Definitions of Art and Photography

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by see_r, Apr 5, 2007.

  1. A recent response to a post made me think about the definitions of photography
    and art and to consider how these 2 entities should be defined with respect to
    each other. I have proposed 2 separate Venn Diagrams as possibilities (see
    Figures 1 and 2 attached). Both possibilities consider that there is art which
    is not photography and photography which is also art. By no reasonable
    definition could it be considered otherwise. To be specific, it is entirely
    unreasonable to consider photography and art as mutually exclusive subsets.

    The question remains, however, whether there is any photography which is not
    art. If a broad definition of art is used (art is the product of creativity
    and/or imagination), then all photography is art (Figure 2). Even if the
    photograph is taken by a computer, a human designed the algorithm and the
    photograph is indirectly a product of human creativity. By more restrictive
    definitions of art, however, it may be reasonable to argue that there is
    photography which is not art. I can't seem to find any definitions which would
    apply to such a permutation, so if you have one, please elaborate.
     
  2. The definition of art is highly elusive. If all photography is art, then pretty much anything
    made by a human being could be considered art. Any stick drawing, any amount of paint
    on a piece of paper, etc. For me, that would water down the idea of art tremendously. I
    think it's worth considering that not everything is art, but therein lies the rub. Because
    then we have to define what art is and that's proven to be nearly impossible over the
    years. I tend to use a broad brush (no pun intended) and include lots of things as art,
    assuming that my opinion will be that some is good art and some is bad art. I tend to
    define art in a multi-faceted way, using a lot of definitions suggested by philosophers and
    historians over the years and a lot of parts of those definitions. I, personally, think
    allowing everything (all photography) to be art is a bad idea.
     
  3. "I, personally, think allowing everything (all photography) to be art is a bad idea."

    In a certain sense I agree with you. I am a medical writer, and often times must prepare clinical images for publications in medical journals. From a medical publishing standpoint, these images are considered to be art. As one who does photography for purely creative purposes rather than to document events for publication, however, I might on another level consider the medical images, if art, to be in a substantially different classification of art then say, landscape photography.

    I guess what I am really fishing for is for definitions to define the border between photography which is art and photography which is not art as depicted in Figure 1 of this post.
     
  4. When 2 customers are at the counter; each considers his own work to be art; the other chaps stuff just photography, or even total junk.
     
  5. Ultimately, I think that might have to be answered differently by each of us, and strict criteria
    would be difficult to give. It might boil down to "what would I go to a museum or gallery to
    see and what wouldn't I?" But then, of course, I recognize that there's plenty of art that I
    might choose just not to go see out of lack of interest or liking. For me, intent is important. If
    someone intends it as art, that goes a long way into making it art. Many people who intend to
    make art do make art, but in many cases I might consider it bad art. There are many more
    criteria for judging something to be art, but "intent" is the first thing that comes to mind for
    me.
     
  6. Chip, to spend your time drawing little circles to determine what art and photography is means that you have far too much free time on your hands.

    Art is defined by the artist. If I want to my photography art, then it is art. If you want to call your little circles art, then someone in New York or San Francisco might give you a few hundred thousand for it.

    Quit drawing little circles and get back outside with your camera and stop fretting over such picayune trivia.
     
  7. Better to spend your time scolding people you don't know on a web site forum for doing what
    they want and deem useful.
     
  8. Andre,

    If you consider Venn diagrams picayune I suppose you are free to do that. But they don't take me very long at all and so the argument that I have "far too much free time on your hands" is without merit. You, however, might find the time to try to sell my Venn diagrams to someone and I'll give you 10% commission and you'll have a few 10's of thousands. Worth your time? BTW if you read my post, you would realize that in a sense I don't consider Venn diagrams to be art, but rather an educational/informational tool. After all, that is what PN is all about.

    As far as getting outside with my camera, well, there's a time for everything.
     
  9. Wow! What a lot of good answers. My position is that if photos are made by an artist they may be art. If made by a fashion or sports photographer (etc.) they are not. The same goes for all the other art mediums. Because something is a painted picture does not automatically make it art. I agree with Andre, Fred and Chip. Liked the comments about little circles and about selling it for a few hundred thou in NY. The fact is that the NY Art World does not know or care what is art. It has turned into a machine for hustling money out of the gullible and wealthy. Many business people want to show that they are cultured, so they collect what they are told is art. To succeed in that world depends on connections more than quality. A degree from the Yale art dept. helps too.
     
  10. There is no art in nature. Art is a human concept and needs the active presence of a human mind (at least) to come into existence.

    Photographs can be generated by unattended cameras operating automatically. The opportunities for art in this system are very limited.

    Nevertheless it possible, if one rakes through the debris of such an unattended "shoot", to find fetching or appealing images. If one buys the premise that an item becomes art because it was selected by an artist, an tick of approval in effect, then art can be found even here. I suspect that many high shooting photo-journalists or sports specialists sail very close to this standard. Even the "artist photographer" who just does the camera clicking and then waits for the 'phone call from the lab to say that the prints (sic) are ready for signing (subject to approval, of course) is on artistic swampy ground.

    A more secure standard, I propose, is that a work be considered art if it is a "mind map" of the artist. The work has to be the result of conscious mental activity on the part of the artist at the fabrication stage. Mere selection from debris is no more art than picking up pretty seashells from a beach.

    An additional advantage of this second approach is delivered in the audience appreciation phase. It feels much more rewarding to take the trouble to put a photograph through ones own mind knowing the artist bothered putting it through theirs.
     
  11. Maris: Though I would like to agree with you, I can't because a lot of good and great photographers use labs or assistants to print.
     
  12. Venn diagrams are just so wrong. I will post a lot about this later. I worked far too late
    this evening to give the OP's sad posit the attention necessary.

    Except for this, as a precursor, what you can expect - pure logic is a different universe
    than our work. Anything regarding our effort, or work, portrayed in a Venn diagram is
    absolutely wrong headed.

    Let me get some sleep - or cancel this thread before I wake up. (Fat chance :))

    Decartes was so very wrong. There is not clarified separation of such.

    Pico (so tired, but I got one hell of a Grant today. Doncha hate it?)
     
  13. One more before I snooze: DECARTES WAS THE WORST THING TO HAPPEN TO PHILOSOPHY!
    That separation thing, the Venn diagrams and all that bullshit are from his paradigm and it's
    been going downhill since. <P>
    Honest, that wasn't as loud as you think. Ya had to be here. :)
     
  14. Congratulations Pico
     
  15. C'mon Chip.."You, however, might find the time to try to sell my Venn diagrams to someone and I'll give you 10% commission and you'll have a few 10's of thousands."

    40% and it's a deal! You get the forty. You only get ninety after you convince everyone it's art....then my part would be easy.

    p.s. is there a colour version? I could probably sell more if there were. And please remember to keep the horizon straight!
     
  16. Art is anything I create to satisfy an aesthetic desire. The question is whether or not it is good art. I can't answer the latter.

    "There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya
    'Bout the raising of the wrist." - The Philosopher's Song, Monty Python.
     
  17. Hey Pico...you'd probably like to know that this post was actually moved INTO this forum from casual conversations...ironic huh? So it will probably be here in the morning for you. So if you do retort, please do provide your own definitions of "photography" and "art" so that your response may have its rightful basis for a counter response. And then having done so explain why you think a Venn diagram is not appropriate here.

    Anthony...n'yeah, I'm gonna hold to my 90% for the Venn diagrams...if I do an aesthetically pleasing version I want 95%.
     
  18. I think an approach to dealing with questions like this one is to consider for a moment what artists do. Artists skillfully construct things many of which exist only to be appreciated by others. A person who calls himself an artist, but produces nothing, will eventually be known as an eccentric, a victim of some sort of self-deception, or in the worst case an outright fraud. The same sort of thinking applies to photographers also IMO. Do photographers take pictures or do they make them? A photographic artist makes images that employ a camera in some way.

    Patrons and viewers attribute skill to the creator of works they appreciate. It has to with a perception of mastery of technique and recogniable habits in construction and purpose of vision one might call style.

    The Venn diagrams are great, but the drawings only show a cross section of intersecting cones viewed straight down from the top. The points at the top would be the number of people widely known to possess the mixture of skill and mastery others call genius. The wide bases of these cones encircle the vast number of practitioners who do not possess skills enough to be considered more than apprentices in the craft.

    Whether or not photography is art depends on who's making the pictures. And who likes the result.

    Pico -- Give it a rest, man! Attacking a man for creating devices to help organize his thinking is like attacking a mechanic for using tools.
     
  19. "...the definitions of photography and art..."

    Art is short for artisan, which represents the product of a "skilled" artisan. It's a pedestrian term which has been aggrandized to the point of hero worship; everything being "art." Pizza making is as much art as is "David" for they're both a product of a "skilled" artisan. Only denial prevents one from seeing the reality of the issue.

    "I can't seem to find any definitions which would apply to such a permutation, so if you have one, please elaborate."

    One, to get an answer, has to come to grips with the pedestrian nature of the word "art" and acknowledge that the act of creating is a "skilled" process as opposed to simply a boorish random act of chance; a monkey with disposable or an elephant with finger paint and canvas.

    Sans skill, there is no artisan and sans artisan, there is no product; art.
     
  20. From the Western cultural perspective, Art is what has become so through the concensus of historians, critics, curators, for better or worse. But that is obvious. I don't think Mr. Ruben was looking for such a view. Let's move on. Pico -- Give it a rest, man! Attacking a man for creating devices to help organize his thinking is like attacking a mechanic for using tools.
    No. It's more like criticizing a plastic surgeon for using a chainsaw for an unnecessary cosmetic operation. Two issues there.
    What Mr. Reuben apears to be doing is attempting to categorize, and then to show the intersections of art and photography using Venn diagrams. It is a noble effort. Your view of the diagrams as cross-sections of aerial views of cones is a helpfull addition.
    Here is the rub - such categorization presumes a logical separateness, a Cartesian logic which is a thoroughly modern invention. While it is true that the whole idea of "art" is a modern invention, philosophy is ancient and through philosophy we have the opportunity to transcend moderninity to get to the spirit of that which is human expression, sometimes called art.
    My complaint, exacerbated by exhaustion, was strongly worded, but refreshed and alert this morning the angst prevails.
     
  21. You need more diagrams. There are sub-categories such as "fine art" and "commercial art." Both photography - and everything "art like" that's not photography - can be in either category depending upon its purpose.

    The entire question is really about intent. Did I make the thingy to be my personal expression or idea? Or, did I make the thingy to sell a product, as a technical illustration, documentation, etc.?

    For example, just recently I sold a shadow graph of a bullet to a publishing company for use in a text book. That's a photograph used as a technical illustration - or, "commercial art."

    I think you need to refine your suppositions a bit further.
     
  22. I just read a the book __On Photography__ by Susan Sontag. It doesn't exactly discuss the question you pose but it does discuss in great detail painting v. photography, how painting is considered truly "fine art" and how photography has entered that realm. Photography, as Sontag writes, was accepted as an art form when it enetered museums and galleries, something once reserved exclusively for painting.

    There are many more fine points in the essays she writes. I read it in a day and a half (sleep for 5 hours) I suggest you read it--you will be enlightened.
     
  23. I must first confess my laziness in not further refining the 2-dimensional Venn diagram or searching further for accepted, current or otherwise, definitions of "art". The 2 Venn diagrams, admittedly oversimplified, still, I believe represent the in a general way the entire range of what has been discussed thus far. The point about cones is good but philosophically speaking is still confined, with only one more dimension added. You could add many more conceptual definitions and still my original 2 figures would be representative, on a conceptual level, of the relative continuum, recognizing however that whether circles or cones, we are not trying to be quantitative about a qualitative subject.

    "No. It's more like criticizing a plastic surgeon for using a chainsaw for an unnecessary cosmetic operation.

    Incorrect. That idea is highly analagous and similarly fallacious to Andre's idea that I would try to sell my Venn diagrams in NY or SF for six figures. It is, rather, exactly as Albert stated, a tool to organize my thinking during a developmental process. The end result will have nothing to do with a Venn diagram just as much as many tools used during the manufacturing of surgical instruments never enter an elective surgi center. A chainsaw is used, after all, to cut the tree that is used to make applicators, for example.

    With that said, thank you everyone for your definitions of "art".
     
  24. I have posted this before but Chip must have missed it.
    "The problem is not whether photography can be art, but in confusing art with finished product or the technique employed. It is the artist's psychological attitude toward the process of creation alone that signifies the artistic validity of the act that produces the "work of art."
    "Art is nothing tangible. We cannot call a painting "art". As the words "artifact" and "artificial" imply, the thing made is a work of art, made by art, but not itself art; the art remains in the artist and is the knowledge by which things are made. What is made according to the art is correct; what one makes as one likes may very well be awkward. We must not confuse taste with judgement, or loveliness with beauty, for as Augustine says, some people like deformities.
    Seems to me that Augustine is saying it is OK to shoot digital.
     
  25. It is, rather, exactly as Albert stated, a tool to organize my thinking during a developmental process.
    The words beside the charts suffice. The diagram adds nothing to the definition.
    Back to square one. No picture needed for that, either.
     
  26. Photography is to art as obscenity is to art: you know it when you see it.
     
  27. " The basic material of photographs is not intrinsically beautifull. It's not like ivory or
    tapestry or bronze or oil on canvas. You're not supposed to look at the thing. You're
    supposed to look through it. It's a window. "
    John Szarkowski
     
  28. Phylo--thank you very much for that quote.

    Rich--many these days are blurring the line pretty well through image editing along with all of its intrinsic debates regarding manipulation. That is why, I believe, the book Paolo referenced above could be written.

    Pico--"diagram adds nothing to the definition" is correct only from a strictly content standpoint. If I write "shout" I communicate it one way but if I shout the word in your ear it makes a different impression with a different outcome. Clearly, the inclusion of the Venn diagram did something for the communication of the ideas expressed in the figure captions...as evidenced by the discussions in this forum. Even if the diagram pissed people off , it still stimulated valuable discussion.

    William...sorry I missed your post. I will go ahead and search for it.

    And finally...Maris...your concept of the "mind map" is very well appreciated.
     
  29. Chip: <p>

    Your diagrams are simple: Photography is, or is not, within the scope of art. See how that
    works? Simple words suffice You created the so-called context. Now live with it.
    <p>
    If you want to create an aura of and ambiguity to obvuscate your profound insensivity of
    the subject, then resort to deconstructive poetry and perhaps you will find a home. <p>
    It remains that art/phtography/drawing/presence-art/and everything else will not be
    constrained by friggin Venn diagrams.<p>
    Art is outside of all that.
     
  30. Your stubborn refusal to accept the basis of this post of mine or any other is yet another indication of your intellectual insecurity. Your consistant need to cut down and criticize is surely indicative of how small you are.
     
  31. LOL!

    Okay, this is great! I've just read through all these posts from highly intelligent people and if you notice, the words get longer and the sentences more complicated as the posts go on. You guys are great. I've certainly been entertained and educated at the same time.

    Personally, I believe "art" as we've come to use the word, means something created for the purpose of stirring the emotions and intellect of the the viewer/user to look beyond the mere appearance of the thing and into what MAKES it. If a photograph was taken purely for the purpose of teaching someone how to use a screwdriver (for example), the photo is a tool, not art. Art is meant to seek the quintesence behind the mundane, the substance that is unattainable otherwise. Art isnt supposed to have a practicle purpose. Photo's of celebrity's in pretty dresses is just meant to show me what they wore that day. I dont consider that art. If I create a pitcher so I can pour water into a cup, the pitcher is not art. If I create a pitcher in order that it's lines, color, texture ect... appeal to the asthetic eye, it is art.
    So personally yes, I believe a photograph can be both art and just a plain old picture.


    As far as the diagrams are concerned, some people can create a visual picture of a thought process just by reading the words, and some people need some visual assistance to grasp the intended concept. Its not a bad or good thing either way.

    (please excuse my spelling, it's been bad since highschool :) )
     
  32. btw--my diagrams were intentionally simple...and you still don't get it! Nothing for me to get over here. Still you fail to be able to comprehend, or at least articulate that you have comprehended, the value of Venn diagrams, suggesting a continuing and "perhaps willful ignorance" of many aspects of human interaction and perception, something in which you clearly lack skill or tact for. You have displayed repeatedly that you are without humility and are incapable of certain types of learning. Where is the "sensitivity" in the tone you use in your posts? Do you really think you are going to be convincing by continuously insulting? Get over the war, guy.

    As for me, I am quite happy with my photography and my overall use for it. And to be sure, and as a reminder, this post was not intended for the bowels in which you lurk.
     
  33. You see Pico? Nicole understands. And the correlary is that I can only increase my the comprehenison of my readership though the use of the Venn diagram.
     
  34. Your illustration "says" this: "Photography is fully or partially within the realm of art."
    Then you ask, The question remains, however, whether there is any photography which is not art.
    The answer is there in the lefthand diagram.
    Why? Because if all photography is art, then nothing is art.
    Think about it. Draw it up and see.
     
  35. I drew it up on the right hand side--a proposal which I think can be rejected based on the responses to this post. The answer to the question posed on the figure on the left would be "yes".

    Your penultimate sentence is nonsensical without further rationale articulated...via editing. One way that might work is to clarify dual definitions of art within the sentence, but I will leave such clarifications to you.
     
  36. The answer to the question posed on the figure on the left would be "yes".
    That's what I wrote.
    Your penultimate sentence is nonsensical without further rationale articulated...via editing. One way that might work is to clarify dual definitions of art within the sentence, but I will leave such clarifications to you.
    In other words, you give up.
    What do you mean by dual definitions? Do you mean contrasting/opposite definitions in one sentence? What would that demonstrate other than a clever use of punctuation? Or do you mean complimentary definitions? Synononyms or congruences?
    See what we are getting into here?
    First, there is no science upon which to appeal for this discussion, therefore the thread is in danger of slipping into argumentation which won't work because its goal is to win, which is impossible and silly.
    Second, and to return to an earlier point, Cartesian logic is indadquate to discern 'art', and that's where the Venn diagram fails. Truth tables will also fail.
    An alternative is, as I wrote, to consider 'art' as that which the curators, historians and critics say it is, for better or worse, and let it be. It's a social convention and changes.
     
  37. I think it all depends on your definition of art. Photography is not pure creation like most forms of art are. Photography is the art of observation, not creation (for the most part). All that being said, not all everyone is capable of observing as well as some are. If you've observed well and if you have the technical skill to be able to capture what you think you see then you might be an artist.
     
  38. " Do you mean contrasting/opposite definitions in one sentence?"

    Yes, but more importantly, what did you mean? After all, you wrote the sentence.

    "the thread is in danger of slipping into argumentation which won't work because its goal
    is to win, which is impossible and silly."

    Well, that would be a good reason to "give up"...but more importantly, the original basis
    for this post has already been fulfilled for me through the provided definitions of art, eg.
    your social definition of art by curators, etc. And beyond that, if you consider
    argumentation whose goal is to win both impossible and silly, then why do you engage in
    and instigate it so frequently here on PN???

    However, Pico, "there is no science upon which to appeal for this discussion" while false, is
    practically speaking probably going to remain true. I have thought that it might be
    interesting to design a controlled study to observe the perception of photographers,
    comparing between groups of subjects, for example, the presence and absence of a Venn
    diagram. I'm quite certain that differences would be observed in comprehension, ie.
    improvements in comprehension would be observed in the group provided text with Venn
    diagrams in comparison with a well matched group given text alone. I would leave the
    actual design of such a study to cognitive psychology, however.

    Clayton, "Photography is not pure creation like most forms of art are. "

    This is a false statement. The artist who synthesizes all of their materials and tools from
    naturally occuring materials only could possbily start to argue reasonably that they are
    engaged in "pure creation." It is reasonable to argue, however, that this is not the case.
    Additionally the artist and photographer both use many tools and engage in many
    processes to produce the final outcome.
     
  39. Clayton, "Photography is not pure creation like most forms of art are. "
    This is a false statement. The artist who synthesizes all of their materials and tools from naturally occuring materials only could possbily start to argue reasonably that they are engaged in "pure creation." It is reasonable to argue, however, that this is not the case. Additionally the artist and photographer both use many tools and engage in many processes to produce the final outcome.

    Nope. Photography includes a great potential of the accidental, and then there is the subject which is often what makes the photograph attractive. No such thing exists for the painter. Certainly, it is unlikely that he creates his own pigments, but that is a small factor considering the creation of the image compared to photography.
     
  40. "...that is a small factor..."

    Thus you admit it is a factor, and as such imply that artists are not engaged in "pure
    creation." It's not the size of the factor, it is its existence. Also, the artist, like the
    photographer, may be in the right place at the right time. For example I recall a number of
    years ago I was in a cafe in La Jolla, where I decided I would pencil sketch a picture of a
    guitarist on the wall. I was surprised and pleased at the result, which I found better than
    any drawing I had ever done and that I have done since. I really can't draw or paint at all. I
    considered that a fortunate accident. It may be rarer with drawing than with photography
    but it does exist.

    Photographers and artists alike work with existing elements, and even the most abstract
    art is derived from images, however distorted or altered, that have existed previously in
    some form, if nowhere else, in the mind of the artist. Granted the photographer *may*
    already have the image largely outlined for them, and even with that being the case, there
    is much that goes into the composition of that image.

    I would, however, be willing to consider the idea that painters may often times start on the
    creative path to form an image at an earlier point than does the photographer. But how
    would you measure something like that? With that said, I acknowledge the limitations of
    Venn diagrams, but that is different from summarily dismissing their (limited) value all
    together.
     
  41. I have thought that it might be interesting to design a controlled study to observe the perception of photographers, comparing between groups of subjects, for example, the presence and absence of a Venn diagram. I'm quite certain that differences would be observed in comprehension [...]
    So you believe the Venn diagram would be pursuasive. A short sentence suffices.
    even the most abstract art is derived from images, however distorted or altered, that have existed previously in some form, if nowhere else, in the mind of the artist.
    Where is the machine in your statement? The abstract (as you put it) art was conceived in the mind and then worked onto a surface to become real. I am speaking of painters of true abstracts, and not those who choose to work with accidental techniques. I know some, and they don't have objective models outside their mind, they don't use machines that can accidentally create an image, they do not seek to make an image of a moment, and the light is not from nature. Their work might have visual references to previous abstract art, but then you get into the chicken or the egg fallacy. There is no way you can put photography into their framework.
    Regarding pigments, handmade or not, mixing color is quite a craft. It doesn't matter if the artist is squeezing grapes and flower pedals to make his colors. It is an entirely immersive, personal thing that transcends the origin of the colors. (The choice of color was not always entirely up to the painters, but with synthetic pigments anyone today can mix Prussian Blue. At one point in history the Guildsmen would decide who gets certain colors.)
    I have had the honor of watching two abstract painters in particular during the creation of their works over periods of days and weeks. It is just them, the pigments and canvas.
    But most important - it is not necessary to argue that photography is or is art, sometimes or always or never. Simply consider that there are certain domains of expression and each domain has its frame, boundaries, requisites, discourse. And there are subdomains. Sometimes they cross and that is natural, human.
     
  42. "A short sentence suffices"

    Well, I guess that can be true since I don't plan to do the study.

    "not those who choose to work with accidental techniques"

    I'm glad you brought that up. I met such an individual in Laguna a few years ago at an art gallery featuring her hand painting work. She goes out to the dessert, takes off her clothes and puts on headphones and a blind fold. Still I have to wonder whether she has the images existing in some form in her interesting mind before she does her wild thing. And I suppose the photographic equivalent might be to stick a camera up in the air and shoot with little or no thought (my personal example attached here.)
     
  43. Having a doctor of philosophy does not make me a philosopher, although others things I do might. Exercising a mechanical reproduction process does not make a photograph art.


    Of course not all photography is art, nor is it intended to be. Man creates art by whatever means (in addition to his imagination) he may use. A Xerox photocopier, pigments blown onto a cave wall, a chisel and stone, a building made for his fellows.....


    If Descartes was here, he would laugh at our stupidity. Poincarre, another great French mathematician, would be happy someone has finally proved his conjecture on topology.


    Art takes many forms, excluding no means of forming...
     
  44. Arthur If Descartes was here, he would laugh at our stupidity.
    You have piqued my interest. So why would Descartes laugh? Can you be specific? Or is this an appeal to the authority of tradition?
     
  45. "You have piqued my interest. So why would Descartes laugh? Can you be specific? Or is this an appeal to the authority of tradition?"

    Mr. D, you have pico'd mine as well, but pray, first say why you think that Descartes (an undoubted seeker of knowledge) was the worst thing that happened to philosophy, other than the to-some(persons)-regrettable fact that he may have at least partially << highjacked philosophy >> for the science community? Or perhaps allow me (us) a reference that upholds your view?
     
  46. "excluding no means of forming" End results are not acheived without means. The idea of "accidental" art, therefore, should be revised. Even if somehow the outcome were to be a pure accident, the decision to select if for presentation would not be.

    "If anybody would start a conversation like this in my truck I would probably let him off between Fairbanks and Mustang corners to complete his trip home on foot."

    And that person would deserve it--not for starting the conversation--but rather for entrusting in their company, not to mention as a driver, such a rasch and reactive individual who would make such a comment. BTW-many people when they are uninterested don't respond. You did.
     
  47. "If Descartes was here, he would laugh at our stupidity."

    I would ask that you provide a reference for that, but I know none would offer any real support as it could be no more than pure speculation.
     
  48. Well, Chip, on the long walk home you can think about the wisdom of Venn Diagrams, and if the daylight is there, you could also take some pictures as well. Gotta look at the positive side here.
     
  49. If anybody would start a conversation like this in my truck [...]
    I'd rather ride in the back with the dogs in the rain after a swamp hunt in August.
     
  50. Yep, back to photography.
     
  51. Pico,would you like to be my divorce lawyer...???? please say yes!


    david
     
  52. say why you think that Descartes (an undoubted seeker of knowledge) was the worst thing that happened to philosophy,
    Let's begin within the context of this thread: the suggestion that logic will tell us about art.
    Successful logic is necessarily tautology. It tells us nothing about anything but logic. It's a categorization practice. Certainly, logic is helpful in navigating through daily existence, and for clarification of certain arguments, however a philosophy which presumes logic to be all that is necessary is incorrect on more than one level. Descartes' dualism separates 'the thinking thing' from all else - in other words, objectifies and admits to significance only those things that can be measured. Logic cannot work otherwise.
    Cartesian logic ignores that which it cannot objectify. What is left out of objectification? Well, creativity, innovation, curious ruminations outside of logic, the arts. And one must look outside the strictly quantifiable to be human, and must be human to commit art.
    Other objections to Descartes include his presumption that logic (and mathematics) is a closed system susceptible to self proof. You know that is not true. It is not true that the field of mathematics and logic (even the simplest) can be reduced to axioms that one can apply as if the field were a machine to grind out more math and solutions.
     
  53. Thanks for you views, Pico. One should probably consider Descartes in light of his overall contriubution to human progress, not just where several hundred years of hindsight allow corrections. Imagine the trash knowledge he had to deal with in his time. Look at Galileo and his fight against accepted "philosophic thought" on the nature of our environment. Even Einstein, Freud and Spinosa will eventually be "corrected", if they have not already been.


    Chip, you only got a piece (sic) of my meaning, in my asserton that "Art takes many forms, excluding no means of forming...". Perhaps it is imperfectly worded, but what I am saying here is that we cannot exclude any medium or means of elaborating (forming) a piece of art. All media, a priori, are acceptable (even photography, ....to get back to the intention of this posting).
     
  54. One should probably consider Descartes in light of his overall contriubution to human progress, not just where several hundred years of hindsight allow corrections.
    I am not trying to knock down someone's hero, and I also understand that we cannot criticize someone outside of their history (although I wonder if Descartes would disagree.) We were speaking to philosophy and my comments stand firm. The purpose was not to diminish Descartes, but to place his philosophy in time, to show how it is still applied today where re-evaluation is important.
     
  55. "to show how it is still applied today where re-evaluation is important."

    I can see that philosophy may head my reading list, as I await visitors this summer in the island art gallery....
     
  56. "what I am saying here is that we cannot exclude any medium or means of elaborating (forming) a piece of art"

    Yes, thanks for the clarification. I agree.

    "Even Einstein, Freud and Spinosa will eventually be "corrected""

    Freud most certainly has been, and in fact, outright rejected. And further study of nuclear physics has required revised mathmatical modeling since Einstein.

    "Cartesian logic ignores that which it cannot objectify...certainly, logic is helpful in navigating through daily existence."

    Any logic is going to have its limitations, which does not necessarily translate to its outright rejection.

    "The purpose was not to diminish Descartes"

    Um, lets go back to what you wrote just a few days ago-->

    "Decartes was so very wrong."

    Care to explain, Pico? Perhaps you would find a better home in a psychology forum, where among other things, you can rip Freud apart all you would like.
     
  57. So, has anyone come to any conclusions here, or will we just keep arguing ourselves around in circles? At some point (when the point has been lost :) )we must just agree to disagree. Are we at an impasse?
     
  58. Chip R. Any logic is going to have its limitations, which does not necessarily translate to its outright rejection.
    I did not introduce the idea of wholesale rejection of logic. Read what I wrote and quite trying to equivocate.
    "The purpose was not to diminish Descartes"
    Um, lets go back to what you wrote just a few days ago-->
    "Decartes was so very wrong."
    Care to explain, Pico?

    I did explain it. Read it!
    Perhaps you would find a better home in a psychology forum, where among other things, you can rip Freud apart all you would like.
    More equivocation. How did Freud get into the subject? You really don't know better, do you?
     
  59. "I did explain it. Read it!"

    I did...and in the context of your other responses. You contradict yourself.

    "How did Freud get into the subject? You really don't know better, do you?"

    The same way decostructive poetry did...think about it. Furthermore, it elaborates on the viewpoint that older viewpoints are "corrected" upon in time.

    "We concluded that the Venn diagram idea was just downright wrongheaded"

    You concluded that, not "we". Again, you contradict yourself with that statement, which ignores and exhibits "profound insensitivity" towards "certainly, logic is helpful in navigating through daily existence." And to ensure against your false charge of equivocation, if my Venn diagram or anyone elses allows ANYBODY to think about art, photography or anything else in a constructive way, then it is not "wrongheaded." And you, who over time has clearly displayed a lack of respect or sensitivity towards the perspective of others is in no position to come to such a conclusion.
     
  60. "We concluded that the Venn diagram idea was just downright wrongheaded, and that it represents the simple statement: "Photography is either within Art or it is not" which, by the way, is perfect logic, the perfect tautology, and perfectly impotent and impertinent."

    So you admit my diagram represents perfect logic. But what you clearly seem incapable of understanding (or admitting) is the value of communicating the idea visually rather than verbally.

    Oh and one more thing Pico, before I forward this matter to the moderator, read the forum rules-->

    "Community Standards: Please take a moment to ask yourself if what you're about to post is going to be useful to the person who asked the question."

    I started this discussion and therefore I alone am qualified to state that your responses to this issue are no longer considered useful by the OP.
     
  61. Honestly whether or not photography is or isn't art depends on your definition of photography. I looked it up in Websters, and there's a slew of definitions for that tiny three-letter word, two of which apply here:

    1. Human creativity.

    5. A making of things that have form and beauty.

    Most of the other definitions are just variations on a theme. Basically, it comes down to whether you define art in the broader sense of anything that is created, especially that which requires application of human imagination to be created (essentially definition 1), or if you go with the more narrow definition whereas art requires artistic merit, i.e., "form and beauty" (definition 5).

    Under the broader sense, photography is definitely an art form. It is indeed a tool to create and express ones imagination, not unlike painting, sculpting or music. But just as there are sculptures, paintings and music that don't have artistic merit and thus don't qualify as art under the more narrow definition, so is the same for photography.
     
  62. David, thanks, that is a nice summary.
     
  63. I do not see any objective necessity in definitions in question because they cannot be used rationaly in any practis I am aware of.
     
  64. Ilia, well, interestingly, I agree...such as is with most philosophy. Kary Mullis put it the best: we thought the philosophers were the smartest until we realized they don't know much of anything at all.
     
  65. Chip, that is also how you know you are cured in therapy. When we realise the therapist is
    just as crazy as we thought we were.
     
  66. So, Chip, since you started this thread, have you come to any conclusions or are you still in the dark?
     
  67. Elin, LOL.

    Nicole, your single question is not an either/or but rather, better stated as two separate questions...so here are 2 answers:

    1) I, along with the others (including you), have come to many valid conclusions, all of which are dependent on the definitions of "art" and "photography". For example, your seeming position that art and a tool are be mutually exclusive may be true but is not necessarily. If an artist must create his or her own tools to accomplish something, then the tools themselves become a work of art in a sense. I like the idea that I get to make the decision.

    2) Out of the dark? Well in the intended sense, yes. The response to the post I referred to originally (http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00KcNL 12 responses down) was interpreted as this: someone had fallaciously written IMI to make it sound that artists were somehow? (something, I?m not sure what, but perhaps inferior, I mean what the heck is ?AAAART????)? to photographers, when the individual himself was, by many of the definitions provided above by some of the others, engaged in art (display for aesthetic purposes) himself! I have also read another prefer to be considered as a ?cameraman? than an ?artist.?

    My overall practical takeaway here is this: it can take a lot of time, effort, independence, courage, mental strength, perseverance, patience, intelligence, talent, and passion to be creative and to realize your vision. To be artistic is a great feat. It doesn?t take as much of the above listed virtues to just cut the cookies, and yet the cookie cutters often ignore and sometimes put down the artists. History (art and otherwise) has demonstrated that--even here on PN.
     
  68. I'm sorry that my question left so much room for interpretation! ;)
    All I meant was that you asked the question "is there any photography which is not art?" and I was just wondering if you have conluded whether there is or is not based on the opinions/information/whatever above.
     
  69. Nicole, to my mind there is certainly photography which is not art. Perhaps 99%+, in my humble opinion. Similarly, there is much painting (oils, aquarelles, etc.) that is not art.

    Art is not uniquely the product of the use of one's imagination or technique, it is something which, although produced with these inputs and others, rises above the ordinary, and can move, empower or enlighten the spirit of most "receivers".

    Personally, that is the only criteria I apply when accepting art or not for my seasonal gallery. I couldn't give two hoots about who painted, sculpted or photographed in order to produce it.
     
  70. Arthur, your criteria for (acceptable) art are certainly laudable, ie. the requirement that the qualifying work is sufficient to ?move, empower or enlighten the spirit of most "receivers?. This is an interesting subject. How do you go about determining whether the works in question, photographic or otherwise, sufficiently meet these criteria? Do you employ a particular approach, such as a review by a committee that might be representative of those who would receive such works?
     
  71. Chip,

    Thanks for your interest and your post. As you know, many full time galleries of good reputation, will, like many museums, have a panel of art lovers or art experts ("experts"; I don't want to go there...) who they can rely on to make judgements of the work submitted. Thet probably also have score cards.


    In our case, as a very humble seasonal contemporary art gallery (in a terrific medieval-style French colonial wood farm building), the process is rather informal. About 30 to 70% (variable) of the judgement is my own, the rest comes via an ad-hoc group of art-minded friends who share my desire to promote serious local and national artists (not necessarily "commercial" or "popular"), but bring oftimes different opinions on what makes an image or sculpture worthy. To this is added the occasional friendly collaboration of two art critics of nearby dailies and art magazines, who visit and advise us on up and coming artists or, in some cases, more established artists. Sometimes we interpret our clients (about 2000 in number, each tourist season) badly and sell little, even though the artists may have great professional credentials and have been recommended by one of the art critics or members of our ad-hoc group.


    Judging is quite subjective, of course. We consider that it is not always important, for art's sake, to ride on the waves of current "popular" or "commercial" contemporary art. We often end up with interesting but not very profitable exhibitions, but then at least the (worthy) artist gets a bit of a push in his or her career and we manage to pay our bills.
     
  72. "..that is also how you know you are cured in therapy"

    But if you were dead on it you probably don't know no nothing..

    Let me kick even bigger ball at you, people. What if we stop consider ANY photography as art? Interested?
     
  73. "What if we stop consider ANY photography as art?"

    Originally I stated that this would be unreasonable. But I suppose that depends on what art and photography are, or would be, to you. Please elaborate on your thought.

    But generally, the more one expands the definition of photography, the harder it becomes to entertain your proposal as valid.
     
  74. Why unreasonable?

    The way I look at it, if one want to see the photography as an art, fully or partly, can only go on making loose definitions of what art is and try to adjust all or certain photography to that definition or make the definition that is sutable for proving the given photography as an art. Which IMO is basically useless retorical process, cannot bring one to any true or resolution of practical value.

    There are of couse people like critics, gallery owners or such who need a tools to prise or dismiss some photographic work as real art or no art at all.

    Let us not forget a sellsmen who might try to sell a camera or two as an instruments of easy modern art making. Which is all right of couse.

    Seen from the point of view of creative photographer, art director or illustrator the definitions are useless because the photographer is satisfied by selling the image and not by naming it art or othewise. Director only want it to work good and illustrators who do layout pages do call art anything as long as it is not a text.

    Outside of this we only have so called amateurs and snapshoters who basically do that they want no matter how you define it, having no big ideas of art or knowing any. They like to hold a camera to their face, strain the eye and press the button, if picture jumps out it seems unlogical to them not to look at it with egotistic fascination being proud of having it. If it doesn't jump, they sure will try again. No definitions required.

    Technical pro photographers do not boffer either.

    Seen from the point of real artist, say a classic portrette painter, cultured and cultivated persone with certain mindset, the effort to call photography an art may seem rediculous.

    Now. Seen from the point of creative and intelligent persone who practice it for some private ends it is IMO much more advantageous to consider photography as PHOTOGRAPHY and nothing else. A unic technique of image making of value on its own. It simply does not need to be called or defined as something else objectively.

    Well. How about that now..
     
  75. Well, alright then :)

    Unreasonable only in general because there is a well accepted type of photography known as "fine art photography". This photography is considered art, but if that is not reasonable for you then that is ok. I suppose, however, that you are entitled to a more stringent definition of art that would exclude photography if you so choose. But what if somebody wants to develop some really interesting method to expose photographic paper with absolutely stunning results? Not that I've tried, but it might be interesting for someone to try...the results might be quite artistic and because in the true etymological sense you would be "recording light" a definition of photography would be entirely reasonable in addition to a most unique art form.

    Just a thought.
     
  76. Some people have trouble accepting photography as a medium for art expression. So be it. Some people also have trouble accepting Cristo and his bridge wrapping art, or Andy Warhol. So be it. A Russian artist in his landlocked submarine in a pool near the Louvre last autumn may not have convinced many that his creation was art, but it was certainly human inspired and a jolly carricature of his homeland navy.


    One can discriminate, but I for one see absolutely no point in that. If a robot creates art via oils and a brush, is that art? I think not. Not at least in a human definition of the term. Moral. Do what you like in art. Have fun (and meaning), as long as it respects others. If nobody ever considers what you do as art, what should that matter? The pleasure is in the act of creation (even in hero-worshipping North America). Period. If someone else can enjoy it, fine. Art as such does not make a distinction betweeen degree-laden art professionals and an innocent (but highly inspired) amateur. Photographer or other.
     
  77. Arthur, lol, excellent, thanks!
     
  78. Gentlemen. Let us not plow wider then we actually need.

    Have never stated that photography does not belong to art, merely offerd one way to look at definition making in this matters.

    Chip. Can you bring up an example of ".. develop some really interesting method to expose photographic paper with absolutely stunning results?" ?

    Talking of emotional responce as a token of art. Much more people enjoy viewing the beautyful sunsets then a beautyful photographs of sunsets.

    Now. Would you agree that a sunset as such is more like a natural phenomene then a work of art?

    Talking of creativity. There are not a single piece or fragment of human behavior wich does not inhold at list some creativity. Most of that we do is just pure creativity. Most inspiring examples of human behavior of any kind are astonishing acts of cteativity. We all are naturaly creative in the first place but IMO it does not mean that we all are artists.

    Or does it?

    I even know a horse who is creative.

    If we want functional definition for the thing IMO we'll have to put aside the criteria of beauty and positive emotional responce as not definitive ones.

    Consider the fact that there are loads of so called modern art in existance, also photographic, which is intentionaly not beautyful and designet not to evoke the positive emotional responce or joy, rathet on the contrary.
     
  79. All good. Yes, creativity can be outside of art, as our little dog exhibits on the carpet every so often.

    I don't have an example of what I had mentioned regarding painting with light. Only speaking hypothetically to illustrate the breadth of what rightfully could be considered "recording light".

    Good point about those works of art that are other than aesthetically pleasing or otherwise envoking of positive emotion. That causes me to distinguish still art or photography from motion forms. It is only with motion forms of art or photography that I personally take a taste for those works that produce negative emotions. One example that comes to mind is the movie, "Kids" (1995). Harmony Korine has truely exhibited an ability to artistically put together some of the ugliest *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* and just make it amazing! Again, that's just my personal taste.
     
  80. So, where are we in this discurtion then.

    Are we all agree that creativity is not a token of art?

    An imagination was not mentioned lately, but we probably can say that it does not make thing an art either.

    Aestetic value or beauty or harmoniousness does not necessarily make thing an artwork.

    Let us try to pinpoint that is common and unic to the artwork then.
     

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