Pages: [1] 2   Go Down

Author Topic: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?  (Read 35006 times)

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 14691
Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« on: August 10, 2013, 07:29:08 AM »

After many decades of observation and analysis (obviously including self-) I have to conclude that the visual message of Art, the search thereof, is bunk: thereís no such beast.

The quality of Art, however, is to be found in the execution; the value in the perception, in the very religious, political, societal and market forces that cause it to be considered Art.

For the artist thereís the outlet for, and expression of, some skills. For the independent viewer an endless puzzle of grading, according to the rules of some game never quite understood.

In an ideal world the artist is allowed carte blanche, freedom to create whatever turns him/her on. Clients may or may not be obligatory depending upon the status of the artistís financial resources. A positive to having clients is the vague (when not direct) discipline they might impose on the nature of the output Ė the artwork. They cause the creation of timescale, often an essential factor in making the artist do anything any time soon; artists are noted for being denizens of a world without temporal restrictions  - of an elastic mindset, if you will. They can either beaver away furiously through the night, depriving themselves of sleep and ruining any family relationships they might have otherwise enjoyed or, just as likely, put everything off until a more auspicious moment drifts along, spending much time in the local pub discussing the pros and cons with others of similar bent or, as likely, just enjoying the drinking.

Whether that ideal world without restrictions has existed broadly, is the exception, or has even produced much of worth is debatable; there have certainly been gentleman artists before now, as gentleman photographers too (I intentionally mention the latter just in case they have been thought excluded from the general category of artist), but it seems to me that even they usually require the outlet of a magazine or gallery in order to motivate themselves into production. That they (gentlemen artists) are often as good at what they do as the less fortunate members of society is not in question. In fact, they sometimes have to fight even harder against the odds to get due recognition: Snowdon and Lichfield were both fine photographers, but I groaned at the number of times that I heard people put their work down for their birth into wealth (so much envy in this world!). I was well aware of Armstrong-Jones and his outstanding work before he met and married Margaret! Lichfield performed a remarkable trick in hanging on to the same calendar client for many, many years and producing memorable work more often than not. And that ainít easy, especially when dealing with the same company for so long that the problem of Ďwhat next?í raises its inevitable head.

But in all of this work, where any message?

As alluded to before, one might point to the work of the photojournalists, expecting to find it there, but is there really message? There might be courage, recklessness, and yes, even geometry, but message? Is photojournalism even an art or is it acute observation, which may or may not be the same things at all. And what about landscape painters and photographers? Can they create message or, as with the photojournalists, can they but capture what is already there or happening or about to happen, regardless of their presence? Few landscape artists can justly be held responsible for escalated violence and even deaths, but war photographers are a case apart: can their presence actually cause the events to occur? Are they making a situation happen, showing a deadly creativity in frightening situations? But are they saying anything?

There can be plenty of pretty, moments of madness and an excess of pity/exploitation (difficult to separate, at times) for humanity but that is not a message: itís become a theme, a genre. War junkies donít offer you message: they show you human nature and callousness; as do others, they show you the thing, not what you can or should think about it: that comes from your own ideas and interpretations of what you see before you. A corpse is a corpse is a corpse. Unless you know the corpse, when your views become personal.

Emotion and message: different things, in my opinion.

Rob C

WalterEG

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1155
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2013, 04:20:48 PM »

That's funny Keith.

Message received and understood.

Logged

RSL

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 8348
    • http://www.russ-lewis.com
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2013, 06:05:56 PM »

I think it depends on how you define "message," Rob. I've forgotten who said it, though I think it was Archibald MacLeish, or exactly how the statement went, but the meaning's always stuck with me: Prose is like a train that travels from an origin to a destination. It carries and delivers meaning. But good poetry (as opposed to doggerel) is like the dance. It conveys an experience that's beyond what we usually call meaning. I don't think it's unreasonable to call both of these results "message."

It seems to me there are two kinds of visual art too. I'll fall back on the difference between documentary photography and street photography to make the point.

A purely documentary photograph conveys meaning: "This is the way it was." We can argue whether or not the fact that the photographer crops reality means it isn't necessarily "the way it was," but in documentary the purpose of the work is to convey meaning.

The purpose of street photography, on the other hand, isn't to convey meaning, at least not in its literal sense. It's the dance. If it's really good it conveys experience that transcends our literal definition of meaning.

I can extend the same argument to painting, and I think to music, though in the case of music it would be harder to distinguish between the train and the dance.

I'd quibble with your use of the word "emotion" in your last sentence. Certainly good prose conveys a message, though it also can convey emotion. But what really good poetry or non-documentary visual art conveys goes beyond emotion, though emotion may be part of the tool it uses to convey what it exists to convey: a transcendental experience; something you can't put into words. If you can put it into words either the poem or the art failed or you just didn't get it.

Eric Myrvaagnes

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 11179
    • http://myrvaagnes.com
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2013, 07:56:38 PM »

Oh, "Message!"
I thought Rob was talking about "Massage," probably by one of his former models, and he's complaining because he can't get no massages no more.   :(
Logged
-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my photo website. New images each season. Also visit my new website: http://ericneedsakidney.org

kikashi

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 5419
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2013, 04:11:41 AM »

Oh, "Message!"
I thought Rob was talking about "Massage," probably by one of his former models, and he's complaining because he can't get no massages no more.   :(

I love American triple negatives!

Jeremy
Logged

Eric Myrvaagnes

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 11179
    • http://myrvaagnes.com
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2013, 09:19:50 AM »

I love American triple negatives!

Jeremy
Well, I prolly shudda said "cain't" for "can't" and "mo" for "more," but I warn't thinkin' two kleer.
Logged
-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my photo website. New images each season. Also visit my new website: http://ericneedsakidney.org

Justinr

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1734
    • Ink+images
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2013, 03:04:54 PM »


Emotion and message: different things, in my opinion.

When was it suggested otherwise?
Logged

Iluvmycam

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 533
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2013, 03:36:27 PM »

OP, I don't get into all the BS. Either it is love at first sight on not with a pix.
Logged

Michael Haspert

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 38
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2013, 11:32:23 PM »

If you've not heard of him already, check out A.C Danto, whose contributions basically changed the philosophy of art in the 20th century.
A VERY compressed summary of part of his conclusion is that if you can't ask, "What's it about?" and have that be a sensible question, then it's not art of any kind.
It is a bit of work to get through his 200 page "Transfiguration of the Commonplace", but worth it if you have any taste for philosophical debate in the first place. 
Logged

Gulag

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 336
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2013, 01:47:43 AM »

 removed
« Last Edit: August 24, 2014, 01:20:04 AM by Gulag »
Logged
"Photography is our exorcism. Primitive society had its masks, bourgeois society its mirrors. We have our images."

ó Jean Baudrillard

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 14691
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2013, 05:14:53 PM »

Thanks for varied inputs!




1. Emotion and message: different things, in my opinion.

When was it suggested otherwise?  Ö Justinr

Okay, you ask a question. But I wasnít supplying an answer to one: I was making a statement, not referring to a previous question, so your question is redundant.

2.  That's funny Keith. Message received and understood. Ö WalterEG

Yes, Keithís message was clear. For you to understand what he meant, though, it required three things:
a. image;
b. a caption;
c. the situation which led to the publication of Keithís link.

Without those additional two factors, the purely visual would have had no message relevant to this thread. So, whilst it is an everyday event to add message via captions, there remains no finite, intrinsic truth or message in image Ė it is variable, so nothing to do with authorís intent: itís interpretation, which isnít message.

Its just the same as advertising: you tie together disparate things to create yet another: the sales pitch, the message.

3. OP, I don't get into all the BS. Either it is love at first sight on not with a pix. Ö iluvmycam

I couldnít agree more: like I suggested, itís emotion. At best!

4. Russ

I agree with you regarding writing - it can be very precise and also as vague as one might wish; but my proposition was about images. (I should have written still images Ė but I had imagined that would be obvious by dint of where we find ourselves: LuLa; the Ďamateurí sections, devoted to non-motion.)

But I havenít been convinced that content, which can suggest many things, is capable of revealing message, which I read to be a precise thing, not a vague suggestion. Which then becomes the Ďtruthí in the eye of the viewer and not of the author. How can that possibly be message? Itís reversed: itís interpretation.

Iím currently spending more time than is good for my circulation slumped in a typistís chair, reworking my website. Of the hundreds of images Iím looking at every day, all my own over-familiar work, I see lots of memory, lots of failed ideas and near misses and some shots I would be happy to have staked my reputation upon. But I see no message. I see locations, beauty, Ďhand of some maní, sport, riches etc. but no message. And no, not in any other websites either.

I simply happen to have finally concluded that we like to think we are part of something mysterious, an art form that is way, way deep, but it isnít: itís all surface. And upon that surface we, the viewers, build our own, voyeuristic interpretations and imaginings of a moment in the life of a photographerís finger.

Rob C

opgr

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1123
    • theimagingfactory
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2013, 01:47:17 AM »

Poultry factory by Burtynsky

And no, you don't need the title to understand it is a poultry factory, since the real print is like 6 feet high with details so sharp, it will pale digital cameras for years to come.

The image contains that exact type of ambiguity that may well be a part of any good expression of art (and that Russ so desperately seeks in streetphotography), and yet the message conveyed can hardly be called ambiguous. Interpretative sure, but any reception of message is interpretative. But you can't separate this interpretation from interaction, because, as with all successful communication, it requires an overlap in previous experience by both the sender as well as the receiver in order to convey a message and have it understood with reasonable accuracy.

And contrary to popular believe, it is additionally interesting to read the Artist Statement that goes with this series and some of his other works, since it is a good example of a statement complementary to (but not necessary for) the message.

Speaking of Artist Statement: Since you are busy with your website, do you also plan to add an Artist Statement? Could I suggest that, in any case and regardless of your own sentiments regarding such statements, that you might try writing one about your own images? I for one, would be interested in reading it.
Logged
Regards,
Oscar Rysdyk
theimagingfactory

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 14691
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2013, 03:14:52 AM »

Poultry factory by Burtynsky

And no, you don't need the title to understand it is a poultry factory, since the real print is like 6 feet high with details so sharp, it will pale digital cameras for years to come.

The image contains that exact type of ambiguity that may well be a part of any good expression of art (and that Russ so desperately seeks in streetphotography), and yet the message conveyed can hardly be called ambiguous. Interpretative sure, but any reception of message is interpretative. But you can't separate this interpretation from interaction, because, as with all successful communication, it requires an overlap in previous experience by both the sender as well as the receiver in order to convey a message and have it understood with reasonable accuracy.

And contrary to popular believe, it is additionally interesting to read the Artist Statement that goes with this series and some of his other works, since it is a good example of a statement complementary to (but not necessary for) the message.

Speaking of Artist Statement: Since you are busy with your website, do you also plan to add an Artist Statement? Could I suggest that, in any case and regardless of your own sentiments regarding such statements, that you might try writing one about your own images? I for one, would be interested in reading it.


Thanks for your reply, Oscar, but thereís a problem: I donít believe in statements of that sort, and to make one of my own would really be another hypocrisy too far!

Another aspect of the thing is that my site, from the beginning, was dedicated to my late wife. She knew me from when I was seventeen; thereís nothing worth knowing about me that she didnít know. From my highs to my frequent lows, she shared it all and provided the sanity, the refuge, the spiritual and emotional nourishment that kept me going, day after day and year after year, through good ones and poor, and there were plenty of both.

My pictures are but records of where we went, what we shared. Though she was no photographer and didnít even like it much, thinking it one of lifeís oddest, most awkward career choices, she did all she could to make it succeed.

Iím not unaware that success in career comes from both oneís self and the interaction with those who decide to give one a try; thatís why I felt it a duty to thank publicly those people who made real, life-changing decisions in my favour. Itís not easy to hire a snapper: you never can tell how good, crazy or hopeless he/she will be on the day.

So really, when you know the above about snapper and site, whatís real thatís left to report with the pen?

Ciao Ė

Rob C
« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 03:17:39 AM by Rob C »
Logged

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 14691
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2013, 04:31:32 AM »



You need a caption?


"Sacrilege"?

As someone once said: I'd give all the paintings of Christ in this world for a single photograph.

Rob C

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 14691
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2013, 04:33:41 AM »

Thanks for your reply, Oscar, but thereís a problem: I donít believe in statements of that sort, and to make one of my own would really be another hypocrisy too far!

Rob C



Oscar, I bowed to pressure and just put in an Artist's Statement at the end of Notice in the website.

Rob C

opgr

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1123
    • theimagingfactory
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2013, 04:42:58 AM »


Oscar, I bowed to pressure and just put in an Artist's Statement at the end of Notice in the website.

Rob C

Ah, trying desperately to have your pictures be worth no words at all. And succeeding. Your art is surface art, sir.

And no, you never indicated otherwise. But you keep telling me I have to feel the beauty in my gut somewhere. But an empty feeling of a missed lunch seems all I detect.

;-)
Logged
Regards,
Oscar Rysdyk
theimagingfactory

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 14691
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2013, 09:04:25 AM »

Ah, trying desperately to have your pictures be worth no words at all. And succeeding. Your art is surface art, sir.

And no, you never indicated otherwise. But you keep telling me I have to feel the beauty in my gut somewhere. But an empty feeling of a missed lunch seems all I detect.

;-)


Not today: I had a lousy lunch which I really wish that I had missed: paella that was a reheat and frito Mallorquin that was probably the leftovers from yesterday or possibly the day before! (My own Sunday paella, made by my gentle hand, is wonderful.) Some you win, and some you lose: yesterday's lunch was fantastic- fish soup and calamar ŗ la plancha - same place, same exhausted chef, go figure. And you want excitement in art! Luncheon roulette is enough for any sane man-about-village.

Rob C

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 14691
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2013, 09:19:22 AM »

Rob, I'm staggered that a photographer who has had his say in over 10,000 posts here on LuLa believes he has never had anything to say with a camera.


Keith, what would you have me say? Should I pretend that all my pictures were an expression of the impermanence of now captured on the transient latency of film? An ephemeral moment preserved on the butterfly wings of perhaps, only to be fixed forever in the acid baths of the darkroom?

Man, I could write crap like the above for ever and not run out of words, metaphors to mix nor infinitives to avoid splitting...

So what do your images offer as message'? I see plenty of beauty, travel images and records of what's decaying all around us as we sleep it all away. But that ain't you: that's my take on what I see. I have no idea what you see and where you envisage the client structure to lie. For all I know your vision might be of a symphony in colour, a magical meld of moods and impressions I have never had the pleasure of enjoying.

Writing is easy and as I think I've said before, can be as explicit or as opaque as the mood takes. Images are fixed as what they are, bound by the difficulties that mechanics and electronics put in the way of free expression. Worse, they are old before you see them.

;-)

Rob C

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 14691
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2013, 11:49:48 AM »

Rob, I wouldn't have you say anything, it's for you to decide.

I can't believe that your motivation consisted solely of earning a buck and getting one up on your competitors. Just because many artist's statements or comments on their work are complete bollocks doesn't mean yours has to be. As far as my own work is concerned I comment where I feel it is necessary as can be seen on my website. Now, it might be that you think that what I have to say about my own work is complete bollocks, thatís your call.

You obvious have had a great affinity for and rapport with women and have gone to great lengths to capture their power, beauty and sensuality. But WTF do I know, perhaps you should just replace WYSIWYG with WTF, or WTF is the point?

Hey, WTF, I'm done.

But Keith, that is not the totality of what I have claimed:

a.  earning a buck and getting ahead of the local pack was truly a delight, and winning a commission more cool than I can say; I thoroughly enjoyed much of my work Ė that didnít mean I was doing anything other than making the best shots I knew how, which was bliss enough;

b.  I never passed an opinion about what you have to say of your own work Ė its up to you to say something or leave it open to viewer opinion; I did just that in my preamble on my own website;

c. thanks for the comment on my aptitude for my genre Ė appreciated indeed! Again, I enjoyed it mostly, it gave me my dreams Ė Vogue and calendars Ė and whatís not (for me) to like about that? But itís all about pretty pictures or itís about nothing. For me, getting that right, on and off, is something really, really worthwhile. Still is, when I find the enthusiasm for something special.

I just canít understand why anyone feels there should be more. Isnít it enough to create beauty and enjoy those moments when success comes tripping along? Maybe I need to be more cerebral Ė but thatís a frightening direction for stumbling feet!

;-)

Rob C

« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 11:51:37 AM by Rob C »
Logged

fredjeang2

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1085
    • on YouTube
Re: Visual Art: is it bereft of Message?
« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2013, 03:53:54 AM »

The meaning is only linked to the programming.
It means that something has to be previously "learned"
(Some datas have to be stored in our brain)
For ex, the Meca cube has a meaning for the muslman.
For a mative american it's just a form with no particular
Association.
And the programming generate value system and
Emotional patterns that aren't under our control
Precicely because we are conditionned from the very roots.
Rob's women are only considered as beauty in a
Specific context of time and space. But if Rob were
Born 200 years earlier, those same bodies would
Have been considered as hugly. That's what does a
Guy like Botero;  he paints bodies that are the exact
Opposite of what our time and space is considering
Acceptable as woman's body shape.
The locations: beaches, boats, sunshine...has
A lot to do with the congťs payťs culture. Not such
A long time ago, beaches, sunshine, hollidays and. Bikinis
Were absolutly irrelevant.
A high heel is not a sexy object by itself. It only becomes
Sexy if there is a specific data that tells us what it "is"
And the kind of emotions that derivate from the function.
But for a man from the Fuji islands, a high heel is
An uncomfortable and ridiculous way to walk, untill
Western culture comes into his world and pass the
Information: "hey look, this shape is 1:associated with
The woman gender, 2: it is sexy"
Doc Martens were just orthopedical shoes that nobody
Wanted until the punk fashion. Now Doc Martens is
A respected and desirable brand. The datas changed.
Got a few Clarks in my shoe collection. I remember that
When I was young, Clarks were not desirable at all. Now
The same brand generates desire.
Same happens in art.
The very same definition of art fluctuates a lot within
The space-time and therefore all our beleifs.
All is unsubstancial but only a programming.
All this is a big illusion folks.


 
« Last Edit: August 15, 2013, 04:07:18 AM by fredjeang2 »
Logged
Pages: [1] 2   Go Up