Can Art be a Goal or is Art what we call Work that Sustains our Interest?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by mizore, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Some of this relates to my experiences as a science fiction writer in an English department. People declared that they were writing literature, but that to me seemed like writing with an intentionality toward a place in history rather than focusing on quality of the work at hand. Most of what the local academics were doing was not particularly original or interesting, but it had some of the surface features of more interesting writer's work.
    Elsewhere, I've discussed whether art was a class marker, that what certain privileged people did was art; what the rest of us did was entertainment, illustration, snapshots.
    Too often the intention of the self-declared artist is to be superior to some group of other people by being different, not by transcending the formalities of a genre. Ansel Adams even expressed reservations about photographers who focused too much on being artists and refused to actually work professionally as photographers (Adams's Autobiography.
    Let's throw art forgeries and Gertrude Stein's comment that masterpieces exist for themselves, not for a purpose (perhaps that's my take on Stein's comments). If we're trying to do Art and aim the work at such an abstraction, will we always end up with a different set of cliches than the snapshooters?
    Most of fiction and poetry written by professors who sneered at science fiction was more about looking like literature than being compelling reading for any audience. But lot of genre fiction is formalist in a not always convincing way, too.
    Forgeries appear to convince only the generation of the forger because he's playing with the assumptions of his time about what the painters he's forging were doing and what great art is. When those assumptions change, his forgeries fall apart.
    Is trying to write Literature or make Art over all other considerations useful? Why?
     
  2. jtk

    jtk

    "Is trying to write Literature or make Art over all other considerations useful? Why?"

    RB, good question, good references (Stein, Adams).
    I don't think you've stated an overall view from which I'd differ: you've asked real questions.
    ...however...either-or formulations, this-or-that, this-vs-that, which-is-better, are too primative even to relate to understanding or awareness. Usually self-congratulatory, as you've hinted, they are in line with, but not the same as the smaller case in your important Ansel Adams idea.
    "Art" and "Literature" are words, not concepts. And yes, they are usually employed to puff oneself up, wanting to seem more perceptive than others about a work product (such as a photograph or written piece). Worse, if we're "trying" to create something to fit those labels we're employing an obvious, crude, self limiting mentality.
    "Trying" is more than a word: it can be an obstruction to awareness, according to my tiny understanding of Buddhist thought.
     
  3. I use the word "art" descriptively rather than to categorize.
    I know many artists, particularly poets, with inferiority complexes. They use the word because it's what they do.
    The artist may be different, which is not better. Accountants are different from lawyers who are different from graphic designers. Maybe nurses are better than all of us . . . I don't know. I figure we each contribute what we can and what we want to. The competitive side of this dialogue doesn't interest me that much.
    I don't think artists have to transcend the formalities of a genre. Some just do what they do well. Not all are as transformational as Steichen or Picasso.
    I admire difference (uniqueness). The goal of being different and the goal of being superior, to me, are not the same thing nor does one imply the other. There is a significant aspect of individuality that many artists aspire to. Art also has a social and historical aspect.
    People sneer. Not just artists. Not just lawyers. Not just politicians. Not just photographic hacks with big mouths. That some sneer shouldn't taint others. Artists assert their egos. Some will read that as sneering. Others not.
    No. If we're "trying" to do art, we will not always end up with a different set of clichés. We will often end up with art that expresses something significant and is received as such.
    An experienced and admired photographer asked me early on what I was after with a particular photo. After some time, he said it sounded like I was just trying to make a good photo. He was right and I learned something. I try to concentrate on what's in front of me, learn my craft, express myself, or accomplish a certain goal. Trying to make a good photo each time would be distracting to me. But that doesn't mean I can't acknowledge to myself that I make art and set that as a more overarching goal.
    Some assume that because one refers to oneself as an artist, that label is the primary focus. But it can be descriptive rather than prescriptive. I may take photos because I like doing that, because it fulfills a desire/need, because I can express myself well by doing it, and because I think I do it well. And then I can describe that process as art. Lawyers write briefs, get clients out of jail, convince juries of stuff. Are they doing that because they want to be known as "a lawyer"? I don't know and don't much care. I'm interested in the job they do, how they go about it, and the results they get. Pretty much the same with artists.
    Many artists I know are not privileged. They are struggling to make ends meet.
    Adams's thoughts on professionalism say something about Adams. I don't find it a particularly compelling notion. I know many artists who don't work professionally at their art. Like any other word, "artist" can be used superficially or not.
    Art has a non-utilitarian aspect, which would seem to go along with your interpretation of Stein. Aesthetics can be about contemplation/appreciation. Contemplation and appreciation might even have a purpose. I think much, but not all, art does serve a purpose. There is aesthetic purpose . . . there is social and political advocacy . . . it can be used to propagandize. Or it can just be.
    I try to make art because it keeps me challenged, it frees me, and it makes me continue to reach beyond myself. That's how I think about it, but it's not necessarily how I do it. To do it, I stay in touch with myself, I learn my craft, I relate to my subjects, I talk to people about looking and seeing, I try new things, I learn from others and from history, I allow myself to be influenced and seek to mingle that influence with a personal vision.
     
  4. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, I have a brother who is a painter. He's definitely struggling, but prefers it to the kind of life he'd have to lead in the business world. I used to write poetry as my main activity, and, years later ran into someone in academia who was too invested in reverse snobbery about s.f. to allow that I was a poet. I wrote poetry, but I was really an s.f. writer in her eyes. For me, s.f. is a form, not an identity.
    What does someone mean that I wrote poetry at one time but am not/was not a poet? What is it about this culture, or perhaps this species, that wants people to become nouns rather than do verbs.
    Does this help improve what we're doing?
     
  5. jtk

    jtk

    ...some photographs are described as "poetic."
    I think that means there is a sense of something extra, something ephemeral, perhaps resonance or grace. To describe something using a term that's relatively easily defined (poetic) communicates for me. To say instead that a photograph is "art" is a way of saying nothing in particular, it does not communicate. One word has substance, the other seems devoid.
    Perhaps Rebecca Brown's writing abilities will bring meaning to the routinely abused word.
    For me "art" refers to something nearly magic, something evoked by fey skills. Not merely "pretty" or "graphic." Mine's not commonly accepted useage, which is the reason I don't bother using the term.
    Some use the term constantly, like soldiers swearing the F-word, carefully avoiding risk of actual expression of meaning , which seems to mean it means nothing...even to them. :)
     
  6. Yes. A personal development. Progression of life and culture. Record of emotional experience. Way of assumption of responsibility.
    Art can be a goal.
    The existence of the mediocre, forgery, fake and such should not be taken as excuse for not doing your thing.
     
  7. "What does someone mean that I wrote poetry at one time but am not/was not a poet?" --Rebecca
    Did you ask the person that said this to you?
    If I said about someone that I thought they wrote poetry but were not a poet, I'd mean something along the lines of, "they write it but aren't immersed in it."
    I think some people will say "he's not an artist" or "she's not a poet" if they simply don't like your stuff. I think there are good and bad artists, so I don't limit calling something "art" only to stuff I like.
    "What is it about this culture, or perhaps this species, that wants people to become nouns rather than do verbs." --Rebecca
    I haven't experienced that. I use and I mostly find that others use various labels to describe me (i.e., son, cousin, photographer, student, gay, philosopher, artist, typesetter, waiter, Jew, man, guy, "girlfriend," dude, sweetie, friend) as a shorthand. People who know me know more than what these labels each convey. The nouns don't limit me and don't objectify me. It's just how language works. These words are conveniences and hints. When I want more understanding, I discuss it further, like we do here.
    If I refer to myself as an artist, I'm providing a picture of myself creating things, using my imagination along with a skill, and probably producing something that will stir people's emotions and tastes . . . among other things.
    The other day I was talking about photographs I'm doing for a special needs community where my nephew lives. Out of convenience, when I switched gears to talk about a photo I made for myself and different considerations regarding it, I called this non-documentary photo an art photo. There's nothing more elevating about the art photo than the photos I'm doing with and for my nephew's community, which has been one of the more uplifting experiences I've ever had. So talking about art was not meant to elevate the photo or me by any means. I was describing a different mindset. At some other time, I might refer to the artistic aspects of the work with my nephew's community. I could explain that as well.
    "Artist" and "photographer" are usually the beginnings of conversations, not the end.
     
  8. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I'm curious about how we visually perceive, what timing does a photograph have compared to our sight, what are the things in a photograph that make it vivid. The label art, to me seems somewhat problematic if it's in opposition to other uses of photography.
    The whole science fiction is/isn't literature issue seems (or at least seems to me) to be relevant. I think perhaps you're defining art more functionally, but the people in academia tended to see s.f. as in opposition to literature, which is what they claimed were doing, though not all that interestingly in all cases.
    If you were doing documentary photographs, would you do the work differently? Isn't part of your practice documentation of various sorts, actually?
    There's a side of me that wants to say, just do. Let other people put on the labels.
    Some of this is not wanting to be caught between the contradictions I got caught between in writing and seeing them lurking in photography, though not as much the binary opposition that genre vs. literature is.
     
  9. For the artist, art is not a goal, it's what s/he makes, and a way of life. A lot of art doesn't sustain anyone's interests, and it may be either dull/boring/cliche'd/etc. mediocre, okay, or truly excellent and ahead of its time. It's not just Van Gogh, either. It happens with photographers, too.
    [RB] " People declared that they were writing literature, but that to me seemed like writing with an intentionality toward a place in history rather than focusing on quality of the work at hand."
    People obsessing on themselves? Imagine that. Thank God that never happens in other human endeavors.
    [RB] " Elsewhere, I've discussed whether art was a class marker, that what certain privileged people did was art; what the rest of us did was entertainment, illustration, snapshots."
    Privileged? Being an artist is for most, a one-way ticket to instant poverty and obscurity. A poll in the late 70's showed that the number of people who knew of who Ansel Adams was a tiny fraction of those who knew who Gilligan was. So much for fame. The above notion happens, as it does in all human endeavors, but here it is being used in reverse to accuse and label a huge number of people as snooty and biased, when, it appears that it's the OP who's doing the very thing she's fingerpointing at.
    Ansel said a lot of things....he also said: "Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art . "
    [A sideboard, still obliquely related to this thread] His contretemps with the incomparable Imogen Cunningham over commercial work, for those that know the story, is one of the funniest and good-natured head-buttings between two greats who admired and platonically loved each other in the history of the medium. Here's Ansel's version...[Brackets are mine]
    "Imogen used to give me a hard time about what she considered my "too-commercial" side. That was probably another legacy of her being around painters so much. She felt I wasn't enough the artist, wasn't following the studio tradition. Art with a capital A. She had had some commercial jobs, and I think she didn't trust advertising. So she didn't do commercial work to speak of, just a few portraits. [For Vanity Fair] She did make photographs of artists' works, and Albert Bender got her some jobs. In fact he bought photographs from her. He gave me a print of the Magnolia Blossom , one of the most beautiful photographs I've ever owned. [Highest praise coming from Adams]
    "In any case, I know she disapproved of that Hills Brothers coffee can that came out about 1968 - the one with one of my Yosemite snow scenes on it. She made that very clear. She sent me one of the cans with a marijuana plant growing in it! And then there was the television commercial I did for Datsun. For every test-drive a potential customer took, Datsun would have a seedling planted by the U.S. Forest Service. I thought it was a pretty good idea to get some trees planted, and if you have to have cars, at least Datsuns get good mileage. But Imogen didn't see it that way. I heard about the takeoff she did of it in Ann Hersheys movie, selling grave plots. I can just imagine her chuckling over the idea.
    "I used to say that Imogen's blood was three percent acetic acid. She seemed to have an acid reaction to so many things, and she could be very abrupt. But she had another side too. I remember the evening that Dorothea Lange told us that her marriage to Maynard Dixon was breaking up. Dorothea came in, took a deep breath, and said, "I'm leaving Maynard." Well, it was a harrowing moment. We were all close friends of both Maynard and Dorothea; no one knew what to say. And Imogen just burst into tears! I would have expected her to be very stoic, to make some pointed remark. But she cried. I think a lot of that "acidity" was put on, and deep down she was really very soft, very emotional."


    http://www.photoliaison.com/Imogen_Cunningham_Published/index.htm
    An artist knows they're making art. As Fred said, it's what they do. Only a naif or someone with an axe to grind equates that with claiming to make a masterpiece or something inherently superior.
    Now, onto thin ice. Bear with me here, until the end, please. I've witnessed firsthand at least one black person who shuffled their feet and were lazy; a greedy jew; beautiful women who were indeed metal detectors; loud Hispanics; wooden people of Germanic descent; etc. But I don't think they are all the same, not a majority, either. I believe this is what Rebecca and John are doing with art/artists: Stereotyping .
    Why the resentment against artists? What does it matter to me what you label yourself? What does it matter to you what others label themselves? Or their work? Do you really think they're all frauds, but you are genuine?
    What is it about PN that every month or so, someone adopts arts-bashing as a personal crusade and launches forth in a McCarthy-esque rant? Whatever happened to live and let live?
    Because this, IMO, doesn't help improve what anyone here is doing.
     
  10. I believe this is what Rebecca and John are doing with art/artists: Stereotyping .​
    Well yes, but which is not unlike saying that " Being an artist is for most, a one-way ticket to instant poverty and obscurity."
     
  11. "If you were doing documentary photographs, would you do the work differently?" --Rebecca
    Rebecca, I am not saying this about all documentary work, but I will say it about this particular documentary work I'm now doing:
    Yes, I approach it very differently. My goal with this series is to provide clarity about and understanding of the community. Often, when I'm doing my own art, I'm happy to be ambiguous and leave much more to a viewer's imagination. I may be relentlessly oblique and mysterious, if that's how I'm feeling with my more artistic art photos. With this documentary, I may still want to stimulate the viewer's imagination to an extent, but will no doubt stay intentionally more grounded.
    The post processing I do on most of these documentary photos is to correct for mistakes I, as a relative newbie, still make at the shooting stage . . . correcting for less than desirable exposures, heavy crops to eliminate some confusing or distracting perspectives or angles. (What I will consider a distraction in these documentary photos, might very well be an enhancement and gift in an art photo.) The post processing I do to my art photos tends to be looser, less tied to understanding, more likely to challenge my own vision and therefore others' visions. With the documentary work, I may want to challenge others' thinking but I'm not necessarily after seeing creatively as much as seeing with understanding, even solidarity.
    I have many more restrictions in my documentary work than in my art work. For example, because some of the residents have regular seizures, I can't use flash. In my art work, I can use whatever lighting I like, at least if I can come up with it. There's a woman in residence whose parents will not allow pictures of her. I have to avoid her in group shots and activities. I generally do not want to ask her to leave a situation or place I may be photographing, so I work with it the best I can. I rarely have that specific a limitation in my art endeavors.
    Many times, when I'm shooting someone in the foreground while there is activity in the background, I may be more likely (depending on the shot, of course, and what I want to convey) to keep more focal depth even where an "artistic" sensibility might be telling me the shot will "look" better if the background is less focused. That may be because, again, clarity, is more a concern at the time than aesthetics. Of course, sometimes blur can work in the documentary venue, but I take less liberty with blur and other "effects."
    None of this is to say that I throw aesthetics out the window when doing the documentary work. I don't, of course. But descriptiveness, accurate storytelling rather than flights of fancy, and distinctness may often trump challenge, beauty, ambiguity, and the kind of imagination I feel freer with when I'm creating art.
     
  12. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Some of the thinking I've done over the years on this comes from reading The Unknown Japanese Craftsman by Soetsu Yanagi. What I think Yanagi was saying is that we do things -- art isn't always the result of striving to be art. I've come away from that position in recent years, but the Japanese tended to see art as something discovered in the works of craftsmen and craftswomen, didn't draw the distinction between the two that I think we tend to draw (they have had a National Living Treasure who's an indigo dyer and weaver, at least one paper-maker).
    We may be dealing with the issue of uncalibrated minds here, too. I don't see this as an attack on art as much as a question about what art is, why certain genres of work are generally excluded from being considered as art, literature, etc. per se, rather than per accomplishment.
    Looking at the Jane Bown portraits -- is the intention art? I'm finding her work quite worth looking at.
    Flip side of this may be a question about what makes a photograph bad art vs. what makes a photograph a bad photograph.
    I'm really exploring this, trying to not have fixed ideas. I used to think the only purpose of humanity was to make art or create a culture that supported the making of art, no so sure not that I'm 61 instead of 21.
     
  13. jtk

    jtk

    I happen to have known Imogene Cunningham. A portrait of her (by Judy Dater) sits on my dining room photo bookshelf. Last time I saw her we were hanging around outside an Ali Akbar Kahn performance at San Francisco's downtown library. Many photographers in SF in the 60s knew her, and few were into Mr. Adams' work more than hers. My hunch is that he sold her short specifically because she was a woman. Time sometimes simply doesn't move: two or three other women who post on this Forum are rarely taken seriously by the name-callers among us...for the same sort of sexist reasons.
    Imogene was very political, hated easy answers and uninvestigated assumptions. As an ancient she campaigned aggressively and loudly to get us the hell out of Vietnam, for example...she knew long before, as anybody who cared did, what would be revealed in the Pentagon Papers. She didn't suffer fools, didn't hide her light under a basket. Somebody here would have called her a name specifically because she was a woman who dared to question received answers. :)
    As for Dorothea Lang, she respected professional photographers as much as "artists." In fact, almost everything she did photographically was professional, literal government photography (Farm Security Administration). A dear friend met with her to talk about his unhappiness with his photographic career...did school photos, did elaborate painting-like photographics on the side. Dorothea asked to see his work..he opened a camera case that was lined with kid pics. She virtually blessed him for that professional work, turned his attitude around.
     
  14. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    One of the things about here is that there are so few women. And I tend to be cynical about the women that men really praise -- too often women get praised for works that are focused on either mothers and children or flowers and other erotica, and then slagged for being so sentimental. Julie's work and some of the comments she's made her seems to me to be almost bristly against sentiment, taking nature to the Uncanny Valley effect, and her blog has been intelligent.
    Didn't get the impression Adams was selling Cunningham short in what was quoted, though, other than the comment about her being a softy at heart, which was a tad weird.
    Doing something professionally for a while pushed my boundaries farther than I might have pushed them without that. I think the trick is to do the forms with thought, to learn from them.
    Perhaps Fred is thinking something similar about working with cliches?
     
  15. Rebecca, do you really think there's that much "striving" towards art? I am in close contact with several dozen artists locally. I probably see/meet/party/work with all of them at least once a month. A huge range of topics come up in conversation, and that of striving towards art never has. Nor has it where I've lectured, visited studios, worked with collectors, specially in other cities, etc.
    It's a non-issue, at least in the general sense in which it has been framed. I'm sure for some people, it's a core issue
    Definitions of art have and continue to evolve across time (like everything else), and vary across cultures. The Japanese ideas you mention are classic to previous centuries, and have carried on there unlike most of the West.
    Where I see an attack on art is with the denigrating assumptions. For example: "...a question about what art is, why certain genres of work are generally excluded from being considered as art, literature, etc. per se, rather than per accomplishment."
    Many total outsiders have produced accomplished work that has been exhibited widely in art contexts. Again, you see a monumental partition, but there's no real barrier.
    I'm glad you liked Bown's work. It was shown in a one-woman show in The National Portrait Gallery, back in 1980, and is in their collection. A woman journalist's accomplished portraiture has no obstacle to being exhibited in the most prestigious portrait art venue in her country. As it should be.
    Minds are calibrated, and this serves as yet another example that there is no barrier.
    [RB]- " Flip side of this may be a question about what makes a photograph bad art vs. what makes a photograph a bad photograph."
    Easy. The former is a "bad" pic done by an artist, therefore "bad art" the latter is the same pic done by someone not claiming to be an artist, therefor a "dull snap". Both can end up hung at a small, local non-juried show. :)
    Do I think there's a handful of people on Photo.Net derailed by the "is is art?" thing? There must be a dozen or two, and I hope they're reading this. No matter what you call yourself, on any given day you can only photograph what you're prepared to see (and yes, you may be prepared to see something you've not seen to date), and nothing more. This is at your very best. Give it 110% and feel free to call it art, craft, a J-O-B, hobby, snapshot, addiction, compulsion, generosity, etc. It doesn't really matter.
     
  16. If there's one thing that grates is someone claiming to be a feminist, who misspells both of the female photographers he cites.
    For the record: It's I-m-o-g-e-n, not "Imogene", and it's L-a-n-g-e, not "Lang".
     
  17. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I got to hear quite a lot about literary values in academia vs. the horrible money-making genre writers who did escapist adventure stories. Nice if there's nothing like this in photography. My grad. director slagged s.f. when I first started writing it.
    The best writers in academia tend to be more open to s.f. -- like Fred Chappell at the University of NC at Greensboro -- but at UNCG, Chappell's s.f. course didn't count as an English major course, and the English Department didn't tell Fred this (I was visiting his classroom when one of the students told him).
    Your last paragraph more supports what I'm thinking is the case -- that art as a goal isn't as important as the intensity with which one works, what real things are in the photograph. I don't think people have to claim to be artists to do art. And I don't think claiming to be an artist always leads to anything other than imitations of more famous art, stuff photographed to look like art in surface ways. Intentions can trip people up.
     
  18. I don't think people have to claim to be artists to do art.​
    I disagree with that.
    I think that it's entirely normal, healthy -- necessary -- to doubt or at least question the truth of that for which we have no evidence.
    The first part of being an artist or at least claiming to be an artist of any kind is a process of discovery or awareness; of mental finding and forming which an person claiming to be an artist knows of inside of him or herself -- which can't be proven, but which is absolutely necessary to the artistic process.
    The production of an art-like object is not sufficient to prove that its maker is an artist (in the absence of that claim being made). Take this bird's nest, for example. It is a beautiful thing, made with extraordinary craftsmanship. However, its maker (the bird) makes no claim to artistry, so the construction of it does not cause the bird to be an artist, retrospectively.
    On the other hand, my photograph (if you give me some leeway; it is actually a quickie taken for my blog), could be the beginnings of art. I saw beautiful form and traces of meaning (it's the bones of a nest, blown down in a summer wind-storm).
    The claim has to be made. The bird makes no claim, so its nest is not art. I make a claim, so my picture might be art. If I made no claim and nobody else makes a claim, then it also would not be art. This "claiming" is risky -- and costly. If, in the end, I fail to produce the evidence, I will be ridiculed as a fake. Most claimants fail.
    Necessarily, there is a gap between a person's mental realization of what might be, and finding a way to bring forth evidence of what is happening in the mind. I am willing to credit people for their aspirations and intent before I get the evidence. Many people are not. As I said at the top of this post, doubters are fully justified in their skepticism.
     
  19. I don't disagree entirely with what Rebecca is saying, only the part that deems it is a problem specific to art. In our culture, until people make peace with who they are and become comfortable in their own skins, they're living vicariously. People in general, not just photographers and the shady, bad hair, arrogant types who dare call themselves artists :). This is by no means endemic to people who call themselves artists. It's not even a problem per se, but part and parcel of the process of individuation.
    _____________________
    If a work is strong enough, has potential to draw crowds, sell well, and/or is historically significant, the art world will happily drag it into its realm.
    The commercial side in photography hasn't had the stigma it has in other fields. The problem in photography hasn't been about the ethics of selling your soul as much as finding buyers. If you take the graphic artists and commercial photographers out of the equation, the average earnings for visual artists is quite low. "Starving artist" is a redundant term.
    The last gasp of idealism in the medium (of widespread significance) died the day the FBI stormed the Photo League.
    Everything else being equal, having no provenance, and emerging from the mists of obscurity with something truly strong can sometimes even be an asset. A great, recent example of this is Gary Stochl:
    http://www.photoeye.com/Bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=ZC470
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/19/arts/design/19stoc.html
    A total outsider works solo (and a day job), without any recognition, for the better part of a lifetime with the intensity and commitment of a kamikaze, then walks into the right office at Columbia in Chicago with a bagful of prints, and is accepted on the strength of his work.
    "People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel." –Maya Angelou
     
  20. Julie Heyward: " The claim has to be made. The bird makes no claim, so its nest is not art. I make a claim, so my picture might be art. If I made no claim and nobody else makes a claim, then it also would not be art. This "claiming" is risky -- and costly. If, in the end, I fail to produce the evidence, I will be ridiculed as a fake. Most claimants fail."
    I agree with Julie that the claim (or just as important, if not more so, context) is required.
    Rebecca's notion of art seems as automatically being of a certain quality, and so is Julie, though from a different angle. Someone who hasn't declared themselves an artist can make what isn't, but will later become art when it is contextualized as such, either by its maker claiming to be an artist, and/or a gallery, buyer, museum, art show, etc.
    Julie's evidentiary notion, like Rebecca, also is wrapped around the idea that "art" is some form of quality assurance, and furthermore becomes proof that she is an artist. This heavily implies that the term guarantees some special level of proficiency. It does no such thing. Crappy/boring art abounds. It's easily over 99% of all work produced, but it does not make the artists who make it (all of us at one time or another) ridiculous or fake.
     
  21. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Does the claim have to be made by the artist? In the Japanese example, the claim was made by the patron.
    The photography world doesn't appear to have the branding that the literary world has, at least from what I've seen so far. Cool.
    I think for women in my culture (Southern US/border state Ohio Valley) what women did was dismissed as sentimental and a hobby, decorative arts. Charles Olson in poetry refused to have women in his classes (I know a woman poet who said reading Olson was life giving to her as a but studying with him would have killed her). So saying something was artistic was a dismissal.
    I have a cultural relationship to the Blue Ridge -- it was in the skyline where I grew up, it was forty miles west from where my grandparents lived. The tourists are part of the landscape; they kill deer and injure bicyclists. I wonder if I can I do something different in the mountains that isn't just documentation.
    I have to get out at least once a week and photograph something.
     
  22. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Julie, your bird's nest doesn't work as a nest. I think for critters that aren't human, we simply don't know. Raven and some of the other corvids do appear to have an appreciation of things that are not food, shelter, or protection from predators, and perhaps in their cultures, the collections of shiny things that they hide from each other (I watched this in the Bronx Zoo) serve the same function that art serves for us. I don't know what your bird was thinking if she stopped at that point with the nest (more likely you discovered a weathered or incomplete nest that she did a sketch of a nest, but can we be sure?)
    One of the cultural bindings I've been trying to unwrap from my own head is a sense that art is a delusion if it isn't good -- and this culture tends to reinforce be great or get out.
     
  23. How about if you don't care one whit about the terms "art" or "artist" - and just do your own work with no labels attached? I work under the assumption that no one cares what I do, and whether it's art or not art. I make what's interesting to me, and don't care past that.
     
  24. You make a good point, Steve. A respectable way to be, for sure.
    As to your question . . .
    "How about if you don't care one whit about the terms 'art' or 'artist'?" --Steve
    If I didn't care one whit about these things, I'd avoid like the plague a philosophy forum discussing them.
     
  25. The first part of being an artist or at least claiming to be an artist of any kind is a process of discovery or awareness; of mental finding and forming which an person claiming to be an artist knows of inside of him or herself -- which can't be proven, but which is absolutely necessary to the artistic process. --Julie
    Many total outsiders have produced accomplished work that has been exhibited widely in art contexts. Again, you see a monumental partition, but there's no real barrier. --Luis
    Luis and I are in agreement that art doesn't elevate anything. There's bad art. And there's good art that's no better than good doctoring or good lawyering. Some art is transformational. That's special.
    Julie, you've struck a chord with me with this . . . "a person claiming to be an artist knows inside him or herself -- which can't be proven . . ." It also relates to Luis's consideration of the lack of a real barrier between insiders and outsiders. From my vantage point, it's usually the one who sees him or herself as an "outsider" that is invested in creating the barrier. He or she express the feeling that the artist is doing or claiming to do art out of a sense of superiority, but that often seems to me a projection of their own feelings of inferiority. I think a case in point is Rebecca's experience with academia. Clearly some of the people Rebecca encountered needed to put up a barrier between themselves and her in order to puff themselves up. It's the construction of a barrier that's problematic, not the term "art."
    What strikes me is that, though it's not all so easy and never completely agreed upon or clear, some very practical applications and definitions of "art" have been given in this thread. It takes more than a sound bite and often takes a discussion rather than opening to a page in a dictionary.
    Why would we, indeed, denigrate the person who makes the photograph in order to create art? If I say I'm making my documentary because I want to bridge some gaps between people with special needs and the rest of society. If I say I'm moved by the lack of self-consciousness when I'm photographing, the genuineness of expression I feel. If I aim to convey that a community of people with all skill levels and a variety of abilities and disabilities can work in harmony, be self-sustaining, and also give back to the community at large is that extolling myself less or more than if I say the photo I made yesterday of two solitary boaters on Mission Creek was done to make art? Now, of course, someone may not know what I mean when I say the latter, so his or her panties may get all twisted up about it. But I view that as the other guy's problem, not mine. Because I know what I mean, even if it might take me a few discussions to communicate that. And, from what most people participating here have said, they'd know what I mean when I say I took the photo yesterday to make art and they know what they mean when they say it about themselves. There is certainly less specific goal orientation in the art than in the documentary. And I am generally more inclined, when asked about motivation and interpretation, even background, to let the art photo speak for itself but to fill in whatever blanks I can with words about the documentary.
     
  26. Duplicate post. Sorry.
     
  27. Fred, why avoid the philosophy forum if you're not that caring for the labels art or artist? I don't see why, really. It can be very healthy for a debate, and maybe "not caring" is not the ideal to describe it... but a vastly differing opinion in a philosophic debate - where would we be without it?
    Even though most in this thread seem to agree on the notion that it takes an artist to make art, or even maybe declare it art, I'm not too sold on that idea.
    First of all, implicetely, it also seems to state that art can only be made by artists. And that sounds very narrow.
    How about the artists (including some who are typically seen as masters) that did not seem to deal in that notion of creating art all that much? Bach certainly comes to mind, he regarded himself a productive crafstmen more than an artist. All medieval artists, whose creations were partially utilitarian for worshipping (Josh' Bernini example in the other thread). Possibly painters, like Rembrandt, just created portraits for money for much of the time, maybe in their own mind, they were just making a few guilders, and not art, by doing so?
    So, my question (and critique) is: does the creator really need to declare something is art? If so, how can anyone debate whether something is art or not? If we only need the creator to chime in and give the final verdict?
    Is it art because of the intention with which it was created, or because of the result it is?
    If one states there is a second way for an item to become recognised as art, what Luis G described as "when it is contextualized as such, either by its maker claiming to be an artist, and/or a gallery, buyer, museum, art show, etc" (but minus the maker claiming, because that is the "first way to become art"), why wouldn't that maybe be the only way? To me, this sounds like a far more plausible thing. It has at least demanded somebody to be touched by the work in one way or another.
    OK, so I intentionally simplify the line of thought. Sorry if anyone feels I am ridiculing matters here - because that is not the intent. I just want to challenge your thoughts, because I think this "l'art pour l'art" approach does too little justice to art. Art has to go beyond its creator to become art.
     
  28. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    My thoughts on literature is that we try to write the best we can, but it's up to the kids coming behind us to declare us to be serious influences and thus literature. Maybe the same for art -- you do the best you can and if you mean something to other people, then it's art. Keats got slagged by at least some critics in the day (nothing like being Shelley's and Leigh Hunt's the favorite Cockney).
    I don't know if art has to go much beyond its creator to be useful -- and I think that some people have worked in traditional genres (speaking of writing here) and transcended them and revered them. Raymond Chandler, for instance.
    Art in the sense of creating physical objects, though, may be different from a concept like Literature. I'm not sure that our current general concept of art wasn't in and out of European history since the Greeks and Romans (Longinus) and again in the Renaissance. A biologist who studied the Paleolithic cave paintings, <a href="http://www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/looking-for-biological-meaning-in-cave-art"> R. Dale Guthrie </a> suggested that art was a way of thinking hard about things that were important to the painters (who he believes were teenaged boys. If doing art (in the more restrictive sense) is a parallel to literacy and writing, then the good of it may be the doing of it as a training of the mind. Drawing teaches us how to see. Playing music has advantages to the player.
    Paleolithic culture in Spain and France had extremely large numbers of people doing cave paintings -- some of of the caves were lost to rising seas, but I read once that each year, archeologists discover one or two decorated caves.
    Guthrie looked at the sketches that weren't so accomplished and even the vandalism as well as the ones that are in the art books.
    I've wondered if photography couldn't become a universal visual literacy, not that all of it would be good, but then not all of the cave art was good either, nor is graffiti.
    The massive flow of images on flickr, or the somewhat less prodigious flood here, may be a good thing.
    Dunno. I have lived in communities where high numbers of people learn to play music (country, bluegrass, old timey) and the level of taste for that is higher than in urban communities that listen to the same music but no longer play it. The local radio stations would also play non-commercial work along with things from commercial studios, all mostly good of its kind.
     
  29. Wouter--
    In Julie's first post about claiming something as art she said:
    "The claim has to be made. . . . I make a claim, so my picture might be art. If I made no claim and nobody else makes a claim [my emphases], then it also would not be art. --Julie​
    I understood Julie to be allowing for just the scenarios you describe. Luis, as you recognize, also dealt with something being art not by the artist claiming it to be so.
    To answer to your question . . .
    "does the creator really need to declare something is art?" --Wouter​
    No. Not in my mind.
    I think there's an issue of emphasis here, which happens often in these forums and is worth bringing up. One of the original statements by Rebecca was "Too often the intention of the self-declared artist is to be superior." So, naturally, many of the posts dealt with self-declared artists, why it's ok to aim for art as a goal, what that means, why it's not necessarily a badge of superiority, etc. That's been the focus. But the fact that people focus on artists making claims and declaring themselves artists or declaring their work to be art is a function of the statements made in the original posting. The focus on that seems totally reasonable given the way the initiating post was framed. That we haven't spent much time discussing all the different ways something may be declared art doesn't, for me, lead to the conclusion you've drawn, that "most in this thread seem to agree on the notion that it takes an artist to make art, or even maybe declare it art . . . it also seems to state that art can only be made by artists." Not at all.
    We'd have to write little novels if everything that we excluded -- because we were focused on a certain type of question or a certain aspect of a topic -- was taken as an assertion of something. Sometimes, it just didn't seem relevant. In discussing the bad rap artists get and the false assumptions often made about those who call themselves artists, that we didn't get around to talking about other ways things become art seems perfectly reasonable. And, as the statements by both Julie and Luis make clear, those alternatives were in our consciousness, even if there was no need within the context of the discussion to emphasize those alternatives.
    As for . . .
    "Fred, why avoid the philosophy forum if you're not that caring for the labels art or artist? I don't see why, really. It can be very healthy for a debate, and maybe "not caring" is not the ideal to describe it... but a vastly differing opinion in a philosophic debate - where would we be without it?" --Wouter​
    No reason at all to avoid the philosophy forum if you don't care for certain labels and if you have a vastly differing opinion. I didn't mean to give that impression. I'd welcome that to the discussion. My thinking is this: If you don't think it's worth discussing, why join the discussion? I got the impression Steve didn't find it worth discussing. I got that from the brevity of his statement as well as his not seeming to open up a discussion around the issue he addressed. It seemed like a simple declarative statement, with no particular reasoning given, and no interest that I perceived in dialogue about it. I may be off in that interpretation.
     
  30. Fred, I hope my opening bit on avoiding the forum did not sound too harsh - not my intent. Reading it back, I see how it may seem a bit insulting. But I read Steve's post differently. Yes, it was short, but it kind of resonated with the message I was about to write....so, that's why. Hope it did not came across as the ant telling an elephant to watch where it's going.
    Thanks for both answers.
    Rebecca, as you describe the way it works for literature, it's a bit how I've always seen the "path" would be for any kind of art. It may not be as simple or clear cut for the visual arts, but doing something to others, well, that bit is to me the point, and in that respect, I meant it should grow beyond the artist.
    The bit about how people appreciate music better when they know how to play it, to me is also a very valid point. To recognise the skill of the artist, is an extra dimension to art that brings more appreciation and makes it more human in a way too. To know that also the talented/gifted had to know how to handle their tools - mundane skills, but all too often the foundation of it all.
    Fred,
    While I understand that the full scope of art would require us all to read novels, I think it is good to actually mention that you're discussing just a fraction of the total spectrum. Just for clarity sake. In retrospect, I missed the step to that part of the question mentally a bit - sorry for not reading more careful, I'll use the (very) poor excuse that English is not my native language - and I read the question as wider than what discussion ended up with. Bit of miscommunication on my side, sorry for that interruption.
    Though I'm glad it's clear art is not only up to its creator to define :)
    So following this quote of Rebecca:
    but it's up to the kids coming behind us to declare us to be serious influences and thus literature​
    Can there be contemporary art, which is only appreciated in its lifetime? Like, say, 90% of the popular music?
     
  31. Wouter, no offense taken at all. I just felt the need to answer you and give you my own reasoning, but I certainly appreciate your probing! Don't hesitate.
    I like your example of pop music and I think it works. I've thought about it often with my own work. What makes something unique to its times, significant in a very current way, and what makes something timeless and how can those two overlap (and also do they sometimes stay separate)?
    Dylan, The Beatles, The Stones seem to be products of their era at the same time as they helped create and define that era. I'm not sure they (or any great artists) can be fully appreciated or understood without some understanding of the environment and context they grew out of and helped develop. Yet, there is something timeless about all of them. They have and will continue to outlive their own era.
    Other musical artists of the times may not. The Dead, The Who, The Airplane, Hot Tuna, The Moody Blues don't seem like they will transcend their significance within their era to become as timeless as others will. That doesn't lessen them in my eyes. It just is what it is.
    We touched upon this a little in the cliché thread but even more so in the earlier thread about Idealism. A lot of my own photography is very localized. It is capturing something rather particular. I don't know that it will outlast this particular milieu. Yet some stuff feels like it is more universal in nature and would strike a chord in other cultures and at other times. I think there are many things we can look at. Clothing is one tangible element in a photo that I think will often play a role in how timeless something is. I have one photo of a guy on the bedroom floor with rather intense (somewhat clichéd) lighting that would likely strike some universal chords. Unfortunately, I was naive enough at the time I took it not to notice what an Abercrombie and Fitch feel there was to how he was dressed. I don't think the photograph will ever escape that sense. Objects, cars, buildings, wardrobe, backgrounds, will always affect the timeliness and potential timelessness of a photo. Will malls always simply recall the late 20th and early 21st century or will they come to universalize some sort of shared emotion that crosses the generations?
    It's hard to tell. At the time of the depression, it likely seemed to photographers they were documenting something very particular and heartfelt, something very real and contemporary. Yet those images translate through the ages. Why? Because they capture something in the era that's also beyond the era, something human, something perhaps so particular that it makes that transcendent leap to become universal. There may be something valuable to learn there. The attempt at universalizing may be self conscious and may often defeat its own purpose. On the other hand, the attempt to stay focused on what's meaningful to the individual, at the time, in a very real way, may be the thing that transcends itself and reaches the human heart long after the particular moment is gone.
     
  32. No one can pursue art for art does not exist, just as you can not purchase a "car." The word car or art is a universal generic that helps us to specify the topic but nothing else. So you can purchase a Ford Taurus, or a VW Beetle, but you can purchase a "car." Don't believe me, go to a dealer's lot and announce you want to buy a car, when he says which one or which type refuse to answer, instead continue to assert you want to purchase a car. Eventually the salesman will discount you, thinking you are a nut case - why? Because the sales person doesn't sell "cars."
    I don't pursue art, I take photographs and occasionally one will transcend my abilities. I am writing a novel, but not really, I'm writing a story that teaches a lesson, hopefully in a way that entertains. So no one can pursue "art" just as no one can purchase a car; its a universal generic that is a way marker for a more specific destination.
     
  33. [Wouter W] "How about the artists (including some who are typically seen as masters) that did not seem to deal in that notion of creating art all that much?"
    Like most social practices and definitions, art has evolved a little in the last 300 years.
    [WW] " why wouldn't that maybe be the only way? To me, this sounds like a far more plausible thing."
    One could champion for contextualization to be the only way of defining art. But in real life, it's not. I can deal with it either way, but I accept things as they are. DuChamp, btw, played with this very point with some of his work.
    When someone photographs, I would hope that s/he is pushing themselves to their limits in their own way. If you're thinking of the big check, the fame, looking clever or brilliant, adoring groupies, or art, that's your business. We'll never know unless you tell. And just as fictional work is allowed, so are fictional explanations.
    ____________________
    [Rebecca B] " Maybe the same for art -- you do the best you can and if you mean something to other people, then it's art."
    Except that's not the case in real life. Rebecca is still trying to attach a qualitative aspect to trhe word that it simply does not have.
    Having said that, one of the qualities of significant art (not 'art' in general) is how influential it is. Not for the next generation, but contemporaries. I do not mean the slavish pseudo-Egglestons that litter the Ocean of Images nowadays, but more like Eggleston took many of Walker Evans' ideas and some tropes, mixed them with HCB's tonal range and surrealism, Kandinsky's spiritual color, Degas' elegant organic compositions, and ran with them headlong into color in photography in a new synthesis. That is what I mean. Significant work can generate a huge variety of subsequent works. For example, Atget causes then-Surrealist Man Ray (and his group) to see differenty. New Objectivist Berenice Abbot, who shows the Atget pictures she bought to consummate modernist Walker Evans, for whom it's a pivotal moment. Later, post-moderne Lee Friedlander is heavily affected. All of them in different ways, but all influenced by Atget.
    [RB] " I've wondered if photography couldn't become a universal visual literacy, not that all of it would be good, but then not all of the cave art was good either, nor is graffiti."
    It won't, for the same reason that 25% of Americans do not read even one book per year. Producing pictures does not necessarily generate visual literacy. I agree that Flickr has shifted that somewhat, and that the medium, thanks to digital and the web, is enjoying a revolutionary and unprecedented populist renaissance. In fact, like it or not, it's created its own vibrant visual culture(s) over at Flickr. The problem with Flickr, of course, is the massive flow of unedited imagery.
    ______________________________
    [Fred G] " We'd have to write little novels if everything that we excluded -- because we were focused on a certain type of question or a certain aspect of a topic -- was taken as an assertion of something."
    Thank you for saying that in such a clear and succint manner.
    Steve Swineheart's declaration was already stated in close, though not identical terms by others, and doesn't leave much room for discussion, so little follows. There's nothing wrong with that kind of post, either. At least people join and state their views.
    An enduring work of art has to survive in its own and subsequent times, as Fred mentions. If it's figurative, to get beyond the trappings of its own day, it's going to have to say something about the human condition (yes, nature pictures and abstracts do it too) that transcends its own time. I don't think one can force this into one's work.
    My two cents' worth of advice on this are to remember, as someone said: Anything looked at long (and hard) enough becomes everything.
     
  34. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I think we have two definitions playing here. Let's throw in another one -- art is a form of human play (my intro anthro professor).
    The art in the equation "art vs. commercial art" is like the "literature/popular entertainment" distinction that academics make. My time in NYC, those distinctions had broken down and the poets were hanging out with the rockstar who were friends with the aleatory musicians, and the people doing experimental fiction read science fiction and performed in porn movies (Kathy Acker, unless she was lying).
    Art in another sense is all graphic production, not music, not created in language, but visual/tactile (drawings, painting, sculpture, photography). That definition does seem value neutral, art as a superset of those things, good or bad. Art classes, art departments, art museums.
    Art in another sense gets people who don't get art condemned as petty bourgeois. I don't know if those people are common or not, but they exist. Fred may be right that this is more an expression of a sense of inferiority, a defensiveness. Art as class marker, at least for those who own it, not necessarily for those who produce it.
    Art also can be an attempt to clarify how we see and experience things, to shift our bounding boxes, to make a metaphor out of computer graphics. It may or may not work.
     
  35. I am an artist. I was born into a family of artists. I scraped by and went to art school... and still owe the Feds over $20,0000 which my janitorial job will not cover... ever. Because I attended said school I've been accused of being privileged.... this allegation typically comes from people without any "talent" or any motivation to learn who want to try to find something external for the reason they can't do something that they only vaguely want to do. But not enough to actually work at it. I don't believe in "talent". When I was a kid I didn't have many friends so I sat around my house and read books about artists and drew pictures. When I was in college I still didn't have many friends and was socially awkward so I dedicated hundreds of hours to filling notebooks. I'm fairly positive I have more notebooks filled with drawings than most people have books in their house. I never even kissed a girl until I was 21. I worked all of those years on learning how to draw. Had I had a "normal" childhood I probably wouldn't be very good. So no, it's not privilege and it's not talent.
    When I'm not drawing or painting, I'm working on my photography or digital graphic art (I build Firefox themes for fun, har har), or I'm writing or making music. I don't have much patience for society and I have particularly low patience for whatever is popular and thus I have absolutely no desire to pursue galleries. In fact, the only people's opinion I give a rat's @$$ about in terms of my art are other artists I respect, and that's it. I enjoy when people appreciate my work, but I don't want to be covered in praise or adored or whatever. I do my artwork because it's what I do. I can't stop myself. I take a shower and I hear lyrics I have to write down. I mop the floors at work and I see images I have to draw. I stand in an elevator and words for a story come to me. I look out a window and photographs come to me. It's what I was born to do.
    Is it purposeless? No. I don't buy into that nihilistic post-modern pop-psy bull. The purpose of my work is to connect to this silly world that I have no other way to connect to. To know that things that come out of my brain can move other people in a way normally reserved for God or Love or Wonder or Fear.... because that is what my favorite art does for me. It has always amazed me that anyone would want to pretend to be an artist or to put so much stock into the admiration of artists. It's not like these abilities make us any less miserable than any one else.
     
  36. [Rebecca B] " Art in another sense gets people who don't get art condemned as petty bourgeois. I don't know if those people are common or not, but they exist."
    The inverse is quite common, and we don't have to Google or go far to find it. It's right in this thread, forum, and PN in general. People who don't get art, or have some problem with it, condemning art and artists. Some subtly, some not. Artists criticize other artists far more than they do outsiders.
    Welcome to the thread, Patrick.
     
  37. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    The problem with Flickr, of course, is the massive flow of unedited imagery.​
    The problem with the Paleolithic cave art was the massive flow of unedited imagery, too, perhaps. People stopped going to visit the caves about 14,000 years ago, then started again in the 17th Century (without knowing what they were seeing) and then a lot beginning in the late 19th Century, knowing how old the paintings were by then.
    Who edits? I'm with Frank O'Hara -- trying to improve people's tastes isn't really all it's cracked up to be.
    Do the best you can.
     
  38. "art is a form of human play . . . art also can be an attempt to clarify how we see and experience things, to shift our bounding boxes . . ." --Rebecca
    Stimulating ideas. Indeed, art does seem to want to be lived, for some. It is a way of experiencing. When I'm with a certain poet friend and another certain photographer friend, though we don't necessarily talk about art, we seem to just talk art. It's a bit about how we approach the world, what we see, what we hear. I think one can be an artist and I think one can also live as an artist.
    _______________________________
    Patrick--
    Patrick, it sounds to me that you live art. I really don't want to add much to your eloquent and personal comment. But I do want to acknowledge the significant contribution you've made here. Your words speak for themselves beautifully.
    _______________________________
    "Who edits? I'm with Frank O'Hara -- trying to improve people's tastes isn't really all it's cracked up to be." --Rebecca
    Rebecca--
    Can you explain "Who edits?" I edit, in several senses. I choose what gets processed and shown. A lot stays hidden in the deep, dark recesses of the computer. A few gems rise to the surface and I pick the ones I want to work on, then the ones I want to present in different venues, and what I want to edit out. I edit when I put together my documentaries, usually starting with a hundred potential keepers and narrowing it down to a final slideshow of maybe 35. I edit when I determine the order they'll be shown in. I edit when I decide what to hang in my gallery downstairs. I edit when I do a portrait for someone and give them choices and withhold some. I edit when I decide what gets posted to my PN gallery and what different work may get posted to the personal web site I'm currently working on. I have never downloaded directly from my camera to a public site without first sorting through and getting rid of most of what I shot.
    Why would Luis's noticing of the flow of unedited imagery on Flickr, which I take note of as well, be comparable to trying to improve people's tastes (if that's what you are saying, I'm a little unclear)? As I read Luis, he seems to be discussing his own taste, not trying to influence anyone else's.
    As for improving others' tastes, I'm not sure there aren't some challenges and rewards there. Good teachers do that all the time. Though taste is, of course, a personal thing, I think it can be improved both by oneself and with the help of others. I think all it often takes is a simple explanation, a jab of insight by someone who sees differently or has more experience or knows more about a certain craft or art, to expand and improve one's taste. I grew up playing the piano, and being exposed to a lot of different kinds of music, though I played mostly classical. In high school, I developed a love for the rock and roll of the day and in college got into the more acid-oriented sounds of the Dead along with the quieter folk of people like Carole King and Dylan. In my first Intro to Music course, we spent about a quarter of the semester on La Traviata. I had never listened to and never liked opera. Well, within a couple of weeks, my roommate Paul and I were smoking joints and blasting Violetta and Alfredo all over the dorms. We got teased a lot but we also brought a couple of the guys along with us. The professor was definitely responsible for improving my taste. He explained opera, made it palatable, offered a sense of familiarity to a very strange-sounding world. He tied it to other music I liked and made me understand how it works. He pointed out musical plots and subplots, themes tied to character, leitmotifs, stuff I never knew existed that I could now appreciate and latch onto. I occasionally have done that for others, by exposing friends to things with some guidance, etc. I'd have to disagree with you and O'hara and say that, when I've felt like I improved someone's taste, it's actually more than it's cracked up to be.
     
  39. How about if you don't care one whit about the terms "art" or "artist" - and just do your own work with no labels attached? I work under the assumption that no one cares what I do, and whether it's art or not art. I make what's interesting to me, and don't care past that.​
    I have to agree with Steve here. Just be with no labels attached. Considering oneself, myself, an artist, feels so goddamn suffocating to me, it radiates the feeling of being stuffed into a claustrophobic labeled box. " Hi, I'm an artist, or, hi, I'm a photographer..." " Oh, so I take it your not an athlete / whatever then, and you must be really sensitive, right ? "
    I'm not a photographer. I'm not an artist. I'm not the car I drive. I'm not the contents of my wallet. I'm not what's on my businesscard. I'm not a Taoist...
    Reject labels.
    Reject identities.
    Reject conformity.
    Reject convention.
    Reject definitions.
    Reject names.
    Rejecting labels has got nothing to do with undervaluing, imo. It adds value.
     
  40. Phylo--
    As I said in a different context above, nothing that I happen to exclude from what I say in a particular moment or with a particular descriptive word should be taken as an assertion of anything or a negation of something.
    When someone says, "I am an artist," it seems you take that to mean "I am not an athlete." I will suggest that's your issue, not the label's. When a guy introduces me to his "wife," that provides some -- not ALL -- information. I assume she is more than an object in a marriage. When people ask what I do, as a routine matter of social interaction, I may say "I'm a typesetter" or "I'm a photographer" or both, depending on context. That provides some helpful information to start a ball rolling. As we get to know each other, a deeper understanding of the meaning of those terms unfolds. I understand, for example, what Patrick is talking about, and he's done so in not a routine manner at all. Nothing he said indicates to me he might not play a little football or even a little footsie now and then.
    It's interesting that the artists and the buyers of cars don't seem interested in telling anyone else what to do, while the ones who are supposedly way too open and unrestricted to use labels are the ones telling others what to do: Steve tells us to just do our work with no labels. Rick tells us that no one (not just him, but no one) can pursue art or buy a car. And you tell us to reject labels.
    To your list, I'd add, "reject assumptions." The assumption that someone else uses labels to restrict or limit themselves or anyone else is unfounded. I can accept that you won't introduce yourself as a photographer and I can sympathize with your feeling suffocated by the term and all that that means for you. Why can't you accept that others who are not you are happy to describe themselves with certain words, with meaning and depth and without any conception that that's ALL they are?
     
  41. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, one of the interesting things about the cave art was other than learning slabs of slate, what was committed to the surface couldn't be edited other than by being defaced or painted over. Same with contemporary grafitti. Art as visible thinking mind.
    I edit in the sense you're talking about; I suspect that most of the people on flickr choose images and don't upload them all.
    One of the people who's a major player in SF fandom and who works as a professional editor says that writing is what we do, not who we are, and who we are is being part of SF World.
    So, I don't agree with that; I see what you're talking about with the nouns not being who we are, but roles we play. But I'm a writer and s.f. is a form of writing, but I've also written poetry, and I've sold photographs to classmates when I was a college freshman, snap shots.
    I don't think we can completely reject labels, but when not having a taste for a certain form or a certain person's work gets me accused of being a petty bourgeois (I wish -- these people don't know what a real petty bourgeois would be doing for a living) or if I like these other forms or work by these other people, I get accused of being pretentious.
    I think if we're really doing work with intensity, whatever it is, we do best work for us, whether that's work that appeals to others or not
    Academics argue over the issue of who defines taste. If we edit our work, we define taste, taste for us. I don't think that's the equivalent of canon creation, though.
    I probably have those insecurities about the value of what I'm doing that you see in poets. Auden's lines about people who have no marked talent wanting to go into the arts haunt me.
    But writing or photography makes me happier than anything else I've done, unless someone tries to direct the work along their interests. I also don't know if I should have done the boy hero, aliens, happy ending novels without complaining. Those were novels I had some nostalgic affection for but wasn't reading now and didn't care about now.
    Don't know if photography has equivalent issues -- sounds less like it than writing.
    I think we're creatures of social orders, but perhaps the wise step is to accept the order without buying into it as an ultimate truth and try to change the order as we can, with full realization that we might be mistaken.
    Dunno. On one hand, it's irritating to have someone working in a book store answer the question, "Are you a clerk?" with a diatribe about how clerking was what he did, not who he was and stuff. I can agree with him, but I also want to buy a book without having a meaningful human to human relationship with him. I am, for that moment, a customer (this happened in one NYC bookstore).
    I see self-editing as part of the process of making something or a set of somethings. The other kind of editing, the sort of thing people in the 19th and early 20th Century did with the cave paintings, is canon building, perhaps similar to the Japanese patron's selection of the best of the crafts works and elevating them to art.
    The first editing is part of the making -- books, photographs, poetry. The second editing is no more likely to be useful than the first, as bounded by personal perceptions. The outside editor is not automatically more dispassionate than the person editing his or her own works.
    In my experience, the best editor I ever had was another writer who ran a small press. The editors who'd never written fiction themselves varied all over the map.
    This would be parallel to "the opinions that matter to me are those of other practioners" which I've heard in various forms in various artistic practices (your definition of art).
    I think the idea would be doing things that work for the person doing them and the person doing the work getting self-promotional concepts out of the way while working. How to live with the work after it's done is another question. I don't often live up to this ideal.
     
  42. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    There's a fine line between helping people understand something and telling them that liking X is wrong and liking Y is the right thing (and people get a lot of this in high school literature classes). I love certain poetry and don't care for other poetry. I can explain to my students how it works, but I really also tell them that the book is full of *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* when it condemns reading for pleasure or makes that a lesser thing, because ultimately, we all read for pleasure, only our pleasures are different.
    I had a student who hated poetry and we spent one class going at it, his objections, my attempts to answer those objections. After the class, he was terrified that I was going to grade him down because of that. I told him, oh, no, he was a wonderful foil for me. I wanted my students to think about poetry, not lie to me about how much they loved it while turning in plagarized papers (one student didn't believe I read the journals and complained bitterly about having to take the class, then turned in a very perceptive piece on Sylvia Plath that I found the source for in about a minute's Google, someone else's perceptions).
    If we can't let people walk away from our lessons without feeling that it's their GPA if they don't lie about what they really like, then we're not helping them. O'Hara's comment is that if you don't need poetry, bully for you. The movies are great, too.
    In the end, even with the best of teachers, we chose what we learn. I've seen the work of people who studied with Robert Duncan, Ed Dorn, Michael McClure, who wrote no differently than any number of other fairly derivative poets who hadn't had those opportunities.
    I think one barrier to learning is thinking that certain things can only be done by people with innate talent. There's a lot in our culture to reinforce that, not just in the arts. What I want to learn more about now is the composition/visual perception side of photography. I was playing around with crops of last weekend's photographs and noticed that the emotional tone could change with the crop. Don't know what I'm going to do further with that.
    Didn't appreciate being stuck on the other side of the barrier because I was writing s.f., but the poetry wasn't going away because I'd written some s.f.
     
  43. Fred,
    I just see no meaning, if not done in a conversation specifically concerning or leading to art ( which this of course is so here there is a real value to it ), to introduce oneself as an artist to me, if they also happen to think and probably are more then what that single label signifies. They also might be an athlete / carpenter /...for example but if they are not introducing or extending themselfes also as such then why would I assume. And even if they're not, and truly are only that what their introduction label signifies, an artist, a photographer, a carpenter,....there's always a relationship esthablished with an image, a presentation, more then with an individual. It's the way society works on the surface but the image doesn't tell me anything beyond the convention of that image, it doesn't expand, not for the carpenter nor for the artist. So the carpenter who's also an artist might as well be introduced as a carpenter, not ? If the carpenter label doesn't exclude that he or she might be an artist, like you say.
    Rejecting labels like the artist label has got nothing to do with undervaluing that something, or the other thing that isn't labeled. What it does more to me is that it values or levels everything, and with it cancelling out assumptions, rather then establishing them.
    To me it's not so much an issue but more a neutral observation concerning labels, which yes, are necessary to some extent. I have no problem with introducing myself as a photographer if someone asks what I do.
     
  44. Even they got you hanging on MAMA right now you still can't be whole sure it's art you deed coz it can be a practical jock they pull on you or a future generations will not get it or something. So lets keep this discussion going.
     
  45. I donno... labels and stereotypes perform a certain level of social value. There is a limited value to it of course... but a value none-the-less. It helps to provide a context for other things. For instance... a label can modify the similarly limited value of physical appearance. Someone looking at me might think I'm a bum or a drug addict or crazy. But when they find out I'm an artist, then my sloppy appearance becomes not only acceptable, but to some... a romantic ideal. Visions of the bohemian lifestyle come bubbling up in their brains. I'm not a bohemian... I don't have any of the privilege that affords that life... but I suppose it's better to be thought a bohemme than a bum. There is also the matter of the self prescribed label. Oh boy, the culture warriors love that one. I have a friend who goes to Punk shows, wears black leather with diaper pins, schoolgirl skirts, is pierced and tatoo'd, and dyes her hair and does it into a mohawk. But she claims shes not a Punk. And yet, that is what she advertises to every single person she meets. And despite her claims to not be a Punk, she pretty well much plays the part by rejecting authority and breaking things. So maybe she's not a Punk and maybe on a personal level she doesn't feel like a Punk, but for anyone outside of her circle, it's probably best that they assume she is. That way they can't get too mad if something gets stolen or broken or if a drunken fight breaks out.
    Sure, it makes me upset when people use that awful word bohemme, or when they assume I have privilege or worse, that because I can draw that makes me automatically rich (what planet are these people FROM anyway?). But there are worse things someone could assume about you... and at least many people in our society admire artists... for some vague reasons I cannot understand, but they do. They are willing to excuse certain strange appearances and strange behaviors that would normally be unacceptable. So if being labeled "artist" gives me the license to be my weird SELF, then bring it on. If it gives people some romantic notion of me and my friends sipping wine and talking in riddles for fun, that's fine too. If people imagine that I sleep in a hammock in some 19th century house with other artists... well... to be fair, I have before, so whatever. If they assume I'm interested in New York City (still haven't figured that one out yet) then I guess that will just lead to a very short conversation. If this was Germany in 1936, then "artist" would be a dangerous label. Sure there are people today who hate artists... but those kinds of people generally don't like anything, so good luck getting on their A list.
     
  46. Phylo--
    I didn't take you as presenting the label thing as a neutral observation on your part. It felt like you were expressing a particular investment in telling others to reject labels and even in rejecting them yourself. I think that investment is worth looking at, especially because you resemble an artist to me. And I understand and never believed you were devaluing artists with what you were expressing. I knew it was simply a rejection of the label "artist."
    Among gay friends particularly my own age, we often discuss and explore and are forced to look at our own internalized homophobia. Sure, we've got plenty of crap coming at us from the rest of the world . . . it blares from TV stations and think tanks all day long. Coming out decades ago was hard and some stuff is still hard. To an extent, though we rejected it at an early age, we all seem to have bought into some of the negative stereotypes of being gay. And there is a constant process of being OK with who we are. It may be more heightened with gay people because of the overt exterior hostility, but it's not like everyone doesn't go through some sort of coming out, especially in adolescence, and even in later years. And sure, "gay" and "artist" can be used as meaningless labels but they are also used quite meaningfully. "Gay" became a significant culture and a significant political and social movement. The label grew out of and helped form that. I'm proud to declare myself to be gay. And that doesn't mean I'm not also friend to straight folks, not also a son, an uncle, a brother, a photographer, and a philosopher. And it doesn't have to mean I love Judy Garland, though I do! (I've never done drag, though. I guess there's still time.) Sometimes "gay" is relevant and helpful to enunciate, sometimes it's out of place. Sometimes, I shutter at the thought that I found myself subtly hiding it in a particular situation. That's the internalized homophobia, which can sometimes be a protective mechanism and sometimes be quite helpful and wise in avoiding danger. In any case, the stereotypes, which almost seem inevitable, are constantly being used to empower us. Drag, for example, is the height of stereotyping and does give a lot of men power over that stereotype. Just look at Wanda Sykes's comedy routines sometime and watch her utilize and enjoy the stereotypes of "being black." She empowers herself and her audiences with it.
    I relate this somewhat to calling myself an artist. There is some discomfort around it, since it's kind of a new part of me and an evolutionary process I'm going through. It's a sort of coming out. It's telling people I'm going to be showing them my photographs with the hopes of some emotional response and connection, something different from the kind of response they would give to my vacation pictures or family snaps. It's setting the stage for a more intimate look at objects I've created that I want to share with them. As Patrick says, it comes with romantic visions of bohemianism (something I doubt most people that know me will start to imagine for me), of non-practicality. It will likely explain some of my recent behaviors, even some passionate outbursts, obsessiveness, quirkiness. I don't feel myself using either label to gain anything. (Well, maybe that's not true. Maybe in some circles introducing myself as gay is more likely to land me a date. In some circles it will make me cool and trendy. In some, it might get me teased or even killed.) There are many side products of labels that are much more about human behavior than about the label. Sure, vapid uses of labels, labels used to stereotype or objectify, are not desirable to me. But the assertion of who I am is not a problem for me. And in some cases, one simple word captures a whole lot. My identity can be fluid, evolving, and multi-faceted. But I can also get a great amount of strength through the solidarity that certain cultural identities and ties can afford. Being gay and using that word to describe myself affords me a certain cultural community from which I get a lot and to which I give a lot. For me, it's more than who I sleep with, as it is for many men my age who went through the Stonewall riots and 15 years later were caring for fellow 30-year-olds who were dying of AIDS. Not to embrace that identity, even that simple single word, would feel false and limiting to me. I feel the same way about "photographer" and "artist."
     
  47. I guess that should've been "shudder at the thought" . . . oops!
     
  48. [Rebecca B] " Who edits?"
    Everyone edits. The problem with Flickr is...just now, I searched for "North Carolina". In the first five hits, there were single folders with 285, 225, 327, 604, 680+, and 1027 images in them. Yes, I know it's allowed , and that people are entitled to use up all the bandwidth they can afford, but it's not conducive to viewing or searching, because one has to wade through a lot of haystacks, never mind hay, for every needle. It has nothing whatsoever to do with affecting/controlling their taste.
    _________________________________________________
    Phylo, I agree with what Steve said, specially for Steve. What others choose to do is their business, no? Or do we all have to do the same thing?
    Loved the (reminiscent of Mark "Rent-Boy" Renton's rant in Trainspotting) laundry list:
    I'm not a photographer. I'm not an artist. I'm not the car I drive. I'm not the contents of my wallet. I'm not what's on my businesscard. I'm not a Taoist...
    Reject labels.
    Reject identities.
    Reject conformity.
    Reject convention.
    Reject definitions.
    Reject names.
    To which, in Phylo's own tradition, I would add:
    Reject guys telling you what to reject (myself included).

    And I'll resist (or is it reject?) the feeble non-temptation of asking you just what are you (What you eat? Reject food. The genes you inherited? Reject your body. ), because you'd be forced to respond in grunts, and mimesis doesn't really come across well outside of video on computers.
    I'm a sociable creature, and on the continuum between the Faceless Collective and Ayn Rand, I would rather be a member of several tribes -- and myself -- than an Army of One.
    ____________________________________________
    Where are all these hordes of tortured souls, agonizing about whether they're making art or not while photographing? AFAIK, they must exist, but in minute numbers because they're so hard to see.
    Let's do see....I Googled "am I doing art?" and got 272,000 hits. Wow, seems like a lot, no? Until I did the same for "Pictures of me on the toilet" and got 535,000 hits, which doesn't really settle anything, but inflates the absurdity of the whole thing, which may be to the good.
    ___________________________________
    [Cue the Twilight Zone theme:]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHIFMkmhDY0
    I'm off for a steamy short hike (with a P&S, forgive me, Lord) through a small coastal forest, then a short drive to meet with four friends (yes, artists) this evening at a cafe' that has the...shudder... Boheme word in it. I didn't choose it, either. Small world. Synchronicity? Bad odds? Am I another standing wave in the Gulag of Cliche's?
     
  49. I decided a long long time that people (especially artists) complaining about something being a cliche was itself just another silly cliche. People just take themselves and everything else way too seriously.
    I used to be on a crusade to defame and hate on people who claimed to be artists who seemed to be more interested in attention or fame or money or status than actually creating something real. Now I just ignore them. No gallery shows, no art magazines. It's sorta like when I used to watch TV, the advertisements always made me mad. Now I just don't watch TV. Sure I'll watch a DVD of a show if people recommend it, but I'm not suffering through the BS just to get to the meat. That's one of the truly wonderful things about the internet. You can discover art and music and shows that are not part of the common collective that fit your personal expectations. You don't have to be constantly disappointed in commercialized work, because the internet gives us access to (virtually) everything. The record companies and movie distributors would like us to think that the internet is evil... but no, it's just giving us a choice, and it turns out that people are just really sick of bad movies and bad music (although bad movies still do end up making money for some reasons I cannot fathom).
    I think Fred's lifestyle is another good example of that... even if you live in the smallest hick town, you can get online and meet with people and talk with people with ideas that fit your own. And that's not about cultivating pockets of yes-men... it's about knowing that you are not alone. Unfortunately that also includes the sickos and neo-nazis out there, but in a way I'm glad they are online too. Because personally, I'd rather be able to read my enemies' thoughts in his blog than live in dark ages of the unknown. That's the beauty of our society. Freedom of expression also means freedom to out yourself as an idiot.
     
  50. Luis, I was thinking more about Tyler Durden's words in Fight Club when I started the list of "I 'm not..." : )
    Reject labels.
    Reject identities.
    Reject conformity.
    Reject convention.
    Reject definitions.
    Reject names.
    = more a little insight from taoism ( " he who can name the tao isn't following the true tao " ), then it is me telling others what to do. Yes, it was to vague from me to make that clear in simply ending my list with " I'm not a Taoist ". Of course truly rejecting labels would be in NOT saying " I'm not this or that " either.
    I would think rejecting labels and names/definitions in this light of spirit is affirming the mind and body without any conditioning, so the question to what one IS can come directly from this rejection.
    Reject guys telling you what to reject (myself included).​
    Yes, I agree. Krishnamurti style. Defining something as good makes it necessary to see the other thing as bad and reject it, but which isn't always to be true. Establishing an awareness of the way things are ( the mark of an artist ? ), of what one is, can come from recognizing the influence that labels, identities, definitions, names have on our conditioned minds.

    Fred,
    I didn't take you as presenting the label thing as a neutral observation on your part. It felt like you were expressing a particular investment in telling others to reject labels and even in rejecting them yourself. I think that investment is worth looking at, especially because you resemble an artist to me. And I understand and never believed you were devaluing artists with what you were expressing. I knew it was simply a rejection of the label "artist."​
    Yes, I wasn't so much rejecting artists but more the label "artist", perhaps especially that label because I think art made wants and needs to go beyond most if not all labels, names, definitions. They don't hold the paint, ink or silver together, or the words in a poem, nor do they evoke the experience of art. Words are of course neccesary to communicate but when I say " I'm a scientist ", the word scientist becomes a label, differentiating me, as a scientist, from anything spiritual. Science doesn''t need to be afraid to recognize its search for the spiritual, as I think it's the inherent driving force of science. Likewise I think the driving force of art ( besides also the spiritual ) is mostly plain life, the non-artistic and somewhat the exact opposite of it. The word "artist" or "art" used as a label then and putting too much emphasis on it, disconnects it from the mostly non-artistic driving force or intention behind it.
     
  51. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    The problem with Flickr is...just now, I searched for "North Carolina". In the first five hits, there were single folders with 285, 225, 327, 604, 680+, and 1027 images in them. Yes, I know it's allowed , and that people are entitled to use up all the bandwidth they can afford, but it's not conducive to viewing or searching, because one has to wade through a lot of haystacks, never mind hay, for every needle. It has nothing whatsoever to do with affecting/controlling their taste.​
    I assume that people who have folders with that many images in them won't be all that interesting since they haven't done the full work. I also think the Flickr works if you're reading a few subscribed people, not trying to use it as a museum/generic image access file. Think of Flickr as works in progress, trials, the slate slabs that people learned to paint on, and not every Paleolithic painter had work reproduced in the coffee table Paleolithic Art books.
    Flickr is too impossibly big to be edited by anyone. Most people want to shoot the shots that are formalistic, which are important only to their families. I''m more likely to look around photo.net for things to look at than on Flickr outside the people I'm subscribed to.
     
  52. I found a lot of benefit in the parts of this thread that came through the personalizing of the subject, when it was about the people who are artists, and about goals, not the label per se. The tie to my coming out was a discovery prompted by Rebecca's question, an exploration of me and my relationship to what I do.
    A discussion about labels seems a bit distanced and a bit easy. It's a little bit of a disappointment to me.
    Is a discussion about labels actually accomplishing the very same negative things that labels themselves can do? Do we risk staying on the surface and being superficial by not going beyond "I use labels"/"I don't use labels" and not revealing something about who we are (or who we are becoming or what we're doing)?
    The question at the top of the page was "Can art be a goal?" Is there a way we can answer that without worrying too much about the label? Can we give to that question? Or are we indeed suffocated by it?
     
  53. "...and not revealing something about who we are (or who we are becoming or what we're doing)?"​
    I wouldn't know how to put into words who I am, what I might become and what I'm doing. I doubt I'll know how to at 50. Label me clueless ! And I can't talk about what I'm doing photographically in this context. If I could I would be a writer or a poet, something else then what I am right now.
    Art can be a goal as much as contemplating the universe can be a goal. It's a goal that doesn't neccesarily has an end or a destination in sight, no problem as both can sustain my interest endlessly.
     
  54. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    A lot of things like jazz and science fiction and some poetry are kinds of discussions where people are playing off each other, using something of common forms, and trying to extend the emotional and intellectual range of what the art (in the non-evaluative sense) can do. Documentation was previously part of what painting and drawing did; we call the people who draw from eye-witness descriptions police artists, but we don't generally look at what they do other than as visual information.
    Photography has taken over most of the role of documenting things visually, so that's one use of photography. If we're not just about the documentation, then the photograph has to have other goals that are more emotional or about visual perception. Art is about the form more than the documentation -- can we live with that? I don't know if escaping visual documentation is totally useful -- it's part of what a photograph is, it's a way to move the audience along with the pleasure of geometry, visual surprise or delight.
    If it's just the visual documentation, perhaps it's not intended as art, but can be art (not simply the sum of its identifiable images) if the photographer was sensitive to other factors at play in a photographic composition.
    As a goal, using a photograph to try to engage something more than simple visual recognition of an object seems pretty obvious. Even the visual recognition of the objects can contribute to the overall impact of a photograph.
    Is that a possible definition where the goal would be to actually take a photo that does more with the medium than creating a visual memory device?
     
  55. [Rebecca B] " A lot of things like jazz and science fiction and some poetry are kinds of discussions where people are playing off each other, using something of common forms, and trying to extend the emotional and intellectual range of what the art (in the non-evaluative sense) can do."
    The same exact thing happens in many kinds of human activity, including Photography, and there's plenty of exchanges, and hybridization.
    [RB] " Documentation was previously part of what painting and drawing did; we call the people who draw from eye-witness descriptions police artists, but we don't generally look at what they do other than as visual information."
    History and genealogy (forms of documentation) were the realms of song and poetry. In some cultures, they also serve as instructional documents for performing various tasks (hunting, cooking, etc). Art was the first form of human communications/consciousness encoded outside the body.
    Video has taken over the role of documentation. I would not roll with the idea that form rules over content in art. There's usually a tension between the two, but it's not as simple as A>B. Snapshots are mnemonic fetishes.
    [RB] " Is that a possible definition where the goal would be to actually take a photo that does more with the medium than creating a visual memory device?"
    Here's the problem with your persistent "goal" idea: Games have goals. Art is not a game. In a game we have a repetitive, clearly defined method of achieving goals/points and it adds up to 'winning'. In art, there is no such thing. While one can set personal goals for their own art, the idea of a universal condition or set(s) of actions, that if performed guarantees "art" is absurd. Besides, no one but a few (1/2 as many as post pictures of themselves on the john!) worry about whether it's art or not, but whether it's good or not.
     
  56. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Here's the problem with your persistent "goal" idea: Games have goals. Art is not a game. In a game we have a repetitive, clearly defined method of achieving goals/points and it adds up to 'winning'. In art, there is no such thing. While one can set personal goals for their own art, the idea of a universal condition or set(s) of actions, that if performed guarantees "art" is absurd. Besides, no one but a few (1/2 as many as post pictures of themselves on the john!) worry about whether it's art or not, but whether it's good or not.​
    I think I've been more in agreement with you than not on this. In English Departments, things that are more about entertainment than anything else are not literature, but trying to write things that are not entertaining formal stories (beginning middle end) can mean becoming quite boring. If a person is relying on being superb at intellectual challenges, they do need the IQ to be up there. If they're playing with startling juxtapositions, that's not going to be all that successful without a creative mind. Knock offs of Kafka or Borges are not particularly startling.
    If we get into questions of "what is good," I think the only way to go is to do what I think is good, learn more of what I think is necessary, and let the work take care of itself with any larger audience.
    The word "art" can be a couple of things. One is art in the sense of drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, ray-traced and other computer graphics -- with writing and music being kin but outside. The other is art is something done for emotional pleasure, for beauty, for certain kinds of intellectual excitement -- a bridge can be beautiful but beauty isn't necessarily why it's built. Using beautiful natural objects in photographs or paintings doesn't necessarily make for interesting photographs. When I'm up in the mountains, I watch people shooting the Shenandoah Valley with their cell phones and wonder what in the world do they expect to take home with them (other than the mnemonic fetishes, as you say).
    They're not going to look like the mountains look in RL; they're not generally going to be interesting photographs as photographs (much easier to take interesting portraits of people than interesting landscape photographs, at least for me, and I like Fred's photography of people better than his photographs without people). Julie's birds live in some form of the Uncanny Valley, unsettling not real.
    There's some evidence that scientific and mathmatical observations were also encoded outside the human body very early (Marshak wrote about that, if I'm remembering correctly, the book is at home).
    Defining what's good is to either accept Plato or run out of the building screaming, I think. In most things that we can categorize as art in the non-game, non-food, shelter, body covering sense, what's considered good seems to be a moving target and more than a little culturally framed. We're rooted in our cultures (family and higher levels of cultures) even though we may seriously want to correct them, challenge them, or explore them more deeply. And most of our cultures have generally accepted ideas about what's good (at one time, before cameras, likeness was important in Western drawing and painting as a basic core competency).
    In most fields, people have an early stage where what they do is good because they do it. For anything I've done or seen done, people have to get beyond that stage to improve. Thinking about it, there has to be a fruitful tension between objectivity and hope to continue to work at doing things better. The eye/mind has to become educated (formally, informally, intuitively, organically) and to hope for better work to come to keep getting better.
    Some people get jammed at the early stage (I am creating this so it must be good). Other people become jammed at becoming reasonably competent and start repeating what worked before or quit because they have no hope of getting better.
     
  57. Imitative work/knock offs, no matter how great the source, are dull, particularly to an educated viewer. Unless one makes it their own (and no longer a knock-off) somehow, and/or adds, subtracts, reinterprets, recontextualizes it, they are weak or at best, a good copy.
    [RB]- " Defining what's good is to either accept Plato or run out of the building screaming, I think."
    Let's do neither. Put Philosophy aside for a minute. How do we know when a work (and not just a photograph or even art) is good? And I don't mean a crystallized, caged, definitive, rigorously mortified definition, but a real-world, imperfect, breathing, flexible, living, evolving one.
    We can start with what Patrick said about the only opinions on his art he respects: "other artists I respect".
    What are other ways we can tell a work is good?
    I still disagree with RB's duality in the meaning of the a-word.
    [RB] - " When I'm up in the mountains, I watch people shooting the Shenandoah Valley with their cell phones and wonder what in the world do they expect to take home with them (other than the mnemonic fetishes, as you say)."
    Any camera (and printer, for that matter) can be used to make art. These categories people impose (specially on PN), or formulae as to what is 'required' to make art, and other unfounded assumptions, take us back to the signifier quagmire and the egos of the people making the comments.
    Remember the Diana? Lomo? Holga? Pinhole cams? No camera? In the right hands all are eminently capable of producing perfectly viable works of art. Here's a few examples:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18824759/
    http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/10/readers-3/
    http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=PY296&i=&i2=&CFID=5354688&CFTOKEN=68032229
    http://www.burnmagazine.org/essays/2009/05/michal-daniel-in-your-face/
    [RB] - " They're not going to look like the mountains look in RL"
    Nor do they when photographed with a 16x20 banquet camera. Cameras do not see like the eye does.
    [RB] " they're not generally going to be interesting photographs as photographs
    Unfounded assumption. Don't be so sure. They might be more interesting than anything any of us here will ever make.
    [RB] " (much easier to take interesting portraits of people than interesting landscape photographs, at least for me,"
    If that were true, and I don't think it is, why would one take the 'easy' path?
    I also read Alexander Marshack's fascinating book and NG article. The records of moon phases, etc were to me like notes, or notches (literally) of kills. The engraved animals were closer to Art & encoded psychic energies that in my opinion, transcended mere bookeeping. And there's far older art than what he was working on, some abstract, some figurative. A few things date back to .25 - .7m BC.
    Loved the Freudian theory of the development of goodness.
     
  58. In the right hands all are eminently capable of producing perfectly viable works of art. Here's a few examples:​
    http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/10/readers-3/
    Luis, to me Pink Floyd, to pick an example, is a work of art. As evidenced in the entire scope and conceptual continuity of their produced music. A collection ( collection, in contrast to production ) of great songs or music made with cellphones ( which is also perfectly possible ) and made by many different individuals = a collection of great songs or music made with cellphones by many different individuals. Just like the link showing great and compelling pictures made with cellphones is a link that shows :great compelling pictures made with cellphones, by many different individuals. The link doesn't exclude the possibility of cellphones being capable of producing perfectly viable works of art ( why not security cams, should and could be as equally capable ), but the link isn't necessarily showing it to me either. So I don't see the logic in this context to elevate anything and everything beyond what it is as the premise for defending the democracy of art. It's as unreliable as claiming to proof the opposite, that art is only for the elite.
     
  59. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    RB] - " When I'm up in the mountains, I watch people shooting the Shenandoah Valley with their cell phones and wonder what in the world do they expect to take home with them (other than the mnemonic fetishes, as you say)."
    Any camera (and printer, for that matter) can be used to make art. These categories people impose (specially on PN), or formulae as to what is 'required' to make art, and other unfounded assumptions, take us back to the signifier quagmire and the egos of the people making the comments.​
    Well, yeah, but I watch their faces when they chimp. They're not looking too happy. Good photographs can be taken in the mountains with any camera, but they seem to work better when they're about the photograph rather than about the mountains.
    What the naive photographer thinks is happening is taking away something that looks like the mountain. The Blue Ridge under most summer conditions tricks cameras, tricks the eye on vista shots. We map in mentally what we know is in the slight mist, but the camera can't pull that trick off.
    That's an "at least for me." Took me a while to have the nerve to photograph people.
    The ego is not a bad thing as long as we realize other people also have egos.
    The English department folks thought that if I were writing s.f., I couldn't be writing literature. At best, it was a popular culture phenomenon worthy of study as a separate thing than literature, or almost literature (I had a friend among the adjuncts who didn't feel like this was a reasonable description).
    At least here, we're not trading in that distinction, which I find to be a relief. Any form can produce art; not all attempts to transcend the form actually succeed.
    I guess someone could drag <i>Art and Fear</i> in at this point, so I'll do it.
    I'm afraid of what happens if I commit to photography seriously. I think this is somewhat like Fred's comment about coming out as an artist. SF was the closest I had to real world success -- and some people sneered at that because of their own cultural associations, or simply couldn't read it (had no experience with decoding texts like that would be how Samuel R. Delany would have described it). I have no problem with the people who can't read it; I have serious reservations about the taste of people who refused to consider reading it (what were they afraid of, that they might like it?)
    I sometimes think that both people who insist that they're artists and people who insist that they're photographers, writers, portrait painters, etc. are perhaps ignoring the that doing work requires some of both.
     
  60. "Good photographs can be taken in the mountains with any camera, but they seem to work better when they're about the photograph rather than about the mountains." --Rebecca
    Yeah, but good snapshots, good scrapbook keeps, good stuff to show the aunts and uncles at Thanksgiving work better when they're about the mountains.
    A lot of my pics are about memories, places I've been, people I've loved. I have a series of photographs of a dear friend, someone who was born in the building next door to me, a guy I grew up with, went through school with, college, moved to San Francisco with. We were like brothers. These pics were taken with an instamatic, I'm sure in a drug-induced haze. They have a totally pink cast to them, they're all curled up, a little water stained, blurry. He died when we were in our late twenties. Believe me, my heart is moved when I look at them not because they're about the photograph but because they're about Greg, and they're about me and Greg.
    See, that's the thing. Back in those days taking a snapshot was taking a snapshot. I didn't have the Internet or PN convincing me that the photograph mattered. I didn't chimp. I accepted what I got back from the drugstore as the best I could get because I didn't even think about getting anything better. That's the magnificence of the true snapshot. It's all heart.
    Those mountains may be a little disappointing because they've been shown better in the ads, but once they get them home and into the scrapbook, they will suffice. They're not hanging on any walls. They're "keepsakes." And they will work just fine as keepsakes. Remember when we were there, honey. What year was that? How old were the kids? What was the name of that lady who owned the motel where we stayed? It's about ALL THAT.
    I may take offense if someone likens a photo of mine to a snapshot, just like you may take offense if someone says you're not writing literature. But I may not, because I realize the truth in the statement (and reject the judgment as just that, a judgment and not a truth). I take heart in knowing that, even though they may mean a negative judgment by it, I know better. I know the good side of the snapshot and that's OK. I know the spontaneity and heart a snapshot conveys. You know the down side of "lit-ra-ture" (said with an upturned nose and a haughty British accent) and so the put down is really an acknowledgment of something significant and true for you. It's only the judgment that stings but that's just like the bully calling you names in the schoolyard. I learned quickly that it was the bullies that were the morons. That's why I will relish the 4/4 rating from the PN folks when I've done something a bit different or a bit beyond what the mainstream prefers. It may tell me it won't sell here, but it may also tell me I'm an individual with a vision. Either that, or I'm totally kidding myself. There's always that possibility. I can let that crap stifle me or I can evolve and smile past it.
     
  61. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I wish someone had kept my early snapshots or the negatives. I never seen any of them in recent years except two (my mom probably threw them away when I moved to NYC). I sometimes wonder if the girls who paid me fifty cents to a dollar in 1966 kept them.
    Getting the 3 to 7 spread on the snapping turtle under water was enlightening.
    I've got cameras good enough for anything, not that I wouldn't mind having another 4x5 view camera. I did a lot of gear geeking until I realized I had enough, then started thinking about what to do with it. Sharp isn't sufficient in and off itself.
    The people who are happy with the point and shoots and phone cams aren't the people whose faces are showing disappointment with what they're looking at.
    And then there's this guy, who I suspect enjoyed what he was taking.
    The problems with a lot of people and art is that they don't think they can do it. The myth of talent, innate ability, stops more people than the lack of capacity to do things.
    00Ut5L-185365684.jpg
     
  62. "The problems with a lot of people and art is that they don't think they can do it. The myth of talent, innate ability, stops more people than the lack of capacity to do things." --Rebecca
    I think a lot of people can't do it. It's hard. It takes dedication. Learning. Focus. Passion. Being exposed. It can be a lot more draining than my 9-5 job was because I don't stop. But the drain is exhilarating, too. Consider that a lot of people don't want to do it.
    Most of the people taking pictures of the mountain who are disappointed because they're photo isn't that good just want a better photo. It's got zero to do with art for most of them. Most of them don't even think about art. They think they just don't know how to use the camera right. And, of the many of them who think they could make art if they just learned the right settings or had a better camera, many are fooling themselves. We said that art has to be declared or come about by context, but we didn't say that declaring art makes it so and we didn't say that a desire to do art makes it easy or possible.
    Tell Mozart that talent and innate ability are myths. Hell, tell Salieri! Of course, learning your craft and honing your skill are also mighty important. Even Wolfie did finger exercises, practiced scales, and studied harmony.
     
  63. Phylo , cell phones aren't capable of anything unless someone makes them do it. What surveillance cameras do is no more art than the Grand Canyon is. What I wrote was that almost any tool can be used to make art. That looking at tools as signifiers of what can produce art or can't, the manufacturer's wet dream that we so frequently see on PN is generally unproductive. The other links should have showed you what you're talking about. The Lens link I threw in to show that lots of people do good work with their phones. Pink Floyd used a ring tone in at least one of their songs, but I'm sure you know that.
    _______________________
    [Rebecca Brown] "I guess someone could drag Art and Fear in at this point, so I'll do it."
    Have you read the book? I think you might find it interesting.
    http://www.amazon.com/Art-Fear-Observations-Rewards-Artmaking/dp/0961454733
    [RB] - " I'm afraid of what happens if I commit to photography seriously."
    Risk. Growth. Ecstasies and agonies. Flatline, Sargasso Sea days. Falling flat on your face, getting up, and going on. The usual human marvels, terrors, etc. The best part is that you don't know exactly what's going to happen. If you did, it wouldn't be as exciting -- or scary. Commitment is like that, isn't it?
    Or is it because of the earlier trauma in the English department & SF? That what you encountered there may repeat? It could. Or something similar, infinitely better, or worse. That's life.
    [RB] - " I sometimes think that both people who insist that they're artists and people who insist that they're photographers, writers, portrait painters, etc. are perhaps ignoring the that doing work requires some of both."
    Believe it or not, a lot of people do not view the two as mutually exclusive.
    Fred - " I can let that crap stifle me or I can evolve and smile past it."
    Amen.
     
  64. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Luis, <i>Art and Fear</i> is my brother's bible, so yeah, I've read it. I'm 61 -- starting over now is a race against brain biology (my mom began losing it in her late 70s).
    Fred, Mozart was born into a musical family, like Picasso was born into an artistic family. Both had something more than usual there, but I think one of the traps our culture has is assuming that innate talent is all there is, that if you're not a genius, get on with a real job. I've also met people who believed that if a person was a good poet, that person was in academia (most of the people I knew in NYC are now). I even had a tenured woman poet tell me that if I'd worked at it as hard as she did, I could have had a life like hers. I didn't think fast enough to say that if I really had worked at it, I could have had a life like Patti Smith's which would have been much more entertaining and much more fun.
    Salieri wasn't a failure; he just wasn't as good as Mozart. Should he have become a lawyer instead? This is our time's trap, that we must be extraordinary to justify being in the arts -- and it's probably more a provincial/lower middle class/middle class belief, but if doing art is a way of thinking, which I kinda think it is, then doing art is of value to everyone. Not all the country fiddlers in my father's home county became four times champion at Union Grove Fiddling Contest, but one did, and most of the people played their style of music well. The guy who was four times champion at Union Grove ran a short class at one of the local arts centers and told the students that you had your fingering down by twelve, the rest of it was showmanship. Would that be remotely true in urban America where there weren't uncles and fathers who played?
    I even wonder if the idea of being really good or getting out doesn't create all the imitations of more famous work, the imitations of Ezra Pound or the Surrealist in poetry, the imitations of generic fashion photography or the imitations of Raymond Carver or Beckett in MFA programs in Creative Writing. The snapshots don't have that problem, and so can be more fun than the more labored self-concious stuff.
    Lots to think about. Exercising the mind.
    The Chinese upper classes painted with brushes that shaped what people did more than western brushes were designed to do (and people apparently did care about which brush and had brushes made with exotic materials -- I've seen modern jade handed brushes, so an analogy to camera geeking is there if you want it). They were distinct from professional painters who did a different style of painting. The paintings they did were often of traditional subjects handled in traditional ways. The point wasn't to create masterpieces but to do painting. When a culture has a lot of people doing painting or music, the overall quality tends to be higher than when most people never touch the stuff and only people with "real" talent are encouraged to continue.
    I saw at sixteen that I couldn't draw as well as Picasso did at that age without really understanding all the sociiological baggage of that decision, or the advantages of having an art teacher father, or the problem with wanting to be guaranteed that doing art required being one of the most successful artists of the century, or the difficulties a woman might have in being taken seriously in South Carolina in the 1960s). People can do science without having to feel that either one is really successful or a fraud. People can knit without having to measure themselves against Kaffee Fawcett. I knew a woman in Charlotte who designed and sewed her own clothes, did a good job of it, cared about it, but wasn't planning to become a dress designer for a living.
     
  65. "This is our time's trap, that we must be extraordinary to justify being in the arts" --Rebecca
    Rebecca--
    To be honest, it sounds like you have fallen into a trap and are blaming it on the times, on academia, etc. Do you have your own part in this? I understand you've had some bad experiences, but it keeps sounding like you're letting others, especially the bullies, define you.
    Though I like to do good work, I don't set out to create a masterpiece every time. I'm much more interested in having a body of work that expresses something significant. I know full well I'm not Picasso or Bill Brandt. I have found my little niche and I'm sticking to it. Going beyond that may or may not be gravy. This is about Fred, not about Pablo or Wolfgang.
    I used Mozart and Salieri as examples of innate talent and lack, not as examples of someone who should continue and someone who should give up. If Salieri wants to keep making music, more power to him. Whether or not he creates art, however, will not solely be up to him to declare. Same for Mozart. At a certain point, the art is in the Mozart Mass, it's in the G minor Symphony and the string quartets. It's not in your hands, my hands, academia's hands, or Wikipedia's hands. We are just vessels who experience the art that is the music through the ages.
    As for snapshots not being self conscious or labored, I agree. Art doesn't have to be self consciousness (if self consciousness is taken to be more about preoccupation than mind expansion) but good artists often seem to be self aware. I'm sure some great art is born out of self consciousness as well, though often self consciousness will lead more to kitsch or false dramatics. Snapshots are not belabored and don't appear belabored. Good art may be quite labored but won't necessarily appear labored. The Sistine Chapel gives me a sense of a great amount of labor having gone into it yet doesn't feel labored. Snapshots may have qualities I may imbue in my own photos. But it's rare that I want someone else's snapshot framed and hanging on my wall, though it can occur. I think I have to find for myself that right combination of what makes a snapshot great and why someone who wasn't on vacation with me would want to bother looking. That will allow me to make photos or art that will express something to someone else and communicate to them. On the other hand, I can make my art just for me and never even consider a viewer's actually looking at them. Maybe it'll be discovered by a future generation and maybe not. Maybe I just want to or have to do it for the sake of doing it.
    You mention the possibility of being influenced by other work, or even imitating other work, for the sake of being good. The reason I am influenced by other work is because I love it and find challenges in it. Some styles just make me want to own them in my own way. Sometimes I just want to thank another artist by imitating him. I usually give it something of myself rather than making an exact copy. I see nothing wrong in "improvement" or "being good at what I do" and sometimes imitating someone can help both with my craft and in developing my own vision. When the goal seems to be just being good, a trap I can fall into at times, I just remind myself what a distraction it is. I work with all kinds of white noise and distractions tugging for my attention all the time. Dogs bark outside my window, buses go by, friends want to go out and play, crappy TV shows I get drawn to. . . . Nothing inherently bad about wanting to be good at something, except maybe when it become its own raison d'être.
    Academia is a place where we get graded. We get graded in lots of places in life. PN has bought into that crap by having a "ratings" system. One wants to hang in a gallery, one plays a game or gets a good agent or has a whole lot of talent or luck or knows the right people, whatever. Want to make art? There's nothing I gotta do except learn a craft, express myself, and maybe communicate with someone through my medium. All the other stuff is society's baggage.
    Like I said, I buy into that baggage to a certain extent (there are some truly free people, some bohemians as it were, rare birds) and occasionally suffer my own version of that internalized homophobia I talked about. Internalized homophobia and how I deal with it can even be one of those passions that helps make my art. Or I can hide under the covers with it. "The idea of being really good" sounds very much like internalized homophobia. Something with the potential to make me feel less than. I'd either ignore it or put it to good internal use, let it feed my passion. I wouldn't let 'em win.
    And to those who want to have fun taking snapshots, more power to them. Like I said, art isn't and shouldn't be for everyone. It's not always fun and it's not easy.
     
  66. [Rebecca B]- "I think one of the traps our culture has is assuming that innate talent is all there is, that if you're not a genius, get on with a real job."
    Look at the PN galleries. Many of the pro galleries show technically professional-looking just above average work. Such a photographer, if s/he has works like a dog, has strong marketing skills, and is sensitive to market wants, can make a decent living. Genius is not required. Business savvy is. Real genius is, by definition extreme and unstable. It usually ends up either at the top, or at the other end, largely unnoticed.
    Talent is real. I've taught and lectured from the grade-school level to college, and seen it first-hand several times. Many times it came from non-artist (but mostly creative) families, and often from adults and children who had never done art before. But at that point it is simply an indication of potential. Undeveloped, it soon freezes, fades away or becomes a parlor trick.
    One of the great terrors and marvels of the world is that all people are not created equal.
    [RB] - " I've also met people who believed that if a person was a good poet, that person was in academia"
    If they want a steady decent income, some body fat, job security, good credit, retirement, and health insurance, and aren't entrepeneurs, there are worse roads to hoe.
    Fred never said Salieri was a failure, or that he should have done something else. But Salieri knew he was in the presence of a monstrous talent, one capable of things on a daily basis he could not, and would not, ever imagine. There are many levels in the arts. I know people that make a viable living from doing the better sidewalk art show circuit. Do they produce top level work? No, nor do most claim to, though some do grow bitter as the reality of trajectory sets in. It is still an achievement.
    I believe it is a lack of individuation (and all the other things that go with it) that traps people into imitative work. They adopt what they believe are signifers of greatness, misunderstanding the entire process.
    Snapshots are very rigid aesthetically, but thankfully inconsistent, so now and then, often unbeknownst to its maker, great things happen. As I've reamarked here before, I have studied the snapshot to the point where I took a night job at a 1-hr lab near my home in order to be able to have access to innumerable contemporary snaps.
    [RB] - "The point wasn't to create masterpieces but to do painting. When a culture has a lot of people doing painting or music, the overall quality tends to be higher than when most people never touch the stuff and only people with "real" talent are encouraged to continue."
    Non egomaniacs don't set out to "create masterpieces". They're just pushing themselves, doing the best they can. I believe that doing any art or craft is of beneficial value.
    Everyone blew it off, but a key concept that repeats often in RB's ruminations and is often skirted around, is the quality of the work. How do we know it's good? How does anyone know "real" talent?
    [RB] - "...or the problem with wanting to be guaranteed that doing art required being one of the most successful artists of the century, or the difficulties a woman might have in being taken seriously in South Carolina in the 1960s)."
    All those things are paralyzing, though some solutions/alternatives exist. One must do the work, and plow on, no matter what.
    [RB] - People can do science without having to feel that either one is really successful or a fraud.
    You can do anything without having to feel only the extremes of success or failure. It's a handy way to excise where 99% of everyone lives. The all or nothing at all thing. Great way to set yourself up for failure.
    I've known, and know of, lots of photographers who did a good job of it, cared about it, but never planned to become a pro or give up the day job.
     
  67. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I agree with everything except the next to the last statement. Perhaps I've seen too many people fail to get the education they need to do what they want to do because they weren't considered to be people who would be among the artists. We're social creatures -- trying to fight the opinions of those around us isn't trivial. Much easier to be a country musician in Patrick County than in New York City. I knew one man who played professionally in NYC but moved back to Patrick because he didn't have a musical community there. Works in the Post Office, owns rental property. Another one of the local musicians ran a garage and gas station. Third ran a cafe. Music was just life to them.
    Huge numbers of people in proportion to the population learned to play music reasonably well. Not all of them played as well as Turner Foddrell, Buddy Pendleton, or the guy at the Coffee Shop, but the good ones came out of a matrix that recruited as widely as possible.
    I don't really follow country music, bluegrass, old timey, except when I'm there, but it was a revelation about how differently an art community could work. Nothing in that says that people aren't better or worse. None of them were making a living from music. All of them were living music. None of them played what a friend of mine calls "Big Hat Country."
    Dunno if I can agree that art isn't and shouldn't be for everyone. We had a population of 14,000 in that county and I heard some very interesting music there. And two novelists who were published by commercial houses, and a painter as good as anyone at 17 who stopped showing people his work because they'd try to tell them what to do. He ran a lumber yard. People were born into the place; it wasn't like Bolinas for poets in the 1970s.
    I think for those people, music was something that included them all in, even if only as listeners. Community, not identity. Art in most of the US is identity -- in Patrick, everyone listened to the local music except the people from away who were snobs about country music. One touring banjo group included an African banjo player, draw in the connections and traditions. In NYC, listening to country music is getting down with ones roots, something that makes one different from other New Yorkers.
    Never had seen that before in what was otherwise a natural community that people didn't volunteer to belong to.
    Pendleton took playing well seriously, but not making a living at it if it meant not being intelligently appreciated.
    I don't know if this could apply to something like drawing, painting, or photography, or do we want to call art in music only musicians who write what they play?
    This doesn't mean that everyone is equally good.
    What I hated about the academic situation was getting dragged into the middle of a squabble about it instead of being allowed to just do the adjunct teaching and finish my novel and figure out where to do next. I agree with all of them, none of them, waah. Writer, not poet, not s.f. writer, not journalist, not tech writer -- those are ways of being a writer, not who I am.
    Photographer? We'll see. What I want to learn next is to understand how we see photography, have a better understanding of the core principles, to understand what I'm seeing better.
     
  68. "What I want to learn next is to understand how we see photography, have a better understanding of the core principles, to understand what I'm seeing better." --Rebecca
    Then let's talk about that!
     
  69. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I think that's a new topic. :).
     
  70. It's a good idea, Rebecca. If you don't beat me to it, I'll start something on "seeing."
     
  71. Can Art be a Goal or is Art what we call Work that Sustains our Interest?
    To any of these kinds of questions there are always 4 reasonable and arguable answers. just put the words, either, or, neither, both into the question and drop the question mark.
    I have been pondering this thread for a couple of days now as everything about it falls into my areas of expertise, I am an artist who takes photos but I'd never call my photos art, the photgraphy came into my activities simply as a way of documenting my sculpture. Until I plucked up courage to devote my life to making the best art I could I was head of a university art department.
    And sadly much of the confusion is caused by Universities as people have constantly tried to apply some objectivity and therefore describe "art", and once some descripition has acheived a level of acceptance (however small) it is used as a precedent for the next wave of inquirers to extend.
    Because someone (probably a very logical academic) came up with the bright idea that anybody could be an artist, and someone else said, "I am an artist so everything I do is art" -very popular with lazy art students - Art has been devalued. Furthermore the universal application of quasi academic rigour to the assessment of student work has meant that art is assessed on the quality of argument that it contains rather than on the quality of the art itself.
    I suppose contributing this thread was accelerated last evening because I had a number of friends round for dinner, all connected with art, gallery director, curator, art exhibition touring administrator etc, and as is my way I took a few casual snaps of them.
    All agreed and described the included picture as "ART" of course it isn't because I wont give it that title - but I have to acknowledge that if I changed my mind it could be.
    I include it because it contains many of the very silly stereotypes that people generally like to attach to art. In essence its a lousy photo, histogram far too far to the left, looks very grungy and arty.
    Just as people are keen to quote in against the idea that artists set out to make ART there are thousands of examples to show that they do.
    All the best Clive
     
  72. Can Art be a Goal or is Art what we call Work that Sustains our Interest?
    To any of these kinds of questions there are always 4 reasonable and arguable answers. just put the words, either, or, neither, both into the question and drop the question mark.
    I have been pondering this thread for a couple of days now as everything about it falls into my areas of expertise, I am an artist who takes photos but I'd never call my photos art, the photgraphy came into my activities simply as a way of documenting my sculpture. Until I plucked up courage to devote my life to making the best art I could I was head of a university art department.
    And sadly much of the confusion is caused by Universities as people have constantly tried to apply some objectivity and therefore describe "art", and once some descripition has acheived a level of acceptance (however small) it is used as a precedent for the next wave of inquirers to extend.
    Because someone (probably a very logical academic) came up with the bright idea that anybody could be an artist, and someone else said, "I am an artist so everything I do is art" -very popular with lazy art students - Art has been devalued. Furthermore the universal application of quasi academic rigour to the assessment of student work has meant that art is assessed on the quality of argument that it contains rather than on the quality of the art itself.
    I suppose contributing this thread was accelerated last evening because I had a number of friends round for dinner, all connected with art, gallery director, curator, art exhibition touring administrator etc, and as is my way I took a few casual snaps of them.
    All agreed and described the included picture as "ART" of course it isn't because I wont give it that title - but I have to acknowledge that if I changed my mind it could be.
    I include it because it contains many of the very silly stereotypes that people generally like to attach to art. In essence its a lousy photo, histogram far too far to the left, looks very grungy and arty.
    Just as people are keen to quote in against the idea that artists set out to make ART there are thousands of examples to show that they do.
    All the best Clive
    00UtNn-185615584.jpg
     
  73. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Because someone (probably a very logical academic) came up with the bright idea that anybody could be an artist, and someone else said, "I am an artist so everything I do is art" -very popular with lazy art students - Art has been devalued.​
    Clive, the interesting thing about the rural music scene I described was that it was more "learn to play, then learn to perform." One wasn't innately a musician through declaration; one had to learn the fingering.
    I think anyone can learn how to do art at some level, but it's learning the skills, exploring one's mind with something other than words, learning to look at things, that's useful. And this isn't anymore valuable than being able to write well enough to communicate on line. Learning how to write reasonably well is within most people's capacity, but people do have to learn to think about writing and master the various strategies for making order out of a raw alphabet.
     
  74. Rebecca, I think what you've said is essentially right but it highlights the problem with the word "art" as your example says the musician, or anyone can learn and does learn some of the skills associated with something that's called an art, struggling to play a tune is simply what it is, struggling to play a tune, barely music, let alone art.
    One of the other strange things about university departments is that the staff are so familar with so much art that they develop an enthusiastic - perversity of taste, hence so much kitchy, trivial and studiedly un-professional looking stuff.
    In any of the visual arts the problem is that people have to attempt to create a memorable product and the easisest way to do this is to borrow/steal a very unpopular aesthetic from an area not usually thought of as being art.
    Clive
     
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    These guys didn't struggle to play a tune. I suspect the ones who couldn't quit rather than embarrass themselves (nobody wanted to play badly). I knew a professional folk musician in Philadelphia who travelled around the mountains and found some of the same thing. Twice, I've thought I was listening to a record when I was hearing live music -- once in San Francisco, someone playing the piano near Nob Hill. The other time was listening over the phone to the background banjo music while getting a volunteer fire department report. It was, in that case, his 12 year old son playing.
    The taste in these places is very conservative and very few people write new song lyrics or compose new tunes (there are some), but there are lots of musicians per capita who do more than carry a tune.
    One reason I like the idea of the meta-snapshot is that any virtues it would have would not be screamingly obvious, but then I'm not planning to become an academic photographer any time soon.
     
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    Thinking about this overnight, I think the thing that Patrick does with traditional music, blues, and jazz is what cultures that have a community art tradition do -- they start kids early and the recruitment base is very large. People are better or worse than other people, some people quit playing as soon as they discover sports (it's mostly a male tradition though some families of blues players have women who play the guitar); other play professionally or semi-professionally (people who only play in the area will be semi-pro). So if someone has innate talent compared to others, the person has a more thorough grounding in technique before hitting age 12, and many of the people listening to him know what they're listening to.
    A kid with a talent for visual arts there (and I knew of one with a marked ability) isn't going to get training early or even training in high school, much less an educated audience, and to continue in his practice and find an audience receptive to what he was doing, an audience that knew something about color handling in modern art, he would have had to have left the county. He quit showing work to people locally because nobody got it and people asked him to paint other things. Last time I heard anything about him, he ran a sawmill.
    Compare the way Europe teaches foreign languages and the way the US teaches foreign languages.
    Also, in the US, there's a strong commercial pressure to make fewer art/entertainment products and sell them to more people -- television, movies, Harry Potter. If people are entertaining their own communities with locally produced work, Big Entertainment suffers.
    Academia also has economic motives to want lots of people to take cases to support teachers, but not to create lots of competition for teaching jobs.
    Patrick County's music wasn't my preferred music, but I could hear that they did it well and the local radio stations in that culture tended to not play Big Hat Nashville country and often played local music tapes in with people like the Statler Brothers (who stayed in an area where the music tradition is still alive rather than move to Nashville or New York or LA).
    One of the reason a lot of us spent time in NYC or SF (and I spent time in both) is that there are communities in those places that value art and are sophisticated viewers/listeners/readers. But it's identity art, defines us as not general population, rather than community art, which has almost vanished outside the entertainment industry's offerings. Nobody in PC thought they were special for listening to country music. It just was there. In NYC, listening to country music, bluegrass, is identity music, set the listeners off from the community around them.
    The academic art world is definitely identity art -- and I think that's why something that was another community's identity art sat so badly with them, though people who actually were good writers tended to be able to recognize good writers in other communities. Best jazz players can hear what's good about Hank Williams. African musicians can apprehend Western music when to average non-playing Africans, it sounds like noise.
    I don't know if I picked up this idea about arts being community or identity from anywhere in a codified form, or if I derived it from some things in W.H. Auden.
    Maybe a sign of a thing being identity art is the artist placeholder. The sign of something being community art is the placeholder that refers to the technical way the art object is produced -- fiddler, mandolin player, photographer, painter.
    Nothing wrong with either -- most of what I've done has been identity art of various kinds -- s.f. particularly so, and neither focus guarantees excellence. And the same music or art that's community art in its community can be identity art elsewhere or elsewhen -- bluegrass, Central American textiles, church frescos, Elizabethan plays.
     
  77. Rebecca--
    What do you want to accomplish and what process for yourself are you interested in and/or moved by regarding your own photographs. How does photographing make you feel, or what are you trying to express or communicate, or can you give something to a community or the world or yourself with your vision? What motivates you? Are you "looking" for something?
     
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    Right now, I'm still figuring out the tools I have. I have a vague sense of the work that exists if I work toward it. I want to keep a sense of play in the work, a sense of the comic, use the sharpness my current suite of cameras and lenses give me for some purpose I'm getting possible glimmers of.
    I need to take photographs now, which does not oblige other people to look at them. I love learning new things.
    I also want to step away from the solemnness of much of what I see that's done as art (for me, not a goal that I think everyone should have). To do the work without thinking about the work as I'm doing it, put all the energy in execution, prepare the eye before hand but have the knowledge work itself into instinct.
    And it may be that I'm just taking a break from writing. I often got balled up with commercial/non-commercial, critical success/critical failure invidious comparisons and when I didn't get an unequivocal answer to the latter, I got frustrated. Playing in another medium is a relief from that. I don't know if I'll move completely over to photography in my old age, but if I can do work and learn not to worry about how successful it is other than I learned something from it, then I'd have gotten something useful out of photography.
    What I'm going to do next (in the next day or so) is some still lifes under lights. I've got a drawing manikin, a stuffed toy dog, and a Korean stone pot. Theme and variations.
    And I may be applying for a seasonal job shooting baby pictures if I can afford it. I've had two earlier occasions where I almost did that, and didn't, one at 19, another in my late 20s.
    For me, I think the "I am an artist" identity is a distraction. I would waste energy worrying rather than concentrating on the work. That's for me, not for everyone. If people do better work identifying themselves as artists, then they should do that.
    "I'm creative" or "I can be creative" frames things differently. I can be creative, I think.
     
  79. Hi again, I'm sorry to say this but I think you are procrastinating and if I put my professor hat on I'd say you are going through stages of getting ready for a burst of work. It is my experience, watching students over many years, that almost everybody has some form of process that they go through before they start something, even on a daily basis it was intersting to see one person have 2 cups of coffee, another go round the studio seeing if they could help someone else, and so on.
    You are trying to form a thesis, and I get the feeling that you want to win the argument that probably underpins the actions you are about take. Sadly it is just one of the many reasonable propositions, no more right or wrong than the others, so my advice is to settle for it being quite reasonable, potentially very productive and something that will only play-out through doing.
     
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    Are you the Australian Clive-Murray White who does sculpture? (I like to put the work to the name -- some folks don't have any up on Photo.net).
    I've been through this before when I switched from poetry to fiction, and I suspect I'll survive whatever comes. Keep in mind I'm 61, not 21. :).
     
  81. Yes that's me, 63.
    My guess is you'll thrive on it. you've probably found my web site, this where I post photos
    http://halfa.smugmug.com.
    As I said somewhere before, my art is my sculpture, but I have fun taking snaps.
    All the best Clive
     
  82. Rebecca, it's normal to think about the nomenclature, feel some trepidation, and ponder your personal vectors. Call yourself and your work whatever you want, as long as it aids and abets you. Let go of the things that interfere with creative energies flowing through you & the work getting done. I agree with Clive that you're nearing the end of a gestation period. One can feel the energy welling up through you.
     
  83. I like what Clive and Luis have said and I appreciate Rebecca's openness and approach to this whole topic. I've gotten a lot both out of listening and out of thinking how all of this relates to me.
     
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    It's been fun. I've read through it a couple of times. Fred, why don't you post something on seeing.
     
  85. jtk

    jtk

    Rebecca, I don't have any advice for you, particularly about how you should feel or what you should ponder. Maybe that has to do with my appreciation for wimmen :)
    Your use of "?" is meaningful... the question form suggests honesty, actually indicates it in your case.
    Posts without "?" often indicate strutting, don't you think ? :)
     
  86. I still need to read through this, after returning to the forum after a several week absence. So, you might excuse my lack of information in regard to points made in the discussion.
    But taking simply the end sentence of the OP, "Is trying to write Literature or make Art over all other considerations useful? Why?" I would say that nobody should make an apology for having artistic ambitions or objectives. It is a very worthwhile pursuit, even if one other major consideration may be as, if not more, important, or "useful" - that of putting food on the table and a shelter overhead.
    Otherwise, go for it - the mind of man requires the challenges of the unknown, of the difficult to understand and the need for beauty, knowledge, friendship, wisdom and fulfillment in the all too short residency we have in this world.
    If art as an objective inspires you, and allows you that adventure, or a significant part of it,...great!
     
  87. Reading through of what's been written by Rebecca, for me the link with existentialism is quickly made. Existentialism had and continues to have a profound impact on anything art, in particular literature. However, existentialism isn't a literary movement, that would be ignoring its foundation as a philosophy. But the main motive I see running through Rebecca's posts is that of responsibility, being responsible for the choices we're NOT making just as much as being responsible for the choices we are making.
    If art is a goal, and art is about the artist, about the individual breaking free from the pack, the herd, the others, about cutting loose in a way to find ones own voice ( not only creatively, but also socially,... ), than with that goal comes a significant choice. And taking responsibility for that choice, having the intention to fully embrace it. It only takes a cliff and the willingness to jump to transform into an artist. To transform into an artist of life, not only being a painter, sculptor, writer,...
    If we see and practice art as work that sustains our interest ( just like a job that we accept to do for a living ?), and practiced in the context of the community rather then the individual then that's a choice we're making, but to me, there's more a lack of choice in that choice. It's choosing not to choose, which is fine as long as one takes responsibility for that.
    Too often the intention of the self-declared artist is to be superior to some group of other people by being different​
    I see that the intention of the artist ( the artist of life ) is not to be superior but to embrace the possibility of choice, of freedom. And taking responsibility for the choice being made. That's the main intention right there and it's the only thing that seperates the artist from other people, or from the group that takes the artist to be superior. If the group is taking the artist to be superior, than the group is not taking the responsibility for their choice. The individuals belonging to "the group" are dwelling in their unwillingness to choose. But there's no magic in being an artist or not being one. All it takes is a cliff. And sooner or later everyone stands before one.
     
  88. jtk

    jtk

    "If the group is taking the artist to be superior, than the group is not taking the responsibility for their choice. "
    That seems an Ayn Rand perspective...not incorrect so much as a politically utilitarian pointed finger...the view Ayn Rand's fictional architect held.
    I think the opposite is more relevant to the OT: The imagined "group" recognizes that the "artist" is in fact not superior, is tired of his pleas for recognition as a exceptional person, apart, with no group responsibility. The narcissism that often characterises "artists" is not similar to the power that is experienced with "real" artists (think Picasso, Stieglitz).
    This suggests the imagined group's challenge is to take less for granted on the basis of handy labels: Is the work of the fellow with the beret compelling, or merely pleasing, for example? Perhaps that group could be more demanding of "art", rather than less so?
    Let's not take existential thought too lightly. Sartre struggled with both individual and group responsibility... a French Communist Party Member (not just "fellow traveler") as well as individual existentialist: the paradox created his significance.
    The easy self-satisfaction of identifying oneself as a "this" or "that" seems counter to an existential awareness, just as would labeling Sartre "a literary artist" or "philosopher".
     
  89. Being indecisive is like disappearing slowly. Even making the wrong choice then is more useful then indecisiveness. We can choose to feel this way or that way and act upon that feeling and face the consequence. I think art deals with this a lot also, both from the perspective of the one experiencing it and from the one creating. And in the end, if there's a fault, whose fault is it ?
    Nobody's fault but my own...
     
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    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Today's experiments with shop lights, Korean stone cooking pot, Chinese Canonical paintbrush, and a stuffed dog are up on my gallery.
    I think that what I do is learn as much about how the medium works as I understand it (and I'll see things differently at different stages of development). If I try to be unique, different, I'll end up doing something that's colored by word-based ideas of what's unique, or something like that. If I try to do things that intrigue me, then I'll do the work that's mine to be done. If I have it in me to be original, that's just going to happen as a by-product of trying do work that intrigues me.
    I like the physicality of photography, the real and changing objects of camera, lens, lights, gobo, reflector, film or storage card. Writing is, by comparision, way up in my head. Concepts like Art and Literature live way way up in my head, too.
    I'm still learning how to do photography, to know intuitively how to set the lights, what each lens does best (zooms seems to be too useful, too easy not to pay attention to what the lens does, at least for me now). Photography seems like a partnership with the people who made the tools and the tools themselves. Putting too much emphasis on the tools betrays the people who made them to take photographs. Putting too little is also a problem. The only way to take pictures (or the raw materials for photographic collages) is through a camera.
    Whatever. I like taking pictures. I want to learn more about how photograhy works, how my eye and the camera work together to snatch that light and shadow out of time.
     
  91. What troubles me the most is gap between what is said and what is done, it is very easy to use words like freedom but it is almost sacriligeous to ask if artists have used their imagined freedom well, wasted it or preferred a wimpy acquiescent attitude to the prevailing set of approved attitudes as outlined by the central committee/artworld/academy/ghetto.
    Is advanced, difficult or serious art as difficult, advanced or serious as it claims? How new is new? Is there any connection between new and good? again, the trouble is a habitual reliance on a technique of making an initial statement that most people would find reasonable and then following it up with exaggerations that follow in a logical way but wind up producing rediculously flawed statements, which, because of the structure of their making, force people to accept.
    The lack of rigorous critical thinking means that all too often people neglect to say to themselves, "first statement fine, I'll go along with that, but where the writer draws an all too long bow, that verges on looney".
    One of the core skills of becoming an artist is to sign up to the club that thinks that insulting the public is their duty.
    Where did this tradition come from?
    My view is that it grew out of the legitimate old impressionist battle with the academy which they considered as having bourgeois values, the original fight was with the academy, never the general public.
    It seems a futile activity as the public are numb to it now.
    Certain values become almost sacrosanct and nobody appears to have the nerve to criticise them. I suppose the punishments metered out by the academy are so draconian that you'd have to be a fool to try.
     
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    John Kelly, the group in Patrick County made musicians out of people who in other environments would be struggling to play a tune. It did not make a painter out of someone who had innate natural ability as good as any 17 year old I've ever seen because the group had no painting traditional equivalent to its music tradition. Groups that are educated in the craft/art are generally how we become artists/writers/photographers. Sometimes, the group is two people (Emily Dickinson and the woman who said Dickinson was cheating her time not to publish); sometimes, it's the group of kids who hit the right big city or the right university or college at the same time.
    I'm now looking at photographs taken by three of the people active in Northern California during the first half of the 20th Century. They all knew each other, looked at each other's work, had friends in common. Did they need each other? I suspect that they did.
    Craft and inspiration; inspiration and communication. Maybe the most compelling work needs those tensions?
     
  93. Rebecca re:
    If I have it in me to be original, that's just going to happen as a by-product of trying do work that intrigues me.

    You are unique, which means your are original, the easiest way to ensure that you make original work is to attempt to capture what you consider/feel beauty to be. no stereotypes allowed. What happens when you do this is that you are actually considering all of the values that are important to you - no 2 people have exactly the same idea of what beauty is.
    Clive
     
  94. Groups are a "cul de sac". The thinking artist needs only his own imagination and his preferred tools to express it. Money is important only to continue to live, and to live is to create. The best of them couldn't care less what others think of their art.
     
  95. Arthur,
    I wish you were right but sadly you describe an ideal. Many of the best of them certainly do care, at least, about what their peers and the power brokers think about their art.
    In reality the you've-got-to-be-in-it-to-win-it rule applies
     
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    Clive, I think for poets, the ones who interest me the most are the ones who didn't get the university gig right out of school, and who didn't get the MFA Iowa or such. Princeton tells its baby writers to get a job on a newspaper; UPenn warns them that MFA programs without the work won't qualify them for anything other than adjunct work.
    I think some of the sequestering from the general public is that we don't have, as Patrick County had, viable art traditions. So to decide to do art, be a painter, be a poet, even be a science fiction writer, is not like becoming the local studio portrait photographer or newspaper reporter. So in this culture and probably in yours, people need a safe place for developing those skills. It's often the university; it can be bohemia. Bohemia teaches that what one thought one had to have to live successfully is exaggerated. You can drive an old Suburu and live in a mill village four room house in Kannapolis, NC, and heat with wood and have furniture your ancestors made, like my brother does, and teach part-time in local community centers and have an MBA rather than an MFA, and dress like a hunter rather than an artist.
    Most academics I knew if reduced to that would feel extremely sorry for themselves, some Naropa adjuncts being the exception.
    Too many of these people traded Bohemia, with its real lessons, for security. Once you have tenure, you don't really have to do anything. You've been crowned poet, artist. Bohemia at its wonkiest doesn't allow anyone to walk on water for the rest of their lives.
    Lew Sloan's lesson to my brother was "Don't bite the people who buy your work, and it's easier than you think if you keep working."
     
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    Arthur, local tradition in Boston among some of the writers is that Emily Dickinson tried like a m........ to publish her work. Nobody really understood it. She had enough of an audience that sort of got it that she kept sending those people samples. If what someone does it incomprehensible to everyone else, it's not likely that anyone will preserve the work into times where more people might understand it better.
     
  98. Rebecca,
    Yep that's pretty much how it works here but we have huge Federal and State Arts councils that provide all sort grants.
    Sadly in recent times the Universities have culled many positions. I always used to think that providing many teaching jobs was one of the best ways to support the arts particularly in the non-metropolitan areas, artists invariably invest their salaries in their art.
    The "don't bite" etc line is so very true.
    Time changes many things - I used to be a pretty handy steel sculptor with what is usually called a reputation - but when I first started making these stone sculptures everybody -artists, galleries, critics etc - thought I'd gone completely mad, which was hard to take - it has also been very rewarding to see the doubters change their minds.
    I feel most for the younger gnerations because they simply do not get anything like the opportunites that I got. - Clive
     
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    Clive, people don't like rearranging their bounding boxes that much.
    We don't have arts grants that work year in, year out for people. You can't get National Endowment for the Arts grants more than once a decade if that, and regional arts grants tend to be along the same lines. When I visited a poet in Canada, I was amazed that artists and writers who got on the Canadian grant system were carried year to year absent problems (like not doing work). I understand European arts grants work very much the same way. Charlotte, NC, on the other hand, had grants for theatre administration but not for salaries for performers.
     
  100. Clive and Rebecca, as a research engineer during my first career, I know and have been a part of the university, industry and learned society milieu(s) that award prizes and other accolades to their fellows, who support their creativity and contribute to their success, so I do know how it works in making ones way in a specific field that is very like that of the academic or professional artists.
    During the past 7 years, our seasonal contemporary art gallery (an adjunct to my photography activity) has promoted both "in" and "not in" artists and photographers. I was initially surprised, but not any more, that the high ranking "in" artists (members of the Quebec City art elite, fine art schools and local movements) have sold much less of their work than those "not in" artists (essentially self taught) or those artists not known to local clientele (being the cases of three of our well-trained artists from Toronto, Montreal and New York).
    Which suggests that the public (...admittedly a small part thereof, in the case of contemporary art) is the final arbiter in the support of an artist. Often, those photographers who have made their way to international fame, and Ed Burtynsky of Ontario may well be a good example here, have (as I understand it) done so primarily on the basis of their photographic approach and their perseverence in following a specific theme. The "in" group artists are often found speaking only to themselves, or in seeking and obtaining government council awards to produce work that finally few will buy (thus recognize) in most cases.
    He might feel somewhat estranged within our material world, but the Greek philosopher Epicurus, in considering what is necessary and not necessary to our desires or needs, would probably still maintain that what are neither natural or necessary to that end are fame and power. When those are the driving forces of those producing art, the result is likely to be mediocre or artificial.
     
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    A friend of mine who was in a local art show in Pennsylvania didn't win even an honorable mention for a clay sculpture of a hare. It was, however, the only thing that sold.
    The thing with the folks in Patrick County is that what they liked tended to be what seemed to me to be the better music. They had a developed public taste, which is really rare in most of the US today. But having a developed taste for traditional music wasn't going to make you socially superior -- it was, after all, hillbilly music. All that mattered was that the playing was good, and the locals tended to know what good was because many of them also played. Some doctor's wife decided that the locals needed to be exposed to some real culture, not this hillbilly music, and brought in a flaminco guitarist (American, not Hispanic). The guitarist promptly found the local musicians and they closed the Coffee Cup (owned by one of them) and jammed for hours.
    A poet friend in San Francisco said that only peasants and aristocrats had good taste. If what you likes has no social currency (a peasant doesn't become an aristocrat for loving the opera and opera is much more generally popular in Europe than it is in the US), then your taste will be based mostly on what you know, your sense of delight in the work without worrying about being "right." Being even a very good fiddle player in Patrick County wasn't going to get you invited to the upper class parties. Being an accepted artist in NYC will.
     
  102. I'm not getting the point.
    A lot of this is about the business world of art. It's about monetary success or acclaim and fame. What does that have to do with making art or making photographs?
    A lot of people I know make art in small studios in bad neighborhoods, not in downtown galleries. I talk to other photographers about what we're each doing. I hang out with poets, painters, a couple of playwrights, and we love to talk about the stuff we're doing.
    I agree with the spirit of Arthur's first post here. Nobody should make apologies for doing art or for saying that's what they're doing. I tend to make apologies when I hurt someone, not for how I refer to myself.
    I relate to what Rebecca says. I started taking photographs because my male subjects intrigued me. I was drawn to a "theme" and a niche. I have no problem doing that while having an awareness that I want to develop a unique approach, a voice. The latter doesn't contaminate the former. I know other photographers who started out to photograph because they wanted to express themselves, without a specifically directed passion. There are many ways to be an artist.
    "The best of them couldn't care less what others think of their art."--Arthur
    That feels right . . . to an extent. Many artists don't and shouldn't care what judgments others make of their art. But what others think of their art is often enlightening to the thinking artist. Many artists love discussing their work, their process, sharing ideas with others. I recently went to a staged reading of a friend's new play. It's fairly typical of playwrights to have a preliminary reading and ask for feedback from the audience, precisely to know what others think of their art, including (in this case) judgments. The confident artist will know what to do with those judgments, whether they ring a bell that the artist may respond to or whether the artist will listen and do nothing because the comments don't move him. Asking for thoughts and opinions is not a compromise.
    "Groups are a cul de sac. The thinking artist needs only his own imagination."--Arthur
    This doesn't ring true to me. Many artists have shared in groups, from NY's Algonquin Round Table to Paris's Cafe Flor. Influence, imitation, dialogue are all parts of art. There are many groups of local artists, sometimes producing group shows, sometimes just supporting each other physically and emotionally and aesthetically. In the city, there are communities of artists living in lofts and creating together. Not all artists live at Walden Pond.
    By the way, the "other" was as important to Sartre as the alone and responsible individual. In Existentialism is a Humanism, Sartre comes close to reformulating Descartes's "I think, therefore I am" into the much more communal minded "We think, therefore we are."
     
  103. "Many artists have shared in groups.......Influence, imitation, dialogue are all parts of art."
    "I hang out with poets, painters, a couple of playwrights, and we love to talk about the stuff we're doing."
    Fred, I must admit that you are absolutely right (and fortunate, in regard to your second statement). My comment that groups are a dead end for the artist was far too black and white. I guess I was reacting to how some groups tend to exhibit a fortress mentality and a sometimes blind conformity to their particular movement or aesthetic (which I guess is fair enough in itself) and I ignored the facts of the benefits of collegiality, friendship and intelligent discussion and support of each other's efforts. I also relate to what you said in your first post, including the need to refer to the word art in the descriptive sense, implying action that does not need to be defended or categorized. I guess that responds very well to the question of the OP.
     
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    Arthur, I think that I find group identity in the sense that you're talking about really boring. I don't relate to groups; I relate to people. But groups of friends who stimulate each other is a very good thing.
    Art as an activity that can be done better or worse, I'm fine with. It's when artist becomes "us vs. those people who are not artists" that I have a problem with it, probably because I used to be that self-indulgent until I found out that writing s.f. made me not an artist in some folk's eyes.
     
  105. - Fred, I viewed Sartre to be giving importance to the other(s) but only in terms of the ultimate freedom of the single individual who, in choosing for this freedom of being and embracing its contingency, must also choose not to deny this same freedom to others. A contradiction of some sort.-
    I doubt, therefore I might be !
     
  106. When I talk about group I actually mean artists in general - I've no time for formal groups and have often been heard to say - groups tend to wind up being organisations for the protection of the mediocraty of their own members.
    Age, stage of artistic development and where one lives has a lot to do with the way people behave. When I was young I hung out in a major capital city with other cutting edge, hard nosed reformers vigorously ramming our art and "new views" down everybody's throats.
    The big thing about cities is that you can surround yourself with people who think pretty much like you and you can have really high level dicussions about detail as opposed to generalities.
    I actually left the city 1) because I felt there was different art in me, I had no idea what it was, and 2) because I beginning to form the view that I may be allowing myself to be seduced into making art by committee - ie, by sharing my percieved problems with my colleagues and listening too readily to them.
    The first thing I noticed after leaving the city was that you couldn't surround yourself with like minds and that your old city artist mates really thought they'd lost one of the gang who'd gone for the soft life and almost retired from serious art activity.
    Making paintings sculptures photographs etc in one's own studio is lonely by anyone's definition and in my case I didn't like that much as I felt it could make me a bit bitter and twisted.
    The new art that I talked about was roundly rejected by the artworld but as fate would have it I got a wild job as "Senior Company Artist" for a massive coal fired power station and had a big studio right in the middle of it, the workers would drop in and chat, offer me advice etc.
    For the first time in my artistic life I actully felt that I was a useful member of society. I have remembered this and now live in a huge recycled factory in a tiny little village, part of the building is an art gallery showing contemporary art, we have 3 studio apartments that we let out to artists. My studio is here and its open to the public. (I find this very helpful because my work is in effect road-tested on a very wide audience before it leaves the workshop - I have a belief that the artist is responsible for any reading that someone can make about their work - I do not permit myself the luxury of saying "you are looking at it wrongly")
    The resident artists, most frequently photo based, all have different aspirations which means if we are going to help them we have to learn all sorts of new things - again both helpful to the artists and us alike. Years ago I would never have thought, as a sculptor, that I'd be working with a Korean video-installation artist or (sorry about the old fashioned word) avant guard composer.
    I think it is a little sad that most artists favour a fortress mentality when the rewards for allowing yourself to be a useful member of a community are very sustaining.
    All the best to all - Clive
     
  107. Phylo--
    I think for Sartre it's not just about not denying the freedom to others (which is certainly a part of it). I think it's stronger, so in choosing for ourselves we are, in fact, choosing for others. Our individual choice is also a choice for the group:
    "The first effect of existentialism is that it puts every man in possession of himself as he is, and places the entire responsibility for his existence squarely upon his own shoulders. And, when we say that man is responsible for himself, we do not mean that he is responsible only for his own individuality, but that he is responsible for all men. The word 'subjectivism' is to be understood in two senses . . . 'Subjectivism' means, on the one hand, the freedom of the individual subject and, on the other, that man cannot pass beyond human subjectivity. It is the latter which is the deeper meaning of existentialism. When we say that man chooses himself, we do mean that every one of us must choose himself; but by that we also mean that in choosing for himself he chooses for all men. For in effect, of all the actions a man may take in order to create himself as he wills to be, there is not one which is not creative, at the same time, of an image of man such a he believes he ought to be. To choose between this or that is at the same time to affirm the value of that which is chosen; for we are unable ever to choose the worse. What we choose is always the better; and nothing can be better for us unless it is better for all. If existence precedes essence and we will to exist at the same time as we fashion our image, that image is valid for all and for the entire epoch in which we find ourselves. Our responsibility is thus much greater than we had supposed, for it concerns mankind as a whole. . . . In fashioning myself, I fashion man."
     
  108. "I think it is a little sad that most artists favour a fortress mentality when the rewards for allowing yourself to be a useful member of a community are very sustaining." --Clive
    Clive, I have a hard time understanding your move from your own anecdotal experience to your claims about "most artists."
    I'd have to know more about why you think your own experience says anything about either art groups or big city life in general.
    I'll tell you my experience. Several of the artists I am friends with consider their art only alongside the community service they do. One painter friend is one of the founders of Code Pink and spends most of her time traveling the country throwing pies (among other activities) at politicians' faces. In her spare time, she does other kinds of service. Several of my regular companions participate actively in Art Against Aids programs. Simultaneous to my getting serious about photography, I've gotten much more involved in community activism and outreach. My photography seems to go hand-in-hand with participating in more of such activities. My relationships with artists don't prevent me from participating in a broader community as well.
    It would be hard to imagine that all city artists have traveled your path.
    Do you think artists more than anyone else gravitate to like-minded groups as a protective mechanism? I've seen many people surround themselves with like-minded folks, not just artists. An artist is as likely or not to want to reach out of his or her social comfort zone as anyone else.
     
  109. Fred,
    It is one of my common failings to over generalise, ie, use expressions like "most artists" in this case it is apt but silly because it simply triggers responses like yours.
    The easiest way for you to work out whether these are anecdotal experiences or come from as broad a range of valid experiences as could probably be concieved I'd suggest you start by Googling me.
    The most extreme case of a fortress mentality I ever experienced was when Clement Greenberg had someone open up David Smith's Bolton Landing home for me and what amazed me most was that the roof was 1/4 inch plate steel and the lower section of the building contained jail like partitions and barred doors - it was explained to me that Smith really believed that he was making great art and he felt that he needed to 'protect" his art 'til people woke up to his genius.
    Another example was when Philip Guston befriended me when I was at a small dinner party in NY because Rosenburg and a bunch of the old Abstract Expression group were giving him a very hard time for changing from abstract to his later figurative work. Their pressure on him was extreme, he was being called unAmerican and disloyal by his good friends. I asked Analie Newman if this had happened before, she said it went on all the time.
    I had an NY dealer at that time who explained to me that it would be best for me if I spent at least half the year in NY so that I could "meet the right people" more often.
    I've done my share of protesting too but that it actually hasn't any real significance in relation to art - it is just one of the habits that most artists have. Pie throwing sounds like fun, but the thing that often amuses me more is that artists then expect the society to finacially support them - now how silly or rude is that?
    Do you think artists more than anyone else gravitate to like-minded groups as a protective mechanism? Yes, but maybe no more than terrorists, minority groups, illegal imigrants and university students.

    I've seen many people surround themselves with like-minded folks, not just artists. Just the artists do it more, more often and more predictably than most others.
    An artist is as likely or not to want to reach out of his or her social comfort zone as anyone else. It would be nice to do a survey about that, I've never seen it in any part of the world over the past 40 years.
     
  110. Clive--
    Thanks. I don't need to google you. It's pretty clear where you're coming from.
     
  111. I don't mind leaving it at that as well, but only wanting to discuss things with people who agree with you seems slightly futile to me.
    Mention dealer, Greenberg, Smith and Guston in one small reply and it says where someone is coming from? I think not.
    In their day they were as left as you could get in the US. Very much in the same camp as Sartre.
     
  112. A very good friend of mine is a stone sculptor whose abstract art has seen much public approval (response of clients) in the more recent years of the 15 he has been at it. He has not bothered to join local artists groups or become involved in joint publicity. As an early age (50) retired criminologist, his background was classical junior college education, but not specifically art. For that reason (in part), he is not on the provincial short list for the 1% projects (that is, the grants of 1% of the cost of new public buildings, given to permit a work of art to "embellish" the new building).
    His wife does all his publicity and promotion and runs his gallery and sculpture garden, while he simply works at his art and helps with the housework. In that way, he does not compromise or encumber his creative activities by business ones, and remains independent in his work.
    I'm not sure of how many others approach art in that manner, but if I could get my better half as interested as his wife in the business aspects, I would happily spend all my time doing what I like most. Maybe not a recipe for great success, but one that can make you content with your vocation.
    I also appreciate the idea of community involvement, as mentioned by Clive, Fred and others. That is often well recognised, and sometimes beneficial (Spending more than a month to research and to conceive a model of a metal sculpture to commemorate the first European settlers at a local historic park got me to only second place in a competition, but the experience was wonderful and the visibility was useful, even if I received no monetary compensation from the effort).
     
  113. Do you think artists more than anyone else gravitate to like-minded groups as a protective mechanism? Yes, but maybe no more than terrorists, minority groups, illegal imigrants and university students.
    ______________


    Clive, thanks for clarifying your position on the like-minded group thing.There's some things even Google cannot find.
    What a good thing it is that law-abiding, majority, patriotic white citizenry like you (um....didn't you claim to be an artist?) don't gravitate to like-minded groups, or succumb to the fortress mentality and things like walled and gated communities, high-security private compounds, armored vehicles, private police forces, assault weaponry for self-defense, concealed weapon carry permits, and safe rooms.
    With that, I'm out of this thread. Thanks to all, specially Fred, Wouter, & Patrick.
     
  114. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Being an artist is a lot like being a programmer in some ways -- you can work on Open Source projects while holding down a day programming job; you can be one of the people who would be difficult to get on with a day job whose wife supports you while you do Open Source and Libertarian politics. You can teach programming at a college without really having skills necessary to do a job (I knew someone who fell into this category). I suppose one could be a computer poet and throw down lines of code in interesting patterns (someone surely has done this) or write code designed to get computers to weird random things (I think there've been installations like this) and thus can become an programmer who is also an artist.
     
  115. I joined this thread because the topic interests me and I felt I may have something to contribute.
    But I am dismayed to see how easily words can be so quickly misinterpreted (maybe purposely by some), how extreme exaggeration seems the order of the day and resorting to name calling a little too prevalent.
    I simply can't believe that anyone could think that I ever said, as is claimed, that artists are terrorists or anything like it.
    Just about every one of the overly romantic sterotypes attached to artists have been used in this discussion.
    I may have made a better contribution if I had started out by using Cindy Sherman as an artist/photographer who has a goal to produce art but manages at the same time to express herself comprehensibly and to sustain our interest. Above all else she helps us understand what it is to be human.
     
  116. Who is Sidney Sherman ?
    http://photo-muse.blogspot.com/2007/05/how-photography-lost-its-virginity-on.html
    I favor Duane Michals anytime, intelligent photographer who doesn't feels the need to make necessary intelligent photographs.
     
  117. Cindy Sherman not Sydney Sherman, sure I'd prefer Duane Michaels ahead of him any day.
    Cindy Sherman is arguably the only photographer who can be classed as a great artist, recognised as such by both art and photography and hugely influential on a great deal that is happening in art these days.
    Photography would probably prefer that some of the really great photographers were equally recognised sadly that hasn't happened yet.
     
  118. Clive typed- " I simply can't believe that anyone could think that I ever said, as is claimed, that artists are terrorists or anything like it."
    The reason you can't believe it is because no one said or thought the above. Please re-read the responses to your statement carefully.
    Clive typed- " But I am dismayed to see how easily words can be so quickly misinterpreted (maybe purposely by some), how extreme exaggeration seems the order of the day and resorting to name calling a little too prevalent."
    Not purposely. And it had nothing to do beyond the discussion on the fortress mentality, which you clearly ascribed to "artists, terrorists minorities, illegal immigrants and students". All I said is that the fortress mentality is a lot more pervasive than that. It certainly is in the US, where the poor and terrorists can only afford to do so socially and conceptually, but the richer classes can and do so materially , socially & conceptually. I included you in the latter, because you certainly did not identify with the former.
    Re: Cindy Sherman...
    http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/25644/
    I can only imagine how jealous she must be about Prince's $3.4 m "Cowboy". I disagree with the notion that Sherman's the only photographer to be regarded as an artist. About 23% of the two main auction houses' 2008 Spring fine arts sales income were solely from photography. And fine-art photography's heyday seems to be waning.
    ...and you have plenty to contribute, and I am glad you are here.
     
  119. Hi again, I think something like the last three out of four threads on this forum have batted around arguments about artists who use photography in their art and photgraphers who should be considered or recognised as great artists.
    So when I said:
    Cindy Sherman is arguably the only photographer who can be classed as a great artist, recognised as such by both art and photography and hugely influential on a great deal that is happening in art these days.
    Photography would probably prefer that some of the really great photographers were equally recognised sadly that hasn't happened yet.

    I didn't think that it could ever be interpreted as "Sherman's the only photographer to be regarded as an artist"

    One of the things that I take great heart from is that regime change occurs as frequently in art as it is does in any other sphere of activity. One of the things that could almost be considered an axiom in art is that it shows in visual terms the values of the time in which it was produced. It runs concurrent with everything else.
    That said, I find myself musing on the idea that the obscene values, greed and excesses in the financial market that produced the Global Financial Distaster must also be evident in the art/s of the time. And just as people are trying to reintroduce responsibility, decency, integrity and honesty into the ways that people deal with each other in many fields there will be an equivalent correction in art.
    Nothing is truer in art than the new looses its newness very quickly and then has to slug it out with everything that went before it.

    If history is anything to go by, the art that will gain currency over what was being made prior to the crash is already out there but no one has dared notice it yet. When there is such a general change in art, the newly favoured practicioners bolster their positions by elevating artists from the past who are seen to have been precursors or influences on the new wave. That could mean that although fine-art photography's heyday may indeed be waning its great individual practicioners could be substantially elavated.
    Forever the optimist.
     
  120. Movements seem to me to be as much as anything else convenient categories in which to place artists (as we do with economists, politicians and architects). While some initiatives and practices do stem from several persons working on similar approaches or who accept and promote similar creative concepts, many such movements are formulated by the academics or other observers and often after the fact. How many creative artists of the somewhat distant past (say, pre 1800) were associated with what they would describe as a movement. Carravagio, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Monteverdi, Jesualdo? More recently, Kandinsky and Der Blaue Reiter, the Impressionists. and the Fauvists were undoubtably working in certain ways to change the art aesthetic, but when you look at each artist he tends to stand mainly as an individual creator.
    Is not Fine Art Photography simply a very general and perhaps superfluous term? It doesn'treally define an art movement. "Les beaux arts", or the fine arts, is simply a distinction that places the practice at an academic level, just as classical architecture or formal architecture, based upon formal principles of practice and of measure can be separated from vernacular architecture, or the architecture of the people of different regions.
    Fine art photography does allow some practitioners to separate themselves from the photography of the ordinary person, the vernacular photographer, and perhaps also many hard-working and talented commercial photographers. The labels of other more specific photography movements seem to have been derived after the fact, or conveniently chosen as analogues to other mainstream art movements.
    Content is the artist who can work outside of any "regulations" of an art movement, yet be free to borrow some of the thoughts of that movement.
    Any folly that he creates is mainly his own. It cannot hurt anyone. In financial practice, we have less freedom or desire to accept the follies of unregulated actors.
     
  121. Arthur typed: " Is not Fine Art Photography simply a very general and perhaps superfluous term?"
    Not in the context in which I used it, where I wanted to be very specific about what aspect of the medium I thought was lapsing out of its heyday, to the exclusion of all others.
    Re: The commentary on movements as opposed to individual artists...
    Back in the day, when communications were far more limnited than they are now, what we would call a movement was a far more localized thing, more like people emerging from certain lines of thought derived from particular mentors & their students. This goes on today, for example, with the famous descendants from Bernd and Hilla Becher classes at Dusseldorf. Their students, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Candida Hofer (among others), do not form a movement of any kind, but mimic the way threads of thought developed long ago.
    There are no more "movements", which has made the Postmodern era more challenging for historians and critics.
    When one stands back and looks at a region/era/country/school/movement, the categories become more distinct. If you peep closer, the individual tends to stand out. It's a question of resolution.
    Clive typed: " And just as people are trying to reintroduce responsibility, decency, integrity and honesty into the ways that people deal with each other in many fields there will be an equivalent correction in art."
    Clive really is an optimist! The public's failure to grab the pitchforks & firebrands and oil up the guillotine -- or banish the architects of disaster -- means we will suffer repetitive waves of the same uncorrected crap. Hopefully less so in the arts, because so many people have been bankrupted, which is a guillotining of sorts, that right now, there's more room at the inn, so to speak, than there has been in generations. While many recognizable galleries have gone under, and most are hurting, I am seeing lots of tiny spaces and cafes picking up the slack. These are the nurseries of tomorrow's artists and venues. The economic debacle will make short work out of the current trend towards abstraction, and emphasize both well-established artists, even lesser works, and emerging artists (because they're cheap...er...affordable and easy to manipulate). Those in the middle will get squeezed hard, IMO.
     
  122. Luis, do you not think that Clive's optimism is merited these days, at least in human activities more definable and subject to control than art and art tastes? I would think that the bottom up change process will become more important in future, in all human activity, as that is about the only way that reasonable change will occur in complex democratic societies. Whether bottom-up art tastes will impact art and photography may be less evident. You are probably right about the trends in acceptance of high end and emerging art. That has always been the case I think, while the middle ground of art may well take a hit, as you prophesize.
     
  123. It's not that I disagree with the viability or merit of the idea of Clive's humane optimism, but that I'm not seeing evidence to support the notion that it is happening. In a perfect universe, humans learn from their mistakes, make corrections, and sally forth in new directions. In this universe, one-trial learning is the exception, not the rule.
    Speaking of bottom up, Flickr is a vastly underestimated populist entity, one that has already caused a quiet revolution & has many more surprises in stock after this period of rapid expansion begins to cool off, people coalesce, its own traditions and stars are more established, and more gallery owners recognize and seize the magnitude of this huge and largely untapped market. It is no longer a sub- culture.
    We will, within ten or less years, see an in-camera program (and many PC programs) based on Flickr image ratings. The first version of this is already out on the web. Presently crude, it doesn't take a visionary to imagine what comes next. Anyone who thinks that people in the business of art won't be running pictures through this is deluding themselves. It could also be done by region, income, credit ratings and many other parameters. It's hard to say where this will go, but it looks like a primarily web-based populist parallel market for photography. Critical writing, mentoring and editing services will inevitably become valuable parts of all this, simply because of their scarcity.
    Flickr is the quiet 800 lb gorilla in the room.
     
  124. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    The thing that made the rural country music scene what it was is that people wanted the music and enough of the audience played well enough to know who played better than average, who played really well. I think what happens at best is that people will want to see good photographs and will put pressure on each other and themselves to learn how to do it better, to understand how to play off the limitations of certain cameras (I have a friend who is beginning to learn how to get his camera to take visually interesting shots). I'm somewhat dubious about critical writing, mentoring and editing because none of that appears to be anything other than the tail of the dog, and none of that was happening in the rural mountain music scenes, which is as close as we've got living to a populist art tradition.
    It becomes a living tradition because it means things to the people participating. I put more run of the mill stuff up on Flickr and Facebook than I put up here. Those places are for communicating with family and friends, some of whom are also photographers.
    For the arts, I'm not sure cheering when the work looks better and not saying anything when the work looks not so interesting isn't about as useful as it gets. We all have to figure out what we can about the form, but it's not obvious to me that I can't get that from reading things done by people I consider good poets or good photographers rather than trusting that my local college creative writing teacher or photography teacher will give me more than I'd get reading and looking at work by people who seem to me to be at the top of this game. I've had the useless workshops with the minor academic poets. Would rather shoot baby pictures for JC Pennys than go that round with minor photographers.
    Art and Fear -- we learn by doing and paying attention. We can learn from others, but it's not evident that being the student of a great mechanic won't be more useful for learning how to approach work than taking classes from a person who isn't a master at photography (this concept was originally Gary Snyder's). "The last three lines work best" is the way poets talk to each other and I've read that painters do similar things -- "I like it here." Growing skills is almost an organic process. Even if the person needs lot of theory going in, the theory has to become integrated in practice for it to be useful.
    Sometimes the problem is people don't think they can take interesting photographs. Here we see equipment chasing; other places, people simply don't consider that they could do anything as good as someone with talent and don't try to get better. Or they try to cargo-cult what they think the other photographer with talent did.
    It's getting late in the day and I need to do some photography rather than philosophize about it.
    Very little criticism written by non-poets has been useful to me when I was writing poetry; tons of critical work by people like Eliot, Yeats, W.H. Auden, and the like have been. The younger photographers will figure out who's necessary to them, or not. If they want mentoring, they'll ask for it.
     
  125. Re:
    While many recognizable galleries have gone under, and most are hurting, I am seeing lots of tiny spaces and cafes picking up the slack. These are the nurseries of tomorrow's artists and venues. The economic debacle will make short work out of the current trend towards abstraction, and emphasize both well-established artists, even lesser works, and emerging artists (because they're cheap...er...affordable and easy to manipulate). Those in the middle will get squeezed hard, IMO.

    Thought you may find this interesting http://www.cratemen.com/
    I think we tend to forget that many art movements, although not formally constituted, were identifiable by who hung out with who, most often in bars and cafes.
    Like minds are often drawn together this way - while bars may still form an integral part in the way art develops, I'm sure that sitting by the computer chatting to people from all around the globe is very similar, that's why we're on this thread not one dealing with new photgraphic gear or macro snaps of bugs.
    So while I'm having breakfast with you today, you are having a beer after work with me yesterday!
    all best Clive
     
  126. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Oh, let's have a macro snap of a fly's butt.
    00Uw7j-187461684.jpg
     
  127. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I feel almost like I created a monster with this thread, not that it hasn't been an entertaining and intellectually challenging and passionate monster, not too shabby looking, either, after a while. "Will it stop at 50 responses? 80 response? 113 responses? Could I possibly correct my typos? Am I going to say something unforgivably rude about something dear to another person's heart?"
    Couple of times, I thought we'd come to a stopping place. I guess now are there sub-topics of this one that might be useful? Or is this going to continue? I think it's becoming rather long for anyone dropping in new to read through and follow, or is it?
     
  128. Rebecca, I wouldn't apologize for your so-called "monster". There is so little discussion of philosophy and art, and especially discussion that is clear and logical (we just have to reflect on some of the opaque statements coming from professional revues, from some galleries and even from the artists themselves, not to mention some art critics) that any dicussion is worthwhile. Even if the premise is sometimes vague, the ensuing discussion can uncover a few gems of thought now and then. The length of the post is relatively unimportant, I think, as in any case the discussion often goes off in various tangents before coming back (and in some cases the latter doesn't even happen).
    There is another post now called "big fish" in which, in my opinion, a lot has been said already in little space. that happens and it is gratifying also to see that. But the more people we can get to speak in a profound way about their photography, what they are trying to achieve and how they see that in a philosophical manner, the better.
     
  129. Perhaps this is my cue since I found this discussion last night. I am not yet on top of all of the underlying themes but it has been fascinating and thought provoking to dip into at various points. So not too long but I am yet to sort out what, if anything, I have concluded from it!
    Regarding the original question, my predjudice is that art is about the exploration and communication of ideas and emotions and without the intent you might fluke it but most wont. I also struggle with this concept of "I do it exclusively for myself". I am a scientist so I come with the professional baggage that work not communicated might as well never have been done, but surely most practicing artists want to share their work and have an impact on the lives of other people too.
     
  130. Richard: Nice to hear your views, which I completely agree with.
    The thread could take off again at millions miles an hour because it is possible to find exceptions.
    There has always been a strong school of thought that favours the "it ain't art 'til its seen, heard or read" argument, the same camp would also favour the idea that its not art unless the author makes a conscious decision to name it as such. Again I strongly support this way of thinking.
    Your comments re: "I do it exclusively for myself" are a lot more problematic because a lot of great, good or otherwise artists who regularly exhibit/publish their work make statements like this. They don't mean it the way that I think you intended us to read it.
    Doing it exclusively for yourself is an exceptionally good technique for getting in touch with all that is important to you. Probably best/regularly seen/heard with jazz players.
    So you can have "I do it exclusively for myself" art that is published etc.
    All the best Clive
     
  131. Thanks Clive, your interpretation of "I do it exclusively for myself" makes a lot more sense than mine did. It raises an interesting question of when do you share, because sharing work you haven't fully assimilated yourself will almost inevitably lead to your being influenced by the response of your audience. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing of course if communication with others is important to you. I enjoy sharing my experiments but I have found in the past that it can lead to a form of group-think and a need for acceptance that inhibits me. But this is probably a topic for a different discussion.
     
  132. By the time I had finished a few graduate degrees I was pretty tired of how academia could manage to sound so pompously high-minded by compulsively focusing on trivial distinctions: the wry joke was
    Q: Why are faculty politics so vicious?
    A: Because the stakes are so small.
    Not that I would accuse anyone here of that — as I've read the gist of this thread it's been thought-provoking — but it does sound to me like some of Rebecca's colleagues are trying to make a virtue of picking fly *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* out of pepper.
    I recently read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers . As both a pianist and photographer, it made me painfully aware that I have not yet put in 10,000 hours in either art. But I do tend to think that art extends upwards from craft rather than emerging above as a lofty academic construct tumescent with verbiage, kindly provided to give us lowly practitioners something to worship.
    Art might very well be the most refined expression of craft. Are there great artists in any medium who have not first been great craftsmen?
     
  133. Richard: I think I'm very unusual in that my studio is open to the public which, in terms of your question, means that I share all the time. Most of the questions fall into the "how do you do it, how long does it take, who buys them etc" categories, but often enough people give you insights or set you back on your haunches by saying something that you'd never thought through very well.
    With me there is a bit of the crusader in having the studio open as I kind of believe that artists owe it to the public (in all its shapes and sizes) to be available to discuss anything they may want to know. Art is, after all, shrowded in myth and many of these are quite wickedly exploited by artists.
    This may sound like a contradiction but I left the city because I felt that I was almost making art by committee with many other artists filing through the studio and now I let everybody do it. But the difference is that you get all views not just those of the in-vogue artist.
    The greatest benefit to me is that I know exactly whether I'm communicating or not.
    Warren: In fine art craft has become an ugly word. I think this evolved rapidly in the 60's when artists (painters and sculptors mainly) consciously set out to purge art of every remaining element that could associate the new (modern) with the art of the past.
    The way for American art to knock Picasso off his pedestal was to emphasise his old fashioned traits and describe them as weaknesses. Skill in drawing, skill in any of the traditional components of art making were denounced. In sculpture this even went as far as associating any traditonal material or technique with the past regardless of the purpose they were being used for.
    All that said, if we mean a kind of competance by the word craft, the 10,000 hours is probably close to what is a basic requirement - isn't that just 2 years? my maths isn't good.
    Are there great artists in any medium who have not first been great craftsmen?
    In the visual arts, Prior to 1950, No, between 1950 and 1970 a few, since 1970 many or even most.
    In music probably just about all, but I'll qualify that saying adequate crafts people as opposed to great - photography similar.
    De-skilling art has a nice philosophical ring to it but it ignores the truth that the evolved skills allowed for almost unlimited flexibility, choice of action and adjustment by the artist. By comparison much of what has been done since the 70's has relied on the artist designing and often getting other people to do it for them. It does have one advantage - lots can be produced but at the expense of a huge amount of flexibility. - Clive
     
  134. What is 'Art'? What is 'Literature'? Unless these terms are clearly defined the discussion will revolve around their meaning and the original question
    "Is trying to write Literature or make Art over all other considerations useful? Why?"
    I could be wrong in this presumption but I'd have said the purpose of creating 'works' is to make money, whether through commission, or speculative creation - effectively creating it for another party. It is the judgment of worth that the other party makes against the price paid for, and retained by, the work that defines whether 'art' or 'literature' has been created, presuming 'art' and 'literature' are, at the end of the day, commercial entities - which I would suggest they are.
     
  135. Steve Hipperson typed - " I could be wrong in this presumption but I'd have said the purpose of creating 'works' is to make money..."
    That's exactly what commercial art is. As Ralph Gibson put it, commercial photographers photograph to make money, artists make money to photograph. There are few worse ways to attempt to make money than non-commercial art.
     
  136. As Luis says (to Stephen's take on this topic), that is commercial art. Non-commercial art is often done simply for the love of artistic expression, not often as a means to make money beyond that of basic living and art materials expenses. The distinction between commercial artists (or photographers) and the fine arts or contemporary arts practitioners is not always an easily drawn line in the sand.
    It is fun to recognize though that the highest paid artists are mostly those who are or who have worked in the non-commercial art arena.
     
  137. This thread amazes me because it just wont go bed.
    With Stephen's new posting my first reaction was a simple to say "no, wrong" but that doesn't get us anywhere does it? As fate would have it, (it was 6am when I read the posting) I heard a cockrel crow somewhere off in the distance on the other side of the road.
    Which made me remember the old story of the chicken crossing the road.
    Why did the chicken cross the road?
    To get to the other side, to show all chickens that it could be done, to get to more food, to play chicken with the traffic, because she was egged on by other chickens (sorry for corn), because she was an explorer, because she was either a genius or crazy - and on we go.
    Many of the reasons why artists do what they do are bound up in the the chicken crossing the road story. Few have anything at all to do with money and most revolve around ideas of achievement, discovery and immortality.
    I would go as far to say that by far the most prevalent goal is to create something that all other artists have to take notice of, which in effect, then changes the topogragphy of playing field creating new opportunities for all that follow.
    Immortality is an interesting phenomena because the ability to acrue wealth is very low on the list of things that will guarantee that a person is remembered, even at a family level.
    The writer, painter, explorer, musician, sports star, general, clock maker and quilter beat the business person every time (unless they were sent to jail) in the immortality stakes.
    Clive
     
  138. "Few (of the reasons that artists do what they do) have anything at all to do with money and most revolve around ideas of achievement, discovery and immortality."
    2/3rds right, I believe. Neither the chicken versus the road (a good example - and "because it is there"), or the artist, really do their thing for immortality, also known as the long term result of fame. Yes, we would all like to be remembered or immortalized decades or centuries after our deaths, but it ain't going to happen. One of my stone sculptor friends may have works that outlast other works, but nobody can tell whether they will be noticed more than the stone window surrounds of an old building centuries from now. So the pleasure of discovery and the personal achievement of succeeding in our approach/objectives, are much more realisable goals and ones we can measure directly by ourselves.
    Those two considerations rule out others suggested in the question of the OP, except perhaps the basic "need to survive" ones common to all humans and animals.
    Doing the unusual and breaking barriers has always fascinated the onlooker. Upon being sucked into a local metropolis on a major artery a few years ago, we and other motorised suburbans were slowed down to a crawl by the sight of a Mama (or Papa) goose proudly strutting across the 8 lanes of dense traffic with a half dozen chicks in tow (they made it, to the pleasure of the crawling onlooking cars). Unusual, daunting, discover, achievement, all rolled into one action. Like the communication of a superior work of art, suddenly stumbled upon by visitors to a small gallery room.
     
  139. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Clive, famous after you're dead is the ultimate in delayed gratification. I think the thing with commercial work is that it's rarely if ever delusional about its minimal competence -- someone who can't interview people, who can't summarize isn't going to get a job as a journalists on even a weekly newspaper. Some who can't take an well-lighted photograph showing the product in an identifiable way isn't going to get work as a commercial photographer. But often that's good enough.
    Fine artists can be delusional about their competence, can be better than any commercial artist -- there's no floor and no ceiling either. I met a person who was a self-described poet who made me realize how many of them there are out there and how poorly they look -- no real competence at anything people pay for, a bit crazy, and all.
    Someone who was writing song lyrics at the Brill Building was going to have a certain competence with words, but William Butler Yeats, Frank O'Hara, Allen Ginsberg, Marianne Moore, etc. are better poets, though Ginsberg and Yeats were the only ones to make a living through poetry (Yeats with a patron; Ginsberg with performances, though he was an academic later. Any number of poets manque aren't better than a competent song writer.
    The capacity for both delusion and transcendence are greater among the fine artists than among the commercial artists, perhaps. Nothing say that a commercial artist can't also be transcendent, especially when he's co-owner of the Globe (it appears that early, Shakespeare resented having to write for the general public; later, with The Tempest, he seems to have both come to terms with the audience and to be walking away from the magic. Henry Cartier Bresson walked away from photography to return to drawing and painting.
     
  140. Listening to the comments of others on their oeuvre or their approach, or that of others, is a fools game beyond a very limited point. The succcessful artist, one that I admire and hope to emulate, is able to divorce himself from the crowd, and be concerned personally with his or her sense of discovery, aesthetic, approach and achievement.
    He or she is an island. Lonely worlds are the domain of artists, writers and composers. Those "workshops" are nonetheless highly efficient ones, free of extraneous considerations.
     
  141. Arthur--
    Do you think Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Camus or Kaufman, Parker, and Ferber or Bazin, Truffaut, Godard, and Rohmer were playing fools games?
    I don't see the independence and creativity of an artist necessarily or even likely to be undermined by listening, sharing, learning, cooperating, and schmoozing. I think the artist with a vision can use relationships with others (artists and non-artists) in as stimulating a way as possible and still create from within and on his or her own terms. To me, it would be a weak person who had to live in the sort of vacuum you describe in order to develop an individual voice.
     
  142. Clive Murray-White "This thread amazes me because it just wont go bed."
    It amazes me that you want to 'close' any thread - is this place a 'closed shop'? An elitist community perhaps? I think not.
    "Many of the reasons why artists do what they do are bound up in the the chicken crossing the road story. Few have anything at all to do with money and most revolve around ideas of achievement, discovery and immortality." -
    Stroking (to use a term I've picked up from somewhere). 'Artists' are no different to anybody else who practices a craft, ultimately they crave recognition, acceptance and praise - it's a standard human condition, nothing to do with the fact their chosen 'game' is painting, sculpting, or photography. My missus is learning to play the piano, fine, nothing wrong with that, but she's going for the grades, why? Acceptance/recognition. A photographer enters portfolio into one of the society grading structures, why? Acceptance/recognition.
    If something is beautiful (in our eyes), does that make it Art? No, of course not, though we often try to capture what we perceive to be beauty with our photography. But does the resulting image become Art - not in my book. (I use beauty as a representative element of aesthetic appreciation). (I'm sorry I'm an aethist, so I can't accept the 'artistic hand of god').
    As individuals we cannot define our craft as 'Art'. This is for others to do. Ultimately one piece of 'Art' has to be measured against another piece of 'Art' or, I guess, an individual's value scale. If an individual posseses something that they consider 'Art' and somebody else doesn't, in fact the consesus of all their contacts is that the piece is a worthless piece of junk, does the work become devalued against the person's value scale, possibly, (I suspect that some might choose to remove the piece from view, in case they are judged against the piece (their taste). Of course everybody's 'value scale' is different to everyone elses. Rightly or wrongly the calibration scale we use to get some semblance of reckoning is a financial one. Any commodity is valued like this, be it Art or a spanner. (Personally, I think Art should have some of the properties of a spanner).
    So if Art is a goal, it's about commercial value attached to the work. What sustains us in our interest is the perfection of our craft and the realisation in physical terms of our mind's eye - for others to appreciate perhaps, perhaps not.
     
  143. "Do you think Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Camus or Kaufman, Parker, and Ferber or Bazin, Truffaut, Godard, and Rohmer were playing fools games?"
    Fred, my comment finished with "beyond a very limited point". Which is to say that I believe that of the mix of (1) Information Sharing, (2) Inspiration and (3) Perspiration, as components of an artists work, I would venture that the ratio in percentage of time or commitment might typically (although there is really no "typical") be 10%, 5% and 85%, respectively.
    In my comments I was reacting a bit angrily (not personally, but in a context situation) to the myriad of references in the above thread to the business of worrying what others may be doing, or for what purpose (theirs, not ours) and the relevance of this or that literary, artistic or photographic group or movement to our work.
    Many seem in these photo forums to be so fixed by what former artists (literary, photographic, other) have done, rather than what we think and believe as practicing photographers. Philosophy is a personal process and a personal intellectual position. Let's hope that we hear more personal postulates in that sense. I can always read the philosophy and approach of other artists in the literature (which I do), or at meetings with artist friends.
    Back to the mix of information sharing versus the process of creation. Do you or others think that about 10% is ample. That is certainly a limiting point for me. Otherwise, I would not spend enough time on the perspiration bit.
     
  144. Arthur - "He or she is an island. Lonely worlds are the domain of artists, writers and composers. Those "workshops" are nonetheless highly efficient ones, free of extraneous considerations."
    Feral children are not islands, nor are artists. To be sure, there are lone wolves in any human endeavor, including art, but they usually have some social contact. Arthur, might you be misconstruing the individuation of the artist for isolation? Artists belong to a vast subculture with a multitude of globally interconnecting nodes. They, like all human beings, thrive on social contact, exchanging feelings, skills, discoveries, and ideas resulting in well-known influences.
     
  145. Hi Luis, I appreciate what you say, and believe the same.
    My response above to Fred indicates what I think is a reasonable mix of information acquisition and sharing versus the individual creation process in an artist's life. I acknowledge that it may be different for different persons. Ask any serious writer or music composer how demanding is his life, when he is in the creative process. It can be (and often needs to be) somewhat similar to incarceration.
    However, I was reacting against the themes of some posts in which tangential and third party observations were predominant. We should perhaps spend more time in the first person rather than in the third person in these threads. On our personal philosophy of photography.
    It is cold outside today, so I am willing to take the heat (and valuable counter arguments) of irate fellow posters.
     
  146. In my case, I belong to several informal, free-form groups of artists, and like so many others, find potent (and sometimes inexplicable) ties to many individuals, many who happen to live in other countries. Locally, I hang with only a handful photographers, mostly with painters, jazz musicians, a rapper or two, a few grafitti artists and poets.
     
  147. Arthur--
    I hope I didn't come across as irate and I'm sorry that I didn't take your comment more specifically within the context of what was happening in this particular thread. I agree, more first person sharing would suit me fine as well. I think the topic of this specific thread seemed to veer more to what others do, but I think some threads are started in a much more personalized way and go that way . . . empathy, cliché, biography, voyeurism.
    It was, indeed, your use of "beyond a very limited point" that didn't strike me as applicable to me. I wouldn't want to quantify what I think is a reasonable mix of sharing in an artist's life. I'm not sure I could quantify it even for myself. Artists create and work in all different ways. Some have to collaborate . . . playwrights, directors, actors, architects, orchestra and band musicians. Some live out by a pond and are hermits. Some live in the inner city and are hermits. Others live in the inner city and involve themselves only in group projects where the idea is not to individuate their artistic talents but thrive in community endeavors. Some live in the inner city and work alone but probably spend closer to 50 per cent or more of their time actively engaging with others, discussing, sharing, riffing off each other even with brush strokes.
    I think both art and philosophy are as much a dialogue (taking place across centuries) as an isolating experience. Not only are philosophers still answering questions that Plato, Descartes, and Kant asked, they are studying those masters precisely in order to gain their own voice, just as each of those masters did. And philosophy, often done within the walls of academia, is very much a communal project. Much thought throughout history has grown out of philosophical lectures and debates . . . dialogues, symposiums, conferences. Rarely does one publish a philosophy paper or book without prior feedback from many sources. Check the footnotes and acknowledgments of most philosophy books being produced today and you will see how this feedback forms a sizable portion of the ideas eventually engendered. Most published philosophers send their works first to an array of readers which often impacts the work enormously, sometimes forming many of the key underlying principles. Hell, Plato's body of work is all a bunch of dialogues between Socrates and others. Philosophy of his day was not a matter of isolation.
    As for speaking personally, one of the more personal things written on this thread was my post about halfway through about my own sense of internalized homophobia and how that might relate to "declaring" oneself an artists. It got zero response. A couple of others went into personal stories and really gave of themselves. Most did not even acknowledge these personal stories and certainly didn't add any of their own. Getting personal, speaking about me instead of them, talking about how I work and what I think and feel is harder that talking in abstractions. It scares a lot of people. On that point, we are in complete agreement.
     
  148. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, I understand the difficulty of declaring oneself an artist in a world where the arts are only valued if they make serious amounts of money (Emily Dickinson couldn't have bought a volume of Browning's work for what she was paid for her poetry in her lifetime). One male poet's family sent him to a shrink who explained that the realistic thing to do was get a Ph.D. and teach (he had money and married a woman lawyer later in life). I've met the people who took this advice and most of them aren't people I'd have wanted to be, and few of them seem happy at the more average schools (teaching at schools where one is likely to have students who have the advantages necessary to become poets themselves seems to be better).
    When people talk about superiority to the crowd, I tend to think they're using Art as a defense mechanism against being one of the crowd or less . I think that other people escape their groups, the expectations of those with power over them, in different ways, have their own battles with a society that needs them more as functions than as individuals. I used to think if I made it in the arts, that would vindicate me, make me more than a poorly paid adjunct, more than an editorial secretary.
    Then I found that doing certain sorts of writing would make me one of the crowd, not really a literary artist, in some people's eyes, and that others would patronize me for being a popular culture artist who obviously isn't individuated, but relies on the Zeitgeist, whose work isn't my work, but the mass mind working through me. I think the reason I couldn't also be a poet for those people was that poetry is the heroic anti-mass culture art of the day, Ginsberg's genuine popular success not withstanding. When I was turning to s.f., my graduate advisor was not happy and predicted that I would return to poetry after the aridities of science fiction. When I was an adjunct, people were surprised that my former faculty thought of me as a poet (I'm not the only woman who's done both s.f. and poetry, either).
    I'm no longer in academia. Right now, I'm a "between contracts" unemployed technical writer (the money is so much better and I can apparently collect unemployment between gigs which adjuncts can't do, and it's better than writing children's books). My next book will be out from a small feminist press. The back of my brain is whispering, "photonovelas." I'm going to St. Louis to take photos of a friend and his dog for gas money after Thanksgiving.
    Me, I was up for being a poet long before I was willing to admit that I liked guys far better as friends, and the attraction to women scared me.
    I was actually afraid of poetry, too. My mother told me that poets had unhappy lives. I think that's because they leave more records. I certainly know poets who are quite happy, plenty who aren't any more unhappy than any number of other people.
     
  149. Fred -
    I think you have well addressed in your last post the dynamic of individual versus collectively induced creativity. One nuance of the discussion is something we possibly haven't stated - the difference between an appetite for discussion with fellow artists and learning and subsequent individual creation, and on the other hand, the appetite for discussion with fellow artists and learning and the subsequent individual creation "too encumberd" by the approaches and ideas of others. I think we have to be at least wary of the danger of the latter.
    As for learning and exchanging, I attended not too long ago two evening college courses of the art department (color and its application, and a basic history of art course) and intend to continue other searches the same next winter. There is also an artist cooperative group in Quebec City that I may join, if for no other reason than to acquire additional knowledge and exchanges not possible just by reading.
    Those wishing a popular but thoughtful and simple introduction to philosophy (that even an engineer like myself can understand) might like to read the short text "Consolations of Philosophy" by Alain de Botton (ISBN: 0-679-77917-5), the Swiss-British writer. This and his other books show him as someone capable of thinking outside of the box.
    If misery loves bedfellows, Rebecca might be interested to know that my artistic pretentions and individualness get fully diluted each year when I hire myself out to a major research institution each autumn and spring to act as their technical writer, turning out inspired but effectively uninteresting (to me) reports on technical obstacles and uncertainties of 50 or so research projects, intended to obtain income tax credits (a sorry end for a PhD who desires creation rather than sublimation....). Ah well....,
     
  150. Fred --
    As for speaking personally, one of the more personal things written on this thread was my post about halfway through about my own sense of internalized homophobia and how that might relate to "declaring" oneself an artists. It got zero response.​
    I (and I'm sure many others) heard you. You made your point very convincingly and in a way that I had not thought of before. I tend to only post when I disagree or feel something is going unsaid.
     
  151. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, some of this is the culture we're in.
    Being interesting in the play of mind and medium distract from the business of getting and spending. Art that's really satisfying doesn't have to be replaced next month or even next year. Being more interested in art than the next shiny technological bobble or the slight improvements of a newer car over an older car or public transportation, or living where a bicycle is enough can be considered quite mad, just as being gay was in my youth.
    I'm sure Fred's old enough to have gotten the tail end of "It's not a vice; it's an illness," which was considered compassionate in the day. I think the artist as madman is one of the pernicious beliefs of our culture, and I'm not sure "be the best or quit" is useful either. The compensatory myth also is problematic (that we're above/different from the crowd).
    Arthur, I found that doing technical editing (most of what I've done hasn't been writing original drafts) makes me pay more attention to my own prose. Luis Buñuel spent some decades doing film dubbing and editing between the early Surrealist movies and his later movies. Technical writing is a whole lot better paid than adjunct work or even some tenured faculty work.
    I think people are going to be derivative or not depending personality and ability, not will power. Avoiding strong influences can leave one with a muddy mix of all the minor influences. I've seen a lot of this in amateur writing -- it's too often generic imitation rather than a marked and intelligent imitation of some one person. It fits the contemporary standards for good.
     
  152. Fred - "...my post about halfway through about my own sense of internalized homophobia and how that might relate to "declaring" oneself an artists. It got zero response."
    I read Fred loud and clear on that one. Not only in his own personal case (and I have had gay friends mention this before), to which I couldn't add anything I felt was worthwhile reading, but the idea of internalized biases against ourselves and negative feelings is something almost, if not, universal. It has been churning in the back of my head for days. It's a plank most artists have to walk over (and over).
    One of the problems with a leapfrogging free-form thread like this one is that a lot of things that would have made great separate threads get lost in the staccato pace of the posts. I heard Fred and nodded silently, and should have said something. Other ideas have also gotten lost in this shuffle as well. For the record, I'm in no way criticizing the way this thread continues to evolve. It's a good change of pace.
    Arthur - As inferred by your post above, there are stages in the act of creation. Some tend to be a lot more (but not necessarily) solitary than others.
     
  153. Stephen Hipperson , Nov 10, 2009; 06:38 a.m.
    Clive Murray-White "This thread amazes me because it just wont go bed."
    It amazes me that you want to 'close' any thread - is this place a 'closed shop'? An elitist community perhaps? I think not.


    A very frustrating element in this thread is what seems to me to be habitual misreading of what people actually write. Did I say I wanted to close the thread? No, is the only possible answer.
    So what happened here, Stephen used his imagination to invent a meaning that was never stated or intended. How about we accept the words that people use rather than changing them to others? When I use the word immortality, I mean immortality not fame (a previous poster)
    It troubles me that some people keep returning to the idea that, money and the "market" play a very significant role in both the intentions of the artist and in the way that is validated.
    This thread has often made me plough through my memories of a life spent almost exclusively in art, in the company of artists, arts educators, art critics, art historians, public art gallery curators and the commercial gallery scene.
    By far the most important qualification an artist has is their CV, the CV is the major calibration scale we use to get some semblance of reckoning .
    In that respect art is very similar to science and many other disciplines.
    What kinds of achievement rate highest on an artist's CV?
    Anything that is out of the artist's control, which means being selected in major national or international exhibitions held in or auspiced by major public insitutions. Solo curated exhibitions in major public institutions. Inclusion in scholarly articles, books etc. We must differentiate between the scholarly and the current slightly sad practice of artists paying for books to be written about themselves.
    Artists have always tried to manipulate their CVs, the most common way of doing this is to have an exhibition in a community access gallery in a fairly major institution, such as a regional public gallery, they then include it in their CV ommitting the fact that it was not curated and they had paid for it themselves.
    With the widespread use of Google, CV cheating has become very difficult indeed.
    I even know of artists who have sent pictures to major public institutions without return addresses and then list their inclusion in the gallery's collection, it never works.
    I heard one artist describe a plot to make it look as if he'd had "retrospectives" in several major galleries, the idea was to pop into the public toilets and glue mirrors on the internal side of the toilet doors, so a person sitting there would be looking at themselves, ie "retrospective"
    I'm a fairly private sort of person, in terms of my emotions, and I would feel quite some pain expressing my deapest thoughts in a language that people could understand (ie words). I find that art (sculpture) for me is a perfect way of getting secrets off my chest without having the embrassement of people ever really knowing them. It is one of many things that I do, it not the primary focus of my work and under no circumstances would I accept the idea that my work was art therapy or art as therepy.
     
  154. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I always cringe when I see people doing massive self-promotion that's less than honest. It smacks of being stupid about the quality of their work. One of the things I've noticed on Flickr is people making photos as most interesting to get people to look at their work. The one time it happened with me, I found the work of the other person to be really rather wretchedly melodramatic and "arty" in the wrong sense, and not at all like my work, which may be excessively sweet with orchids and fly butts, but would never be what that person was doing. I have a strong sense that I'm still learning how to use the cameras I have. I'd like to have people whose work or whose minds seemed to have connections to me like what I'm going to do, but I ain't there yet as a photographer, and I've lived through far too many art scenes to be impressed with flattery.
     
  155. Rebecca--
    Happiness and pleasure may be overrated. Genuine and fulfilled are more appealing to me. I figure I've spent half a lifetime doing many of the things considered successful in the eyes of family and the culture at large . . . owning a home, running a stable business. At the same time I'm lucky enough to live in San Francisco and travel in circles where more of a premium is put on coming up with individual alternative ways to be genuine and fulfilled. So I do find that now that I've become passionate about photography and have given myself over to it to the extent I have, I'm gaining not only the respect of many around me but feeling challenged and inspired within as well. I don't do photography and art for the status they will bring me, just as I'm not gay in order to make a statement or to "promote a lifestyle." That being a photographer or artist and being gay will undoubtedly make some sort of statement (a different one to different people) is an effect not a cause. "Coming out," whether as gay or as an artist -- to me -- is much more an individual act of freedom than a political or social act. It is the other guy for whom it may be more of a political or psychological act and I can't worry too much about the other guy. After all, the other guy is the fool who thinks if I marry the man I love it will affect his own marriage. Many years ago, a wise friend told me that "what others think of me is none of my business."
    Yes, art is much more lasting than the latest car or electronic gadget or even fashion. I will add that the art that's really satisfying to me sets up a dynamic to take itself further. The best photographs of mine so far have been the ones that suggest a new voice or direction, so there is as much potential as there is satisfaction in my favorite photos. I love when my reaction is not to want to rest on a particular accomplishment but rather when a new photo suggests a new challenge.
    Arthur--
    Have you personally experienced being encumbered by listening to the approaches and ideas of others? I can't think where that's happened to me except for one area. On PN, many people are in the habit of downloading others' photographs and "critiquing" them by altering them and showing how they would specifically have dealt with it. I can't imagine a less helpful way to go about critiquing someone else's work, but that's my personal view. Several people have offered to show me their interpretations of my photographs and I have declined, in some cases because I simply was not interested and in a couple of cases it was because I still wasn't satisfied with my own work and didn't want to be unduly influenced by another. The last time that happened was a while ago and I think now I wouldn't worry as much about the influence since my own vision has gotten stronger. It's just that I'm not all that interested in how others' would proceed with my photos. I am, however, fascinated by how others' handle their own photos.
    Julie--
    Thanks. I, too, am often more apt to speak up when I disagree with someone. Lately, I've been more conscious of trying to build on ideas, even ones I agree with rather than always getting into debating mode. As long as it's constructive, either kind of contribution seem helpful.
    Luis--
    I understand, and thanks. Yes. Many things get raised in these threads and not everything can be attended to in the moment. That's why a genuine "understanding" takes a long time to nurture.
    Clive--
    "A very frustrating element in this thread is what seems to me to be habitual misreading of what people actually write. . . . So what happened here, Stephen used his imagination to invent a meaning that was never stated or intended. How about we accept the words that people use rather than changing them to others?" --Clive
    When I read Stephen's response to you, I assumed he had misinterpreted you. Describing it as Stephen having "used his imagination to invent a meaning" seems like the attribution of willful rather than benign misunderstanding.
    .
    Earlier in the thread, you said this to me, and it illustrated your own projection of meaning onto what I had said to you:
    "I don't mind leaving it at that as well, but only wanting to discuss things with people who agree with you seems slightly futile to me. Mention dealer, Greenberg, Smith and Guston in one small reply and it says where someone is coming from? I think not." --Clive
    There were many other possible ways of reading what I had said to you, which was simply "It's pretty clear where you're coming from." I was certainly not thinking of the people you mentioned and I was not thinking of anything biographical that I might have learned from google. I was responding specifically and only to the many thoughtful words you'd written on this thread, focusing on your ideas as stated and not your life or you who know. I could as easily prod you to do some research into me, so that you'd discover I'm not one to back down from engaging with people I disagree with.
    .
    By far the most important qualification an artist has is their CV --Clive
    This gets to the heart of why I thought you and I kept miscommunicating. The qualification I use in discussing "artist" is their work. I know many artists who don't have a CV. One's history of gallery showings and one's stance in the "art world" certainly shows some things, but not near enough as far as I'm concerned. We had been discussing the so-called fortress mentality of artists and I was referring to many I know who don't have a fortress mentality but also don't have the kinds of CVs you deem important. The artists you seemed to be talking about were ones who'd come up on google searches and ones who have CVs comparable to scientists. So I knew we were talking about two different groups of people.
     
  156. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    One of the thing that I'm getting out of this is that I'm really stimulated and challenged in a good way by all the discussion. I've been among people that I had to stretch in social ways to communicate with, and while that was useful, there's a point where I'd rather be around people who basically spoke the same language, who have shared references to a certain extent.
    With science fiction, I felt caught between two positions and agreed with neither of them. Fandom as a social community shared little of my interests; academia tended in the schools where I had jobs to be rather self-inflated for the most part, with a few exceptions. At my last school, I didn't know if I was a better or worse writer, just that I wasn't the local academic writers' peer, and which direction didn't matter.
    The idea of doing art as a self-exploration, of being honest about where one is, what directions the work suggests, what other works give clues as to what might be worth doing, and not worrying about making money from art, strike me as something I need in my life, right now.
    I have a friend in Denver who's a well-respected poet in poetry circles, not particularly famous. She teaches at Naropa as an adjunct, but doesn't make enough money from that to live well, so she has a day job with people who respect her and let her take time off for readings. She is a poet, always has been, and I've never seen her worry about her ranking in the field, never appears to be competitive with other poets. Her books come out from small presses; she's raised three sons who have successful lives of their own by the usual cultural standards; two of them live near her with their families.
    Me, not so much, but I was happiest socially in San Francisco when I was a poet among poets than I've been as a science fiction writer among fans and other s.f. writers, even with the better but not good money. It could be nostalgia for my youth, though.
    I think with photography, it's a matter of "I can learn and improve in this new/old thing." Doing something new against aging is important.
    Fred, not so sure that Clive deems the CVs of those people as important if they were real people in his life who had human realities that the CVs don't pick up. Sometimes, seeing that side of someone famous is extremely important.
     
  157. "It's just that I'm not all that interested in how others' would proceed with my photos. I am, however, fascinated by how others' handle their own photos." - Fred
    Fred-
    In response to your question of have I personally experienced being encumbered by listening to the approaches and ideas of others, I must answer no (with one exception of an overzealous and perhaps not very generous print group I belonged to for a short time that would reframe and revise almost every photo presented to them, while spending little time to understand fully the visual communication of the print before them).
    The approaches and ideas of others are part of the information gathering process for me, that I put down very roughly at 10% of my creative process time. That is quite useful and with you on that point I am in full agreement. The rest of the process to the created image (5% personal ideas and creation, followed by 85% perspiration), "the island" of isolation, is entirely personal, as I believe it must be. My numbers are not exact of course, only a rather superficial indication of how I believe my own approach pans out.
    Where I differ with your thoughts, perhaps, is that after the image has been made, I generally do not mind the comments of others whom I know or respect (for one reason or the other) in critiquing my images. That has happened with interested artist friends, with an art critic (who saw aspects of my images that I was barely conscious of, although I had realized they were part of my approach) and with salon judges asked to return after the exhibitions to explain to the exhibitors what they thought about their specific works. These comments proved in some cases to constitute useful feedback (one does have to be a bit thick skinned sometimes) and awareness of how other artists and photographers considered your work. If I feel good about my approach and objectives I cannot see too much ill in listening to constructive criticisms or interesting "what ifs".
     
  158. Arthur--
    I don't mind comments or critiques of my images either. What gave you the idea that I do?
     
  159. I'm putting CVs and money on the backburner this morning because various things have been said that seem to get us a good bit closer to understanding what drives an artist most of all.
    I think it was Fred that put his finger on it by mentioning "critiques" which led me to realise that we are often driven to get our art right, or improve our art, most usually in our own terms. I'm sure we've all taken pictures that make us think that its almost there and if we try hard in PP we may be able to extract a bit more out of the picture of what we're attracted to.
    And if we don't get it with that picture we put ourselves in the position to try the idea in other ways on the off chance that we'll get closer to something that expresses what think we may be capable of.
    Once the process commences we're caught by something that has the power to control our lives. When we get our art right it can be almost orgasmic but when we don't it can be hell.
    I think its understandable that people put their photos up for criticism because when the process works well it can really help.
    But, and its a big but, more often than not the criticisms offered in these forums only offer suggestions on how to standardise a contributor's offering. In a way this isn't quite as bad as it sounds because that's exactly what lots of people want to achieve.
    Often people who are very new to photography put a picture up for criticism and don't know the questions to ask. I saw a case recently when someone from one of the old communist block countries put up a cold, almost featureless, miserable landscape that had a strange evocative power to it, it had the ability to make people wonder why he took it and what stories it had hidden in it. Compositionally it was heavily weighted to the left but limped slowly accross the scene to nowhere or out beyond the right hand edge. The slowness was caused by infuriating interruptions, just where you'd want the picture to flow there'd be a ratty bit of tree or something. My view was that the guy was on the right track and a bit of encouragement would go a long way.
    But as the "Hey nice capture Uri" style of comments came in I realised the amount of damage that could be done. Because what was being suggested would have turned the picture into an overblown Arizona, by pumping up the sky colour, getting more contast into the ground features and so on.
    I'm a kind of "I'll know what I'm looking for when I find it" person and it irks me when people think that I may be looking for the same things as them.
    Have good day all the best - Clive
     
  160. "Several people have offered to show me their interpretations of my photographs and I have declined, in some cases because I simply was not interested..." - Fred
    Hi Fred, I assumed pehaps wrongly that their interpretations were based upon their analysis and critique of your photos? Perhaps you were referring instead to their own visualisation and creation of a photo, one that was based upon your theme or subject? If so, I misinterpreted your remark. Cheers, Arthur
     
  161. "I'm a kind of "I'll know what I'm looking for when I find it" person and it irks me when people think that I may be looking for the same things as them." - Clive
    Voilà! The essence of art (and an artistic approach). We do have to pay attention to our own world ("mind").
     
  162. Yes, beautiful comment Clive. The risk of getting the irksome "how to standardise this image" comments is worth taking, because every so often you will find someone who can help you grow.
     
  163. Arthur/Clive--
    I think Clive captured my feelings about critique well with his story of the Eastern European photographer. In critiques that I give, I want to be careful to honor unique voices and not use critique as a way to standardize everyone's work. A critique that stimulates me to see something for myself in a way I hadn't or that gets me to penetrate my own work in a deeper way can be extremely helpful.
    What I was specifically talking about in my post above was the practice prevalent on PN of taking someone else's photo and showing them (by altering the photo) what would "improve" it. That method of critique and learning doesn't suit me.
    My toughest and favorite Philosophy professor, whether giving a good grade or a bad one, wrote provocative questions all over our papers. Only a teacher taking the easy way out, one who doesn't teach creatively, gives his students the answers or tells them what to think or exactly how to do it.
    I understand we are peers and not each others' teachers, but I think part of critiquing is recognizing the others' vision and uniqueness and knowing that it can vary greatly from our own. Thinking outside my own box is as relevant to my critiquing as it is to my making photographs.
     
  164. Thank you Arthur. Though I do think we have travelled further quicker on this leg of the discussion because Rebecca (I think) suggested that we talk personally and Fred introduced the big trigger of the role of criticism.
    The email version of your posting started thus - Voil&agrave - which I had never seen before, my rudimentary French had me thinking, look or see a tomb or unhappiness! I got there in the end.
    Clive
     
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    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    People can point out where something is soft, but they can't tell how to fix it. The solution may be in all the areas around the soft point (especially in fiction or poetry), rather than the soft part itself. I had one picture up here where someone wanted it cropped. I think the problem was not getting the angle right. Some things are taste -- advising someone to heat up the colors in PP is taste, not anything absolute.
    Sometimes the solution is taking a different photo.
    Isn't the goal doing art that makes some people forget themselves in your vision? But perhaps caring about the artist of the work that one loves is like taking our lover's father to bed. Our relationship as viewers, listeners, or readers is with the work. The artist is only interesting because the work is. Any work of art fits in with the other things we've seen experienced, read, listened to, sometimes in ways the artist hadn't quite intended.
     
  166. Rebecca--
    Just to be clear, I draw a big distinction between how I react to art that I see in a gallery and how I react to art on a learning web site where I am being asked for a critique. While it is the work that strikes me most in a gallery (though intention and context of the artist as related through accompanying text will play a role), I am more likely to consider the artist when I am being asked to critique the work. I may offer my taste as well, but in terms of providing what I can toward someone becoming a better photographer, it is not my taste or my love of his or her work that will be decisive. In my PN critiques, I am much more concerned with the loves, path, and taste of the person I'm critiquing than with my own.
    Getting to know about the artist whose work I love doesn't strike me as necessarily superfluous. I try never to discount "the bigger picture" or context. While I believe that a good work of art will stand on its own, I believe nothing in life comes to me "on its own." There is always a perspective and context having a profound influence. To me, knowledge of the artist is as good as anything else influencing my relationship to his works. In many cases knowing things about the artist provides a more significant and insightful context than most other matters at play.
    What's great about the PN experience, to me, is getting to know the artists and the art and the relationship between the two. It's hard for me to separate that out when I am relating not just to the photographs but to the photographer who took them. In talking to a photographer about her work, I am not terribly likely to ignore the photographer herself.
     
  167. Words are music. Being a bit of a francophile (it suits a minority denizen of French Canada), I have always loved the concision, economy and sound of words like 'voilà' ("there you are" or "that's it" in English, sometimes QED) and 'alors' ("therefore, so"). Almost as compelling as tone poems in 'Strine'.
     
  168. Arthur. I'd class myself as a francofile, but the percentage of my accent that is Australian becomes vastly exaggerated when I try (in France) to speak what little French I have - on several occassions it has been deemed so awful that I've been politely asked to stop!With fabulous understatements like - You're from Australia aren't you? How can I help?
    Clive
     
  169. Clive - I've faced similar reactions in Estonia and Portugal with my very limited knowledge and questionable pronunciation of the local vernacular. I guess we do get a few Boy Scout points and their sympathy for the effort. Arthur
     
  170. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, I think we agree that communities of people seeing themselves as artists still learning how to do their best art will be different from people who look at art as a need of their own to fill? I've got different standards for workshop/student work and gallery/print publication, too. But I'm somewhat nervous about romancing the artist instead of the art.
     
  171. Rebecca, I think the best artists (whatever that may mean) are always learning how to do their best and are never content to rest on their laurels, doubting one's abilites can be very destructive but, at the same time, the cause for great invention.
    I know I've got different/higher/more exacting standards for my own work but can adjust them according to the level of work I'm looking at. But regardless of our levels of ability we all seem to doubt the validity of an idea, our technical abilities to realise that idea and the overall quality of the finished item.
    I don't know who first said "Doubt is the cancer of artmaking" but its very true and leaves me wondering why its so easy to get sucked into it.
     
  172. Rebecca - "...communities of people seeing themselves as artists still learning how to do their best art will be different from people who look at art as a need of their own to fill? I've got different standards for workshop/student work and gallery/print publication, too. But I'm somewhat nervous about romancing the artist instead of the art."
    Unless one is crippled by their own ego, or creatively spent, one is always learning. I do not think there is a difference between those who are 'doing it for themselves' and those who are learning. In teaching, one often takes the students' levels into account, though I've known professors that didn't. Some thrive under those standards, others are crushed.
    Although some are motivated by doubt, most artists seem to be bedeviled by it. Overcompensation can result in great work, of course. Dissatisfaction with existing work, in the sense of wanting to evolve and grow, is commonplace. I would define that as doubting one's limits instead of oneself.
     
  173. Doubt, as mentioned by Clive and Luis, seems to be an important but not necessarily limiting component of the artistic process, and others. It is well known that a highly acclaimed and experienced singer or actor or dancer is quite often struck with fear at the beginnning of a performance. The painter or photographer, on a renewed high after receiving the information that he or she has been awarded a contract or grant to produce a series of work, may suddenly awaken to thoughts of possible inadequacy in the face of the objective. The young research engineer or scientist, caught in the middle of a difficult and seemingly endless series of obstacles to success in a design or experimental project, doubts whether he will be able to resolve the uncertainties and produce the 'deliverables'.
    Doubt assumes different proportions. In small or manageable amounts, I believe it is useful if it can spur the artist to examine and experiment other means of arriving at the end result, or at least attempt to fill a void in his knowledge that doubt had signalled. In obsessive degree, it is, no doubt, paralyzing.
     
  174. Rebecca, I didn't read all of this, but there was something in the OP that got my attention; it was the split between genre and literature, and how that may affect how we perceive art in general, and in photography.
    Years ago, my mentor advised that genres were often about the forms of the crisis, but that literature (and most fine arts) were about conflict. A crisis is a tough situation; a conflict is a tough choice. We can have one without the other. In fine art, some of us are looking for both.
    In visual arts, it can be difficult to find conflict; as a plot, a protagonist facing a conflict can be difficult to render in one illustration. So often, we see one photo or two photos; to show conflict and reflect humanity, we'd need to see more. Compared to the quick viewing of a single photo, the average comic strip in the daily paper shows more character progression and plot.
    This is why many visual artists will work in a series, half-series, or acts of series (with each series being a chapter), to try and show what they are talking about. Meanwhile, the viewers won't often look for this, find it, or have it even occur to them that such a progression might be there. Probably the most notable exception would be photo essays in popular magazines; people follow and followed Life, National Geographic, and magazines like those; whether they knew it or not, often they were looking at photos presented as art because they showed character progression and development.
    In many of those essays, the character that showed progression might be an abstract topic. To make matters worse, the progression may be in the perception of the viewer; in which case, an ad campaign, as a whole, might be the fine art of persuasion. As much as I hate crushing tyranny, and the bad aspects of competition, I'd have to admit that some ad campaigns were fine art in the genre of advertisement.
    Art for art's sake; or, will work for food? There's a coin toss for ya. I suggest that people will recognize art instinctively, if we give them a chance to see it. In the long run, it's more sustaining, intellectually and emotionally; but, we've all got to eat; we don't live in heaven.
    Since the genre is about the description of a situation, genre choice is actually noncompetitive with conflict progression; genre, by itself, has no impact on whether or not a work is fine art, in and of itself. An audience or viewers might not recognize the work for what it is; but, if it is built soundly, someone, somewhere, will see it for what it is, if they give it a chance.
    The artist himself does not have to have intent (it sure as hell helps manage things, but it's not required). He doesn't have to recognize himself as an artist. He just has to make the objects to fit the concept of progression, and find a way to communicate that.
    It's a guaranteed tough sell to get fine art received.
    I don't know if that helps you much; but, when I look at the title of your question, the answer is that the question is self-referential: art is a goal, art that we call work will (or can) sustain our interest, and if it's all executed well, then the goal is to create work which will naturally sustain interest; that interest is sustained through showing character progression; work that shows that progression is art.
    The answer is that the question is not "either/or;" it's "and."
     
  175. The "bad" science fiction? It will have no character progression. The "bad" sequel to a money-making movie? It strips character progression from the first, and just shows another group of, usually the same, crisis.
    Why does the fine art photo not appear to be a fine art photo? Because we often don't see the character progression. An individual photo is more suited to presenting crisis. We see that one unusual situation, or normal situation; we see the situation. Presented like that, one photo at a time, it'd be rare and difficult to say it all in one photograph.
    Probably the most effective presentation of still photographs as fine art would be in video documentaries with narrative voice overs. They reach a lot of people; they add words to help make the story plain. As with comic strips, the visual artist will be able to broaden and facilitate his connection with an audience by adding words.
    The fine art will tell a story of character progression; it will sustain us; and, it will be the work that pays the highest returns; maybe not pay those returns to the artist himself, but it will pay the highest returns. This is part of the mechanics of the durability of fine art as an occupation.
     
  176. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    What made me doubt the most in academia was looking at my colleagues. Top level academia tends to have people who are much more alive as artists teaching. Lower level, the berets, the people who never expect much of their students, the folks whose work isn't all that interesting, the people who treat their students as a captive audience for their egos. If that's was where I fit in, I needed to get out and make an honest living.
    What I'm wondering now is if the useful thing to do is forget the ambitions (in the worldly sense) when doing the work, lose self in work. To someone looking or reading, the work that's about the artist's ego tends to be off putting. Julian Schabel's work tends to put me off.
    I remember a poetry reading in Charlotte, NC: Two utterly forgettable faculty poets, and Fred Chappell. The two faculty poets read as if we were being judged by our reception of their work, as if they were great poets (and neither were). Fred Chappell made himself vulnerable to the audience. His reading wasn't about him; it was about us.
    I'm reading a book about art forgery that I read about earlier and which produced this question. We have historically had people who were reasonably good and who were able to sell themselves as artists -- the Dutchman who forged Vermeers for Goering wasn't an incompetent painter. And some people saw immediately that the forgeries were fakes, generally people who didn't have an investment in Dutch pride or their own need to find a Vermeer. The investment was in the artist, not the painting.
    Given that this society does have an all or nothing view of being creative -- and a rather dismissive view of people who can't get the public recognition or critical acclaim, maybe declaring oneself outside that pressure is a good thing. "I'm an artist; it's not about the money, the academic recognition, the American Academy of Arts and Letters." Emily Dickinson didn't stop writing.
    And to the viewer, the name or not of the artist (thinking about those Dutch forgeries of Vermeer) shouldn't be the primary thing. The work will have a context, will be a creature of its time. But a painting doesn't become better because someone famous painted it, even though it may become more valuable in financial terms. Work doesn't necessarily become better because it was done by an artist.
     
  177. "Doubt delivers us from every kind of prejudice.
    "How many are the false beliefs that I have from my earliest youth admitted as true?
    "These commonly held opinions revert frequently to my mind, long and familiar custom having given them the right to occupy my mind against my inclination and rendered them almost masters of my belief.
    "If I allow myself to doubt . . . my judgment will no longer be dominated by bad usage or turned away from the truth." --Descartes, Meditation I
    Descartes used doubt to establish a foundational certainty (a kind of certainty I can't buy into), but he used doubt constructively, not skeptically. Clive, Luis, and Arthur have all touched on the creative aspects of doubt. I'd say that in order to "think outside the box" I will often use doubt productively, even self doubt.
    Descartes is looking for too firm a foundation, in my opinion. However, his method (though not his ultimate goal) is one that I've learned a lot learn from. It suggests that my opinions and taste can change (and that I can create that change), that many of the things I assume are just that . . . assumptions . . . and that I can use doubt to build and evolve and not just to destroy or undermine myself.
    In a reply about his method, Descartes says: "When an architect wants to build a house which is stable on ground where there is a sandy topsoil over underlying rock, or clay, or some other firm base, he begins by digging out a set of trenches from which he removes the sand, and anything resting on or mixed in with the sand, so that he can lay his foundations on firm soil. In the same way, I began by taking everything that seemed previously certain to me and throwing it out, like sand."
     
  178. Rebecca--
    Considering the artist in responding to a work of art and allowing the name of the artist to influence your judgment of the art are two different things. You began by talking about a viewer "caring about the artist" and that our relationship was "with the work" and not with the artist. That's different from the name of the artist mattering in assessing the work. I can have a richer musical experience from Beethoven's late and deeply personal string quartets if I know the influences on the early Beethoven and the progression that led him to this emotional apex of his composing. So, yes, the artist matters. I can also be a big old phony and claim to like a piece of music better or start reading crap into it once I know who the composer is. To me, these are not the same or even similar things. There's a difference between responding to the name of the artist on a rather superficial level (it's a Rembrandt, it must be great) and considering the substance of who an artist is in relating that substance to his or her work. To use your analogy, there surely are times when I am so moved that I'd love to get into bed with an artist whose work has moved me. At the same time, I've never once wanted to get into bed with the father of a lover.
     
  179. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I'm still reading The Forger's Spell, which is informing some of my concerns. When I'm finished, perhaps I'll post a new question based on that.
    I think my comment about works having a place in time is somewhat similar to your comments about Beethoven.
    What I'm talking about is the phenomenon Virginia Woolfe noticed in her example problematic work by a man, though men aren't the only ones who create the works of ego display. Another person can't have a relationship with the work without being completely aware of the designs of the artist. That, I don't think, is useful, at least not for me as a viewer/reader/listener. It may be why some snapshots are more appealing, or amateur/semi-pro country fiddling over Nashville.
    My problem, perhaps. I want to move out of myself and into what the work needs, whatever the work is. And this is not easy -- the old Zen paradox. When you're paying attention to yourself paying attention to the mountain, you're not paying attention to the mountain.
     
  180. Be the mountain.
     
  181. I'm content just to be. I don't mind looking at or climbing or sleeping on the mountain while maintaining a distinction between me and the mountain. I'm content with an array of awarenesses: of mountains, of me, of me being aware of mountains, of others, of others being aware of mountains. Where my head is at at the time will go a long way towards determining what my awareness, if anything, will be of.
    Descartes becomes relevant here again. In order to fulfill himself as a thinking being, he had to relegate his senses to being second class. For him, self awareness was the be all and end all (I think, therefore I am). I don't take to that conclusion (though I like his method of doubt) any more than I take to a conclusion that requires losing my self awareness or self reflection completely. I have no problem seeing the mind as a series of mental states, physically based. So I don't need a mind/body distinction and I don't have to see "myself" as something solid or foundational that I would seek to lose or escape. My self is constantly escaping itself by its nature. All I have to do is be, not be me or something else. Being, for persons, is becoming . . . a constant state of flux.
     
  182. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Luis, I had an experience with a small mountain once that didn't trip me with roots when I was paying attention to it while doing a butt glissade down it. The second I thought about my mental state rather than being with the mountain, the mountain got me with a root I hadn't noticed. Perhaps the mindfulness is why mountain climbing is thrilling beyond the playing with danger and our brachiating roots. You're forced even more dramatically to pay attention to the mountain. I've watched climbers look at a rock face. Good climbers have an ethos of never claiming to be good climbers even surrounded by groupies who adore their climbing. Gary Snyder or Kenneth Rexroth described climbing as a form of Zen meditation. Some events force you not to pay attention to yourself paying attention. I think photographers can reach this -- everything being just so, now, and then it's after. To get there, I think I need all the techniques I can master well enough that they become intuitive.
    Fred, I'm not quite content just to be because I figure I'd starve to death if I didn't do something.
    And, yeah, the brain quite literally goes down to the fingertips. Senses are as much the brain as anything else.
     
  183. A very interesting read in the context of this thread is "The Hidden Mountain" by Gabrielle Roy (ISBN-10: 0771092091; ISBN-13: 978-0771092091), the great but sometimes overlooked early to mid 20th century writer (foreign winner of the prestigious French literary award the "Prix Femina" in 1947). The principal character is an artist who pays little attention to himself, but only to an unseen mountain in Ungava that becomes his quest (Labrador Inuit speak of the myth of a mountain in most northern Quebec that is sacred to the caribou).
    All other subjects for his art are of no concern and he ends his Parisian art career to go off into the northern wilds in search of the mythical mountain. His obsession with the mountain, with his extremely arduous quest and life threatening voyage for the perfect painting (as much in his mnd as anything else) is so strong that his lengthy adventure takes a toll on him. Roy has gotten into the mind of an artist, into the concept of the north, and into her own aesthetic in art.
    There is a quote by her on the back of a Canadian $20 bill that reads: "Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"
     
  184. "Fred, I'm not quite content just to be because I figure I'd starve to death if I didn't do something."​
    I didn't suggest that being wasn't doing. For me, doing is implied in becoming, which I said was what being, for persons, is. I said that I don't have to be something, which doesn't imply that I do nothing. I am quite practical. I actually think the ability to pay attention to myself paying attention to something is not as easy as it sounds and is quite evolved when done genuinely. I make no judgment that one form of paying attention is better than another. What happens happens. The minute I find myself needing to be a certain way is the minute I seem to get the most distracted from what I'm doing.
     
  185. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    The minute I find myself needing to be a certain way is the minute I seem to get the most distracted from what I'm doing.​
    Fred, I can agree with that.
     
  186. Voilà, as they say. Common ground!
     
  187. initially we all begin to tread the same road, that is, achieveing certain pre focused ends. it is only somewhere in the middle of this ART Journey, that some of realize what the whole phenomenon is all about. so some of us take less travelled roads and probe into the unknown....they become genuine artists! so the aim, CLEAR or OBSCURED is always there! I do believe that ART is DEFINITELY NOT A MARATHON, IT IS NEVER EVER ABOUT WINNING! ITS ALL ABOUT KEEP GOING! yet again, we can never be qualified enough to comment of OTHERS' JOURNEY, because whe have no idea WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT! REGARDS!
     
  188. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I do think we can say that we're not the audience for certain work, sometimes at this point, sometimes never. I've seen things that meant a tremendous amount to me for a summer, that I revisited in the museum that had them on display, then a few years later, not the same impact. I suspect I did a correct reading on something about why a work was done 3,000 years before I saw it, and I was responding to a defiance in the work (it was a large bread-loaf sized crystal lion, Egyptian, bigger than anything else in Egypt made of quartz, like seeing the fist pump the air after making it).
    But what I saw could have been my own projection.
     
  189. Fred - I do not relegate my senses to 2nd class. I understand why Descartes did.
    I certainly did not mean "be the mountain" literally, or to the exclusion of all other things/forever and ever. One doesn't have to lose (or remain) themselves. Different things work for different people -- at different times.
    I do not think being and becoming are synonymous. Becoming is to start being. I think we're in agreement in spite of this, because for a living thing, it is a given that being is a temporal, dynamic state.
    From several posts ago....some artists are known more for their theoretical influence than for their works, others for making their lives a kind of performance.
    Rebecca - Butt skiing down a mountain is a thrilling, marvel-and-terror kind of experience.
    Anyone who's read Eugen Herrigel's little book on archery understands the nature of Rebecca's problem, and one possible approach to solving it.
    [RB] - " Some events force you not to pay attention to yourself paying attention."
    Yes, and one can train themselves to do that so that external force or special circumstances are not required to achieve it. Some people cannot conceive of turning off the internal dialogue even for a moment. I've been told in this very forum that it is impossible . :)
    [RB] " I think photographers can reach this -- everything being just so, now, and then it's after. To get there, I think I need all the techniques I can master well enough that they become intuitive."
    Most people can reach it. Most do several times in the course of a lifetime, as Rebecca says, only by happenstance. There are well-developed paths and schools to get help one get there sans drama.
    [ I believe Phylo was dancing around this very thing in the David Lynch/TM post.]
    Technique gets in the way until one knows it well enough that it becomes like breathing. The example of learning to drive a stick shift, how clumsy it is until the sequence is integrated, and how it remains so until the unconscious and muscle memory takes & over thought is no longer necessary. One doesn't need to master all the techniques one can, only those you need. If you desire a huge technical tool kit, acquiring it is going to consume your creative energies, time and life itself. It's an easy trap to fall into.
    [RB] - " But what I saw could have been my own projection."
    Part of what we see is our own projection. I just read that when one is seeing, 20% of neuronal input into the visual cortex comes from the optic nerves. The rest is thought to be coming from memory and possibly non-local processing.
    Arthur - Many cultures have myths involving mountains. Often they form the vertical nexus between heaven and earth. There are many myths that involve acknowledging and climbing an inner mountain, too.
     
  190. "Fred - I do not relegate my senses to 2nd class. I understand why Descartes did." --Luis
    Yes. What you've described of yourself suggests that you don't relegate your senses to 2nd class. I brought up Descartes not because I thought anyone was (like Descartes) relegating their senses to 2nd class, but because I wondered if there's been a running theme through this and the TM thread of relegating self awareness to 2nd class (much the way Descartes relegated the senses to 2nd class). I haven't picked that up from you, though, Luis. You may have gotten caught in the crossfire because your "be the mountain" came at an opportune time in my back and forth with Rebecca. Actually, I presume that in order to be the mountain, one's senses might have to be heightened and very much in tune with the mountain. It seems to me that artists use their senses pretty fully and familiarly and wouldn't be at all inclined to Descartes's view of them as inferior to the mind.
    "Different things work for different people -- at different times." --Luis
    Yes. That was really what I was going for as well. I meant it when I said just above to Rebecca: "I make no judgment that one form of paying attention is better than another. . . . The minute I find myself needing to be a certain way is the minute I seem to get the most distracted from what I'm doing." My "mountain" crack did come directly after what you said ("Be the mountain") and I'm sorry if that made it seem like more of a response to you. I really meant my riff on "being" more in response to things Rebecca had been saying:
    "When you're paying attention to yourself paying attention to the mountain, you're not paying attention to the mountain." --Rebecca
    Luis, I don't find this to be true for me and I took the way it was said (and the way similar things are often said) to have more of a ring of (universal) "truth" than I prefer. So, I offer alternatives. If it works for some, I have no problem with it. But certainly in the TM thread, and to a certain extent in this thread, I sense hints of judgment that this is the better way. Again, not from you Luis. If I'm wrong in this assessment, so be it. I still want to offer alternative viewpoints and methods.
    "Isn't the goal doing art that makes some people forget themselves in your vision?" --Rebecca
    It may be a goal for some. And I'd encourage Rebecca to see it through if it works for her. Again, Luis, I was responding more to what I took to be a universalizing of goals of art that I, myself, try to be cautious about.
    "I do not think being and becoming are synonymous. Becoming is to start being. I think we're in agreement in spite of this, because for a living thing, it is a given that being is a temporal, dynamic state." --Luis
    We are in agreement. I don't use "becoming" to mean "start being." I use it to refer to what human existence vs. other kinds of being is. Phylo had brought up Sartre earlier and I was thinking along Sartre's lines. For Sartre, man's being (as opposed to the more complete and defined being of things) is a becoming, a constant choosing anew. That's all I meant, very similar to your "being is a temporal, dynamic state." Like I said, "a constant state of flux."
    In a way, this is my own way of addressing the pitfalls of self awareness. If my "self" is a constantly-changing thing, if I am continually choosing anew and taking responsibility for those choices, and if I am not assuming those choices are being made for me then self awareness doesn't hold me back or tie me down. Self awareness would, indeed, be the ability to change and to be at one with the "becoming" (the flux) rather than stagnating in a fixed or too solid notion of who or what I am . . . for me.
    "I've been told in this very forum that it is impossible . :)" --Luis
    Uh oh! Now you've got me worried that I may have implied this in something I said. I hope not. Maybe it was someone else. I don't think it's impossible nor would I discourage anyone from doing it (turning off the internal dialogue).
    By the way, I don't think self awareness or awareness of oneself being aware of the mountain has to be an internal dialogue. I'm more inclined to think it's a monologue and, though that may seem merely semantical, to me the difference is significant. I don't think being self aware requires one to be some sort of outsider (an other) to their self or even to that thought of themself. That's, in fact, the mistake Descartes seems to have made. "I think, therefore I am," he says, is self evident. But what he's really proven is only that a thought exists. He has not actually proven an "I" that thinks the thought. In separating "I" from the thought, he probably assumed a dualism even more devastating than the mind/body dualism he's more often accused of inflicting on Western philosophy.
    In Being and Nothingness, Sartre goes a long way in answering Descartes, suggesting instead that the "I" of human beings is a nothingness, something constantly being created and recreated. It's not the kind of grounded or set piece Descartes thought it was.
     
  191. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Luis, I grew up in a world where technique wasn't taught -- people had an ideology of being spontaneous, misunderstood Kerouac or something. I think the people who have several different camera systems, lenses for each of them, digital, film, glass plate, and all that are pursuing a different art.
    Mine is three lens Hasselblad system and Nikon Digital (D300). The technical I'm thinking about now is more composition than camera handling, but with the Hassies, I'm looking at very sharp and realizing that isn't a virtue unless it's meaningful in a composition. Exposure is a range of choices, not a choice, also. Color or black and white. I think some people go with one camera and one lens (or a few lenses in reality while keeping the one lens myth going) and master that.
    Visual psychology is something I've been curious about since rather early -- learning how to see through a microscope and recognize what you see without kidding yourself is interesting (see Percival Lowell for self-deception on an impressive scale). The book The Forger's Spell talks about this -- most art curators pride themselves on their eye, but if fooled, their investment in the deception locks them in. A number of people saw through the Vermeer forgeries (two art evaluators who worked for an American art dealer called the first major one a "stinking fraud"). We tend to see in culturally determined ways at least to some extent. When the culture changes, the frauds tend to become transparent. I remember spending a lot of time reading Arnheim's Visual Perception and looking at a Vermeer at the Frick. Got an A- for the paper in an art history class. Went to the Met and saw a Vermeer there and immediately felt it was a fake. The painting's attribution has been up for discussion. If I became too sure I could never be fooled, and based my identity on that, I'd be forger-bait.
    Culture determinants of what appeals to us is a whole different thread, I think. If folks are interested, I'll set that one up for discussion, though we've touched on it a couple of times here -- Fred's comments about music that is good of its time cf. music that maintains interest over time, for instance -- and it was part of my original proposal for the discussion.
    The trick is learning how to use that 20% well, I suppose.
     
  192. I am reading (rather re-reading) Roland Barthe's essay (book) "Camera Lucida" which sheds some valuable light on photography, especially as seen not just from the photographer's viewpoint (as our discussion here), but from that of the image spectator and occasional subject of the photographer's whims. He seems to dig new and deeper shafts into the nature and importance of photographic art than do most photographers, who may be too close to themselves and their subjects.
    Recommended.
     
  193. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Elsa Dorfman's review of the book is on line. If her reading is correct, I'd have some objections to the dominance of the subject, but I haven't read the Barthe yet.
     
  194. Fred - "... I wondered if there's been a running theme through this and the TM thread of relegating self awareness to 2nd class (much the way Descartes relegated the senses to 2nd class). I haven't picked that up from you, though, Luis."
    I think there has been an undercurrent or eddy about this point, as Fred suggests. Of course, there's a vast middle ground between these polarities, and their utility re: one's energies can be decimated by assuming either position to be fixed. While there is strength in maintaining an idea over time, there is also strength in knowing when to shift strategies. The process of art is a complex, multi-faceted one. It is rare that one monotonal mode will see a work from conception to completion. The mode that's good is the one that works for you, what you're working on, and your personal energies -- at the time.
    I did assume that your mountain comment was linked to mine. Thanks for clearing that up.
    I'm with you on the full range of ways of working. Almost nothing works for everyone, and no one thing works for anyone all the time.
    Relax, Fred, it wasn't you who told me stilling the internal dialogue was impossible.
    [FG] " I'm more inclined to think it's a monologue and, though that may seem merely semantical, to me the difference is significant."
    It is significant to me as well. For some, it is a monologue, for others, a dialogue. The former is more akin to one thinking out loud, the other implies dis-integration. A great example of monologue is in the magnificent last book by Raghubir Singh, River of Color. He describes photographing with Lee Friedlander, and suddenly, a storm began approaching. He overheard Friedlander muttering to himself: "What would Atget do?".
    Good points on Descartes, dualism and Sartre.
    Rebecca B - Whether taught academically, informally, or self-taught, technique still has to be learned. It's easier to learn 'spontaneously' if the mirror neurons get a peek from seeing performances in a community than as a solitaire.
    [RB] - "I think the people who have several different camera systems, lenses for each of them, digital, film, glass plate, and all that are pursuing a different art."
    Wow, am I in trouble. I have accumulated an embarrassingly large number of cameras (dozens), though by PN standards, I'm still a piker. I understand the statement at the end above in terms of affect, but in practice, and in general, I disagree with it. It's all photography.
    [RB] "... with the Hassies, I'm looking at very sharp and realizing that isn't a virtue unless it's meaningful in a composition."
    Yes. The big question is: "Does it aid and abet your vision?". Photographs grow stronger than the sum of their parts when there is a gestalt of sorts, generating a synergy (and secondary, tertiary, etc dis- and re- sonances between its elements and your ideas. This doesn't always mean loud, dramatic, or spectacular. It can be ever-so- subtle.
    [RB] - "I think some people go with one camera and one lens (or a few lenses in reality while keeping the one lens myth going) and master that."
    For many, it's not a myth. Take Stephen Shore's "American Surfaces". It was done in its entirety with a fixed-lens 35mm Rollei, nothing more. Diane Arbus and her wide on that Mamiya TLR with the potato-masher flash accounted for the huge majority of the work she is famous for. Or Mitch Epstein's early work, also done with a 6x9cm fixed lens Texas Leica (big Fuji RF). Most of Weston's famous work was done on one lens. Almost the entire Portraits book by HCB was on one lens. I can go on and on, but you get the point. It's not a myth, some top photographers really used one lens for some of the most significant works in the medium. Now, I'm in no way selling or advocating that point of view for anyone, nor saying that the 1-lens paradigm makes for better work... only that it happens.
    As any mediocre magician knows, anyone can be fooled most of the time. It means nothing. Paying too much attention to a CV, the ten thousand hrs, or provenance can blind one to a lot of important things. As you remark, a shift in parallax is often illuminating. We are all forger-bait. Anyone in the arts has probably been fooled more than once.
    [More than a few artists are notorious pranksters and have fooled each other at times.]
    [RB] " The trick is learning how to use that 20% well, I suppose."
    The real trick is that there are no tricks. We all get the Sysiphusian workout on the asymptotic threadmill in one way or another. The other 80% is hardly insignificant. In the end, the 100% is what matters.
     
  195. Hi Rebecca, ever since you posted your magnificent fly's butt I've been trying to find a copy of an email that someone sent me some time back with about 8 fly art pictures attached to it.
    This is one, the jump into the the unknown, I'd give the correct attribution to the artist if I had it.
    00V0CH-190329584.jpg
     
  196. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Luis, and then there's Ansel Adams, who appeared to have used close to everything. HCB did use other lenses at times, but the myth was only the one (and I think that most of his photographs were from the 50mm Leica lenses.(just looked at his portraits book about two weeks ago). But I'm not sure Adams shot on wet plates ever, though with Adams, probably he tried it at least once.
    I think also that cameras are fairly tempting as collection objects (I was looking at a sports finder for my F3 today, and I barely need the F3, just like the feel of it). I also don't have room in my little house (24 by 24 downstairs, 9 by 24 upstairs with storage under the eaves) to have that many cameras.
    Learning from mirror neurons requires a good model. My brother painted along side a guy named Lewis Sloan for a number of weekends for a couple of years -- transmission there, yes. I think photography is not quite as mirror neuron driven as classical graphic arts -- Chinese brush painting is very much watch/do. Writing is trickier because the important thing going on are internal -- the final surface of a work can come to be in may ways, and not all of them are obvious. You really do need Henry James to explain POV sometimes, at least for some students. I also found I could teach myself a lot of things by books -- crocheting, knitting -- that were taught traditionally by one on one instruction involving modeling, but it required several books as no one book explained everything well enough.
    I found that a lot of people expected that writers had a trick that made their writing salable. The trick was teaching writing students that trick doesn't exist as anything they can learn in a weekend workshop.
     
  197. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Clive, very cute. We should do a thread somewhere that's more illustrated than the typical Phil of Pho threads.
     
  198. Rebecca - There's three pictures in the HCB portrait book not done with the 50mm. Ansel began, as so many have, with a humble Box Brownie#1 in 1915. He did use glass plate negs, but not wet plate (collodion).
    From a documentary on Adams made by Larry Dawson circa 1957, Beaumont Newhall lists AA's gear thusly:
    "...A fine craftsman employs different tools for different purposes. Item: one 8 x 10 view camera, 20 holders, 4 lenses -- 1 Cooke Convertible, 1 ten-inch Wide Field Ektar, 1 9-inch Dagor, one 6-3/4-inch Wollensak wide angle. Item: one 7 x 17 special panorama camera with a Protar 13-1/2-inch lens and five holders. Item: one 4 x 5 view camera, 6 lenses -- 12-inch Collinear, 8-1/2 Apo[chromatic] Lentar, 9-1/4 Apo[chromatic] Tessar, 4-inch Wide Field Ektar, Dallmeyer [...] telephoto.
    "Item: One Hasselblad camera outfit with 38, 60, 80, 135, & 200 millimeter lenses. Item: One Koniflex 35 millimeter camera. Item: 2 Polaroid cameras. Item: 3 exposure meters. One SEI, and two Westons -- in case he drops one.
    "Item: Filters for each camera. K1, K2, minus blue, G, X1, A, C5 &B, F, 85B, 85C, light balancing, series 81 and 82. Two tripods: one light, one heavy. Lens brush, stopwatch, level, thermometer, focusing magnifier, focusing cloth, hyperlight strobe portrait outfit, 200 feet of cable, special storage box for film.

    By the time he died, his estate listed only three hasselblads and four lenses.
    FYI, I don't collect at all. I have used every camera I own over my years as a pro, and yes, I've kept up with tech developments. I am simply not moved to get rid of them, though I've given a few away to people that needed them. Some really dance in my hands, and tend to produce an inordinate number of keepers. Those I bought several samples of, and will probably never dump (superstitious behavior?). But enough of camera porn...
    [RB] " Learning from mirror neurons requires a good model."
    Not really. One can learn mediocre or bad habits just as easily as good ones. One can learn a lot in photography by observing someone who already knows what they're doing, though it requires readiness and preparation. The key lies in being ready and then paying close attention. I think this is a large part of what happens during a workshop, or darkroom, or field trip in an academic setting.
    Clive - That was delightful. Be aware that PN rules forbid posting others' pictures, but Shhh...let's see how long it takes one to get this far down the thread.
     
  199. I thought this may add something to our discussion, I've been chatting to a friend of mine who is an exhibiting photographer and university lecturer. I had asked her why her type of photographer always seemed to do projects instead of just taking pictures of things and situations that roughly approximated what she wished to express. This was her answer.
    "I think photography is conceptually tricky because you have to negotiate reality. "Realism " can get in the way. When you paint you can have a dialogue with your craft and you can create a world of your own. In a sense photography is an attention directing process and the camera a device for pointing to something.
    Its hard to have a brushstroke in your photographs though the best photographers have a style equivalent to a brushstroke or pencil mark.
    Since anyone can take a handsome photograph, subject and context is everything, and so the project rears its ugly head."
    In a sence, first deciding on what may be an appropriate project is accepting Art as Goal, isn't it?
     
  200. I thought this may add something to our discussion, I've been chatting to a friend of mine who is an exhibiting photographer and university lecturer. I had asked her why her type of photographer always seemed to do projects instead of just taking pictures of things and situations that roughly approximated what she wished to express. This was her answer.

    "I think photography is conceptually tricky because you have to negotiate reality. "Realism " can get in the way. When you paint you can have a dialogue with your craft and you can create a world of your own. In a sense photography is an attention directing process and the camera a device for pointing to something.

    Its hard to have a brushstroke in your photographs though the best photographers have a style equivalent to a brushstroke or pencil mark.

    Since anyone can take a handsome photograph, subject and context is everything, and so the project rears its ugly head."

    In a sence, first deciding on what may be an appropriate project is accepting Art as Goal, isn't it?
     
  201. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I don't think Art as Goal is the same as choosing a theme for a series of photographs. The natural unit for photography may be the photo essay or something like it with fewer worlds.
    Kinda tangentially, I'm reminded of my graduate director saying that when we look at a statue pointing, we never turn around to see what it pointing at. In photography, the frame and context around the photo is always very much implied, unless someone choses to do less representational photography or use graphic manipulations of various kinds (collage, digital manipulations).
    We might wonder what someone in a photograph is pointing to.
     

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