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Author Topic: Art and the plasticity of its forms  (Read 20610 times)

visualizer

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Art and the plasticity of its forms
« 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.
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Rob C

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2016, 04:14:59 AM »

Welcome aboard, hope you enjoy the trip!

Rob C

RSL

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #2 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.

Rob C

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #3 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

visualizer

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #4 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. 
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RSL

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #5 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.

visualizer

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #6 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.
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RSL

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2016, 10:29:51 AM »

Hi John, I'd post 'em on User Critiques.

BobDavid

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #8 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.
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RPark

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #9 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." 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.
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RSL

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #10 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."

RPark

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #11 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.
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Rob C

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #12 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

GrahamBy

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #13 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.
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Rob C

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #14 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

GrahamBy

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #15 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?
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RPark

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #16 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.
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GrahamBy

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #17 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"?
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Rob C

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #18 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

GrahamBy

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Re: Art and the plasticity of its forms
« Reply #19 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...
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