doing, and those who can't...

But why would I wear out the lettering on my acer keyboard further on this notion? It's worn almost unreadable on some key keys already! Key keys, I like the ring of that; must store it up for future use sometime. Now that would be creative, wouldn't it! But of course, I'll make sure to consult some learned heads first.

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 17, 2017, 02:54:13 PM
Just for the misguided: check out the mindset, the pictures photographs and then say it isn't about art at all.

http://www.graphicine.com/sarah-moon-i-see-you/

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: JNB_Rare on January 18, 2017, 06:02:21 AM
Marton's point that photography is nothing more than a click of a button, is a flawed concept. The only images I've taken which I might describe as 'no more than a click of a button' are those occasional shots that I've accidentally taken whilst trekking along a rough path, by unintentionally hitting the shutter button on a camera which is slung around my shoulder and bouncing around as I walk. The result is usually an out-of-focus shot of a patch of earth or grass, with perhaps half a foot intruding into the scene. Some folks might consider such shots to be quite 'arty'.  ;)

In the 1970's I ran into a photographer who was experimenting with turning photographic accident into intentional method. He would set his lens at hyperfocal for a small aperture, set a short self timer, and then fire the camera into the air (he used a catcher's mitt so that he could repeat the exercise). He said he was trying to let the camera take its own pictures. From what I saw, that camera was a very poor photographer.  :)
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: JNB_Rare on January 18, 2017, 06:46:04 AM
Just for the misguided: check out the mindset, the photographs and then say it isn't about art at all.

http://www.graphicine.com/sarah-moon-i-see-you/

Rob

It is (what was the word?) undeniable. Sadly, Marton's PhD's aren't the only art academics with such a narrow view. I have a sister-in-law with a degree in fine art who came away from that (mis)education with a similar prejudice. When I loaned her a few books, it was clear that she'd never been exposed to photography apart from what she might have seen in regular life (in those days, Life and National Geographic magazines).

I used to ROTFLMFAO. Nowadays I find it's far too hard to get back up off the floor. Besides, my dear wife tells me it is undignified.  :)

Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RPark on January 18, 2017, 01:19:17 PM
This kind of endless argument is likely why Helmut Newton purportedly said "Some people's photography is an art. Not mine. Art is a dirty word in photography. All this fine art crap is killing it already."
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Telecaster on January 18, 2017, 04:43:29 PM
I prefer to knock the concept of art right off the table. I'm interested in creativity and what creative people create. Whether or not that creative stuff is called art or something else is irrelevant. Categories get encrusted over time and need to be flushed. Like diapers.  :)

-Dave-
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 18, 2017, 05:56:52 PM
I prefer to knock the concept of art right off the table. I'm interested in creativity and what creative people create. Whether or not that creative stuff is called art or something else is irrelevant. Categories get encrusted over time and need to be flushed. Like diapers.  :)

-Dave-


But not, I hope, down the pan: that can cause lots of consequential damage!

Some say there is no art, only artists; others claim that sometimes what they do is art and that at other times, it is not art, depending, I guess, on whether they like the shot or reject it.

My own view, on balance, is that photography can be both art and craft, and that the borders are totally subjective.

More interesting, to me, is the realisation that the experience changes quite radically as one ages (I am thinking a lot about age these days) and is also very depedent on genre. When I was younger, shooting models most of the time, I had to go out and create an ambience (or do it in the studio) which did not really exist, and that was all about instinct and, most importantly when the results were best, the ability of the model both to understand what I thought that I was seeking, as well as being able to contribute a huge amount of input herself. It was something created by synergy; something that could never be repeated in quite the same way at a later date, even by the two of us.

However, take the same person - moi - and fast-forward a few decades, and everything has changed. I realise that I no longer go out expecting to make something happen where nothing was happening, though for too long I did, but to try to be attentive enough to recognize something that is trying to connect with me. It simply can't be forced, and it either 'speaks' or it does not. This belief/approach would have never allowed my business to last: I would never have found a repeat client. So in a sense, genre breeds attitude, and it takes some learning to accept that things are the way that they are, and you can't change them around to suit you; it's you who has to accommodate reality. And that reality depends very much on the reasons behind the making of the images: for a client, you can't await inspiration; for yourself, you can, but it's not enough; it takes a bit more than that. For a start, you have to be prepard to go out there without an idea in your head other than hope.

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: donbga on January 18, 2017, 09:16:39 PM
These types of discussions are better left to the "experts", à la Andrew Molitor.

Too much photographic navel gazing can lead to creative impulses and channel your mind away from the true meaning of photography which is gear acquisition.

My 2 cents,

Don Bryant
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 19, 2017, 04:02:03 AM
These types of discussions are better left to the "experts", à la Andrew Molitor.

Too much photographic navel gazing can lead to creative impulses and channel your mind away from the true meaning of photography which is gear acquisition.

My 2 cents,

Don Bryant


I love your two cents, and I'm sure that all the manufacturers like it even more!

The more we buy and the less we do to wear stuff out, the longer it lasts; it's reputation for longevity grows, and the more times it becomes second-hand (neat marketing trick!), with fewer and fewer images made, even further grows that reputation for strength and reliability. Of course, the Japanese collectors who never open the pretty box knew this decades ago (don't try to understand it, it's a Zen thing), and that's what underlies the buoyant M market, with only the silly westerners who actually use the things in order to make images letting the team spirit down. But the pleasant surprise experienced by heretics will never divert the minds of the true aficionados of marque!

There must be a buck in it somewhere.

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Telecaster on January 19, 2017, 04:38:12 PM
But not, I hope, down the pan: that can cause lots of consequential damage!

Hah, you caught me out. I changed my original sentence, which was more about the contents of the diaper, and neglected to properly tidy up.  :D

Quote
So in a sense, genre breeds attitude, and it takes some learning to accept that things are the way that they are, and you can't change them around to suit you; it's you who has to accommodate reality.

Yes. This gets at an issue I have with folks like Crewdson, who take a studio approach out into the world and then direct the world as though it were a studio. It's not that you can't do this, or even that you shouldn't—Crewdson in particular is inspired by cinema, and most cinema involves some (or much) directing of the world—but rather that it's not what I personally turn to photographs for. You can't help but frame a shot, but I like the frame's contents to be something the photographer notices more than constructs. Otherwise I'd rather they take it all the way and paint or draw or composite-from-scratch their work. YMMV.

Also, I know I've decontextualized your comment…but I think it applies well beyond the scope of pic-taking.  ;)

-Dave-
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on January 19, 2017, 08:36:35 PM
It's amusing to note the misconception and misunderstanding surrounding a simple fact - push button, image captured. Photographer is captive to sensor technology, unlike painter or sculptor or even digital artist. Using a photograph as a basis for creativity is something else again. Using the sensor as a basis, as the raw substance to create with, is a furtherance of what photography, in and of itself mundane documentation by its very nature, can be. I generally do like photography for what it is though.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Ray on January 19, 2017, 09:50:51 PM
Photographer is captive to sensor technology, unlike painter or sculptor or even digital artist. Using a photograph as a basis for creativity is something else again.

And unlike the photographer, the painter is captive to paint, and usually canvas and paint brushes, and so on. And the sculptor is captive to stone, wood, metal, clay, or whatever medium he uses, plus the appropriate tools needed to work in that medium.

One is not going to get very far using one's bare hands without tools, to fashion a piece of stone. However, you don't necessarily need to press a button in order to make a photo. If you really want to, you could make your own pin-hole camera, but you'd still be dependent on film.  ;)
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 20, 2017, 03:47:05 AM
Yes. This gets at an issue I have with folks like Crewdson, who take a studio approach out into the world and then direct the world as though it were a studio. It's not that you can't do this, or even that you shouldn't—Crewdson in particular is inspired by cinema, and most cinema involves some (or much) directing of the world

It took me a while to "get" Crewdson. It seems to me that he is deliberately creating something slightly incoherent: it's not cinema, it's dream inspired by a film in which our subconscious hasn't managed to make everything quite right. Take the example of the photo of the car turning into the main street of a small town in the snow. It's presumably very early in the morining, because there are no other traces in the snow.... but still? The light is obviously very low, but there is no blur and very deep depth of field: somehow we know this is wrong, nothing is really moving, it's just arranged to look as if it is moving. In short, we immediately see that it is fake, but we're not quite sure why, or why we know, and it feels creepy.

It seems to me that photography is well adapted to achieving this sort of image, and if it's not what I expect, so much the better. YMMV, of course :)
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 20, 2017, 04:27:46 AM
Re Crewdson: yes, he does these stagings, and probably very well, but it simply doesn't mean anything to me beyond that fact, so whilst accepting he makes large images, I feel he belongs to advertising rather than to 'art' and so it's somewhat of a misplaced genre, but clearly the gallery world doesn't think so, which is also perfectly okay.

Does me no harm, and so more power to his elbow!

Were I rich, I think I'd decorate the walls with drip paintings... maybe make some more of my own. But I can't afford myself: my time is better spent having cups of tea, as the saying goes.

I did some advanced mathematics yesterday afternoon and discovered that I probably spend around a month's pension per year on coffee in cafés. I also blow two hundred-and-sixty euros per annum on the lottery which, of course, is actually an investment towards the family's future; I think I finally see where Mr Trump is coming from: infrastructure!

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 20, 2017, 05:49:25 AM
One day I shuld write a paper on lotteries: a lot of statisticians completely miss the point. If you play often for small stakes you're screwed, the Law of Large Numbers says you will converge to the average, which is of course losing. If on the other hand you play occasionally with very long odds, the LLN doesn't apply: the amount you spend will never amount to the amount you might win, but probably won't. You either come out far ahead, or a little behind, you never approach the average. And it's not as though there is a rational alternative: there is nothing legal I could do with my 60€/year of loto investment that would give me a better chance of suddenly having a couple of million in the bank.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 20, 2017, 06:27:06 AM
a return of about 1.5% on premium bonds and have a miniscule chance of banking the big one.

Indeed. So your 1.5% yield will mean your 260€ will grow, over 20 years, to 360€. The problem with utility is that it's not linear wrt currency units. It's the same reason we have insurance, in the opposite sense: if you live in the US and something bad happens to you health wise, the medical bills could wipe you out completely (highest contribution to individual bankruptcies prior to the ACA). So we spend (more than 260€) to protect against low probability large outlays... the administrative losses in health insurance (particularly the private enterprise version that doesn't incorporate negotiating power with pharmaceutical companies) are comparable to the dealer's cut in a lottery.

Lotteries are just insurance with a change of sign.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 20, 2017, 09:10:31 AM
Premium bonds! Good grief! I have a few hidden away somewhere - if I could remember where, I'd check 'em out! I may be sitting on a fortune and not know a damned thing about it.

But the Euromillones offers more than money: it brings twice-weekly hope, without which there's nothing left to do but to worry about getting this friggin' beautiful-but-redundantly-too-big-for-one apartment sold. With the right win, there'd be no thought of selling, just of wandering the Earth with that M10 or whatever. I would still avail myself of black tape, though. Infinite wealth would not save me from possible heart attack in the case of getting assaulted. However, I have never been a hero, so it might (an assault) offer me a way of going down in glory as I strike a blow for the pensionistas with greater responsibilities to protect than have I! One must always look on the bright side of life.

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Telecaster on January 20, 2017, 03:52:24 PM
My dad would buy a lottery ticket whenever the jackpot exceeded a certain threshold. I forget the $$ value he chose but it was high, which meant he seldom actually played.  :)

-Dave-
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Telecaster on January 20, 2017, 04:15:30 PM
It took me a while to "get" Crewdson. It seems to me that he is deliberately creating something slightly incoherent: it's not cinema, it's dream inspired by a film in which our subconscious hasn't managed to make everything quite right.

I do enjoy the "off-ness" in Crewdson's pics. Still I don't think he's doing anything Hopper hasn't already done better and in a better-suited medium. IMO anyway.

I've managed over time to train myself to try reading, while dreaming, any text I "see" in a dream. I've gotten quite good at it over the past year. The text, whether in books or on posters or wherever, is always made up of actual letters arranged into what look kinda like words…but the words are always gibberish. Once I realize this within the dream, I invariably wake up. You'd think I'd be able to at least come up with goo goo gaa gaa or somesuch…

-Dave-
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 20, 2017, 04:58:21 PM
The first accessory I bought for my M was a roll of black insulation tape: not driven by fear, you understand, but by modesty.


Keith, of course!

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 20, 2017, 05:08:11 PM
I do enjoy the "off-ness" in Crewdson's pics. Still I don't think he's doing anything Hopper hasn't already done better and in a better-suited medium. IMO anyway.

I've managed over time to train myself to try reading, while dreaming, any text I "see" in a dream. I've gotten quite good at it over the past year. The text, whether in books or on posters or wherever, is always made up of actual letters arranged into what look kinda like words…but the words are always gibberish. Once I realize this within the dream, I invariably wake up. You'd think I'd be able to at least come up with goo goo gaa gaa or somesuch…

-Dave-


Dave, perhaps your predispositioning assumption about goo goo gaa gaa is what's holding you back? Try a little light Shakespeare before retiring and you never know what may spring into virtual reality for you!

My own dreams are not very cheerful; they often take me places I don't want to go. Not nightmares, not by a long chalk, but they just don't make me feel very bright as they are happening. I often think of them as being such a waste of opportunity when, in that world, they could have been so rewarding instead.

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Telecaster on January 21, 2017, 04:00:39 PM
Dave, perhaps your predispositioning assumption about goo goo gaa gaa is what's holding you back? Try a little light Shakespeare before retiring and you never know what may spring into virtual reality for you!

I have found that if I play an instrument late in the evening I often then have musical dreams. Sadly, reading before bed has never resulted in legible dream text. So far anyway.

Quote
My own dreams are not very cheerful; they often take me places I don't want to go. Not nightmares, not by a long chalk, but they just don't make me feel very bright as they are happening. I often think of them as being such a waste of opportunity when, in that world, they could have been so rewarding instead.

Whenever I have a bleak dream it's always such a relief to wake up and realize it was fictive. For me the strangest dreams of all are those where I form a strong emotional bond with "someone" in the dream, then wake up to realize that someone was also fictive. For a few moments I feel like I've lost a friend or a loved one. Maybe I should hire Crewdson to photograph that.  ;)

-Dave-
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on January 21, 2017, 09:08:52 PM
And unlike the photographer, the painter is captive to paint, and usually canvas and paint brushes, and so on. And the sculptor is captive to stone, wood, metal, clay, or whatever medium he uses, plus the appropriate tools needed to work in that medium.

One is not going to get very far using one's bare hands without tools, to fashion a piece of stone. However, you don't necessarily need to press a button in order to make a photo. If you really want to, you could make your own pin-hole camera, but you'd still be dependent on film.  ;)

Well, not quite. Photography is a matter of subtraction. You begin with a finished picture as it were, leaving out that which is not conducive to subject and composition. It already exists, the photographer creates nothing. However, a painting is a matter of addition, in that he or she begins with nothing, and via imagination creates something.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 22, 2017, 05:42:36 AM
Well, not quite. Photography is a matter of subtraction. You begin with a finished picture as it were, leaving out that which is not conducive to subject and composition. It already exists, the photographer creates nothing. However, a painting is a matter of addition, in that he or she begins with nothing, and via imagination creates something.


Have you ever made even a basic still life, especially a still life?

(http://www.roma57.com/uploads/4/2/8/7/4287956/1271591_orig.jpg)

Have you ever worked with a model, stood in front of a blank Colorama roll with her and thought (especially if a really untalented model has been forced upon you): what the hell do we do here? No, of course you haven't; given the challenge, I doubt you'd even know there's a difference between inspired and passive models.

But in your world, that will be seen as an ad hominem, will it not? Too bad; think of caps and whether they fit. We all know that the blinkers already do.

(Why do I get the feeling you could actually be another poster who used to send in a constant flow of obscure quotations but, apart from once, nary a photograph?)

Best wishes,

Rob C
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Ray on January 22, 2017, 10:06:30 AM
Well, not quite. Photography is a matter of subtraction. You begin with a finished picture as it were, leaving out that which is not conducive to subject and composition. It already exists, the photographer creates nothing. However, a painting is a matter of addition, in that he or she begins with nothing, and via imagination creates something.

That's the conventional view, which I think was espoused by the late Michael Reichmann, but those of us who are serious about photography and not satisfied with the capabilities of iPhones, sometimes see flaws and contradictions in such arguments.

This hypothesis that the painter starts with a blank (white) canvas and adds to it, but the photographer begins with a complete image and subtracts from it, has many exceptions.
I'll give you just one example, although I have many examples in my archives. The attached images show my second starting point, the processing of the image from a black canvas.

The painter doesn't really start from a blank canvas. He has some pre-visualization of what he wants to paint. Likewise, the serious photographer has a pre-visualization of what information he wants to capture on the camera's sensor.

In the attached images, I was using one of the first ISO-less cameras, the Nikon D7000. The subject matter was sensitive, and I didn't want to offend by using flash.

I converted the image to B&W because the colour was degraded. The image now looks as though it was taken with B&W film, which some folks might consider a plus.  :D
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Telecaster on January 22, 2017, 05:14:37 PM
That's the conventional view, which I think was espoused by the late Michael Reichmann, but those of us who are serious about photography and not satisfied with the capabilities of iPhones, sometimes see flaws and contradictions in such arguments.

I'm quite sure Michael, who did consider the art of subtraction to be very important in photography, would've nonetheless taken great issue with "the photographer creates nothing." And, as the rest of your post touches on, rightly so. Photographs don't already exist, waiting around to be discovered. However the world of objects and light does already exist…it's part of the raw material photographers and other visual creatives use, along with whatever pre-visualizing or conceptualizing they may also use.

We can take a more subtractive approach to photography (my own preference, though I make exceptions) or a more additive one. Sometimes I'll put together tableaus with my camera & lens already in position and the boundaries of the tableau thus established. Not much difference in such a case between clicking the shutter to draw the scene and using a pencil/pen/brush on paper/board/canvas to do the same.

Strange, the desire to establish a hierarchy of creativity where none needs to exist.

-Dave-
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Ray on January 23, 2017, 12:06:42 AM
I'm quite sure Michael, who did consider the art of subtraction to be very important in photography, would've nonetheless taken great issue with "the photographer creates nothing." And, as the rest of your post touches on, rightly so.

Quite true. The reason I mentioned it is because Michael's graphic definition of the essential difference between 'art' and photography, stuck in my mind after I first read it about 15 to 20 years ago. It's an interesting concept.

I get the impression there have been many artists throughout the modern era of the development of the camera, who have been torn between the use of a paint brush and the use of a more technical and complex tool such as the camera.

That totally black, RAW image, that I was confronted with when I opened the image in Bridge, reminded me of the situation of a painter who begins with a white, blank canvas, and adds to it.

By retrieving the hidden detail in that black image, using my best skills, was like adding to a black canvas (as opposed to the white canvas that the painter adds to).

Many people probably delete all images that don't initially look nice, because they allow the camera to do all the processing.

However, processing the image from the RAW data is a large part of the artistic dimension in photography, in my view, but not the only aspect of course.


Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Ray on January 23, 2017, 12:38:43 AM
I should mention that the black image, that I suspect most people would have deleted, and which I processed just recently, several years after I took the shot, has a very relevant and emotional meaning for me.

Street begging is a common occurence in undeveloped countries, such as Thailand. One naturally feels sorry for the predicament of such people. However, what is perhaps  not widely known is that such beggars are often the victims of a crime syndicate who exploit the beggars as a source of income.

Much of the money placed in the begging dish or cup is taken by the mafia. Seriously disabled and homeless people are continually transported to different parts of Bangkok so they can appeal to different sections of the population, and raise more funds for the mafia.

Homeless women on the streets sometimes have babies thrust into their arms in order to generate more sympathy, and more donations from the public.

The clearly overweight woman in my photo appears to be in that latter category. The fact that she's overweight should raise serious questions. Why is a woman who has enough money to gorge herself on food, begging in the street?

Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 23, 2017, 05:37:07 PM
I should mention that the black image, that I suspect most people would have deleted, and which I processed just recently, several years after I took the shot, has a very relevant and emotional meaning for me.

Street begging is a common occurence in undeveloped countries, such as Thailand. One naturally feels sorry for the predicament of such people. However, what is perhaps  not widely known is that such beggars are often the victims of a crime syndicate who exploit the beggars as a source of income.

Much of the money placed in the begging dish or cup is taken by the mafia. Seriously disabled and homeless people are continually transported to different parts of Bangkok so they can appeal to different sections of the population, and raise more funds for the mafia.

Homeless women on the streets sometimes have babies thrust into their arms in order to generate more sympathy, and more donations from the public.

The clearly overweight woman in my photo appears to be in that latter category. The fact that she's overweight should raise serious questions. Why is a woman who has enough money to gorge herself on food, begging in the street?

Do you know that's why she has the shape that she has?

I'm no doc, but it striks me that there's something more to her situation than overeating. My own doc went to India on holiday a few years ago, and his impression was that pretty much everybody he saw in the street was sick with something... I can certainly remember the many lepers and those unfortunates with elephantiasis, not to mention those intentionally crippled as babies (being bound) so that they would have a life begging.

Life can suck all by itself, and yet some folks add to that... there's so much that divides civilizations.

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Ray on January 23, 2017, 07:05:34 PM
Do you know that's why she has the shape that she has?

I'm no doc, but it striks me that there's something more to her situation than overeating. My own doc went to India on holiday a few years ago, and his impression was that pretty much everybody he saw in the street was sick with something... I can certainly remember the many leeprs and those unfortunates with elephantiasis, not to mention those intentionally crippled as babies (being bound) so that they would have a life begging.

Life can suck all by itself, and yet some folks add to that... there's so much that divides civilizations.

Rob

Rob,

I'm not aware of any medical condition which causes a person to become obese despite there being a shortage of food. There are no doubt medical and genetic conditions which have the effect of distorting a person's appetite so that they constantly feel hungry and cannot stop eating, provided the food is available, but the key point is, the food has to be available in order for a person to become overweight.

An overweight woman begging on the street would not gain much sympathy if she appears to be overfed, which is why I suspect the young child was thrust into her arms.

Elephantiasis looks quite different to obesity. It's more of a distorted swelling that occurs in one or more parts of the body, rather than a uniform distribution of excess fat.

Of course, I don't know for certain what her circumstances are and whether or not she really is under the control of some gangster organization. I'm just making a reasonable guess in the light of what I've read about the homeless situation in Thailand.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 24, 2017, 04:30:50 AM
Why is a woman who has enough money to gorge herself on food, begging in the street?

Because bad food is very cheap, and very profitable. For at least 40 years obesity in western nations has been inversely associated with wealth.

Creating a life in which one doesn't need psychological crutches such as tobacco or over-eating is far more complicated... and if you think i'm exaggerating the psychological complexity, just look at that line of emotionally crippled men watching Strumpf signing the universal gag order on abortion information. So many $billions, so little compassion, so much need to prop up their egos by imposing their moral choices on millions of women they'll never meet.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 24, 2017, 04:32:23 AM
PS if we want to get all literal about subtractive vs additive, I guess wood-blocks are off the art-list?
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 24, 2017, 05:54:50 AM
Rob,

I'm not aware of any medical condition which causes a person to become obese despite there being a shortage of food. There are no doubt medical and genetic conditions which have the effect of distorting a person's appetite so that they constantly feel hungry and cannot stop eating, provided the food is available, but the key point is, the food has to be available in order for a person to become overweight.

An overweight woman begging on the street would not gain much sympathy if she appears to be overfed, which is why I suspect the young child was thrust into her arms.

Elephantiasis looks quite different to obesity. It's more of a distorted swelling that occurs in one or more parts of the body, rather than a uniform distribution of excess fat.

Of course, I don't know for certain what her circumstances are and whether or not she really is under the control of some gangster organization. I'm just making a reasonable guess in the light of what I've read about the homeless situation in Thailand.


I know what elephantiasis looks like, and that it`s usually seen of the legs; I did not suggest that the woman in question suffered from it, nor from leprosy. It, elephantiasis, looks far more like acute cellulitis than ordinary fat from gorging.

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Ray on January 24, 2017, 06:35:59 AM

I know what elephantiasis looks like, and that it`s usually seen of the legs; I did not suggest that the woman in question suffered from it, nor from leprosy. It, elephantiasis, looks far more like acute cellulitis than ordinary fat from gorging.

Rob

So what was your point?  ;)
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 24, 2017, 09:11:01 AM
So what was your point?  ;)

I wasn't making a point, Ray, I was asking a question about the validity of your understanding of the plight of the plump lady in the photograph. Everything else came from that position. Not her's of course, mine. (Though in reality, I realise that I sit as slumped in my uncomfortable typist chair as she appears to do on the ground.)

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Telecaster on January 24, 2017, 05:06:34 PM
…that line of emotionally crippled men…

At the periphery of my life I've encountered more such folk than I've cared to. (In fact shortly I'll be having dinner with one of my points-of-contact with the bizarro world they live in.) It's always been a sad & depressing experience. These are not emotionally or psychologically healthy humans. More money doesn't assuage the fear in fear-driven people for long. Denigrating everyone they feel threatened by doesn't make weak people feel less weak for long. Thus the need to accumulate ever more $$ and behave ever more vindictively. Trying to stave off the inner black hole.

-Dave-
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 24, 2017, 05:37:08 PM
I think it's the need for public recognition driven by the understanding that they get that by pandering to blocks of voters, whether religious groups, unions, the unemployed, the coloured, the white or even the red-neck.

In the end, I don't think they remember even to care what they are seen to be standing for or against, just as long as they get power.

Sad and dangerous, and not people I'd ever want to have to spend time around.

Yuck!

Rob C
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on January 27, 2017, 08:12:58 PM

Have you ever made even a basic still life, especially a still life?


Have you ever worked with a model, stood in front of a blank Colorama roll with her and thought (especially if a really untalented model has been forced upon you): what the hell do we do here? No, of course you haven't; given the challenge, I doubt you'd even know there's a difference between inspired and passive models.

But in your world, that will be seen as an ad hominem, will it not? Too bad; think of caps and whether they fit. We all know that the blinkers already do.

(Why do I get the feeling you could actually be another poster who used to send in a constant flow of obscure quotations but, apart from once, nary a photograph?)

Best wishes,

Rob C

Seriously, you're missing nearly all my points entirely. I don't know why it's so difficult for everyone here. Perhaps I simply haven't explained my one very simple point clearly enough - not that I'm going to try any more. And, to the contrary, I've posted more than maybe six or so photos in the short time I've been a member here. I still consider myself to be a photographer, and quite honestly, if one doesn't give any thought to their practice and its underlying principals, then it's a case of an unexamined life. There is a connection between philosophy and photography which is an area I particularly enjoy exploring, and will continue to do so. Please enjoy your photography, and try not to get too rattled by a little stone in your shoe. 
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 28, 2017, 10:15:14 AM
Seriously, you're missing nearly all my points entirely. I don't know why it's so difficult for everyone here. Perhaps I simply haven't explained my one very simple point clearly enough - not that I'm going to try any more. And, to the contrary, I've posted more than maybe six or so photos in the short time I've been a member here. I still consider myself to be a photographer, and quite honestly, if one doesn't give any thought to their practice and its underlying principals, then it's a case of an unexamined life. There is a connection between philosophy and photography which is an area I particularly enjoy exploring, and will continue to do so. Please enjoy your photography, and try not to get too rattled by a little stone in your shoe.

"1.   Seriously, you're missing nearly all my points entirely. I don't know why it's so difficult for everyone here. Perhaps I simply haven't explained my one very simple point clearly enough - not that I'm going to try any more. And, to the contrary, I've posted more than maybe six or so photos in the short time I've been a member here.

2.   I still consider myself to be a photographer, and quite honestly, if one doesn't give any thought to their practice and its underlying principals, then it's a case of an unexamined life. There is a connection between philosophy and photography which is an area I particularly enjoy exploring, and will continue to do so.

3.    Please enjoy your photography, and try not to get too rattled by a little stone in your shoe." ........................... marton.

....................................................


1.    On the contrary, your point has been very clearly made, time and time again; the problem you face is obvious enough to nearly all but yourself: few here accept its validity.

I apologise; your images have just not remained imbedded in my mind; mea culpa.

2.    If this observation is addressed to me, personally, and not intended as a broader statement, then I have to say that it's an amazing one. How you imagine anyone can spend an entire working lifetime in professional photography without having considered its implications, one's own motivations, aspirations and the value or otherwise, both economic and in the wider sense, of one's life and work, then your imagination is indeed somewhat strange.

The art of photography is not an occupation where definitive, valid values can be measured through academia (though opinions, of course, flow from there like rivers). Titles and pieces of delicately-worked certificates, however, are bound, obliged to come from the cosy world of artistic academia - it's why it exists and is funded. I am fully aware of your fascination with the PhD concept, but in the context of this thread I think such titles to be meaningless for the simple reason that, with photography, you are dealing with ideas and values that are, by their nature, pretty much undefinable, unquantifiable and certainly beyond the scope of worthwhile analysis with the exception of this: do they, the images, serve or not serve their purpose? Unless, of course, you plan a life in an art gallery or auction house, or even, perhaps, writing artists' statements for them. I'm sure that perpetuating the concept of theoretical expertise in some eductional, artistic establishment somewhere could also be fun. But be my guest, do continue to explore the vacuum you have chosen for yourself; you will at least be able to avoid having to come up with any firm conclusions of your own at the end of your journey!

3.   Thank you, I shall resolve to try to continue to enjoy my photography. As for stones in my shoe - well, lets just keep a sense of proportion here and think in terms of a grain of sand.

;-)

Rob C
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on January 29, 2017, 05:08:39 PM
"1.   Seriously, you're missing nearly all my points entirely. I don't know why it's so difficult for everyone here. Perhaps I simply haven't explained my one very simple point clearly enough - not that I'm going to try any more. And, to the contrary, I've posted more than maybe six or so photos in the short time I've been a member here.

2.   I still consider myself to be a photographer, and quite honestly, if one doesn't give any thought to their practice and its underlying principals, then it's a case of an unexamined life. There is a connection between philosophy and photography which is an area I particularly enjoy exploring, and will continue to do so.

3.    Please enjoy your photography, and try not to get too rattled by a little stone in your shoe." ........................... marton.

....................................................


1.    On the contrary, your point has been very clearly made, time and time again; the problem you face is obvious enough to nearly all but yourself: few here accept its validity.

I apologise; your images have just not remained imbedded in my mind; mea culpa.

2.    If this observation is addressed to me, personally, and not intended as a broader statement, then I have to say that it's an amazing one. How you imagine anyone can spend an entire working lifetime in professional photography without having considered its implications, one's own motivations, aspirations and the value or otherwise, both economic and in the wider sense, of one's life and work, then your imagination is indeed somewhat strange.

The art of photography is not an occupation where definitive, valid values can be measured through academia (though opinions, of course, flow from there like rivers). Titles and pieces of delicately-worked certificates, however, are bound, obliged to come from the cosy world of artistic academia - it's why it exists and is funded. I am fully aware of your fascination with the PhD concept, but in the context of this thread I think such titles to be meaningless for the simple reason that, with photography, you are dealing with ideas and values that are, by their nature, pretty much undefinable, unquantifiable and certainly beyond the scope of worthwhile analysis with the exception of this: do they, the images, serve or not serve their purpose? Unless, of course, you plan a life in an art gallery or auction house, or even, perhaps, writing artists' statements for them. I'm sure that perpetuating the concept of theoretical expertise in some eductional, artistic establishment somewhere could also be fun. But be my guest, do continue to explore the vacuum you have chosen for yourself; you will at least be able to avoid having to come up with any firm conclusions of your own at the end of your journey!

3.   Thank you, I shall resolve to try to continue to enjoy my photography. As for stones in my shoe - well, lets just keep a sense of proportion here and think in terms of a grain of sand.

;-)

Rob C

Whether or not people accept the validity or not is of no importance, because it is an undeniable fact. Photographer creates nothing. Everything a photographer does is entirely contingent upon pre-existing conditions. What he/she does with it after the fact is not at all what I've been talking about. But whatever. 

Re the bolded - Excellent, let us celebrate with the adding of chocolate to milk.   
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on January 29, 2017, 06:43:22 PM
Photographer creates nothing. Everything a photographer does is entirely contingent upon pre-existing conditions.

Marton, you really are a silly boy. If a painter works from a live model, is s/he not also creating something contingent upon the model? Oh but it's different of course, he's using paint! On canvas! And choosing the colours and... that has no relation to arranging a model, determining the lighting, the framing, the colour balance...

Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on January 29, 2017, 07:01:21 PM
Marton, you really are a silly boy. If a painter works from a live model, is s/he not also creating something contingent upon the model? Oh but it's different of course, he's using paint! On canvas! And choosing the colours and... that has no relation to arranging a model, determining the lighting, the framing, the colour balance...

I've been respectful throughout this 'discussion', and haven't resorted to name calling or used derogatory terms because doing so invalidates any point you may have. I'm sure you wouldn't appreciate it if I dismissed you by calling you a silly old man, and if I did, you'd probably, depending on how senile or not you are, see how it invalidates the point. In this case, a half baked one and not very well thought out.   
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on January 30, 2017, 04:17:45 AM
Whether or not people accept the validity or not is of no importance, because it is an undeniable fact. Photographer creates nothing. Everything a photographer does is entirely contingent upon pre-existing conditions. What he/she does with it after the fact is not at all what I've been talking about. But whatever. 

Re the bolded - Excellent, let us celebrate with the adding of chocolate to milk.

Clearly, this appears to be a conviction that only you seem to hold - apart from those rare people whose learned and other-worldly opinions you hold so sacrosanct, of course. I wonder how photographically productive any of them might be.

But hey, we've tried to enlighten you to no avail; do keep true to your blinkered views, secure in the understanding that nobody else really cares tuppence: the only person who is likely to be short-changed by your beliefs is you. What a shame, what a waste of so much potential.

Rob C

Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Telecaster on January 30, 2017, 05:13:40 PM
My prior example of making a tableau—from scratch, using a camera's viewfinder or screen as a frame—and then photographing (rather than drawing, painting, sculpting, etc.) it puts the lie to this silliness. Or perhaps you think only the tableau itself is a creative work. Or maybe you think the whole enterprise is vacuous. If so that's okay…just don't be annoyed if/when other folks fail to take you seriously.

-Dave-
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: JNB_Rare on February 16, 2017, 08:04:06 AM
I apologize because I do not have the source for this quote. The person who forwarded it to me doesn't know. He saved it on his hard drive some years ago when it made the rounds at his camera club, in Atlanta, Georgia. It sounds a bit like the Desiderata of photography, but there you go.

I am a photographer. I make photographs. I do not take them, shoot them, capture them or snap them.

I do what I do to see the world differently and to show others what I see and feel. And yes, it really did look like that when seen through my eyes, mind and heart.

The tools of my craft are a camera and lens but the tools of my art are my passion and vision, film or digital. It’s not how we make our photographs that matters, but that we make them.

The gear I have is good enough. My camera doesn’t need to be made recently for me to photograph the present moment. The brand of my camera is irrelevant to the pursuit of beauty and authenticity in my work.

Megapixels are no way to measure a photograph. I want deeper photographs, honest photographs that are alive, not merely really big or really sharp.

I hope the legacy I create with my work will be judged not by how many photographs I made in this lifetime, but what those few magic frames do in the hearts and minds of others.

Comparing myself to others, or them to me, is a waste of my creative efforts and makes it harder to see the light, chase the wonder, and do my work. There is too much to see and create to waste these too-few moments. Art is not a competition, but a gift.

I believe photographs can change the world because they have done so for me. I believe photography opens my eyes to a deeper life, one that recognizes moments and lives them deeper for being present in them.

To be an amateur means to be a lover; professional or not, I want to do this for the rest of my life as an amateur.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on March 05, 2017, 10:17:56 PM
My prior example of making a tableau—from scratch, using a camera's viewfinder or screen as a frame—and then photographing (rather than drawing, painting, sculpting, etc.) it puts the lie to this silliness. Or perhaps you think only the tableau itself is a creative work. Or maybe you think the whole enterprise is vacuous. If so that's okay…just don't be annoyed if/when other folks fail to take you seriously.

-Dave-

Yes yes, boohoo poor me. Please. Take me seriously? As if I gave a shit. I'm just surprised by how opaque my point seems to be and the lack of philosophical engagement. But - Never mind. I have no intention of engaging in it further, as it's pointless from here to do so. All I'm going to get in response is a bunch of old photographers defending their life's activity.   

And - Maybe you're right, maybe I do think the whole enterprise is vacuous, I'll have to think about it. 
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: opgr on March 07, 2017, 03:55:56 AM
I was an art student back in the 70’s (yes, I know Marton, another old man..) I was taught that the definition of art is that art it is the product of an artist.

That is it.

Art is not defined by aesthetics or degrees of difficultly, retail value or rarity.


Right...

and a photo is the product of a photographer. Then someone mounts the photo on a wall because they like it, and it subsequently will be known as utilitarian art.

The questions then are these:
1) when is a photographer considered an artist?
2) when does a photo exceed the qualification of utilitarian art?

"art is the product of an artist" is a good way to stop thinking about art, and more generally, to stop thinking at all. 
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on March 07, 2017, 05:29:01 AM
"art is the product of an artist" is a good way to stop thinking about art, and more generally, to stop thinking at all.

When after 100 years of effort, there is no coherent response, it's time to ask if the question has an answer. One might then decide to go and think about something more useful.

Or maybe our vanity prevents us from seeing the real answer:
"Art" is a label attached arbitrarily to essentially value-free goods to enable them to be exchanged against money.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on March 07, 2017, 08:07:08 AM
Lets say, I have a wedding album containing 50 photographs. I like one so I take it out of the album, mount it and put it on the wall. By your definition it is now a work of art. Correct?

ergo the remaining 49 pics in the album are not art. 

Please explain "ergo". I can't see how declaring one element of a set as art implies that the other elements are not art.

Then, please obtain a dictionary and look up "loose" and "lose".
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: opgr on March 07, 2017, 09:05:36 AM
Oscar, I have been thinking about your example/definition. Is this a good example of what you are saying?

(Leaving aside that I think utilitarian art means something that has a practical use like, say, a vase a lamp or a chair.)

I intended the use of "utilitarian" as "decorative". It served as an example that for "decorative" art it probably is a personal and individual assessment, but that what is usually considered true art, has a larger significance (beyond the individual). 

So, even when stating the obvious that "art is a product of the artist", however succinct it may seem, it will still leave us with the hard questions as mentioned above. Especially so, when you add that art is not about aesthetics or degrees of difficulty.


Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: opgr on March 07, 2017, 10:02:53 AM
Actually what I wrote was that art is not defined by aesthetics or degrees of difficulty. I posted 3 examples that I hope illustrate that point.

At the other end of this particular scale I could post as an example an image of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Truly beautiful, amazingly skilful and a degree of difficulty that is massively impressive.

But is it more a work of art that Duchamp's urinal?

Okay, does that mean that for you the classification of art is a binary proposition?

(for the record: I'm more of a proponent of "Art = Communication", so for me personally, degree of difficulty or aesthetics, however impressive, is not the defining qualifier.)

Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on March 07, 2017, 10:51:19 AM
Who decides who is, or is not, an artist?

If it is something about having been shown in a gallery, or selling through some other means, that would pre-suppose that the person had created art before she became an artist by virtue of having exhibited it, no? Or is it anything created by a person who will one day be acknowledged as being an artist?

Or am I at liberty to declare unilaterally that I'm an artist?


Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: opgr on March 07, 2017, 12:26:40 PM
The individual decides. I don't think you need anybody's permission to be an artist.

Unless of course you are a terrorist and decide that you're an artist with murder is your chosen medium...
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on March 07, 2017, 03:02:00 PM
Reverting for a sec to the OP: was any question actually asked, or is it just an assumption here that there was, and if so, that it was: what's photographic art?

If so, we do seem to have drifted into the Sargasso Sea instead.

It has been mooted by Jeanloup Sieff, amongst others, that there is no art, there are just artists.

And even within the definition (?) of what that might mean, some things that artists produce are art and some not, so one can't define art as strictly the product of artists, either.

Perhaps as close as we can get is to believe that folks who are good at drawing, painting, making photographs, playing musical instruments, singing and so forth are artists. The stress is on the two words, good at. Because one does any of those things badly would, I suggest, preclude that person from being considered an artist in that specific medium. I struggle to accept the concept of a bad artist. I would judge the bad artist a wannabe artist. If, indeed, he had such pretensions at all.

Galleries also exhibit stuff that I could never accept as art. Now, was that infamous urinal actually meant to be 'art' or was it simply, as some suggest, a joke and a dig at the established order of things? You can never tell: people do all manner of stuff in promoting thenselves. Many show their naked curves, and so perhaps the Duchamp urinal was his attempt to show something else, and he never quite got round to doing that? Where the artists hang out, then. Would Duchamp's member have been a work of art? Who knows, who remembers? How temporary the full flush of manhood.

This is the second most shocking post anyone has read on LuLa. Absolutely not a nice place to be.

Rob C
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: marton on March 23, 2017, 06:38:49 PM
For anyone who is interested in photography and philosophy, an interesting and informative article here - https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/23916-photography-and-philosophy-essays-on-the-pencil-of-nature/
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Beakhammer on July 08, 2017, 11:49:56 AM
The idea that photography is not one of the arts requires a definition of art that is too narrow to be very useful or interesting, in my opinion.   All attempts to organize the various disciplines, or the products of artists and craftspeople, into categories that are either "art" or "not-art" are doomed to failure at a fundamental level since all made-objects possess characteristics of art, and craft, and of many other such qualifiers to varying degrees.  Most people will draw the lines that define these various ideas in different places.  Different traditions and cultures have defined them in very different ways over the ages.  I think it is a complete waste of time to try and define these categories in absolute terms, however it can be useful and interesting to attempt to define how these various categories manifest themselves in specific works of art.  In order to do this it is important to define what you mean when you say "art".  The term means so many different things in so many different contexts that using the word "art" without defining exactly what you are talking about raises more questions than it answers.

I find that art is such a complex and far-reaching topic that it serves me best to use very broad and inclusive definitions of what art is, and then only to narrow things down in defining what makes specific works of art similar or different in specific terms.  I think of art as a set of characteristics that attach in varying degrees to all made-objects.  The original word simply meant "skill as a result of learning or practice" and then came to be applied to making things (by an artisan).  Only much later, in a few societies, did the definition get narrowed down to apply only to the one-of-a-kind expensive products of elites and isolated geniuses.  I think this narrow idea of art as being terribly precious is misleading and destructive.

I have made my living for decades primarily by selling forged steel sculpture in the Public-Art market.  I think of myself as an artist.  This work could be said to be representational, though it is far from literal.  When it functions as architectural ironwork it might be seen as utilitarian, or decorative craft, when it is presented as free-standing sculpture it might be seen as non-utilitarian fine art.  Because the work involves blacksmithing it might strike some people as a blue-collar craft product.  Because it often looks nothing like traditional blacksmithing many people will have no idea how it was made and will simply consider it to be sculpture in a generic sense.  Whether someone decides that this work falls more or less under the umbrella of art, or of craft, is in fact entirely subjective, based on a wide ranging set of cultural assumptions and prejudices. 

In many ways artists are held hostage by the particular prejudices, or lack of engagement, or lack of imagination, of their audience.  One of the main problems artists face is in breaking through this wall of pre-conceptions, and this often takes the form of an exaggerated need to be "original".  Sometimes artists may go too far in trying to break through, so that the shout for attention drowns out other more interesting content.  At the other extreme, artwork that looks just like a thousand other examples may become effectively invisible, no matter how good it actually is.

I am also an avid photographer and have spent years painting and drawing, so I have direct experience with the topics of this thread.   My formal education was in the history of ideas, so I have also been exposed to a more philosophical approach to these topics.  Art History and art criticism tends to be a bit on the self-referential side and I find anthropology often gives a better perspective on what artwork may be, and on how it functions in various cultures.

I think the notion that photography is simply reproduction of a scene, and involves simply pressing a button, pre-supposes a singularly un-imaginitive and passive photographer.  That's not how I use a camera.  I often spend years photographing and re-photographing a subject, exploring many experimental paths before arriving at images which begin to express what I want to express.  This is exactly the process I go through when I am using oil paints, pencil and paper, or hammer and anvil.  Of course the tools and processes are different, but the mental processes that go into creating something that carries my intended meaning is very similar in each discipline.  Artists tend to use iterative processes, making and re-making things over and over again, perhaps understanding a bit more each time.  I think you need to consider whole bodies of work, particularly when it comes to photography, to come to grips with the process an artist is engaged in.

I found that practicing various different disciplines allows them to inform each other.  Things I have learned while painting and drawing contribute a lot to my photographs.  Forging steel taught me more about drawing three-dimensional objects than all the drawing classes I have taken over the years.  Struggling to get photographs of my sculpture teaches me about how the sculpture interacts with light and feeds back into designing and forging the next sculpture.  After a while the divisions between these processes seem less important than the similarities, and the places where they overlap strongly turn out to be rich veins, sources of new ideas and better processes.

Many of the posts in this thread seem to come from a consumer's point of view, discussing art-objects as final products, detached from the person and process that made them.  From the artist's point of view the process of making the work is often more interesting than the final product.  What other people make of the work once it is complete is a whole other ball of wax.

If you look at Duchamp's urinal all by itself it is easy to dismiss it.  You have to consider the urinal in the context of the artist's life and work, and the zeitgeist he was responding to, to begin to have a real discussion about what role art plays in this particular work.  Art is communication.  The meaning of any communication depends on context, and this context extends out to the entire culture(s), the history and even the biology of all of the people who are a party to that communication.  I find that the more you learn about a particular artist or work of art and the culture that gives it context, the harder it becomes to generalize about art or to fit art into clear-cut categories.

I like Crewdson's work too.  His process reminds me of Rembrandt, who also created carefully orchestrated scenes (that we would now term "cinematic") and worked with a large organized team of assistants to carry out the actual painting.

David Hockney, in his book "Secret Knowledge", makes a convincing argument that painters have made heavy use of cameras (the Camera Lucida) to discover and reproduce perspective and the behavior of light and shadow in their work all the way back to the Old Masters of the Renaissance.  It might be said that these painters were the first photographers, albeit with a very slow and painstaking way of capturing and developing the image.

It is significant that Henri Cartier-Bresson was a painter first, then a photographer, then a painter again.  Drawing and painting teaches a person to see with greater precision and depth than an untrained person sees.  We don't see with our eyes, we see with our minds, based on previous experience.  That ability to see a scene in depth, and to comprehend it in a flash, improves with years of training.  Rembrandt's sketches of street people have the imediate quality of street photography.  There is tremendous overlap between the actual practice of drawing and the practice of photography, even in the apparently spontaneous act of snapping photos on the street.

The question of whether or not a given object is officially "art" doesn't interest me much, that just depends on who you're talking to.  In fact I think that all objects or actions can be viewed as art in one way or another.  What interests me are specific questions about how art manifests itself in the object or process or performance under discussion, to whatever degree art can be discovered there.  In other words I think it is more productive to talk about how art is created and understood than to talk about how it has value assigned to it.

The studio is more interesting than the marketplace.  The essence of art is practice, not product.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on July 08, 2017, 03:51:33 PM
Perhaps the principal reason we can find art and definitions of art difficult is due to marketing. The moment price it attached, then expectations of value are raised, and with value we now find ourselves evaluating by the measures of our own sensibilities, experiences and financial standing. Is something superior art because it's beyond my pocket? Is the pretty little snap of Spanish staircases that I see for sale on a market stand for a couple of euros just crap, because the intended buyer of holiday kitsch is a tourist?

Is a bend girder art when it's bent because of demolition, or only when an "artist" bends it? Is a test Polaroid art because Avedon exposed it but not if the chap in Death Valley made it to check his shot? If Albert Watson shoots a girl in latex in Las Vegas that's art; if a guy in LA does the same in a motel, is that porn? If I do it, am I just a copycat?

Maybe that's why these threads lie dormant...

;-)

Rob C
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Beakhammer on July 08, 2017, 03:56:57 PM
Sure, but that is the consumer's point of view.  I am more interested in the artist's point of view.  Let's talk about what goes into making art, and enjoying art, and leave talk of buying art to those people with spare cash.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on July 09, 2017, 05:41:57 AM
Sure, but that is the consumer's point of view.  I am more interested in the artist's point of view.  Let's talk about what goes into making art, and enjoying art, and leave talk of buying art to those people with spare cash.

"If Albert Watson shoots a girl in latex in Las Vegas that's art; if a guy in LA does the same in a motel, is that porn? If I do it, am I just a copycat?"

To quote myself, above, I am seeing it from both perspectives, that of a viewer (which can even preclude a buyer) and that of myself as photographer, as explained in the quotation.

I think the reality, at least for me, is that making the self-conscious call to declare oneself artist is possibly a little bit of a limitation on what one might actually feel like venturing forth to shoot. Why push the confrontation: am I social artist this morning if I shoot fat persons at the beach, or only this evening if I photograph them dolled up to the imaginary nines as they go out on the town? Is my image of a swan putting on the brakes as it lands in the park lake art, on my part rather than of the swan, or is it art if I shoot the full globe of the Sun as it rolls down to the distant mountain ridge prior to taking its hissless, daily dive back into the Mediterranean from whence it arose as silently this morning?

What goes into making art? It's a flawed question, as you know, because we have no widely acceptable definition. What may be art to one person is junk to another. All it reasonably leaves us with is the decision we might want to make about whether we like the product or not. And there has to be a product, or there is nothing. For myself, the most powerful of the arts is music. Photography runs somewhere in the far distance. I am a photographer and not a musician. Perhaps therein lies a clue to what I might mean by art: something that moves me deeply but is beyond my own powers to create? Because I can't do it, do I perceive a greater value?

Enjoying art. It's instinctive, and not something that follows from reading about some genre or another, which is equivalent to learning geography or history: that's a memory challenge. In schooldays I had a great young memory with not much other than sex taking up space: exams were a matter of memory of facts and reiterating them as asked. I passed everything I had to study. Today, I could never learn much by reading about it because age, condition and space have all had their devastating inputs... In today's Internet world of Wiki, everybody is an expert at the click of a mouse, whether or not they had a clue about a topic five minutes ago. It's what's so deeply unsatisfying about discussions such as this one: people can simply read something relevant and repost it; they may not really have a clue, but for those few seconds of the reader's attention, they appear plausible. You just have to glance at the current dogma/blindness/ignorance/lack of wider perspective in the "Trump" threads to understand the curse of shallow instant expertise and blinkered belief, and why so many of us have just dropped out in dismay at what drones on and on, and interminably bloody on.

So yeah, what does go into making art? Rephrasing that to what goes on in the making of photographs, in my own experience, is an easier and more honest question. I think it very much depends on the subjects. With people (girls - I can't photograph kids and men well because I have no interest in them) there is the desire to make them look better than they actually seem to be; I never want to mock or to humiliate subjects. In fact, that kind of feeling is what informs my choice in favourite photographers. I can't resist those few with the capacity to remove the model from the reality within which she exists. It's what I find so exciting about Sarah Moon and her created visual and spiritual atmospheres on the one hand, and Feurer's fine distillation of beach, city or desert right down to the essential simplicity of what it is that makes each genre so everlastingly powerful. In its way, I see his beach creations as parallel to the work some landscape people manage to produce shooting desert: they can strip it right down to sand, dune and form, and so well that there is no sense of things missing. A Feurer city fashion shot: it boils down to girl, clothes, blobs of oof colour from reflections on trucks, trams and cars, traffic signals: a simple completeness, then, with only suggestion to add location atmosphere to the principal subject...

I like long, manual focus lenses. I feel something specially - if indescribably - wonderful when I move focus over near planes to wherever the subject might be; that in and out of focus feeling is amost palpable to me: I imagine I can taste it. That's one buzz, and another is the complicity enjoyed within a model/photographer relationship when things go well and you both combine to produce special dreams that existed neither before nor after those few seconds when you both got to where you thought you wanted to take the thing. (It's a part of the muse experience, about which I have written elsewhere.) That the actual photograph may be yet a further step away from where the two creative minds were at the time, is another thing altogether. "Art" is nothing if not full of surprise to the so-called artist. If it isn't I think he no longer is creating his art: he is turning out widgets. And that's a failing with photography: you only have to observe what gets posted here and in almost all such spaces, to find repetition, formula and general boredom. The only thing that makes some different is photographer fame. Stripped of that, there are more nudes around than meet the eye! At least mine were honestly underdressed.

;-)

Rob C
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Beakhammer on July 09, 2017, 12:46:28 PM
You sound jaded, as if (very understandably) the art-world makes you squeamish, but I still think that's the marketplace and American culture talking.  As a lifetime professional artist I have learned to try and ignore all that static and concentrate on the artwork itself.  Amateurs may pretend not to be artists when they make art.  Professionals can't do that, but why should we?  It's a profession to be proud of, if you make good work.  I don't think it matters what kind of artist you call yourself; it is the art you produce that matters.  If I understand you correctly, it sounds like you are saying that this kind of self-consciousness gets in the way of seeing and understanding.  If that is what you mean, then I agree with you.

I also don't understand your apparent problem with learning from books.  What you mean by "instinct" needs clarification, but I can't agree that knowledge, such as history or geography, can't play a role in deep appreciation of art.  Perhaps that is not what you meant.  I am only 60, but I read a lot still.  I do find that a well-researched book is often a better use of my time than wandering around on the internet, but there are also good sources on the web.

What goes into making art does not have to be valued in relation to other people's opinions of that art.  In fact, when an artist starts thinking too much about what other people believe this can get in the way of producing good work.  This is a paradox that artists need to address squarely:  Art is communication, so it does matter what people make of your work, but if you worry too much about the how much the audience understands you, you run the risk of watering down your message and weakening the work.  One way to address this constant problem is to make work that resonates on multiple levels.  Even music works this way.  Most people will respond viscerally to music, loving some music, disliking other music, but musicians with a knowledge of music theory, and history, and the nuances of performance,  will appreciate the same music on additional levels, and will have an even richer experience.  Music is a powerful direct line to the emotions, but it is also an exquisite branch of mathematics.

In practice this business of making work that resonates on multiple levels is tricky.  If the work is too pat and ordinary in it's approach then people my be stopped at this surface level and never bother to investigate any deeper levels that may exist in the work.  On the other hand, a work that is too outlandish may also stop people at the surface.  These considerations are a bigger problem for people like myself who make work in the field of Public Art, since we are literally making the work for everybody.  We don't have the luxury of selling to small group of elites through a gallery that understands their tastes already.  Still, I think these considerations apply to any artwork.  My favorite photos show a mingling of mystery and familiarity.  They are both attractive and puzzling.  They make me want to keep looking at them, and thinking about them.  Best of all are images (or poems or songs or stories or paintings or buildings or gardens or whatever) that I can come back to again and again over the years and keep finding new things in them, new ways to relate to them.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on July 09, 2017, 03:02:54 PM
1.  You sound jaded, as if (very understandably) the art-world makes you squeamish, but I still think that's the marketplace and American culture talking.  As a lifetime professional artist I have learned to try and ignore all that static and concentrate on the artwork itself.  Amateurs may pretend not to be artists when they make art.  Professionals can't do that, but why should we?  It's a profession to be proud of, if you make good work.  I don't think it matters what kind of artist you call yourself; it is the art you produce that matters.  If I understand you correctly, it sounds like you are saying that this kind of self-consciousness gets in the way of seeing and understanding.  If that is what you mean, then I agree with you.

2.  I also don't understand your apparent problem with learning from books.  What you mean by "instinct" needs clarification, but I can't agree that knowledge, such as history or geography, can't play a role in deep appreciation of art.  Perhaps that is not what you meant.  I am only 60, but I read a lot still.  I do find that a well-researched book is often a better use of my time than wandering around on the internet, but there are also good sources on the web.

3.   What goes into making art does not have to be valued in relation to other people's opinions of that art.  In fact, when an artist starts thinking too much about what other people believe this can get in the way of producing good work.  This is a paradox that artists need to address squarely: Art is communication, so it does matter what people make of your work, but if you worry too much about the how much the audience understands you, you run the risk of watering down your message and weakening the work.  One way to address this constant problem is to make work that resonates on multiple levels.  Even music works this way.  Most people will respond viscerally to music, loving some music, disliking other music, but musicians with a knowledge of music theory, and history, and the nuances of performance,  will appreciate the same music on additional levels, and will have an even richer experience.  Music is a powerful direct line to the emotions, but it is also an exquisite branch of mathematics.

In practice this business of making work that resonates on multiple levels is tricky.  If the work is too pat and ordinary in it's approach then people my be stopped at this surface level and never bother to investigate any deeper levels that may exist in the work.  On the other hand, a work that is too outlandish may also stop people at the surface.  These considerations are a bigger problem for people like myself who make work in the field of Public Art, since we are literally making the work for everybody.  We don't have the luxury of selling to small group of elites through a gallery that understands their tastes already.  Still, I think these considerations apply to any artwork.  My favorite photos show a mingling of mystery and familiarity.  They are both attractive and puzzling.  They make me want to keep looking at them, and thinking about them.  (4) Best of all are images (or poems or songs or stories or paintings or buildings or gardens or whatever) that I can come back to again and again over the years and keep finding new things in them, new ways to relate to them.

1.  Yes, I do sound jaded because I pretty much think that I am. I can't subscribe to the idea of people thinking themselves artists simply because they make pictures with a camera; so does a speed trap. And amongst those of us who do make pictures and consider ourselves to be some kind of artist, not everything we do meets even that less than critical standard. It's in the work, not the maker: I can't presently remember who said this, I think it was Jeanloup Sieff, but in essence: there are no artists, only art. Which I take to mean that some of what one does in photography may be art but a lot is not.

I cut my teeth in an industrial photo-unit within a huge engineering company that produces jet engines. The aim of the work was to make images that were as close as dammit to looking at metal. That was a skill, but hardly an art. If there was an art, it lay in the printing where a lot of hand manipulation was almost always necessary. I do the same manipulation today, almost sixty years later, but via a computer, and for me, that's hardly even skill because you can keep messing on and on, bit by bit, like a crossword, until you get it "right" once, and then it's done, and forever after you just churn 'em out on demand. There was both a little art and a lot of skill in hand-printing thirty or so 8 x 10s in a single run at the dish, all at the one time, and have them look identical. And then run another set exactly the same, perhaps a week or a month later.

And yes, I did mean that self-consciousness gets in the way, we agree. But because photography is a reasonable profession for an increasingly shrinking group of people doesn't give it any intrinsic value of its own. Come to think of it, it lost its glamour years ago, but working within certain branches had once been the same as being a rock star. In my case, I can't really pretend it was a career choice at all: it was a burning desire over which rational argument held no sway. I never wanted to be an industrial photographer at all, and when I could go solo I set out to become a fashion photographer in a city where fashion - if you could think of it as such, there and at that time - was done by general studios shooting whisky bottles one day and factory installations the next. I think I became the sort of local go-to fashion guy because I found myself standing in the drizzle on a church step awaiting the arrival of the poor bride, who looked about as miserable as I felt. It was my Damascene moment: I remember clearly thinking of my then hero David Bailey, my own age, driving past in his Rolls, slowing down and smiling at me in my misery. I swore there and then I would never do another wedding again, and if the fashion didn't happen I'd quit. That was was in '66. Fortunately, it came through. But it was oh so close to being the end of the game for this guy.

2.  That one's easy: I feel unable to retain stuff that I read today. I put it down to age and fading ability to remember detail from such a huge overload of information, good or poor, as the Internet and everything else offers.  My poor dome is already just too full of waste I can't dump.

When I was young, I read all that I could find on art, I used to visit art galleries, buy postcards and try to make my own versions of the paintings. I read what I could about photographers (note: photographers, not photography beyond the basic how to process a film) and even late into my fifties I was very aware of who was shooting which calendar with which models and where: I was in the same business and such knowledge was vital. Today, long retired, I neither see many such productions nor are many of the same ones still going strong. So much changed, from money in advertising, how it was shared out and the disaster that political correctness was to become for hundreds of snappers as well as for as many - if not many more - models. Within the world of art, and for convenience I shall include photography here, my interest is strongly focussed on the person and the style of the work is usually already familiar, or the interest in the person wouldn't exist. I enjoy interviews with photographers but have less interest in hearing about how they do what they do. (It doesn't matter: what matters is what they have to show, so I think we agree there too.) I really want to know more about their battles, the challenges they had to overcome. Cameras, lenses, they are all the same except for the brand names - that's of no interest to me.

3.  I'm not so sure I feel totally happy about "art is communication," but it certainly often is. This is seldom better used than in road and similar signs and symbols; airports do it well on an internationally understood manner; great work! Photographs? Paintings? As I say, I'm not so sure. In my amateur status today I really don't intend to communicate anything; I try to recognize something there within the thing that draws me to photograph it. I have no way of making a third part understand what drew me - if I really know myself - without resorting to lengthy captions, and so it doesn't form part of my motivation. That said, I do respond to pictures that somebody else makes that ring bells within me: it's the ready-made version of doing it for myself. As you wrote about reactions to music, it's visceral, and, I'd add, hardly cerebral when it's applied to photography.

4.  Favourite pictures of mine - my own or by others - don't do much of that. I just see great graphics and something, sometimes, somewhere within that I think beautiful. I can't confess to thinking deeply about meaning bcause I feel that's pointless, for whatever I may try to read or load into a picture is just my own attempt at second-guessing the author. Which usually displeases me when folks indulge in that exercise. I  believe we experience, when we experience anything from an artwork, emotion and not meaning which, of course is specific and, if not, largely imaginary and thus a little masturbatory mind game of our own.

Of course, for anybody else, a totally different persective is unavoidable. I'm just the product of my own genes and experiences.

Rob C
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: opgr on July 09, 2017, 03:49:50 PM
The discussion makes me wonder about this: is there not any progression in art? And if there is, what will be the next level? Is there such a thing as personal progression in art? Or in the appreciation of art?

With music btw i find that i am very well capable of identifying good exponents in genres that i thoroughly dislike...!?
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on July 10, 2017, 03:52:10 AM
The discussion makes me wonder about this: is there not any progression in art? And if there is, what will be the next level? Is there such a thing as personal progression in art? Or in the appreciation of art?

With music btw i find that i am very well capable of identifying good exponents in genres that i thoroughly dislike...!?

Good questions.

Did Pablo progress when he left his great craftsmanship period behind and took up the distortions racket? It made him rich, but isn't that, being rich, sort of irrelevant to art itself? Or is it the purpose of being an artist, the dream behind it? But for him, his lifestyle, it was the only way to go. He even took up ceramics, for pity's sake. A one-man corporation, one could say.

Personal artistic progression? Well, time to practise should bring a refinement in techniques, but that's not the same as a refinement in artistic appreciation or expression. In my own case, obviously the one I know best, all that happens is that when the doors to one genre close, I have to explore a new one or just stop doing it at all. So really, I find myself doing things for which I have no history of personal precendent by which to judge, by which to know if I progress or lose what I had.

Music. Yes, I have to agree with you there. That may sound grudging but it's not. I think what happens in such instances is that we can appreciate the skill of a singer or a musician operating in a school of sound not of our choosing, perhaps because sound is a direct-line appeal to our souls, whereas images have first to go through the filter of our eyes, and what we see can shock and displease us more easly than what we hear.

"Video killed the radio star." Hornes, Downes and Woolley, 1978.

I mean, if one is blind, would a woman with a beautiful voice but no looks at all be at a disadvantage to one who had a "usual" voice but the looks of a goddess? In many ways, images can be too powerful for our own good. Hence the tricks of propaganda.

Is it unusual to have indigestion in the morning?

;-)

Rob C



Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on July 10, 2017, 04:47:01 AM
Perhaps the principal reason we can find art and definitions of art difficult is due to marketing.

Last week I found a second hand copy of a book Peter Lindbergh did for charity, Reporters Without Borders (Reporteurs sans Frontières in the original). He writes a quite thoughtful piece about propaganda in the preface, without ever drawing the link that marketing is propaganda: it seeks to persuade you of an untruth, that you need this thing, and that it will make you happy.

The photos are excellent, and back up the essay: stars without much make-up, post-processing or PR approval. The ones of Geraldine Chaplin are particularly stunning, but also of Julianne Moore.

My relationship (one-sided!) with PL is ambivalent, precisely because of his relationship to marketing. I've read more or less the same version of his story of having revolutionised fashion photography by showing the woman behind the make-up, while seeing nothing that wasn't done (at least) by Sieff. But then he works in a world of total marketing, in the sense he helps sell products of no concrete value, purely by image and association (why else do fashion magazines run shots of nude super-models?). He hasn't achieved the freedom Newton had of making images that openly mocked the culture he was working in... perhaps because it is harder now that everything is checked by a committee of Commerce School graduates trying to appear useful.

But he walks the talk.

Sieff talked about commercial work the same way a modern artist (or scientist) talks about funding: he had a project, he just needed someone who would pay him to do it, with as little modification for commerce as possible. I guess Lindbergh is doing the same 40 years later.

To bring it back to the topic, Sieff was scathing of committees that attempted to manage "pure" photographic art, and he seemed to find more liberty using commercial funding than chasing artistic fashion, and there doesn't appear to be any discontinuity between his commercial and personal work.

Of course prior to the 19th century, painting was pretty much all commercial :)

PS Rob, I did encounter a photo of Duchamp's hands the other day, so I guess it remains to interpolate between the hands and the urinal.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on July 10, 2017, 06:18:28 AM
Last week I found a second hand copy of a book Peter Lindbergh did for charity, Reporters Without Borders (Reporteurs sans Frontières in the original). He writes a quite thoughtful piece about propaganda in the preface, without ever drawing the link that marketing is propaganda: it seeks to persuade you of an untruth, that you need this thing, and that it will make you happy.

The photos are excellent, and back up the essay: stars without much make-up, post-processing or PR approval. The ones of Geraldine Chaplin are particularly stunning, but also of Julianne Moore.

My relationship (one-sided!) with PL is ambivalent, precisely because of his relationship to marketing. I've read more or less the same version of his story of having revolutionised fashion photography by showing the woman behind the make-up, while seeing nothing that wasn't done (at least) by Sieff. But then he works in a world of total marketing, in the sense he helps sell products of no concrete value, purely by image and association (why else do fashion magazines run shots of nude super-models?). He hasn't achieved the freedom Newton had of making images that openly mocked the culture he was working in... perhaps because it is harder now that everything is checked by a committee of Commerce School graduates trying to appear useful.

But he walks the talk.

Sieff talked about commercial work the same way a modern artist (or scientist) talks about funding: he had a project, he just needed someone who would pay him to do it, with as little modification for commerce as possible. I guess Lindbergh is doing the same 40 years later.

To bring it back to the topic, Sieff was scathing of committees that attempted to manage "pure" photographic art, and he seemed to find more liberty using commercial funding than chasing artistic fashion, and there doesn't appear to be any discontinuity between his commercial and personal work.

Of course prior to the 19th century, painting was pretty much all commercial :)

PS Rob, I did encounter a photo of Duchamp's hands the other day, so I guess it remains to interpolate between the hands and the urinal.

Hi Graham,

Peter Lindbergh. He has me in several minds at once. I remember when he first began to appear in Brit Vogue, of which there were, at the time, five different UK versions specially designed to carry local department store advertising. Now there's a nugget not everybody has seen before. ;-) I liked what he was doing, though I can't remember ever thinking of him as being innovative in any way, as he - and even Bailey - were simply taking up where at least Sieff and Horvat had already been a decade earlier. It's often asked whether one can be an independent mind in "art" or not; I think the answer, as with everything in this field, has to be ambivalent. From the experience I know best, I can't claim to have modelled myself on anyone, but equally, I can not claim to have been blind to what others were (and are) doing. Peter L has a special talent, though, the ability to handle success and keep it flowing to him. It doesn't come by itself, I don't think.

His latest Pirelli features "stars" supposedly sans makeup, but I seriously doubt it. As I doubt the lack of PS applications. I just think the ones to which his work gets subjected are more subtle, and the people involved have not fogotten the look - and appeal - of real skin. I have always disliked the look of plastic people, nude or otherwise. Make-up has always been used in fashion, it defines looks and eras, even. A difference, PS aside, is this: up to the early 60s models all knew how to do their own make-up and hair; they all carried wigs and a lot of their own costume jewellery. That's not to say pro make-up atists didn't exist: they sure did, but their services were kept for special shoots, often where colour was going to be involved, at which stage there was the matter of co-ordinating the look of a shot in terms of colour; not all eyes are capable of that. A benefit, for me at least, was that when models did their own, un-PSd thing, I could recognize favourite models whereas today, they all look exactly the same clone of another fantasy.

Even Newton lost his freedom. I remember him saying on a Fashion TV slot (Canadian station) that everything had become such a big deal now, cost so much money; freedom to roam the Paris streets like a pack of mad dogs was no longer in a photographer's remit. But Newton was a case in his own right! Was he ever really a fashion photographer, or simply a photographer with a penchant for porn who got away with as much as he got away courtesy the magazines' editors? Terry Richardson was another "fashion" guy who went over the smut edge and AFAIK that was pretty much that. Victims of political correctness perhaps, but apart from that consideration, it is decidedly odd that fashion magazine show so many nipples. Is the fashion magazine world now of a predominantly le's-be-friends readership?

Did Newon mock his world? I'm not so sure. I rather think he enjoyed going along with it, both wherever it led and wherever he could take it. Nice to have lived the seasons between Monaco and California! But visually, he claims to have trawled the Berlin ethic of 20s and 30s supposed aristocratic decadence. Having never set foot in Berlin, I don't know. I would far rather be chasing the 50s and 60s epochs of Rome. I did visit then, and yep, wish I had been able to settle there. Still have that faltering wish.

Glad about the Marcel hands, but was there a direct connection to where the big knobs hung out? That would be novel!

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on July 10, 2017, 11:49:27 AM
Yes, the PL "no make-up" thing is clear and obvious bunk: so much that he must have a different definition of make-up. I see skin to which some make-up has been applied, elsewhere I see make-up under which there must theoretically be skin (unless it was all invented digitally).

I think finally Newton was a documentary photographer: he wanted to tell his version of what the world of the very rich was about, with its codes and ruthlessness and humiliations. That's how I understand his obsessions with S&M iconography, which is not really about sex... it's too cold, it's about the exercise of interpersonal power. I suspect that is what he saw replicated from Berlin in the 30's to Hollywood in the 90's.

He was obviously also happy to live on the scraps from the table... there are a couple of French sociologists who made a career of studying the French aristocracy, they were humoured and invited to parties as amusing oddities, until they said a little too much about Sarkozy. Anyway, they made the comment that within what one counts as "rich", there is a far greater variation than among middle class to poor. They name a chef holding 3 Michelin stars as about the bottom of the ladder with a few million €, tolerated for his skills, but of course the scale runs up to the 10's of billions. To the extent that when Bannier and his cronies defrauded millions from Mme Bettencourt, they couldn't really be prosecuted for harming her fortunes, since the total of their blunder added up to a couple of weeks of her earnings. Within that sliver of the population, knowing one's place and playing the right role can be lucrative, because even large amounts of money are trivial.

An amusing sidelight: I discovered the older son of Carla Bruni-before-Sarkozy is a youtube blogger, militating for veganism. He is remarkably logical, coherent and eloquent... I have to wonder how often he eats with his step-dad.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on July 10, 2017, 04:18:51 PM
I think the thing about real wealth is not widely understood.

I should imagine that a week or two spent wandering along the Côte d?Azur and Monaco would open a few eyes to what it can mean. There are lots of sixty-something-foot boats here, locally, but they are chicken feed. The guy who owns the company that owns Zara has a 72 metre one called Drizzle that apparently has a 100,000 litre fuel tank. Imagine filling her up. I couldn't imagine it. A thing that made me smile in Monte Carlo was the sight of a Ferrari dealership with the cars parked for sale out on the pavement, just like the old UK dealers used to do in some low-cost areas of big cities...

It's all relative, and perhaps a mercy to most of us that we do not get confronted with these contrasts every day of our lives; enough to hate the guy with the bigger BMW or the S Mercedes! ;-) I've been through that sort of dumb self-castigation. Was a time I could hardly walk along the local marina without hating myself for not owning a Sunseeker of a Fairline or something similar. Today, I realise it was just another symptom of the first male menopause. Thank goodness I don't have the yacht problems. Nor the menopauses, either!

Carla Bruni plays a handy little guitar and has a not unpleasant singing voice. Nobody knows you when you're down and out, the old jazz thing, is one of the numbers she sings somewhere on the Internet. Pity she's so skinny, though. Michel Comte shot a series of her in the altogether for an AIDS campaign, I think it was, but I'm sure it was for a charitabe cause. Perhaps I'm mistaken, and it was just very hot in the studio or she wanted a cup of tea... I wonder what she saw in Jagger?

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on July 10, 2017, 04:47:40 PM
Well, Jagger is also pretty skinny :-)

You've seen the photos of her, the family pîano and her dad by Newton?
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on July 10, 2017, 05:08:49 PM
Well, Jagger is also pretty skinny :-)

You've seen the photos of her, the family pîano and her dad by Newton?

From behind, leaning over the keyboard holding some framed pictures? Beautiful ass! Newton always found access somewhere...

Now I need that cup of tea.

;-)

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Beakhammer on July 11, 2017, 12:07:24 AM
1.  Yes, I do sound jaded because I pretty much think that I am. I can't subscribe to the idea of people thinking themselves artists simply because they make pictures with a camera; so does a speed trap. And amongst those of us who do make pictures and consider ourselves to be some kind of artist, not everything we do meets even that less than critical standard. It's in the work, not the maker: I can't presently remember who said this, I think it was Jeanloup Sieff, but in essence: there are no artists, only art. Which I take to mean that some of what one does in photography may be art but a lot is not.

I cut my teeth in an industrial photo-unit within a huge engineering company that produces jet engines. The aim of the work was to make images that were as close as dammit to looking at metal. That was a skill, but hardly an art. If there was an art, it lay in the printing where a lot of hand manipulation was almost always necessary. I do the same manipulation today, almost sixty years later, but via a computer, and for me, that's hardly even skill because you can keep messing on and on, bit by bit, like a crossword, until you get it "right" once, and then it's done, and forever after you just churn 'em out on demand. There was both a little art and a lot of skill in hand-printing thirty or so 8 x 10s in a single run at the dish, all at the one time, and have them look identical. And then run another set exactly the same, perhaps a week or a month later.

And yes, I did mean that self-consciousness gets in the way, we agree. But because photography is a reasonable profession for an increasingly shrinking group of people doesn't give it any intrinsic value of its own. Come to think of it, it lost its glamour years ago, but working within certain branches had once been the same as being a rock star. In my case, I can't really pretend it was a career choice at all: it was a burning desire over which rational argument held no sway. I never wanted to be an industrial photographer at all, and when I could go solo I set out to become a fashion photographer in a city where fashion - if you could think of it as such, there and at that time - was done by general studios shooting whisky bottles one day and factory installations the next. I think I became the sort of local go-to fashion guy because I found myself standing in the drizzle on a church step awaiting the arrival of the poor bride, who looked about as miserable as I felt. It was my Damascene moment: I remember clearly thinking of my then hero David Bailey, my own age, driving past in his Rolls, slowing down and smiling at me in my misery. I swore there and then I would never do another wedding again, and if the fashion didn't happen I'd quit. That was was in '66. Fortunately, it came through. But it was oh so close to being the end of the game for this guy.

2.  That one's easy: I feel unable to retain stuff that I read today. I put it down to age and fading ability to remember detail from such a huge overload of information, good or poor, as the Internet and everything else offers.  My poor dome is already just too full of waste I can't dump.

When I was young, I read all that I could find on art, I used to visit art galleries, buy postcards and try to make my own versions of the paintings. I read what I could about photographers (note: photographers, not photography beyond the basic how to process a film) and even late into my fifties I was very aware of who was shooting which calendar with which models and where: I was in the same business and such knowledge was vital. Today, long retired, I neither see many such productions nor are many of the same ones still going strong. So much changed, from money in advertising, how it was shared out and the disaster that political correctness was to become for hundreds of snappers as well as for as many - if not many more - models. Within the world of art, and for convenience I shall include photography here, my interest is strongly focussed on the person and the style of the work is usually already familiar, or the interest in the person wouldn't exist. I enjoy interviews with photographers but have less interest in hearing about how they do what they do. (It doesn't matter: what matters is what they have to show, so I think we agree there too.) I really want to know more about their battles, the challenges they had to overcome. Cameras, lenses, they are all the same except for the brand names - that's of no interest to me.

3.  I'm not so sure I feel totally happy about "art is communication," but it certainly often is. This is seldom better used than in road and similar signs and symbols; airports do it well on an internationally understood manner; great work! Photographs? Paintings? As I say, I'm not so sure. In my amateur status today I really don't intend to communicate anything; I try to recognize something there within the thing that draws me to photograph it. I have no way of making a third part understand what drew me - if I really know myself - without resorting to lengthy captions, and so it doesn't form part of my motivation. That said, I do respond to pictures that somebody else makes that ring bells within me: it's the ready-made version of doing it for myself. As you wrote about reactions to music, it's visceral, and, I'd add, hardly cerebral when it's applied to photography.

4.  Favourite pictures of mine - my own or by others - don't do much of that. I just see great graphics and something, sometimes, somewhere within that I think beautiful. I can't confess to thinking deeply about meaning bcause I feel that's pointless, for whatever I may try to read or load into a picture is just my own attempt at second-guessing the author. Which usually displeases me when folks indulge in that exercise. I  believe we experience, when we experience anything from an artwork, emotion and not meaning which, of course is specific and, if not, largely imaginary and thus a little masturbatory mind game of our own.

Of course, for anybody else, a totally different persective is unavoidable. I'm just the product of my own genes and experiences.

Rob C

Art is always communicating something, but it may do other things too, and nobody can make you heed the message if you don't feel inclined.  That certainly includes photos and all the visual media, as well as performance and music and acting and all that.  In fact I would say that everything is always communicating, trying to fill up your poor over-stuffed head with even more stuff.  The universe is a veritable beehive of information, infinite buzz.

It's not just about the photo itself, or the photographer's intentions; there's also the people and places and times and things that end up in the photo, all busy trying to communicate something, voluntarily or involuntarily, whether you want to hear it, or not.

A lot of artwork is chock full of stuff that the artist may not have intended to include.  There is nothing wrong with listening to these unintended messages.  There are also certainly photos that are rich in both cerebral and visceral ways, but it's always up to the viewer to find the way in.

I have to admit that the majority my own photographs are not particularly cerebral.  That's not what I enjoy about making photos, but I do enjoy other peoples more cerebral images.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on July 11, 2017, 03:49:42 AM
Art is always communicating something, but it may do other things too, and nobody can make you heed the message if you don't feel inclined.  That certainly includes photos and all the visual media, as well as performance and music and acting and all that.  In fact I would say that everything is always communicating, trying to fill up your poor over-stuffed head with even more stuff.  The universe is a veritable beehive of information, infinite buzz.

It's not just about the photo itself, or the photographer's intentions; there's also the people and places and times and things that end up in the photo, all busy trying to communicate something, voluntarily or involuntarily, whether you want to hear it, or not.

A lot of artwork is chock full of stuff that the artist may not have intended to include.  There is nothing wrong with listening to these unintended messages.  There are also certainly photos that are rich in both cerebral and visceral ways, but it's always up to the viewer to find the way in.

I have to admit that the majority my own photographs are not particularly cerebral.  That's not what I enjoy about making photos, but I do enjoy other peoples more cerebral images.


Just enjoyed a trip through your website: I think I now understand why you tend to expect more from images than do I. I think it's conditioning from and by working in a much more concrete medium where a specific something, a definite entity has, by practical definition, to be created and expressed!

Apart from anything else, the real length of time that has to be applied to any production makes you see it as a birthing, a change from the basic materials through the intervening time of creation right to whatever point you reach where you think it's done, enough! completed already! I can't see my photography like that, in those terms; it's far more a quick grab at the unclear - a shot in the semi-dusk of my own psyche.

Rob
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on July 11, 2017, 04:39:47 AM
For those of you who read French, some thoughts of Edward Hopper... not so much on art, but the specific instance of how he paints and why.
I'll try to find a copy in the original language...

Cher M. Sawyer,

Vous me demandez de faire une chose qui est peut-être aussi difficile que peindre : expliquer la peinture par des mots.

Pour moi, la forme, la couleur et le dessin sont seulement des moyens pour parvenir à une fin, ce sont les outils avec lesquels je travaille et ils m’intéressent pas beaucoup en eux-mêmes. Je m’intéresse avant tout au vaste champ de l’expérience et de la sensation, que ne traitent ni la littérature ni l’art purement plastique . Il convient de dire prudemment « expérience humaine », pour éviter que cela ne soit entendu comme une anecdote superficielle. La peinture qui se limite à la recherche d'harmonies ou de dissonances de couleur et de dessin me rebute toujours.

Mon but en peinture est toujours d’utiliser la nature comme intermédiaire pour tenter de traduire sur la toile ma réaction la plus intime face à un sujet donné telle qu’elle se manifeste quand il me touche particulièrement, quand mes intérêts et mes préjugés donnent une unité aux faits extérieurs. Je ne sais pas exactement pourquoi je choisis certains sujets plutôt que d’autres, à moins que ce ne soit parce que… Je pense que ce sont les meilleurs intermédiaires pour effectuer une synthèse de mon ressenti.

Habituellement, il me faut bien de jours avant que je ne trouve un sujet que j’aime assez pour me mettre au travail. Je passe ensuite un long moment à étudier les proportions de la toile, afin que le résultat soit le plus proche possible de ce que je cherche à faire. La très longue forme horizontale de cette œuvre, Manhattan Bridge Loop, cherche à produire une sensation de grande extension latérale. Prolonger les lignes horizontales principales presque sans interruption jusqu’aux bords du tableau est un moyen de renforcer cette idée et de faire prendre conscience des espaces et des éléments au-delà des limites de la scène. L’artiste apporte toujours la conscience de ces espaces dans l’espace réduit du sujet qu’il a l’intention de peindre, bien qu’à mon avis tous les peintres ne le sachent pas.

Avant de commencer ce tableau, je l’avais planifié très minutieusement dans mon esprit mais, à l’exception de quelques petits croquis en noir et blanc réalisés sur le motif, je n’avais aucune autre donnée concrète ; je me suis contenté de me rafraîchir la mémoire en regardant souvent le sujet. Les croquis préalables ne vous seraient pas très utiles pour comprendre la genèse de l’œuvre. La couleur, le dessin et la forme ont tous été soumis, consciemment ou non, à une considérable simplification.

Puisqu'une part si importante de tout art est une expression du subconscient, il me semble que presque toutes les qualités importantes d’une œuvre sont mises là inconsciemment, et que l’intellect conscient n’est responsable que des qualités mineures. Mais c’est au psychologue de clarifier ces choses-là.

J’espère que ce que j’ai écrit vous sera utile.

Bien à vous,

Edward Hopper
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on July 11, 2017, 04:45:10 AM
The crux is probably this para, which I'll attempt to translate:

Mon but en peinture est toujours d’utiliser la nature comme intermédiaire...

My goal in painting is always to use nature as an intermediary to attempt to translate onto canvas my most intimate reaction when confronted by a given subject, as it manifests in me when it touches me the most profoundly, when my interests and prejudices give unity to the exterior facts. I don't know exactly why I choose certain subjects rather than others, unless it is because... I think that they are the best intermediaries by which to make a synthesis of my feelings.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on July 11, 2017, 05:37:45 AM
Thanks for the piece. I feel he begins much as might a photographer (of street and happenstance!) but then moves away from instinct into the realms of considered (if refreshed, on and off, by relooking) intent, which is now never my way, my MO.

Again, it seems to boil down to the immediacy of photography marking it out as a distinct artform, where a different mindset may be required, and where painterly qualties, paths of thinking, may actually become limitations to accessing the moment. In that context, I wonder again about Leiter, and whether his original paint aspirations were misplaced (as indeed mine) and that his true medium had been, all along, photography and the catching of temporary tunes from the street.

Ah! Gotta fly; my son's just arrived down in the port!

Rob

Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on July 11, 2017, 06:15:41 AM
Possibly so, but the description of the choice of subject echoes HCB's ideas on the choice of the moment: Hopper chose his subjects in a way that seems not so different to the way a photographer might choose what to frame, although the photographer may be obliged to do it faster, and has the luxury of risking more experimentation.

I couldn't find the full text to Hopper's letter to Sawyer, but he covers similar ground in his "notes on painting" that accompanied his first exhibition at the MoMA:
https://biblioklept.org/2014/08/10/notes-on-painting-edward-hopper/

Basically, he says he makes images that indirectly capture his emotions, but doesn't touch on whether this might communicate them to a viewer. I suppose that might define (have defined?) a successful artist...
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on July 11, 2017, 11:41:34 AM
Possibly so, but the description of the choice of subject echoes HCB's ideas on the choice of the moment: Hopper chose his subjects in a way that seems not so different to the way a photographer might choose what to frame, although the photographer may be obliged to do it faster, and has the luxury of risking more experimentation.

I couldn't find the full text to Hopper's letter to Sawyer, but he covers similar ground in his "notes on painting" that accompanied his first exhibition at the MoMA:
https://biblioklept.org/2014/08/10/notes-on-painting-edward-hopper/

Basically, he says he makes images that indirectly capture his emotions, but doesn't touch on whether this might communicate them to a viewer. I suppose that might define (have defined?) a successful artist...


Hmmm... I feel inclined to quote the only relatively late Brian Duffy, from his interview: "never believe anything an artist tells you - they are all liars."

https://www.duffyphotographer.com/videos/bbc-documentary-man-shot-sixties/

I note I remember him as using "they" and not a "we", yet he did do the art school number.

In your own Hopper link above, there's also another to be found to one of the R.W. "Emerson Essays" that makes the art thing even more doubtful. I suspect that as I walk this trail, and that the longer and the more dusty that journey into the setting Sun becomes, the less and less do I end up believing anything much about anything. Which brings me yet again into the space of Leiter's mind, where he is quoted as remarking that he seems to know less and less about anything, and that soon he will know nothing. I met the guy's visual world in '59 or '60, promptly lost all trace of him until he hit Nova in the 70s, where he worked with Soames, yet I can't recall him during that era, despite buying every Nova that ever was published and so it was inevitable I'd have seen his stuff, and I sure didn't forget his name. Yet, ironically, he is right back occupying the plinth space in my inner pantheon that he first stood upon back in the middle of last century.

I'm no expert on the Hopper oeuvre, and off the top of my head can only think of the 'diner' image, despìte having looked at a lot of stuff about him on the Internet. This may go some way to explaining, or at least confirming what I wrote a day or two ago about now finding little luck learning things by reading. But the point I was actually trying to reach was, and still is, that I wonder if photography was a tool in Hopper's tool kit. His style seems very photographically influenced, possibly more by photographic geometry even, that by the then contemporary subject choices. Lots of painters use cameras, mainly (they often claim) as aides-memoire alone...

Rob

Not connected, but may still interest Graham:

http://www.marieclaire.fr/anne-nivat-reportage-dans-quelle-france-on-vit-reporter-de-guerre,1185116.asp
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on July 12, 2017, 03:48:26 PM
Yep. The problem of unemployment is going to be a huge issue throughout Europe, because

a) There is nothing much in the skill set of a large proportion of the French/Italian/Spanish working population that gives them an advantage over someone in India or Thaimand, let alone Romania;

b) Automation means we don't need so many to make the things we want, which already far surpass the things we need.

Only one candidate addressed this in the presidential election... he finished 5th, despite being the official candidate of the Parti Socialist and having a Nobel-winning economist on his team.

It's currently a problem in the south (I guess as much in the US as Europe), but it will spread. And running back to religion is in part a return to traditions to define "us" vs "them", hence intolerance, hence even further fracturing of the Catholic/Muslim divide and battening down against the immigrant flows from Africa and the Middle East.

It's gonna get nasty in 20 years :(
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on July 12, 2017, 05:17:56 PM
Yep. The problem of unemployment is going to be a huge issue throughout Europe, because

a) There is nothing much in the skill set of a large proportion of the French/Italian/Spanish working population that gives them an advantage over someone in India or Thaimand, let alone Romania;

b) Automation means we don't need so many to make the things we want, which already far surpass the things we need.

Only one candidate addressed this in the presidential election... he finished 5th, despite being the official candidate of the Parti Socialist and having a Nobel-winning economist on his team.

It's currently a problem in the south (I guess as much in the US as Europe), but it will spread. And running back to religion is in part a return to traditions to define "us" vs "them", hence intolerance, hence even further fracturing of the Catholic/Muslim divide and battening down against the immigrant flows from Africa and the Middle East.

It's gonna get nasty in 20 years :(


There was a snatch of news today, the start of which I missed, where somebody was pointing out - I can't shake the feeling it was somebody inside the robotics industry - that his work was going to make many people unemployed. His tone was not one of joy.

I don't think we have a twenty-year respite: I think the immigrant explosion (about them) will be much sooner than that; listening quite a lot these days to the news, I  note more and more politicians coming out and saying the once unsayable: folks just don't want to mix, and see no real reason why they should feel any wave of sympathy at all, when the problems are all within the homelands of those people moving out. As, of course, lie the solutions. For pity's sake - we can't even stand most of our own people en masse and avoid the places swathes of them congregate if we possibly can. My own idea of hell lies sixty or so klicks way, on the summer streets of Magaluf or Arenal. And that mostly comes from the UK and Germany. Who needs further afield and even more different and, thus, threatening?


Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on July 14, 2017, 05:26:05 AM
Art? Yes, it most certainly is; she, the Spanish Queen, must be the loveliest "royal" there is.

So cool and apparently self-possessed, always immaculately clad, she epitomises all that class that the gauche (by definition, what else?) left seems to hate. I love her!

http://www.msn.com/es-es/noticias/espana/los-10-mejores-momentos-de-la-visita-de-felipe-y-letizia-a-reino-unido/ss-BBEl6Ar?li=BBpm69L&ocid=UE07DHP&fullscreen=true#image=1

;-)

Rob C
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: RSL on July 16, 2017, 08:46:42 AM
I've let this one run for a while without checking in, but here's a note on my favorite painter: "Nighthawks" is the painted equivalent of street photography. But in paint, Hopper was able to carry it beyond what you might catch with a camera. The emotion is THERE in those poses and attitudes. You can't look at this painting without feeling you've been there, seen that, have chatted with those people at one time or another. It's street at its apex.

On another subject: Brooks Jensen brought up an interesting idea in the latest LensWork. He's making PDF copies of his own work available for free. As he says, he's more interested in distribution of his stuff than in the pittance you're likely to make with gallery sales and book inclusions. Sounds like a great idea.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Rob C on July 16, 2017, 10:15:54 AM
I've let this one run for a while without checking in, but here's a note on my favorite painter: "Nighthawks" is the painted equivalent of street photography. But in paint, Hopper was able to carry it beyond what you might catch with a camera. The emotion is THERE in those poses and attitudes. You can't look at this painting without feeling you've been there, seen that, have chatted with those people at one time or another. It's street at its apex.

On another subject: Brooks Jensen brought up an interesting idea in the latest LensWork. He's making PDF copies of his own work available for free. As he says, he's more interested in distribution of his stuff than in the pittance you're likely to make with gallery sales and book inclusions. Sounds like a great idea.

That's an understandable attitude from Brooks: for a long time I was very reluctant to go online with pictures because of piracy, but the reality - for me at least - is that I feel lucky to have worked when I did and made some kind of reasonable living doing mostly work that I loved. Today, I have very little real energy left and attempting a day's work on some hot beach would probably finish me off. So there's little commercial motivation (real) to care about the future. Having said which, I'd be prepared to fight any copyright theft that I discovered - probably by having old clients take up the fight; that would be neat, poetic justice!
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Beakhammer on July 18, 2017, 03:51:36 PM

Just enjoyed a trip through your website: I think I now understand why you tend to expect more from images than do I. I think it's conditioning from and by working in a much more concrete medium where a specific something, a definite entity has, by practical definition, to be created and expressed!

Apart from anything else, the real length of time that has to be applied to any production makes you see it as a birthing, a change from the basic materials through the intervening time of creation right to whatever point you reach where you think it's done, enough! completed already! I can't see my photography like that, in those terms; it's far more a quick grab at the unclear - a shot in the semi-dusk of my own psyche.


Rob


Just so.  Working iron teaches you to be patient, but also encourages you to make darn sure that you are not wasting your time.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on July 28, 2017, 09:37:33 AM
So this is getting a lot of coverage at the moment

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/olive-cotton-award-photographic-portrait-prize-awarded-to-image-without-a-face-20170724-gxhr4y.html

Note that the photo seen at the head of the link is not the portrait in question... and I'm wondering if the newspaper photog was deliberately taking the piss.
I think my feelings are well voiced by this guy:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN9iJCZ5Il8

Beakhammer might be able to relate to one comment which resonates for me: as someone who has forced myself to learn to weld various metals well enough that they can be used on eg a racing motorcycle without breaking, I'm a bit insulted to see a sculpture with welds that look like they were done without the slightest concern for aquiring the necessary skill...
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: opgr on July 29, 2017, 04:06:06 AM
Beakhammer might be able to relate to one comment which resonates for me: as someone who has forced myself to learn to weld various metals well enough that they can be used on eg a racing motorcycle without breaking, I'm a bit insulted to see a sculpture with welds that look like they were done without the slightest concern for aquiring the necessary skill...

Just watched a docu of some well known sculpturist. He at some point in his career worked on metal sculptures. They interviewed him about it and he mentioned how he was at the time interested in the perception that a flat sculpture seems to change the dimensions of the room as you move around and view the sculpture.

In order to make these sculptures, he had to learn how to weld obviously, but apparently the more problematic issue was how to get the metal sheets perfectly flat. And later he learned about sandblasting to better preserve the paint on the artwork.

But the point is of course that he wasn't interested in creating the perfect piece of art with perfect welds, he was experimenting with the change of perception resulting from such sculptures. Obviously it is useful to be able to weld, and to be able to create flat sheeting, and aid in the longevity of the work, but the initial trigger is not the perfection of craftsmanship.

It is a bit like saying that a true piece of photographic art can only be produced using this-or-that camera with so&so many megapixels whatever. It is in the end irrelevant.

Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: GrahamBy on July 29, 2017, 07:15:42 AM
It's not particularly the question of perfecting craftsmanship... and if truly his interest was to experiment with perception, whatever. That's the process of learning.

However, when it comes to selling art there is a question of respect for public and for oneself. Would you be happy to sell something that is badly executed? A darkroom print that is incorrectly washed, or an inkjet print made with the cheapest possible inks which are known to fade quickly?
That speaks to me of artistic arrogance: "I'm such a wonderful artist that it doesn't matter that I couldn't be arsed to practise welding for a few days."

It reminds me of the cynical joke "How do you know if a photo is art? If it's out of focus and under-exposed, it must be art."

The extreme example occurred a couple of years ago when a large sculpture built over the top of a pedestrian street in Brussels collapsed. Several tons of wood came down, because the sculpteur had no idea how to build a structure that would stay up. It's purely luck that no one was killed.
Title: Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
Post by: Beakhammer on July 29, 2017, 03:15:51 PM
Badly made art gives art a bad name, makes life harder for artists and puts off a lot of people who might otherwise support the arts.  It is very very rare that making something badly actually adds value to the ideas being expressed by the work.  Adding value or depth to the work would be the only excuse for making something badly, and it is very seldom a good idea.  There is another factor  that grew in the 20th century, which is the tendency for some artists to scorn craftsmanship as a way to distance themselves from the reality that making sculpture is blue-collar work, and a parallel message was to use poor craftsmanship to signal that the intellect was ascendent over the somehow more plebeian instinct to make something well.  All of these trends are unfortunate when they show up, but I think there are plenty of examples of artists who are not afraid to make beautiful, strong and well-made objects.  Of course, some artists are simply incompetent, as in any other field.  There are massive bridges and buildings that have collapsed prematurely as well as sculptures.  People sometimes use "artistic license" to excuse bad craftsmanship, but that's all it is, an excuse.

Of course this sort of discussion will lead to disagreements about exactly how well-made something needs to be.  There are two reasons to make something well, these are longevity, and message.  Sometimes an artist may have a good reason to make something that looks ugly, or weak, but a truly skilled artist can make a strong work that looks weak.  A really good artist can make something so ugly that it is beautiful.  These kinds of tensions can be part of great work, but shoddy craftsmanship is almost never a good idea.