When the viewers are the only "artist" around

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by ajhingel, May 10, 2013.

  1. I have been wondering, since some time, what happens with especially photography as an art (?), as a creative medium (?), when a greater and greater proportion of creative and artistic photos are made by photographers who have little understanding of the creative dimensions of their photos.
    My questioning is not about what is art (a dead-end discussion, anyway, as we have seen), but more on what happens when the "only" people around seeing the artistic qualities of a photo are some few privileged viewers. More and more, being a "photographer", shooting photos, needs no, or little, artistic and creative skills and even fewer technical skills, but being able to see and appreciate the qualitative dimensions of photos (beyond the private sphere), does.
    In photography, the future seems to belong to those who can see and less and less to those who shoot.
    The same questioning can of course be made in other fields of contemporary art.
     
  2. Don't worry, Anders, most will skip over to video before too long. That said, I'm a bit confused of

    In photography, the future seems to belong to those who can see and less and less to those who shoot.​
    If one can't see well, he/she doesn't shoot all that well, right? I'm not sure how one shoots well, but can't see? Do you mean strictly by chance?
     
  3. Probably I wrote it in general terms, I would think. Wouldn't you ?
    It is little like Ready made without Marcel Duchamp around !
     
  4. I'm really interested to hear people's response to Anders's questions. My only comment right now is that it's not so much that the audience for art photography is less than it is that its total audience comprises much more than art (as opposed to other art mediums). In other words, if painting were somehow accessible to everybody, we wouldn't lose what's in museums. Rather we would gain a lot of stuff that is ... not in museums and not meant to be in museums.
     
  5. It's not a new thing that most people who think they're producing [any] art are actually clueless generators of garbage. :) The number of true artists AND the number of true appreciators has always been extremely low, the amount of static very high, and there's no reason that should change.

    However, what I have seen, looking around at portfolios on various sites, is that as rock music opened doors for people who had talent but weren't inclined to be classical music, the falling of the technological barrier has opened photography to many people who couldn't have considered it previously. I'm blown away by the number of people who probably think they're just having fun shooting pictures who are actually really talented, and I think there are more of them than ever before.
     
  6. Anders,
    I don’t get what you are asking. You seem to be in some "is photography art?" mode in spite of not wanting to get lost in "what is art" space. (The answer is, as you know: No. It is only a medium like paint. We make art with them both.)
    Are you saying that without deliberation (understanding?) then, what are we making? Is it surprising or significant that people who paint consider themselves artists but those who make photographs don't?
    Are you saying vacation snaps -- for one example-- should be in the same discussion here as wherever the moving target is for art ?
    Art Museums are essentially about history from the POV of whomever writes it. Art galleries are about what may be significant somewhere down the line. Family vacation snaps are essentially anthropological documentation. Are you wondering how naive photographers fit into a discussion about Art?
     
  7. You're not giving photographers any credit. Who has to study to know if a woman is pretty?
     
  8. Except for some doc snaps....the cell 'tog is a new fad. IMO it's not worth speculating.
    Les
     
  9. Alan Z., as I read Anders, he's wondering if it will even occur to naïve viewers of photographs that a photograph is or might be art. There can't be a discussion about artistic content if it hasn't occurred to people that art might be its motivation. Whether or not it is, it would be nice to feel that the it-might-be-art door was open in people's minds so that the possibility doesn't have to be argued into existence.
    Alan K, I'm looking at my L.L. Bean catalogue and I see a pretty woman. I think I'll buy her shirt.
     
  10. Julie, what art is "meant to be in museums"? I assume you mean galleries. Or, do we no longer make a distinction between historical and contemporary work?
    The viewer has little interest in the discussion that goes on within a photograph. It is like writers expecting an interest in literature and poetry from people who can read. With that in mind, the topic question seems to me now to be how we distinguish who is serious from the indifferent?
     
  11. "The viewer has little interest in the discussion that goes on within a photograph. It is like writers expecting an interest in literature and poetry from people who can read."
    Alan, I think the academic discussion or interpretation of a high caliber photograph has always been about why and how; others will simply embrace or reject it.
    I say "high caliber" to differentiate quality in the same way that not everyone who writes is a writer or anyone who strums a few chords is a musician.
    "With that in mind, the topic question seems to me now to be how we distinguish who is serious from the indifferent?"
    One can approach a photograph, music, or art in general in any number of ways, and just because one is moved by it but unable to articulate the reasons doesn't mean they are indifferent.

    I think it's all about context in the case of photography; it will only have meaning to a viewer who can in some way relate to its content or its technical/aesthetic merit.
     
  12. Anders, I don't think I can agree with your statement "a greater and greater proportion of creative and artistic photos are made by photographers who have little understanding of the creative dimensions of their photos."
    What evidence do you have for that? Where are you seeing all that creative and artistic photography? What is your line in the sand for that?
    If photographers have no, or little, artistic and creative skills, as you say, then you can say the same thing about the viewers who don't seem to have any more highly developed ways of seeing and feeling art.
    To be a fine photographer the art of seeing and creating is more important in my mind than mere technical skills or an ability to copy established paradigms. Most photographers, like most viewers, have little sense of what makes art art and even less ability to create, even just in their mind, original images.
    That is nothing new, of course as many fields like art require much more effort, knowledge, practice and inspiration than is simply assumed, and what is called art is often just some moderately successful approach to art and its special communication, or just reproduction of what others have done, call or dictate as art.
     
  13. Ok, let me simplify to the extreme, what I tried, in vain, I admit, to formulate above.
    It is a simple observable fact:
    • that the number of photos shot in the world is exploding;
    • that the number of people shooting photos is exploding too;
    • that the proportion of all photos that have been shot as "snapshots" is rapidly growing;
    • that, among all those snapshots, an ever increasing number photos have creative and even artistic qualities, that the shooters in question are unaware of or uninterested in.
    • in this latter category of photos, the creative/artistic eye around, is that of the viewer.
    I admit that it is almost impossible to read these propositions without opening the poisonous question of "what is art?". And yet, my main questioning concerns the relative role of that of the "viewer" in the process of creativity in arts, what ever that is accepted to be.

    If your position is that everything is art and we are all creative artists, I agree that this questioning is, at best, irrelevant.
     
  14. Considering zillions of snapshots which have not been taken with any intention to create fine art - I'd absolutely agree - in that large stream of vernacular shots there will be quite a number of 'nuggets' which when viewed by an art-understanding eye would qualify as fine art.
    And I can well imagine that, when filtered out by the right 'eyes' (or curators or some Marcel Duchamp around) and put on musuem walls (or simply some new context, e.g. re-arranged and collected to a website - probably certain themes would help not loosing a red thread) - they would make a great exhibition.
     
    • that the number of [things being made of porcelain] in the world is exploding;
    • that the number of people [making things out of porcelain] is exploding too;
    • that the proportion of all [porcelain things] that have been [made for practical purposes] is rapidly growing;
    • that, among all those [porcelain things], an ever increasing number [of porcelain things] have creative and even artistic qualities, that the [makers] in question are unaware of or uninterested in. [Makers of urinals are not interested to find that they can also be seen as fountains.]
    • in this latter category of [porcelain things], the creative/artistic eye around, is that of the viewer. [Urinal makers are not famous in the annals of art history; those who "see" (and present them as) upside-down-urinals-as-fountains are.]
    Who made the fountain?
     
  15. I remember a related discussion in art school so many years ago..
    What was the artist trying to do? (Can you even tell from what is presented?
    How well was it done?
    Was it worth doing?
    All can be applied to photography.
     
  16. Julie, you seem to forget that the urinal or the bottle dryer presented by Duchamp during the First World War, within the context of the Dada movement in Paris (anti-war manifestation), were "art" in the context, it was shown and presented. As "ready made" it became "art" by the "simple choice of the artist:"
    “objet usuel promu à la dignité d’œuvre d’art par le simple choix de l’artiste” (Breton)
    Outside that context, urinals and bottle dryers are not by their own existence, "art" or anything near creative objects, beyond their utilitarian design.
    As far as I see it it is not an example of the intervention of the "viewer", but a traditional revolutionary intervention of the "artist".
     
  17. that, among all those snapshots, an ever increasing number photos have creative and even artistic qualities, that the shooters in question are unaware of or uninterested in.​
    I have a problem with this one...That may or may not be the case, we simply don't know. However, people might be following a trend, or a style. That trend maybe of the creative, or "artistic" type, some might consider...
     
  18. The chance that a snapshot-is-a-snapshot, is-a-snapshot, is-a-snapshot... seems to me to be a reasonable presumption :)) ; taking the great numbers which we are talking about into account. Exceptions always prove the rule, as you would know.
    Take it from another angle, if you wish.
    The number of photographers shooting photos without ever imagining taking any contact with the world of art and the world of creative creations (galleries, collectors, market of art etc) is increasing with incredible speed - the number of artist or photographers who take a pride in creativity is not, or at least not to the same degree. The consequence is the same, as I have tried to formulate above, that the viewers of photos will take an ever increasing role discovering and seeing creativity and creative works of photography. The actively creative figure in the future belongs to the viewer, in such a world more than to people considering themselves as artist or creators.
     
  19. All things considered, I'll agree with you, Anders. But I tend to believe most, if not all, have some sort of creative insight, even if they are just momentary. Now, that stroke of momentary insight comes from who knows where:))) But everyone has the potential. Now each person takes thousands of pics, so sure, some will appear more "creative" than others. It has been always been like this imo, but the numbers of shooters just go exponential with the easy access, especially with the proliferation of smartphones...Art critics have always been more vocal of what art is, than the creators/artist. Most artists I know don't care that much either way...
     
  20. The obscure musings of "high caliber academic thinkers" prop up art best left obscure to most. :) The "discussion" as it pertains to self-referential photographs themselves is more what I'm referring to here. I don't know where to pin art about art historically. Duchamp seems to be the emblematic boy for the lasts century, but it goes further back than that.
    The on-going dialog within photography, and where I caught the virus, came out of academia. There is no cure, unfortunately. For me it is an adventure into the creative art world canon. I can go wherever whimsy leads. As far as viewers being totally clueless, -- if that is the OT here -- drawing them into the dialog as we optimistically do, makes pictures more enjoyable if not intellectually arousing. I used to keep separate my serious work from more tentative and playful work. I've given up on that conceit. All artists of any merit are punster's anyhow.
    The only relief for hard-core intellectualizing, is to try and find the work of outsiders and concoct a "new vision" to natter about. Artists get saddled with the duty of keeping things off-balance and anxious.
    Naïve or outsider art, if such things exist today, is characterized by a distinctive but irregular formal or other eccentric quality of style. Now days a trend starts and ends too fast for anything to gain traction. Who is left when there is no outside anymore?
    A naïve expression with photographs is less haphazard with modern tools. To be judged truly naïve today, choice of subject isn't a measure of deviance or outsider-ness either. Anything goes and there is unlimited competition for novelty. Looking for "choice" snapshots isn't fun anymore. The aggrigate or flow of trends IS to me.
    00bdTj-536693584.jpg
     
  21. There are many opinions of art, an artist and photography.
    What doesn't qualify is simply recording a scene. Anyone can create a view of something he/she wants to share, or to interpret in an interesting way. Contemporary software tools make it easier.
    A photographer who is in the fine art genre is also different again. He/she wants to create an image of significant beauty and get paid well to do it. And again, many will argue till the cows come home about what photographic "art" is.

    Is a photographer who uses Photoshop to render an image artistically, an artist? I would put that person in the expert technician category. But that might be unfair.
    So one can't really put all these into fixed categories. Are beautiful images as created by Annie Leibovitz, Steve McCurry or Ansell Adams, Art? Maybe. There are hosts of images on Photo Net member galleries that inspire or are certainly beautiful. But are they Art? There are thousands of gallery-deserving images but will someone pay $60 to just look at them in a museum of contemporary art? Perhaps.
    Then there are the controversial fine art photographers like Bill Henson whose images fetch $30,000 each. In his case, he creates controversy. Do people like his images because of beauty or is the interest in them more to do with their subject matter. He says that his images are an attempt to show people how he sees the subject and he wants to recreate what he sees in his minds eye. So he is a communicator. But are his creations Art?
    I think all of us would aspire to fine art photography, but the sheer volume of images flooding the internet, Flikr etc make it very hard to earn a living doing it. The ones who are successful produce images that have an impact on the viewer. This "oh my God, look at that" category is very hard to emulate. Just as HCBs image of Isle de la Cite is wonderful, specially considering the basic tool he used, its probably not fine art.
    This how I see it all anyway.
     
  22. ""But I tend to believe most, if not all, have some sort of creative insight""
    I totally agree, Lesley. Creativity is a general human characteristic (not for "most" but for all), so all are creative in daily life in one way or another. Showing it in media that we here are talking about, like photography (or sculptures painting, drawings or why not music etc) is something else. Showing it in such a way that others can appreciate its creative dimensions, is yet something else. Showing it and having it accepted in "artistic circles" is only for the few.
     
  23. Anders, I think you're trivializing creativity a little bit. There is a difference (subtle, maybe, but important nevertheless) between creativity and experimentation. A ton of amateur photos are wonderfully experimental simply because they aren't inhibited by artistic or technical constraints that they don't know or care about. And cameras invite experimentation (all those buttons and dials ... what might they do?). To me, creativity is at least one step beyond experimentation.
    A second mild disagreement is with your closing sentence, "Showing it and having it accepted in "artistic circles" is only for the few." That's the classical 'top-down' conception of Art. What happens if 'bottom-up' art gains momentum and upturns the traditional means of gaining recognition?
    Francisco, why does "emulate" lead to fine art?
     
  24. I admit to having a very limited background in both art and aesthetic philosophy. However, to say ultimately that the current wholesale availability of camera technology, especially in cell phones, limits the realm of artists to viewers, is arrogant and unfair to the facts. One does not need to have sat at the feet of a master as an apprentice, or have taken an advanced degree in fine art, to create art. In the case of photography, sometimes all it takes to do so is a "good eye", intuition, being in the right place at the right time, pure dumb luck, or a combination of all or some of these.
     
  25. ""I think you're trivializing creativity a little bit""
    I think you are totally right, Julie, and not only a little bit !

    Let me be more precise, then. My basic understanding of "creativity" is related that of the Platonic tradition of the Demiurge shaping the material world and that of Marx/Lenin's "demiurge" : half creator/half craftsman (which, according to them was lost with (capitalist) industrialization). This is of course an idealtype (Weber), but it tells us, that we are all potential creative shapers of the world through our actions. I do believe therefore, that all people in one way or another shape their immediate world, using materials and tools, or through mental actions only. Experimentation is an inherent part of that creative process.

    This being said, I do however not believe that all people are in the image of a demiurge, shooting photos, being experimental and creative. In fact, I believe as mentioned earlier, that an increasing proportion of people shooting photos use the camera as an automate, only, with the objective of registering the seen in view of sharing and keeping for memory. If something "creative" comes out of that, it would be by "accident", and it is for a viewer with creative eyes (and training) to find it.

    Julie, concerning the classical 'top-down" conception of art, it is more than a conception. It is in fact just describing what happens in galleries, museums and on the art marked, whether we like it or not. You ask: what happens if bottom-up" arts gain momentum. I have difficulty of finding examples of such a process, where the top-down way actors and institutions have not picked it up very rapidly and turned it into their own benefits reproducing the top-down logic. They (gallery owners, experts, museum curators etc) are actually payed to do exactly that - picking up newcomers and new trends apart from celebrating the already found.
    No, the real alternative to the top-down model of art, which governs the world of art are all those artists who refuse to play the game and therefor go about with their art in smaller circles of likeminded artists and admirers, artist who stay mostly poor or doing second and third jobs besides.
     
  26. ""...limits the realm of artists to viewers, is arrogant and unfair to the facts""
    Michael, I agree, it would have been unfair, had I said that. The title of the thread is provocative and not what really goes on. Artists are artists and will continue to be artists. What I suggest is only, that the number of shooters around and photos available are increasing that rapidly, that photographical art and creativity will find its sources more and more outside the restricted circle of "artists". "Viewers" will be the mediators of that change and not artists. Neither arrogant, nor unfair, to point at that trend towards a new order of things in the world of photographical arts.
     
  27. Finally read all posts.

    Interesting time to observe, what will happen ?

    In a historical perspective, every change in photo media was followed by massive flow of snapshoot photos. There were texts when the daguerreotype was invented about a lot of meaningless photos. When mainstream changed to film, turning the photo process cheaper, there were at these times reports of snapshoots and the death of art trough bad photography volume.

    The digital only changed this to more cheap, more people doing it, and with a much more powerful sharing media as the internet.

    Will this be the end or one more circle who knows /
     
  28. I agree, Gustavo, history shows us that photography has been through such cycles with the announcement that painting would be dead and even visual art of any kind would be killed. Did obviously not happen!
    Future is indeed the most difficult thing to predict :)
    If you go back in history and look, for example, at old Japanese prints, those of the Kano or Tosa schools (XIV-XVIII century), that produced some of the most beautiful prints in the history of the country, they are mostly not signed. Few artist can be connected to the individual prints and for any print, at least three different artists did every one of those that now hang on the world museum walls: the drawer or painter, the carver and the printer. Well, if you accept the idea, that in the field of contemporary and future photography most creative shots will have been done by individuals, who probably had no intention and knowledge about the artistic quality of an individual shot, we are back in such an anonymous artistic world.
    The thing is however, that today's art world is obsessed with artists as individual personalities, that can be marketed and programmed and supported to come up with new art works regularly to feed a hopefully growing market. Gallery owners take them in as breeding stock for future profits.
    If I'm right, that "the viewer will be the only artist around", it will be a game-changer (sic!) for arts, the market and the for the role of viewers and the artists alike. One could say that this is one of the reasons why it will not be happening. PEOPLE is what makes the art world tick and art works are a secondariness necessity. Sometimes it is worthwhile thinking in absurdities.
     
  29. [putting on my Devil's Advocate hat]
    Two points:
    First, those "odd Japanese prints" were physical objects. When I look through the book, The Art of the American Snapshot (from the National Museum's show of that name), I would bet that 95% of the snaps (found as prints in shoe boxes and such, at flea markets and on-line auctions) would never have made it out of a digital camera. The 5% that I think might have made it are those that are funny/jokes. The 95% of the rest (several of which I think are truly outstanding accidents) certainly would not have made it to someone's onscreen internet site where the person showing the work is well aware that the it's "on display" to a wider audience.
    If you have to get a print made before you find out it was a boo-boo, and you then throw it in a shoe-box because ... you paid for the print and it has some minimal value, then there is fodder for "the viewer" who may find it in another life. But that's not going to happen with boo-boos that can be seen and deleted in-camera or at any point thereafter. Also, a shoe-box is a long way from someone's public online web site.
    Second, in Devil's Advocate mode, I will claim that far from being an outlet for creativity, for most people, especially the "recreationally artistic", photography is their least creative activity. When they attempt to "create art" they make what "looks like art". In other words, they suppress all their own genuinely creative inclinations in favor of what they have seen "art" look like somewhere else, done by someone else. Or, if they're not trying to be artistic, they make pictures that are utilitarian in the way that pictures are supposed to be utilitarian; i.e. they imitate "what photos are supposed to look like."
    To borrow Michael Linder's definition, above, "... sometimes all it takes to do so is a "good eye", intuition, being in the right place at the right time, pure dumb luck, or a combination of all or some of these". That is not enough. There has to be recognition. Something says "this!" If the "this" that is recognized is a matching, a similarity to what has been modeled somewhere else, by someone else ("art is what art looks like"), then that's not creativity, it's suppression of creativity.
    The fact that pictures are so often made with online display in mind only exacerbates the above. There is even less possibility of the happy-accident surviving the Delete button. There is no physical object to wander off and be serendipitously discovered by 'the viewer who is 'the only "artist" around.'
    [taking off my Devil's Advocate hat] Creativity requires an active/intentional investment of the self. Not imitation. Certainly not suppression.
     
  30. ""those "odd Japanese prints" were physical objects""
    Not really "odd" but surely old, were actually woodblocks for printing. I fail to see the great difference from digital files. Both are intermediate media for printing, or not. Both are and will be subject to enormous destruction over time, but some will end up in attics and shoeboxes and even PN or Flickr and be found by potential viewers, throughout time.

    With or without my own Devil's Advocate mode, I agree with your second point.

    ""Creativity requires an active/intentional investment of the self. Not imitation. Certainly not suppression.""
    Totally agree. But that active/intentional investment of the self can also be that of a viewer.
     
  31. Good art is supposed to cause anxiety. I get the most anxious when enjoying art -- doing it and looking at it -- when it causes me to doubt what I firmly believe. I often doubt the serious artfulness of contemporary work compared to widely admired masterpieces. There is a sort of check list we all keep. Yes, dabblers do make work that looks like what art is supposed to look like. We ALL do. Our personalities and our knowledge of the subject govern how much authority governs our creativity. No matter how much we know we must be given permission to invent. We like to be see art thought out or "explored" before we try it. To thrive ,working artists, create communities that encourage that.
    It IS rather too easy to say art is always in flux -- a moving target. Artists and their "styles" can find themselves in and out of art-survey texts in their own lifetimes.
    Although most agree there are no reliable aesthetic certainties. Essentialism regarding art escapes the most brilliant modern scholars.
    Sounds like we have democratized art to an extent that the word has no real meaning. Even elephants and orangutans are doing it. We need a new word. Let's call it "Stuff To Look At" or, STeLA. No more arguing what it is. Your STeLA is valued more than mine but that is OK. Someday my STeLA might be remembered more than yours. Hey! let's go to MOMA and look at STeLA! STeLAaaaa!
     
  32. Anders - Point well taken. I indeed must have misread the OP.
    Julie - You are using the phrase "not enough," followed by the statement that "There has to be recognition. It seems to me that this involves an implicit limitation. Are you taking the position that a poor schlep with an iPhone who takes a 'happy snap" which turns out to be an incredible photograph has not created art because he/she doesn't recognize it as such?
     
  33. "Are you taking the position that a poor schlep with an iPhone who takes a 'happy snap" which turns out to be an incredible photograph has not created art because he/she doesn't recognize it as such?"
    "... an incredible photo": Would that be that photo that he just deleted in-camera because he, its one and only viewer, thought it sucked?
     
  34. What happens is we, the viewers, are stuck w/ a lot of bad crap to look at. It's always been this way. How many artists were really great artists? If it were easy, everyone would be making great stuff, and trust me, they aren't. Photos are no different than any visual art medium. Not special at all. However, corporations and the media have convinced consumers that they too can be a "pro", if only they spend enough money on the products that are for sale. Most people are smart enough to understand that going out and spending a thousand dollars on canvas, paints, brushes etc won't make them an artist. Just like buying a piano doesn't make one a musician. But the manipulation by the media has been so successful, many people think that buying that high end DSLR will make them a photographer. Then they go and make a gazillion snaps, and we're stuck w/ them. I almost never look at online photos on flickr and other photo hosting sites. It's really awful out there. 99% of "art" is usually very bad, and it's probably worse than that for poetry. Yet that tiny percentage that works makes it all worthwhile.
     
  35. Julie: If we are fair to the facts, deleting such a photograph easily may happen. That's called life. I have no doubt that there is a huge, perhaps inestimable, number of photographs go unnoticed, including those taken by members of PN. An image you may delete in-camera because you thought it was crap, if viewed by someone else, might be considered differently.
     
  36. [Michael -- "deleting such a photograph easily may happen" Tell me about it ... I have realized, in the act of deleting ... that maybe ... Oh well. It's gone.]
    Not related to the above
    ...
    To forget is to remember something new. Photography can be the perfect tool for this. But what does creation have to do with it?
     
  37. To expect ANY level of understanding of photography, let alone art, from the general public is folly. The topic is too broad.
    Ideally a person learns both art history and how to create art concurrently. Somewhere along the way they get a clue. They can then visit a museum or gallery and have a few modest tools to make their own evaluation. Even a narrow understanding -- "I know what I like, plus some."
     
  38. Alan I think you are way too restrictive.
    The quality of most art is that can speak to vast proportion of people, if not all. You don't have to "know about art for you to benefit from it. Knowing about art increases however our understanding and the impact art has on us as individuals and civilization.
    I'm as critical as you when observing the massive number of tourists who visit a museum like Louvre - almost 9 million last year. Most of these are led to pass Mona Lisa and some of the very big and spectacular paintings of Delacroix or Jacques Louis David in the hall beside. It would not astonish me if they would know almost nothing about the painters who painted these paintings and in which period and even less about their pictorial styles. Nevertheless, I'm convinced that good art speaks on many levels and some of it is received by any eyes that happen to spent a minute or two in front of it, liking it or not. For me it is one of the qualities of most art.
    On the other hand, I totally disagree on the criteria: "I know what I like" as having anything what so ever to do with "knowing about art".
     
  39. Anders why the contempt for people you know nothing about, the nature of whose experience of the Louvre you know nothing about?
    Whatever their experience of art or of just being there in the Louvre (the experience of it is more than just what it contains), it's not somehow a zero sum game versus whatever your own experience consists of. If their conception and experience of art (maybe "I know what I like"; maybe not) is not the same as yours, it in no way diminishes yours (though you act as if it does). And further, your disapproval has no effect on theirs
     
  40. Julie I must express myself very badly.
    I think it is a fact of life, that few people actually have much knowledge in the field of art. If you believe differently and can refer to some sources that contradict my impression, I would be happy to learn.
    Actually, I did not write that they knew nothing, I did write, that: "I would not be astonished if..". My very concrete knowledge about the state of art of art education in schools in many countries, tells me, that it is not totally wrong to believe that art literacy levels are fairly low in general in most countries.
    What I tried to express was, that these great numbers of people passing by great works of art in museums like Louvre, actually bring something essential with them despite their possible meager formal knowledge on arts. Great art have impact on viewers. Whether they come out declaring, that they liked the individual works, or not, is not essential.
    No contempt for any viewer of arts! On the contrary great respect not only for the viewers as viewers of art, but also for the extraordinary force of art. Where I have some disrespect, concerns only those (many?) who physically are in front of great art in museums, but chose not to look up and in stead concentrate on texting or small-talking with their friends. You actually have to look up to be a viewer of art !
    Where, by the way, did you, Julie, get the wild idea, that it is for you to judge my respect for other people ?
     
  41. Great art have impact on viewers. Whether they come out declaring, that they liked the individual works, or not, is not essential.​
    Yes. You can't exit the show without exiting through the gift shop. :)
    Van Gogh umbrellas and Cezanne tote bags -- what a legacy for them. Museums do a very good job of marketing today. Good for them. Enough of the snobbery. The display designs are stunning here at the MFA. The Current Samurai exhibit overwhelms me. LINK
    I Know nothing of that art and was greatly impressed. Have Kurosawa 's Ran on my movies to watch list.
     
  42. Alan K. You can look at art from the American 60's without reading, but you cannot understand it: Adorno wrote during the same period:
    "Today it goes without saying that nothing concerning art goes without saying, much less without thinking. Everything about art has become problematic: its inner life, its relation to society, even its right to exist."

    The oneness/onement paintings of Barnett Newman have been discussed and explained by himself and many, many others on hundreds of pages (see his writings and interviews here - they has just been reedited and published a couple of months ago). It is not Duchamp (Newman hated him!) nor Dadaism, nor anti-art paintings. But nihilism and Man faced to the end of the world, maybe ! Barnett Newman's paintings are purely philosophical. I'm personally deeply touched by them. I would find it very peculiar if photography in the US passed the same period without the same questionings, but maybe it would not surprise me. After all, that was the period of "The Americans" photos of Robert Frank.
    If the Newman paintings are worth $40+ millions is only because someone out there is ready to pay it (plus auction commissions and charges !). The huge accumulations of idle fortunes and the financial crisis explains the latter, maybe. It has only something to do with art because the paintings are considered historical examples of good art by the experts and the art market makers, which is taken as a guarantee for the investment.
    Alan Z., I agree with you about the absurdities of the commercial circus happening around museums. The museum spokesmen would tell us, that it is all part of the business model around modern museums and expositions and that it turns out to the benefit of the Arts. Sometimes one wonders.
     
  43. Anders, I was responding to your statement: "On the other hand, I totally disagree on the criteria: "I know what I like" as having anything what so ever to do with "knowing about art"."
    And, "Great art have impact on viewers." The adjective "great" is supposed to be assumed, but I think it's only to be assumed by a particular segment of the population's preferences/taste. I don't think that's "wrong" (or "right"). I simply don't think "great" can be assumed as being somehow part of the work as opposed to part of its cultural positioning. Much of what is assumed to be "great art" has little or no impact on many people, and I think this is not a failing, but simply a fact of its irrelevance to their own lives.
    Maybe an analogy will show more what I mean. The following is from an essay about (food) taste by Carolyn Korsmeyer:
    "… Bourdieu characterizes the eating habits of the leisured bourgeoisie as the "taste of liberty or luxury" and those of the working class as the "taste of necessity." The latter favors food that is nourishing and filling, bulky, gulpable, massy. The taste of luxury is for lighter fare, since it need not nourish a body engaged in hard labor. Luxurious taste also puts a premium on the presentation of dishes and the visual display of a table; it is tolerant of the fiddling necessary to consume dainty or elaborate dishes without dribbles and spills.
    "The links that Bourdieu draws between literal taste and aesthetic Taste contrast interestingly with the comparisons made by classic philosophies of Taste, for he has in a way turned the value hierarchy on its head. Unlike most philosophies of Taste, Bourdieu emphatically rejects the qualitative distinction between literal and aesthetic Taste. There is no universality of Taste untainted by class privilege, no pure judgment of aesthetic pleasure. And therefore there is no need to stipulate a particular sort of Taste to ground universal aesthetic standards. Both kinds of taste are part and parcel of the same social forces. In fact the oral pleasures of tasting, primitive and infantile, subtend the developed preferences of aesthetic Taste and remain their point of reference. The philosophical superiority of aesthetic Taste is an illusion rooted in the attempt to make class distinctions irrelevant to contemplative ideals of aesthetics, but far from being irrelevant, they have been rendered only invisible."​
    And from an essay by Jean François Revel which can also be applied to the idea of "great art" versus ... the rest:
    "I do not mean to say that culinary art is always the prolongation of popular cuisine, which is a refined way of preparing food but one that never aims at the unexpected and indeed steers clear of it. Often the reformers of gastronomy, on the contrary, must know how to react against family cuisine, which clings to its errors as to its qualities and can both drown in grease and boil to death things that ought to be grilled plain or barely poached. These remarks are intended to demonstrate, however, that great cuisine is not only the cuisine of the privileged. Rich people, the wealthy classes, are not necessarily those that eat the best. Since antiquity, a real connoisseur such as Horace has reacted by deliberately and judiciously embracing rusticity as an antidote to the pretentious mixtures of parvenu gastrophiles who, thanks to their heavy-handed combinations, worshipped their pride rather than their stomachs."​
    Art that is "filling, bulky, gulpable, massy" usually doesn't find its way into any museum. It is, nevertheless, what many people find "nourishing" within the demands of their particular lives. They may well have no need for "dainty or elaborate dishes without dribbles and spills" no matter how "great" it may be. I think "impact on viewers" is due to nourishment, not to any assumed "greatness." "Rich people, the wealthy classes, are not necessarily those that eat the best."
     
  44. Ok, so let's discuss the question on liking something, taste and arts.
    I read Bourdieu concerning taste, in line with what wrote concerning "I know what I like" type of criteria and art. I quote your Bourdieu quote above:
    ""And therefore there is no need to stipulate a particular sort of Taste to ground universal aesthetic standards. Both kinds of taste are part and parcel of the same social forces.""
    Liking something says more about the social forces in the social space (the system of relations, alliances, and power struggles, according to Bourdieu), than it says about the object that is liked.

    If you wish to discuss culinary habits and "haute cuisine", I'm ready, Julie, but still you will find little to support your apparent intentions to declare that what individuals happen to like is always "great" by definition. The French great dishes (cuisine) are made and were made in family circles in the cities, and found their way into restaurants in the 18th century. The Italian and Spanish great dishes came from the country side of individual farms and small villages, before arriving on the tables of city folks and restaurants. The great kitchen tradition of these countries were not that of the bourgeoisie but that of ordinary traditional families, ut they would all fiercefully react against those who "clings to (their) errors ... and can both drown in grease and boil to death things that ought to be grilled plain or barely poached" - whether they like it, as such, or not.

    I disagree with you, when talking about art, that ""impact on viewers" is due to nourishment" only. It is also a quality of "great art". The relationship between nourishment and art can be influenced and reinforced by knowledge and understanding.

    When this is said, I must admit, that using a concept like "great art" invites for some justifiable harsh critics. Much declared "great art" has proven to be fakes or simply loosing their perceived "greatness" after a season or two. Other declared great art works, stay in the category for centuries most of which you will find in the world's museums. Great art, it is surely not an objective characteristics of any works of art, but appreciations of certain (professional) people and often contested by others.
    The extreme opposite understanding is that there is no "great art" at all, it is all a travesty, and that all is flat and equal, and subject to the appreciation of the individual and it's likings.
    The whole history of arts tells a story that is nearer the first than the second position, in my eyes.
     
  45. OK . . . I know I'm setting myself up to receive some severe body blows, but here goes anyway.
    On a previous trip to New York City, I had the privilege of my cousin's accompanying me to the Frick Museum. This was advantageous because he has an MFA degree (teaches filmwriting at the Tisch School, NYU) and is very well versed in art history and painting techniques. As we viewed each painting, his expertise dramatically enhanced my experiencing this amazing collection. Just before we left the museum, I expressed my gratitude for his serving as my personal docent.
    I've already confessed to not having my cousin's art background. Yet, at my level, I nonetheless am able to have a thorough appreciation for works I've previously seen only reproduced in books. I would have that appreciation even if I had visited the museum alone on that occasion.
    My concern is that some of the posts I've recently skimmed appear to treat casual users of cameras in devices other than cameras per se as not being able to appreciate what they create from time to time. Please understand that in no way are they as qualified as "serious photographers." And I do not, and will not, diminish the role that such photographers serve to create and promote photographic art. However, I also don't want to see casual users of cell phone cameras dismissed out of hand.
     
  46. Obviously, you did not receive any "severe body blows" on that basis, Michael. :))
    The whole questioning, I tried to open, was not aimed at dismissing anybody. The question was on the quality of photos, which ends up among the billion others, which the photographers themselves did not appreciate as anything else than casual snapshots, but which by others, like the trained, professional art viewer, might be considered as "great art". My viewpoint is that the future of art belongs to a significant degree to the act of these viewers of art: gold-diggers of photographical art, one could call them.
     
  47. I found the opening post difficult to understand. Here is my attempt at a translation. Is it accurate?

    "As time passes, it takes less and less skill to be a photographer and more skill to be a viewer of photographs."
     
  48. Right ! And, the result is, that photos that will end up as "great" in the future will probably have have been found by qualified viewers picked up among the billion of shots made by non pretentious shooters, more than through the portfolios of art photographer.
     
  49. I'm a little late to the party...
    This whole discussion reminds me of the old proposition that (some large number - say 10,000) monkeys at typewriters, given enough time, would eventually produce the works of Shakespeare. The monkeys would have no idea what they are doing in either the making or the appreciation of their results. A human expert would have the onerous job of reviewing the results to see if, in fact, any literature much less Shakespeare ever showed up.
    This seems to me to be very similar to the original proposition. To paraphrase: Many (millions, perhaps) ignorant people with cameras take many more millions of pictures having no idea of what they have done. A few, but too few, privileged photographic image critics are the only ones available who can properly appreciate the images they see. Isn't it a shame so many idiots are ruining the pastime (profession, serious hobby) for nothing. I'm sharing this thought because we PN readers who find these comments are the overburdened elite who do appreciate photographic art!
    I suppose this characterization of the OP will offend some. The sentiments expressed are not new. It strikes me as an elitist reaction against what is undoubtedly a true cultural phenomenon. There really are millions of PWC taking digital pictures of everything imaginable. A significant number of them probably have a genuine knack for it. Others have the ability to pay attention to what they are doing so that they get better at it as they go along. I cannot enter other peoples' minds to be able to tell who thinks she/he is an "artist" and who doesn't. Would anyone care if I could?
    Does it really take a critic to recognize a well made photograph? Affirming this notion reflects a pretentious and elitist point of view whereby the author attempts to mislead the reader into giving him more credit than is due. Asking how there can be art with no experts to recognize it is a silly and idle waste of time. The expert doesn't make the artist, the artist makes the expert. That is, the expert does not tell the artist what to do. In fact, she/he spends her time following artists' work and careers to try to understand how it fits together in the big "picture of things." Snapshots - not so much.
    The OP is certainly not the first person to find a way to tell us that the world is going to Hell in a hand basket!
     
  50. Albert, not to defend the OP (see my disagreements with Anders in my previous posts) but I do think that this part of your post is not entirely fair:
    Albert wrote: "Many (millions, perhaps) ignorant people with cameras take many more millions of pictures having no idea of what they have done. A few, but too few, privileged photographic image critics are the only ones available who can properly appreciate the images they see."
    I think that the two sides of this divide are not (necessarily) seeing the same picture. In other words, its not that the "millions" have no idea; they just have a *different* idea of what they've done. The "privileged" ones are finding artistic content that Anders feels was not originally seen precisely because it wasn't what "they" were "doing."
    An example might help. Here [ LINK ] is a photo in which a pair of people are apparently trying to make a copy of another photo. They've messed up by not getting close enough -- which "messing up" has allowed all kinds of extra stuff to enter the frame. In particular the reflections (tower, photographer, etc.) in the car, all the forms, shapes, textures, etc. that some "privileged" person (I'm finding this in the National Gallery's book from their show of anonymous snapshots) recognized as having interesting -- artistic -- merit. It seems very unlikely that the maker of the picture saw it as such.
    Another example that raises similar questions is here [ LINK ]. It's not necessarily that we have dummies versus experts; it's that we have people essentially "seeing" two different pictures.
     
  51. Anders, I don't think I stated that you were dismissing anything. Rather, I stated a general concern. I also think I finally understand your overall point - that it will take a "trained eye" to evaluate a casual snapshot.
     
  52. I expected some harsh reactions to my questions, but maybe not insults. But never mind, they don't touch me. Rather, I find them amusing and an unarticulated signs of being short of arguments.
    Putting that aside, why cannot it be accepted, as a fact of our common reality :
    • that no two photos are alike and that some are more interesting than others;
    • that such distinctions are not always only subjective, but that in some cases, a photo can be seen as totally uninteresting and common by a great majority of viewers (mine on Photonet for example !);
    • that other photos, few in number, might be recognized as exceptionally creative and challenging to the eye by another or the same great majority;
    • that there is out their, in society, something called ART and that there are institutions, galeries, markets, networks of artist and schools of art, and individual artist who shoot photos within that context and fail or succeed as art photographers;
    • that most photos shot by most of us and by a growing number of photographers are shot totally outside such a frame of reference of ART;
    • that, among that enormous and growing number of shots, there is an increasing number of photos, that the art community and its "viewers" (critics, specialists, gallery owners and artist alike) functioning as some kind of gatekeepers, would recognize as "art" in line with, what recognized art photographers are doing when they succeed;
    • that such photos, discovered by viewers and not introduced by artist of the art community, will have a prominent place in the future of art photography;
    • not to forget, that the term "art community" is highly reductive of what actually goes on around art and artists, and that the term "art" is already contested area, by artists themselves (the Marcel Duchamp syndrom!) or by the very concept itself, but that none of that, makes art and non-art disappear as relevant phenomena in a discussion like this.
    • and certainly without forgetting that throwing around accusations of elitism tells more about the accuser than about the accused.
     
    • that no two photos are alike and that some are more interesting than others;
    • that such distinctions are not always only subjective, but that in some cases, a photo can be seen as totally uninteresting and common by a great majority of viewers (mine on Photonet for example !);
    • that other photos, few in number, might be recognized as exceptionally creative and challenging to the eye by another or the same great majority;
    • that there is out their, in society, something called ART
    From here I add commentary:
    • and that there are institutions, galleries, markets, networks of artist and schools of art, and individual artist who shoot photos within that context and fail or succeed as art photographers; [it can just as well be artists who are known and appreciated by (substantial parts of) society other than the established and institutionalized one you describe]
    • that most photos shot by most of us and by a growing number of photographers are shot totally outside such a frame of reference of ART; [of YOUR kind of ART. That particular frame may be just as blind to any other that is outside of its frame as are the "growing number of photographers" to the institutionalized frame that you describe.]
    • that, among that enormous and growing number of shots, there is an increasing number of photos, that the art community and its "viewers" (critics, specialists, gallery owners and artist alike) functioning as some kind of gatekeepers, would recognize as "art" in line with, what recognized art photographers are doing when they succeed; [again, YOU recognize certain types of pictures that "fit" your frame; you are, however, equally as likely to be blind to what others appreciate as ART in their own frame.]
    • that such photos, discovered by viewers and not introduced by artist of the art community, will have a prominent place in the future of art photography; [in YOUR future of photography; you may be missing an entirely different "frame" of art that proves at least as potent as yours.]
    • not to forget, that the term "art community" is highly reductive of what actually goes on around art and artists, and that the term "art" is already contested area, by artists themselves (the Marcel Duchamp syndrome!) or by the very concept itself, but that none of that, makes art and non-art disappear as relevant phenomena in a discussion like this. [I do not claim that it makes the art/non-art distinction disappear; rather, the "frame" cannot be assumed to precede the art that constitutes it (as Albert pointed out).]
    • and certainly without forgetting that throwing around accusations of elitism tells more about the accuser than about the accused.
     
  53. Julie you are reading your previous remarks into my comments. No ! I don't talk about MY preferences or type of art. I'm talk about "Art" which includes innumerable types and expressions , that all are totally independent of my preferences, or your's for that sake. And furthermore, I do not either buy the closed encircled frame logic of art, as you and Albert also argue against.
    The art world is not "closed", despite frequent efforts, that always turn up, trying to reject newcomers or new revolutionary expressions (again Dada and Duchamp, like the Impressionists and the American Abstractions of the sixties are good historical examples). Maybe one could actually say, that, by definition, what is considered Art and part of the art world is the most open institutional framework (in a sociological understanding) that one could imagine. This does however not delete the fact, that there is, at a given moment of time, something that in artistic terms qualify, and other things that fail.
    By the end of the day I think what differs between us, is not the answer to the question on whether the art world and art exist (seems to me to be an obvious fact like sunset every evening), but whether it is of our concern.
    Personally - (it would certainly not surprise you, that there I speak about MY preferences) - I get, in general, more inspiration, food for thoughts and pleasure from the selective few works of art "viewed" and gathered by art curators around the world in galleries, museums and private collections, than from the thousands of snapshots on internet. The only message I have tried to sell above, is that these "viewers" (gatekeepers of the artworld, all in competition) will more and more find works of art according to their criteria of what is art and what is less or not at all, among the mass of photos presented outside the traditional spheres of art and artists.
    Does that degrade any of our shots ? Not at all, in my view. They are mostly not considered as art by the art world out there, but they have numerous other qualities that make them important for each one of us - mine included.
     
  54. Okay, I think we're finding common ground. Maybe we can agree, not on what is recognized as art but what is overlooked; that both the art establishment AND outsiders or snappers or ... anybody else, is just as capable of NOT realizing the (possible) power of a photograph's content.
    Just by chance, I find this posted today on ASX (American Suburb X). This is Szarkowski (art establishment) talking about his first reaction to The Americans:
    .
    “I saw it I suppose very shortly after it was published, when I was still working as a photographer myself, and it was, frankly, shocking. I sensed the power in it, and the authority about it but there was much about it that I didn’t like … The Americans was received with mixed critical reaction. Not primarily because of its subject matter, although many people thought so at the time. There had been many people who clearly disliked it or hated it. Looking back on it now, if you analyze the subject matter of The Americans, it is fact is subject matter that has been recorded, described with considerable depth by a good many other photographers.
    "It was something in the very bones of the photographs themselves – something about the look of the pictures that suggested that, whereas what was being described had to be described because it was there, it didn’t have to be described according to the rules and formulations that were thought of as being good photography… We all knew those things existed… but the way in which they were depicted made them seem more difficult to accept, more pessimistic. There was something approaching a sharp edge of bitterness in the look of the pictures. And of course what was eventually learned from that it was not necessarily the sensibility that gave the pictures their bitter taste, but rather the knowledge that the medium itself was much more plastic, and was open to a wider range of invention that we ever realized."​
    .
    ... the knowledge that the medium itself was much more plastic, and was open to a wider range of invention that we ever realized ... " True for all of us, including the art establishment.
     
  55. Thanks, Julie. An interesting account of this necessary openness to new forms of expression and ways of using of the medium, here photography, which makes the viewer (Szarkowski in your text) essential.

    Actually, if I can come back to Duchamp, he did indeed once say: "It is the viewer that makes the painting". When speaking about his ready made, he also continuously conveyed the message, that it is the contradiction that makes art: contradiction to what is expected; contradiction to tradition. Art is uncomfortable and disturbing and never just beautiful and nice (beau et joli) he would say.


    I fell on a discussion in an issue of the French magazine: "ART Croissance" (April-June 2013) with the title of "Death to Subjectivity". The article (by Adeline Christova) argues for some core charcteristics of art. It enumerates four :

    A continuation of history of art - Art works in dialogue (personal process of construction/deconstruction) with art, already made, as a witness of present time. No artist is independent from history of art, but must open an individual dialogue with it.

    Art is an introduction to the future - Artist are visionary and art works are prophetic. This element of art, which announces something that will happen, does not lay in the medium it uses, but in the themes, questions and approaches it communicates.
    Art is the result of a creative proces - Art works are not a decorative space made on an impuls, but the result of creative process of dialogue between transcendent reflections transformed into a form/material.
    Art is a territory of sensitivity - This is where the "viewer" comes in. Art exists where there is evidence of an inner sensitivity. Art does not transmit a pre-established sense or message, but something more than what can be expressed in words.
    One could of course write a similar list of criteria for what-art-is-not/what-is-not-art.
    Reading and reflecting on these criteria on art, I would put myself in the category of decorative image makers, at best. Still much to learn...
     
  56. This whole discussion reminds me of the old proposition that (some large number - say 10,000) monkeys at typewriters, given enough time, would eventually produce the works of Shakespeare.​

    It will never happen. I don't care if it's 10 billion monkeys typing for the rest of the life of the universe. They'll never produce the complete works of Shakespeare.

    Intelligence is not random. Good writing will never result from an army of ham-fisted monkeys pounding on keyboards. High quality photographs do not occur without thoughtful and emotional responses to light and form. Spray and pray camera phone jockeys are not going to replace Nat Geo and Life, etc. They may become fashionable for a while, but that will fade quickly.
     
  57. Those who pronounce such propositions have likely never read Shakespeare.
    Here is his Sonnet N° XXIV:
    Mine eye hath play'd the painter and hath stell'd
    Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;
    My body is the frame wherein 'tis held,
    And perspective it is the painter's art.
    For through the painter must you see his skill, 5
    To find where your true image pictured lies;
    Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,
    That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.
    Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:
    Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me 10
    Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
    Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;
    Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art;
    They draw but what they see, know not the heart.
    There are 153 others, if interested.
     
  58. Dan wrote: "It will never happen."
    Um... You've heard of evolution?
     
  59. Survival of the fittest does not necessarily include more likelihood of being able to write the Shakespearian Sonnet N° 155 !
     
  60. You don't get "more likelihood" from randomness. The selection pressure on the monkeys is that you (Anders) are not selecting -- from the random production of marks that you take to be "letters" and interpret as "words" -- anything (from their manifold production) other than the Sonnet that you happen to desire. Don't confuse what the monkeys do with what you "read" out of it.
     
  61. To try to bring this back on topic ...
    Suppose you have a 700 character (letter) Shakespeare Sonnet. You also have one monkey. The monkey sits at the typewriter and types 700 random characters. Whatever specific configuration (the exact arrangement of letters) that the monkey produces in that single effort are no more nor no less likely/probable than is the arrangement that comprises the Shakespearian Sonnet. No random arrangement of 700 characters is more likely than any other random arrangement of 700 characters -- including that which comprises the Shakespeare Sonnet.
    In expecting, in searching for, in expecting Shakespeare's Sonnet, you may very well overlook all kinds of other interesting, exciting, mysterious, magnificent, surprising arrangements that someone who is not looking for Shakespeare's Sonnet might well discover. They might make these discoveries because they aren't looking for Shakespeare's Sonnet.
     
  62. >>>Those who pronounce such propositions have likely never read Shakespeare.<<<

    Those who cannot defend their position with reason resort to discrediting the source of opposing ideas. See also: 'the
    proud man's contumely, and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes'.

    >>>Heard of evolution?<<<

    Evolution has yet to produce a Shakespeare-typing monkey. Would you suggest that given movie cameras and enough
    time that a bunch of monkeys would eventually film Citizen Kane or Gone With The Wind? Good luck waiting for that to
    happen. It underscores the ridiculousness of the original postulation.
     
  63. ""You don't get "more likelihood" from randomness.""
    But, survival of the fittest is exactly not a random evolution, or is there something I did not grasp ?
     
  64. "a bunch of monkeys would eventually film Citizen Kane ... ?" Orson evolved from ... the Orson factory?
    " ... is there something I did not grasp ?" The unfitter?
     
  65. Orson Welles didn't evolve from a monkey (a common misconception about evolution).
    Monkeys wouldn't type random letter sequences. They would type semi-random clusters of repetitious gibberish such as: hjkjklhjklhkhjllhjklhjkklhjklhjhjk
    Don't expect the sonnet-writing monkey to evolve anytime soon.
     
  66. Great artists touch the souls of the simple who lack in understanding of what art is. If you can effect people like that, then you're really something!
     
  67. I have been lurking for some time, read the entire thread, and went back to the original question by Anders...
    Anders - "I have been wondering, since some time, what happens with especially photography as an art (?), as a creative medium (?), when a greater and greater proportion of creative and artistic photos are made by photographers who have little understanding of the creative dimensions of their photos."
    My prediction: Initially, another schism. The conventional photo-enthusiast/pseudo-pro contingent (about 97% of PN) did just this over the last 100 years or so. They developed their own aesthetic (further tribalized in places like Flickr which bled into Instagram) to establish an identity between the art world (which they often seem to despise) and the snappers at large.
    Now we have this enormous number of people who are avidly photographing, mostly with their phones, bypassing everyone and everything else. No man is an island, but enough millions of them are a continent, one that dwarfs every other camp in the medium.
    What is going to happen? What is about to happen has already happened: They have developed means of production, distribution, a hierarchy of venues, their own vocabulary, aesthetics and more. Many are uneducated sophisticates, most bring some kind of interdisciplinary approach to the medium. This *is* the elephant in the room, and its mass is going to engulf and its tidal pull everything else. Eventually, new dialects and fusions will emerge from all this. Photography as we know it will represent a minority viewpoint (it already does) and those who engage in contemporary practices will define the near future.
     
  68. ""They developed their own aesthetic...to establish an identity between the art world...and the snappers at large.""

    Luis, I agree. The "conventional photo-enthusiast/pseudo-pro contingent" are developing aesthetics at the door steps of the "art world" as they have always done since the invention of photography in the 19th century. This phenomenon boomed in the 1930s and '40s when cheaper cameras came on the market and has clearly exploded since digital photography arrived. There is no elephant around.
    Also in other art forms, like painting or sculptures, the same large category of "enthusiast/pseudo-pro contingent" have always been there. Most of these, which includes, as you write, without doubt, most of the PN-active members, have no relation or ambition of being part of the "art world" (which some of them even "despise" - some of last century's greatest artist always despised the "art-world" ! Duchamp being one of them, for example, yet another time), but they surely have concerns of aesthetics, artistic technics and references and most of their works, stay, mostly, "undiscovered" by those active in the "art-world" - whether it concerns them or not.
    Already there, among the mass of photos of this largely undefined group of "photo enthusiasts", the mentioned "viewers of art" of the OP, the present and future door keepers of the art-world, have a gold mine of potential picks of "great art" to be discovered over time. However, my main subject-source of undiscovered photos is to be found in the millions of other photos shot outside the group of PN-like enthusiasts, by people just pressing to shoot photos, they wish to keep and share - or forget about in files and shoeboxes.
     
  69. Anders whatever the art establishment gets from the "gold mine of potential picks of "great art" to be discovered over time" will be only the (dead) meat, not the living creature that it was in its natural environment. You may make some fancy cookery with it, but its cooked power will only be that which the art establishment has projected into/onto it in accordance with its own aesthetic -- which has next to nothing to do with the power that thing has in its native milieu.
    Story: For many years, oceanographers believed the deep ocean to be void of life because when they pulled up their nets, all they got was a jellified formless goo. But when they finally developed vehicles that could take them down there, that could stand the immense pressures, the total darkness, the near-freezing temps, they found the most incredible, amazing, bizarre life forms living in extraordinary diversity. Take those creatures back to the surface and they explode. Put them into a pressurized container and they may survive -- like a bird in a cage. The cage becomes part of the conception of the creature. You can only know these creatures IN the (their) deep.
     
  70. ""has next to nothing to do with the power that thing has in its native milieu.""

    You don't really have the choice do you, Julie. You might go and see Michelangelo's Apolo/David statue in Accademia in Florence, but you have neither the artist at your disposal and neither the profit of his contemporaries and still it is "great art". You might sit down and read what others have written about that work for a year of two and statue will grow in interest make your emotions and understanding even greater. You don't need any "fancy cookery" to appreciate it, or do you ?
    I agree, however, that probably in the field of photography, those "great" photos that might be found by digging down in shoeboxes of forgotten photos, in the future, will have very little chances in galleries and other places where "great art" are supposed to be found. Gallery owners do not live of great art but mainly of what they consider "great artists", which can be marketed and ensure a continuous flow of profits from future works of the handpicked artists. Single exceptional shots will have much more the form of star dust to profit of those that can appreciate it. Artistic and often professional viewers are there to facilitate that also.
     
  71. Michelangelo (and all artists) make their art "to" and/or "for" somebody (even, in the most intensive case, if only "for" themselves). In your post previous to the last -- and the part from which I quoted and to which I was responding -- says this: "people just pressing to shoot photos, they wish to keep and share." They aren't making art.
    Unselfconsciously re-acting to stuff gets the "being" of the casual shooter, but I don't think you get art without self-consciousness; that is what the "art" of art is.
     
  72. If I try come back to the four dimensions of art, that I mentioned above (just as example):
    • A continuation of history of art
    • Art is an introduction to the future
    • Art is the result of a creative proces
    • Art is a territory of sensitivity
    I would agree with you, Julie, that one of them, the creative process, would, I would think, demand a conscious process of molding (to quote a friend of mine), but whether it necessarily demands "self"-consciousness, I think, can be debated.
    The so-called "primitive arts" or "Tribal arts", which are anything but primitive, but clearly considered "art", as for example the pre-colombi art (as this), certainly demanded: "continuation of history"; indices of change - "future" (in some cases); were based on a creative proces and epitomized the sensitivity of a culture and maybe, some cases, that of a self-conscious creator.
    Julie, in the post you referred to, I did not I think write: "They aren't making art". It would be contrary to my main message. You can actually do tons of conscious things with a camera, without consciously trying to make "art".
     
  73. It was I who said, "They aren't making art." I wasn't quoting you on that part.
    You now seem to be saying that primitive or tribal arts are the same kind of thing as "people just pressing to shoot photos, they wish to keep and share". Is that what you are saying?
     
  74. good! :)
     
  75. Art is an aesthetic. Just as you don't need special training to discern and enjoy a delicious meal, Pavarotti or the face of a pretty girl, the senses can select an Adams or McCurry photo for special attention as well. It's elitist to assume otherwise.
     
  76. ""It's elitist""
    So be it, Alan ! It surely shouldn't frighten anyone. Elitist phenomena in life can be appreciated by all with eyes and minds wide open and some basic knowledge and experience.
    Your definition is biting its own tail. Art is not aesthetics, as aesthetics simply refers to "philosophy of arts" - so, since years, any discussion on the definition of art has been an important part of the discussion in aesthetics, at least since Plato, in fact.
    I would rather follow those, who consider ART as an open concept for something, which would be threatened as phenomena if any restrictive definition was made.

    One could also simple proclaim that "art" is a European elitist invention of the 18th century and not relevant elsewhere or even beyond its historical context.
    Or, that art is simple a statement (artifact or not), which is made by an self appointed "artist" with the intention to present it to the "art world" of "art lovers", some of which might even wish to buy it as investment, or for personal delight !

    I would however, prefer going back to my previous approach and defend the idea, that art does not have objective features (no definition), but some characteristics or dimensions, would be common - for example the four mentioned above. AND, coming back to the OP ! some of these characteristics, or all, are bound to be found by the now infamous "viewers", digging into forgotten shoeboxes and files and embedded in photos, made by photographers, who might never have intended to offer anything to a pretentious "art world".
     
  77. I agree with Anders in disagreeing with Alan. A "delicious meal" once consisted in the brains of small animals and various raw grubs. Mmmm! Yummy!
    On the other hand, I still think that Anders's "infamous" viewer is Duchamp in disguise, finding photographic ready-mades among the urinals and snow shovels of somebody else's utility closet.
     
  78. ""I still think that Anders's "infamous" viewer is Duchamp in disguise""

    I think Julie, in that case, you are still wrong if the "disguise" in question, refers to me as disguiser.
    When I, above, somewhat lightheartedly, referred to "Duchamp, without a Marcel Duchamp" around", or something like it, it was mainly to discuss an object, here a found photo, which within the context of the moment, is seen as artistic by a viewer, or even "art", and (paraphrasing myself above): presented to the world of art as such.
    If I take yet another banal object from a store, as Duchamp did, and managed to get i presented in a context of recognized art, The Basel Art Fair for example, it would be a flop and denounced as imposturous, or, at best, a copycat or mimic of already made artistic statements. Duchamp and his ready-mades, where recognized as "art" in the context of the First World War, Dada movement and its aftermaths. Our contemporary admiration for it, seeing them in museums and private collections, is still very real, because of their historical context mainly and maybe because the statement is still very much relevant for today's "world of art" too. That does how not make every practical artifact around us into "art". It demand the choice and gesture of an artist to make them into art - as Breton wrote.
     
  79. There's a lot that I would argue with in your (Anders') last post, but I don't want to go down the at-what-remove rabbit hole ...
    Rather, I'm going to try taking Anders's "side" in this discussion: I'll be the Devil's Advocate to my own Devil's Advocate. Here goes:
    Alan Klein mentioned appreciation of "the face of a pretty girl" as something comparable to the appreciation of art. (I disagreed, as you may remember, but we are specifically trying to discover how someone who doesn't know/think he's making art might make art anyway -- our "people just pressing to shoot photos, they wish to keep and share".)
    People respond to "pretty" things like Alan's "girls" and, say, flowers. You see flowers, you admire them and you may pick them. Take them home. Put them in a vase because ... who asks "why" anybody picks flowers? Duh! It's just ... obvious that they're pretty. However, equally obvious is that the flowers (and the "pretty girl") are not art. They are just ... pretty. "Attractive" might be a more useful word in this context. Attractive things that are not art. Naturally attractive.
    Instead of a discrete thing such as a "flower," suppose that some other visual configuration could/would/did affect some person in the same happy, natural way that a flower does, and he/she, just naturally, "picks" it in the same way that people will pick wild flowers in an off-hand, happy way (or deliberate, but in any case, it's not an effort-full thing; one doesn't have to figure out "how" to pick flowers). The flower picking, in this case, might be done with a camera -- since that's how "one picks" happenstance visual "flowers."
    Just as with flower-picking, this "picked" visual isn't art because, I would argue (as second-level Devil's Advocate to myself), the person isn't thinking in terms of a created thing (the "photograph" as an art object). They're thinking "as if" they've "gotten" the flower itself, not an image of the flower; they're still picking flowers (looking at "pretty girls") which are, as already said, not art, they're just ... pretty.
    If (some) people are able to see/appreciate, be "attracted" to physically disconnected visual configurations in the same way that they are able to see/appreciate the physically connected configuration of a flower (or "pretty girl's face"), then we might have our non-artist accidentally making art-objects (he/she is thinking only of the flowers; not of the photograph of the flowers).
    [To repeat, this post is about the "people just pressing to shoot photos, they wish to keep and share" sector of our "trillions of" pool of photography. This post is NOT about the part of that pool that IS knowingly trying to create art (and that is NOT imitating or conforming to the art establishment). Those are an entirely different matter, as I've argued in earlier comments.]
     
  80. Julie: I guess I didn't make my point clearly. I wasn't saying that a pretty girl is art. What I was saying is that the view that our minds automatically understand what has good aethetics, is much of what art is about. There's is no training required.
    Therefore, by extension, if a "non-artist" photographer frames, composes and takes an aesthetic picture that can be considered "art", then their artistic expression comes through as art because it is inate. To argue they didn't know they were making art beforehand is a distinction without a difference.
     
  81. Alan wrote: "To argue they didn't know they were making art beforehand is a distinction without a difference."
    For the "people just pressing to shoot photos, they wish to keep and share" it makes every difference. If asked, they would say that it is not art. They don't use it as art. They don't treat it as art. They are astonished, confounded -- amused -- when such pictures are supposed by anybody to be art. It's as if someone told you your water-cooler conversation was poetry.
     
  82. I'll come back, but meanwhile I offer you flowers. One whole bouquet of wild flowers from a field, of Matisse, and below, one modest pick of mine.
    00bhDD-540106084.jpg
     
  83. Anders. I think your flower is very pretty. And artistic as well. But don't get a swell head. Ego isn't good for the soul.
     
  84. Thanks Alan, but it is one of these more-real-than-reality-"flowers", Matisse overpainted as rapidly as they emerged on his canvas. There is therefor no imminent danger for my ego or soul.
    Looking at Matisse's, Cezanne's flowers or why not Georgia O'Keefe's flowers, it springs into your eye immediately, that they have something else, something more, something an artist did to it when he saw it and decided to paint it - maybe it is soul. Mine is just, at best, attractive, nice, pleasant to look at, and nothing much else. One could call it "flat reality".
     
  85. I mostly agree with Julie above, laying the role as Devil's Advocate to a Devil's Advocate (complicated !)

    My starting point of the OP did some shortcuts in order to come to the main question, that of the active role of the viewer, immediately. What shooters of the photos in the now infamous shoeboxes actually did, was left aside, which permitted considering them all as a stock of potential "found objects" and to place the viewer immediately, in an equally potential creative artistic role.
    Luis was of course right that among all these left and forgotten photos, some were made by, what he called: "the conventional photo-enthusiast/pseudo-pro contingent (about 97% of PN)". Many more were made by people with less credentials (sic!).

    In such a case, the main (only?) creative process that brings a photo from the darkness of shoeboxes to the light and attention of the world of art, is that of the viewer. The viewer is then the only artist around.
     
  86. Well, Anders, I think your photo has soul even if you don't. As I said it's not important for the shooter to think he's an artist. It's only important that the viewer thinks it's art. Be proud! It's a good shot!
     
  87. No, no Alan don't misunderstand me I have a wast array of modes of critics of especially my own images and photos. None of my photos are just perfect. Can always be better. Some have soul. Some might even be considered, by some, as "art".
    This one is not among them, seen with my eyes. It is just a nice shot, better than so many others. Matisse, Cezanne and O'Keefe give me shiver and sends my souls and mind on travel, as so many other great artist: modern, contemporary or from ancient times. My flower, just gives me some sunshine, if I should need it.
     
  88. I don’t get what you are asking. You seem to be in some "is photography art?" mode in spite of not wanting to get lost in "what is art" space. (The answer is, as you know: No. It is only a medium like paint. We make art with them both.)
    Are you saying that without deliberation (understanding?) then, what are we making? Is it surprising or significant that people who paint consider themselves artists but those who make photographs don't?
    Are you saying vacation snaps -- for one example-- should be in the same discussion here as wherever the moving target is for art ?
    Art Museums are essentially about history from the POV of whomever writes it. Art galleries are about what may be significant somewhere down the line. Family vacation snaps are essentially anthropological documentation. Are you wondering how naive photographers fit into a discussion about Art?
    00bmho-541065684.jpg
     

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