Can the creativity of an image be assessed without knowledge of the image’s context?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by leslie_reid, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. Steve, it's outstanding, IMO. The first time I looked at it, at least half of the artists seemed just unwatchably stupid to me. Second time, I changed my mind about some of them. Third time a few more ... So, if you're like me, expect to hate a lot of them first time around. In any event, the no-narrator format is fantastic, IMO.
    Supriyo, the thing is, IMO, works of art are there, complete, known. There it is.

    Creativity is not-there, not-complete, not-known.
  2. LOL at Steve. I love the way you work. But no, IMO, that's not 'my kind' of creativity because you're working to a known goal. You knew what needed to be done; you ingeniously found a way to do it. You put the ball in the hoop. By contrast, creativity, in my opinion, is in discovering the goal (the 'game') not in how it's played.
  3. Supriyo, here's my bottom line and I sense you're on a similar page.
    Creativity and photography, the topic of this thread, has something to do with photographs, creative photographs at that.
    "Creative photography" or "a creative photograph" are phrases that most non-eccentric people have a functional understanding of. Communication does take place among those who use this phrase.
    Most photographers don't think about or care whether the creativity is in the photo. I think most would consider this a rather distracting semantic quibble. They still know what a creative photo is.
    Even if not thinking it specifically, when someone says the sun is going down, that's shorthand for some yada yada yada stuff about Earth rotating. People use "creative photo" without caring whether the creativity is literally in the photo or is a quality attributed to a photo or to a photo's effect.
    Most creative photographers have a fairly practical side. They do stuff and know what to do to get results. They leave room for surprise and discovery.
    It is more the academic theorists about creative photography who aren't that interested in photos as it relates to creativity and photography. The end product can't upset the apple cart, which is the idealization of some supreme conceptualization of how things must be in order to live up to a particular esoteric definition.
    AJG, Julie H, Supriyo and 1 other person like this.
  4. Julie, I will look forward to seeing, if I can, that PBS series. Thank you for the reference.

    Coming back to Leslie's original question, my firm position is that no piece of art is ever created or experienced without some degree of context. The artist makes the art within the context of his/her own life experience, training, skill, knowledge, individual gifts,and precedent. The viewer (or listener, in the case of music) brings his/her own life experience, knowledge of precedent, understanding of the craft involved, etc., and applies these to the product of the artist's efforts. It is the synergy of these components that defines the experience of the audience. Some, like Fred, may come with a more open mind or a greater ability to evaluate the art for its own sake, being less dependent upon knowledge of process/context to form a meaningful appreciation. Others might come with a heavily prejudiced, opinionated, or naive/ignorant/innocent perspective, and get something entirely different from the presentation (or fail to get anything).

    As Fred noted, even the company in which we experience art can have a significant impact on our perception.

    I think National Geographic is an excellent example of how knowledge of context can add meaning, and commonality of understanding, to what is already a very artistic image. While much of what is published in NG can reasonably be classified as journalistic or documentary, I think we have all experienced images of high art and creative execution as well. For me, the knowledge of context frequently adds meaning and impact to what is already a very powerful image. I like it. Still, I also enjoy many images sans context, simply based on the quality and character if the image. In such cases my enjoyment is frequently keyed on some minor point of intersection between what I perceive as the photographer's intent and my own experience and understanding. This point of intersection then becomes the point of departure from which I can explore and discover what is not already common between me and the artist.

    My conclusive response to Leslie's initial question, then, is that comprehension of a photograph as art is not solely dependent on an understanding of context, but that an initial point of common understanding can open a door to successful communication, and greater degrees of contextual knowledge can, but do not necessarily guarantee a more meaningful experience.
    sjmurray likes this.
  5. Fred, thank you. I agree with you. Although we often work with goals in mind, I have sometimes seen artists say, I don't know what I am doing. Lets see what it turns into. I once heard a poet say, "my goal in life is to set my pen free, to let it go wherever it wants to. I haven't been able to so far." (I don't really believe they can really do that, but I do believe that they believe they can do that). I don't know what the end result of such open ended excursions signify, is it creativity? probably (thats Julie's domain). Is that the only way to creativity? probably not. Thats where I differ with Julie. Although I vehemently disagree with Julie regarding her personalized definition of creativity, I do think, not setting an end goal in mind and keeping the mind free as much as possible can be inspiring under certain scenarios. A few nights back, I was playing with my hand on the countertop by orienting it in different positions and pointing the camera at it. I didn't have any particular objective in mind and was just snapping whatever I felt like. I still had conscious thoughts in mind on how to place the camera, what DOF to select, how to convert to BW etc., but I didn't know what I wanted. Still don't. Here is the result, a sequence of three images. I don't know what it all means, but I like the end result. <br><br>
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2017
  6. Another version,

  7. I don't know. You have to ask Julie. :p
  8. Steve, thank you for the Elizabeth Gilbert talk. Its great, and hilarious, specially where the poet is chased by the poem.
    Julie, thank you for the Art21 series. Its, ... well 30 hours. I don't like to watch documentaries season by season, I kind of get tired by the time I reach the good stuff. I usually randomly pick episodes unless there's a connection between successive episodes. Is there a chance you can point me towards the episodes that best represent your point of view. Thanks.
    davidtriplett likes this.
  9. Supriyo, I like the hand studies. They are unexpectedly engaging. Good example of artistic exploration.
  10. Thank you, David :)

  11. <br><br>
    I agree with that completely. So true. Well said.
  12. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    I like the hand photos too. Just the right side of sinister.
  13. My 3 year old daughter told the same. She looked at the image and said, "Scary! Dady's hand everywhere." Her first photo critic. :)
  14. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    great minds…
    supriyo likes this.
  15. In response to Supriyo, photographing his hands:
    All from Merleau-Ponty's The Visible and the Invisible.
    Supriyo likes this.
  16. Thank you, Julie. the pictures depict my hand, almost detached from my body, interacting with it's environment (light, shadow). In one of the pictures, the hand is engaged in a dance, in the other, it is trying to touch it's reflection. The hand, which is part of my body (and my tool for perception, hence the seer) is shown in the photos as an integral part of the outside world, the seen. The seen and the seer merge together in a mutual relationship of coexistence that signifies the gestalt of their individual beings, the lifeworld. I can relate to Merleau-Ponty here and your quote allowed me to better appreciate my work. Thank you for that.
  17. [the below is a quote but I'm not using the highlighted quote box because I find long passages in italic to be hard to read]
    "... a second participant is implicated in the event of self-contemplation, a fictitious other, a nonauthoritative and unfounded author. I am not alone when I look at myself in the mirror: I am possessed by someone else's soul. More than that. At times, this other soul may gain body to the point where it attains a certain self-sufficiency. Vexation and a certain resentment, with which our dissatisfaction about our own exterior may combine, give body to the other — the possible author of our own exterior. Distrust of him, hatred, a desire to annihilate him become possible."
    "... What is lacking ... is precisely external unity and continuity; a human being experiencing life in the category of his own I is incapable of gathering himself by himself into an outward whole that would be even relatively finished. The point here is not the deficiency of material provided by outer vision (although the deficiency is in fact considerable); the point, rather, is the absence in principle of any unitary axiological approach from within a human being himself to his own outward expressedness in being."
    " ... [the] unitary world of cognition cannot be perceived as a unique concrete whole, charged with the manifold qualities of being, the way we perceive a particular landscape, dramatic scene, this particular building, etc. For what the actual perception of a concrete whole presupposes is that the contemplator occupies a perfectly determinate place, and that he is unitary and embodied. The world of cognition and every constituent in it are capable of being thought, but they are not capable of actually being perceived." — all above quotes are from M.M. Bakhtin
    OP: "Can the creativity of an image be assessed without knowledge of the image’s context?"
    <br><br> Where is "context"?
  18. "Most of the photos that we see rarely come with any context. Art is more often a communal experience where the feeling comes from the art and the reactions of the audience, in absence of the artist's commentary".

    Sort of go with that thought.

    However, photos are not paintings or sculpture where the imagination is near solely employed, but subject to a certain amount of chaos which can result in taking a life and form in their own language...the language of photography which has little to do with the photographers initial thoughts.
    sjmurray likes this.
  19. Think.

    How many photographs have come out exactly have you envisaged? How many have you been pleased with because they have not come out as you have envisaged?

    The elements of chaos in photography which separates it from other Arts.
    Jack McRitchie and sjmurray like this.
  20. liked Fred's photo.

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