WHERE IS THE BACK STORY

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by marleft, May 24, 2007.

  1. Photography is an Art but what is art? Art I should say is the representation or the reconstruction of reality. If we accept this definition, then art teaches because it opens our eyes and makes us understand what life is and where we are going.. So, in the case of photography, a photo in order to be ART must have a back story, or must give a message to the spectator, or must give an answer to a problem of life. THIS IS ART and not the "how beautiful it is!" or "what bright colours!" or "my God what synthesis is that!" and so on. Now we come to the critical point. In order to find out the backstory of a photo, or the message it contains, it needs a certain effort by the spectator which we are not prepared to make, so we choose the easy way of "beautiful pictures". As a new comer to PN, I made an experiment. I put 5 photos, telling a story about human behaviour and how we can restore inner peace. Deep human story which interests everybody, because it is our life and we have to do something about it. I was ready to start a constructive discussion and exchange ideas on this major problem of human behaviour, proposing solutions or finding ways to show these ideas in a better way through photos, but the co-operation was very little. I am sorry to say that the majority of the comments made on photos, are of the type and for the sake of "give me (good ratings), in order to give you". But this in not PHOTOGRAPHY AS AN ART which I am sure PN wants to promote. I should like very much to have your ideas on all these, including the opinion of those who are in charge of PN. Thank you.
    00LGmP-36661184.jpg
     
  2. "Art I should say is the representation or the reconstruction of reality."

    Bunk.
     
  3. "Art I should say is the representation or the reconstruction of reality."

    Ellis beat me to it.
     
  4. Indeed, Jacob and Ellis.

    As usual, the dictionary can be constructive in these conversations:

    Art (noun): 1 : skill acquired by experience, study, or observation [the art of making friends]
    2 a : a branch of learning: (1) : one of the humanities (2) plural : LIBERAL ARTS b archaic : LEARNING, SCHOLARSHIP
    3 : an occupation requiring knowledge or skill [the art of organ building]
    4 a : the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also : works so produced b (1) : FINE ARTS (2) : one of the fine arts (3) : a graphic art
     
  5. Since everyone seems intent on jumping on a guy who's only trying to provoke an
    interesting discussion, I'll flesh this out a bit. He isn't suggesting that art has to be
    "realistic," or literally reflecting in full detail what is tangile and physical. Strictly speaking,
    the definition of art is broad and nebulous, which I think is what Ellis and Jacob meant to
    say. HOWEVER, the art academy, curators, fine art critics, etc. would tend to agree with
    Marios. In other words, from that point of view, true fine art is in some way intended to be
    a reflection, representation, or comment on some aspect of the human condition. In this
    case, the reality that Marios describes includes perceived realities, like spirituality and
    metaphysics. From the "big-A" Art world point of view, every work is evaluated in the
    context of what it says (or what the artist says it is intended to say) about some aspect of
    human experience.

    So, from that point of view Marios is absolutely on the money. A work of art is one
    person's representation or reconstruction of some aspect of reality (or a way they have
    chosen to express or comment on an aspect of reality) in one form or another.
     
  6. If you cut through the pompous language isn't this just a moan that your photos didn't receive the positive comment and ratings you'd hoped for?
     
  7. he may be interested in setting up an interesting discusssion, but that would require a reasonable premise to start from.
     
  8. Steve: Perhaps Marios is frustrated that the level of discourse here tends to be lacking. The
    number of thoughtful, insightful, and thought-provoking critiques or comments posted to
    ANY image here is quite small, while many feel perfectly comfortable taking the time to
    share dismissive, rude, and useless comments.

    Ellis: It is a perfectly reasonable premise for discussion in this forum, and nobody cares
    that Ellis Vener thinks the premise is bunk. Perhaps rather than taking the act of typing
    "bunk" and clicking the submit button, you should consider that others might find the
    topic worthwhile despite the fact that you do not. It's his premise, it's based on a point of
    view, and it's a view that many knowledgeable people would tend to agree with. If you
    disagree, at least take the time to explain why.
     
  9. "In other words, from that point of view, true fine art is in some way intended to be a reflection, representation, or comment on some aspect of the human condition."

    Double bunk - Not even close.

    The entire abstract art movement lays waste to that statement. Yeah, Mark Rothko - there's an artist who's work is an example of portraying the human condition. Let's not forget the human condition portrayed by Piet Mondrian or Jackson Pollock.

    Sometimes art is just done to examine the interplay of forms, shapes, and colors - regardless of yours or any other human's condition.
     
  10. Justin, when you say " true fine art is in some way intended to be a reflection, representation, or comment on some aspect of the human condition," do you feel that images that enable us to expand our understanding and perception of the natural world (ex: humanity) are to be excluded from the definition?
     
  11. Context, people! When you post an image here for ratings/comments, it requires WORK on the part of the passer-by to be aware of that image's setting with a series of images. The reviewer must dig even deeper to see the image in anything LIKE the context that Marios is suggesting. Unless the image itself can communicate its context to the viewer, it's completely unreasonable to complain that people don't "get" your art, or your commentary on the human condition when that image is seen on its own.

    There's a REASON some works do better in a themed exhibit, or on the wall next to two paragraphs of explanatory text by the artist or a curator. Otherwise, some images (see the above citations of Jackson Pollock or Mark Rothko) simply cannot, by their very nature, tell you ANYTHING about the artist's intent, circumstance, or purpose. A Rothko cannot function - in and of itself - as a commentary on any aspect of spirituality, the human condition, the quality of the sushi you had for lunch, or anything else. There's no THERE there, unless you bring it with you by having read up on Rothko's thinking, or have such thinking foisted upon you by a critic/scholar/curator. There simply isn't enough information communicated directly BY that form of communication to tell you anything that doesn't include much guess work about the artist's frame of mind or purpose. Many photographs are exactly the same, and the Big-A Art-ier the photographer tries to get, the more often the work tends to require artist-statement hand holding.

    This is all fine. BUT: one cannot reasonably complain about poor or out-of-context ratings on images posted here (or most anywhere else), or roll one's eyes at the "unsophisticated" comments one receives when there IS NO CONTEXT. How can you tell, as you skip along through the thousands of random shots in an environment such as this, that my brilliant posting of a Rothko-like bring-your-own-meaning image isn't actually me just showing someone an example of Bokeh, using a lawn chair and some azaelias? You CAN'T. This thread is Marios' lament that his images didn't start this conversation (in the form he was hoping for) on their own... but the ratings/comment engine on this site is NOT the venue for that, since there is no way to filter for mind reading abilities.

    Gee, do you think I've ever been annoyed by a witlessly curated Rothko exhibit? You're right! I have!
     
  12. By witlessly curated, I assume you mean that the large paintings were not presented in a way that was consistent with what Roth intended. If they had been, then you wouldn't need any kind of critic's discourse to experience what they're all about . . . unless you have your defenses up trying to reinforce your dislike for abstracts or maybe trying too hard to figure it out instead of simply experiencing it.

    Same with Pollock. Don't fight it; feel it.

    Too much gray matter happening.
     
  13. I'm just a bit baffled by the statements made, apparently in a vacuum, with little or no apparent knowledge of the history of art, or the history of photography. Anyone who has ever seen a photograph by Aaron Siskind would not make a statement about art reflecting the human condition as if it is a given that can be applied ubiquitously to art in general. Let's not even begin to work comments into a real context by referencing Dada artists and the photographic works by Man Ray or Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.

    Context?? How about just a passing familiarity with what's gone on in art and photography during the 20th century alone prior to making all encompassing statements that aren't even close to being accurate, never mind prescient.
     
  14. I didn't say that the topic isn't worthy of discussion. I said that his starting point -- " Art I should say is the representation or the reconstruction of reality." -- is bunk. Meaning it is a provably false hypothesis. the connection between "Art" and reality is tenuous at worse and mostly happens between your ears, in your imagination. A separate issue is the reality of the"art" object, but what that art object (print, painting, drawing ,engraving , music, literature, story, painting, motion picture,dance, sculpture, mechanical object, or photograph) is doesn't necessarily have to have any depictive or descriptive connection to anything else beyond the artist's imagination. Likewise there is the art of making an object -- which again is seperate from both the act of imagination where the art is created or the finished object.
     
  15. Carl: You're exactly right. Rothko's stuff can only be "felt." They cannot convey any particular take on the world, on the human condition, or on anything else. What most grates, I suppose, are the clutches of people who will stand in front of one of his paintings, with the Alpha Liberal Arts Major in the pack leaning over and saying to his rapt dinner companions, "See the transition from the smooth application of that dark olive color into the harsher brush strokes in the more charcoal-colored zone? What Rothko is trying to say with that counter-intuitive juxtaposition of softening tone against aggressive texture in an area of the canvas clearly meant to represent the decent of the psyche into darkness is that ..." and, of course, you wouldn't hear any more because hopefully one of the exhibit guards would have used a Tazer on him at that point.

    Steve: So, you're saying that the people rating an image that pops up in the queue on Photo.Net should be mindful of the evolution of art in the 20th century, and shrewdly put the mirror image of a rocking chair superimposed over a darkened face into a specific context, and thus engage in a just the sort of conversation that Marios had in mind? My point is that you're leaping, on this site, from people posting images that are all about lighting on furniture product shots, to examples of fantastic luck/timing/patience with wildlife, to barrages exchanged in lens-quality-smackdown-pissing-contests, to "please rate the attractiveness of my dog/child/car/bird feeder." Art jumps out at you when you trip across it, but the artist's purpose in posting the image here - without an investment of time on the part of the audience - cannot be divined, and just-the-right-conversation will thus not ensue. Expressing frustration over that just strikes me as misunderstanding the nature and prospects of inhabiting this space as a venue.
     
  16. Commenting on the human condition, experience and realities does not require depicting
    humans, or "reality," or telling a story. The most abstract painting or photograph about pure
    line, form, and tone can still be considered in the context of how it relates to "reality" or the
    human experience. So can a straight landscape photo of the most pristine wilderness on
    Earth. My point is that the art world considers the intentions of the artist and the message
    behind the work to be part and parcel of how the work is considered.
     
  17. Justin: Exactly. But when you encounter an artist's work (say, as image #20 in the rating bucket), you CANNOT consider the intentions of the artist or the message behind the work, because those "parts of the parcel" are absent from the scene. That drives the contextually-ambivalent ratings/comments into exactly the place that Marios seems to be regretting. His experiment - of posting such images without any context, and then not being pleased at the lack of context in the inevitable feedback - went pretty much exactly as I would expect, and doesn't seem like a worthy catalyst for any gnashing of teeth or reflecting on the corsening of our culture, blahditty blah blah. Much better, I think, to assemble a presentation (which you CAN do here), and then post a thread launching the conversation and pointing to the presentation as some sauce for what's being cooked. Comments applied directly to those image records will then be IN context, and more meaningful to all who might later encounter them.
     
  18. "The most abstract painting or photograph about pure line, form, and tone can still be considered in the context of how it relates to "reality" or the human experience."

    Or not. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar to paraphrase an Austrian of some fame.

    The work can also be considered strictly for its inherent design qualities and pure entertainment value - and, there's nothing wrong with that.

    You can certainly extrapolate whatever you want into a piece of art depending upon your personal experiences, but my point is - human experience / reality is not an omnipresent "truth" that is intrinsic to every single art work without question.

    Doesn't work that way for me and many other people that I know. So, it can't, by definition, be a universal truth.

    You might find nothing but references to death, destruction, human suffering, and whatever else you might find in an Aaron Siskind abstract photograph - that's up to you and how you relate to it.

    But, I would also contend that if you find that within the work, it's not an inherent part of the work itself but part of YOU. And that you have used your past experiences and feelings to create your reaction to the work and make it personally meaningful.

    Me on the other hand - I might look at the same work and be taken by the bold graphic nature, tonalities, and how all of it relates to a unified whole composition - and nothing more. I might find that personally meaningful just because it's fun to look at.

    You do see that two people can approach the same piece and have totally different reactions, with neither being "better," "more noble," or "right" - but, only different?


    "Steve: So, you're saying that the people rating an image that pops up in the queue on Photo.Net should be mindful of the evolution of art in the 20th century, and shrewdly put the mirror image of a rocking chair superimposed over a darkened face into a specific context, and thus engage in a just the sort of conversation that Marios had in mind?"

    Only if they find that either interesting or meaningful for themselves. My point is only that you cannot make all encompassing statements about art in general and how it reflects a very specific point-of-view with any certainty - unless you can place the statement within the overall context of the history of art.

    "Art jumps out at you when you trip across it, but the artist's purpose in posting the image here - without an investment of time on the part of the audience - cannot be divined, and just-the-right-conversation will thus not ensue. Expressing frustration over that just strikes me as misunderstanding the nature and prospects of inhabiting this space as a venue."


    Yep.
     
  19. Thanks all of you, including Ellis and Jacob, for your comments on my text, but let us simplify things.
    1. What is Art.
    I posed a definition and then I said "If we accept this definition..". This means that I believe that there are many definitions of Art, but if you insist, I shall tell you what my personal opinion is about art. For me Art is everything which is useful for our soul and helps us understand this world we are living in and especially what the nature of human being is..
    2. Is photography an Art?
    This is my main question. Having in consideration the definition of Art (what ever it may be), do we accept that photography is Art?
    Because if we do then, photos need a back story in order to make the spectator think, observe and analyse (let him find the time to do it. If he has not time, art is not for him!) Thanks
     
  20. "I posed a definition and then I said "If we accept this definition..""

    And I don't. It's not true. Therefore, all resulting speculation is tainted.
     
  21. O.K. Jacob
    Stick on YOUR definition of Art (I said that, remember "what ever it may be"), and go on to state your opinion on the questions I have asked (I have set so many things and you have not touch them), otherwise please don't waste your time.
     
  22. I can accept the "reconstruction of reality" part. Imagine a regular, everyday photo of something ordinary, then cut all the pieces into identical jigsaw puzzle shapes, and reassemble any way you want. Or how about using dozens to thousands of photos pasted together to make a huge image you have to stand far away from to see. In that sense, the definition is VERY broad and VERY true. You can really take it any way you want. Just like all art.

    Personally, I think art ought to be a thing of beauty (which will be different for different beholders), or something that is emotionally stirring. That reaction will be different for different people, ranging perhaps from disgust to elation.

    I don't think of DaVinci's 'Mona Lisa' as anything deeper than a sublime portrait, or Michaelangelo's 'David' as anything but a very large, exacting reconstruction of reality in the most literal sense. Few would debate that both are art. On the other hand, something that stirs me may not stir you at all.

    Some folks like discussing the 'emotionally stirring' part. Call me pedestrian, but after a point, I agree with the earlier taser comment. I think a work of art stands of fails on it's own merit. If I want a placard with an explaination, I'll go to the zoo.

    While there's nothing wrong with having an education or refined taste, I shouldn't have to spend 4-6 years or more at university just so I 'get it', either. I also realize not everyone feels as I do, nor should they. I think, though, that some folks like to think they create art, or that others need to 'get it' or they're morons. I find that pathetic.

    In my opinion, artists create because they love or need to (or both), and try to make money at it (or not) if they have to, or want to. In my experience, "real" artists have a need to express their emotions through their art, because they're dysfunctional enough not to be able to do it another way. For the ones I like, I thank God for it, whatever is at the root of their need to emote through physical objects. I think this varies by degrees, of course, from weekend clay potters to pastels on the sidewalk that melt in the rain to Van Gogh slicing off his ear and sending it as a love offering...pick your poison.

    As my life goes on, my taste changes. If one studies artists' tastes, so does/did theirs, usually. I do think art ought to be uplifting, and not some wealthy poseur's closet perversion pet pissing or crapping on a canvas, gluing some leaves and floor sweepings to it, and foisting it off as art.

    Unrelatedly, I don't care how great someone says Warhol was, his work doesn't "do it" for me, and never did, but someone thought enough of his Campbell's Soup can painting to pay a truckload of money for it. I doubt I'm missing the deeper meaning with that particular work. So who's right? Both of us - we got what we liked and wanted - what meant something to us from Andy.

    If you like my photography, hey, sure, it's an ego boost. My ratings tell me either I have poor taste, or I'm not that good. If you don't like my taste, I'm ok with that. And I know I'm not that good, but I'm working on it. Maybe you'll never like it, but I don't care, because I do it because I love it.

    It would, however, be unreasonable for me to expect every viewer to take the time to think about my photos, and what they mean, and is that valid and/or good - if it doesn't really do anything for them in the first place. If I hide a meaning in a photo, I can't reasonably expect any viewers to read my mind, especially on a site where so many categories of photos are presented. To me, that'd be the height of egocentricity, if not outright narcissism.

    You might disagree with everything I've just written, another might think "right on!". Art is all in what you like, and what moves you. Like my dad said, it takes all kinds to fill the freeways.

    I do enjoy enlightening discussions, and read way more than I post. We ought to know how to agree to disagree, but then artists, by definition, are passionate people in the first place, eh?
    Marios, I agree with you in that there isn't as much real discussion here as there could be, never mind hoping for astute, helpful critiques of posted photos. That's my $.02
     
  23. It has nothing to do with "my" definition of art. It's that yours is demonstrably and irrefutably mistaken.
     
  24. "Sometimes art is just done to examine the interplay of forms, shapes, and colors -
    regardless of yours or any other human's condition."

    In other words, sometimes art examines the nature of human visual cognition and
    aesthetic perception? That is very much in the vein of examining the human experience.

    "Justin, when you say " true fine art is in some way intended to be a reflection,
    representation, or comment on some aspect of the human condition," do you feel that
    images that enable us to expand our understanding and perception of the natural world
    (ex: humanity) are to be excluded from the definition?"

    Of course not. I am a nature and landscape photographer, and I think that even a
    photograph of the most pristine wilderness on Earth says a great deal about human
    nature.

    Jacob: You're being difficult and rude for the sake of it (there's a name for people like that,
    but I can't remember what it is right now). You're also outright wrong about the validity of
    Marios' definition of art. His is a perfectly valid definition, though there are obviously
    others.

    D.B.: In the context of history, Michelangelo's "David" and the Mona Lisa are spectacular
    achievements. We may not be as impressed now because they are icons regularly
    reproduced in a culture overloaded with images. To view them in person while considering
    the times that produced them is a powerful experience. Also, you should check out
    Warhol's freehand drawings. I didn't think that much of his work until I did, but fact is that
    the guy was a virtuoso artist, pure and simple.
     
  25. A photo is consisting of two parts: the image and its title. If these two parts are not enough clues for the spectator to make him or her think, then it is right to say that we can not expect for him or her to explore the artist's mind about the meaning of the photo, if there is one. But in the case of my 5 photos the titles of them are: "Lonely..", "Alone!!", "Hell!!", "Help!!", "Metamorphosis". Further more, for the first three, there is a section title "Trilogy of human behaviour" and for the rest "Restore internal peace". Now, is there anyone of you who can say that these clues are not enough for the spectator to make him think and put himself in the processing of analysing these photos, finding a part of himself or herself inside them and so on ? Besides, don't forget that nobody obliges us to inspect and make comments and ratings on a certain number of photos ...unless we have a "special interest" for that (you know give me in order to give you). So why do we not accept clues and messages from photos and why don't we pay a minimum attention to them ? I shall tell you: Because that's the way we are living our life, we are closed inside our castles, we love our chains, WE DON'T CARE ABOUT OTHERS!! and that's the world we have made : pure egoistic and therefore self-destructive.. If these intense words and meanings have touched you, let's go further because IT IS OUR LIFE AND WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!! otherwise forget it.. Take care.
     
  26. mike dixon

    mike dixon Moderator

    Now, is there anyone of you who can say that these clues are not enough for the spectator to make him think and put himself in the processing of analysing these photos, finding a part of himself or herself inside them and so on ? . . . So why do we not accept clues and messages from photos and why don't we pay a minimum attention to them ? I shall tell you: Because that's the way we are living our life, we are closed inside our castles, we love our chains, WE DON'T CARE ABOUT OTHERS!! and that's the world we have made : pure egoistic and therefore self-destructive..
    There's a certain irony here. First, you present the idea that people should interpret your photos in the way you intend because you've given them sufficient clues to understand your meaning. But then you complain about the egoistic nature of viewers who don't interpret images in the way the photographer intends. In my view, it's a case of the pot calling the kettle black; if you put your ego ahead of that of your viewers, you are at least as guilty as they are of the faults you say they suffer.
     
  27. O.K. Mike, perhaps you are right, but please first see these photos and then tell me if you insist on your idea about me. What ever you say I will accept it, because I respect your opinion, which has been expressed in a very logical way. And something else. I did not say that the spectator has to understand MY meaning, but " to find a part of himself inside these photos". Clues, you know are not for being understood. These are obvious even for a child. Clues are just to keep spectator inside the basic theme of the artwork and don't let him speak about deep night while it is obvious that it is day light! (metaphorically speaking of course).
     
  28. A word for Justin Black

    My friend, thank you for backing me, especially at the start of this discussion, against these two "bunk" fellows. I have no hard feelings about them. This is their way of speaking and communicating. I respect it. I only hope that they will take advantage of this discussion to understand some major things in life and restore their arrogant behaviour to the others..
     
  29. Shouldn't "art" have, at least to some extent, a universal meaning? Sure, some people "won't get it" but you might find others who think it's the greatest. Tastes vary. Critics, gallery owners, museum curators all have their own hangups. A good photo shouldn't need a back story, although often there's a synergy between the image and the written word. When somebody likes one of your prints well enough to get out their checkbook that should be enough validation. If you're the only one who likes one of your photographs so what? Enjoy it.
     
  30. Can you mention Al a "good" photo, which has no back stoty? An historic photo who everybody remembers. And I mean everybody, not only the critics and the photographers. Can you? You can't, because a good photo, is the one which gives us the reality behind the image. It is the one which gives us a treasure of memories, a piece of history (ask war photo reporters, or remember the photo of American flag and the soldiers setting it during world war II, or the photo of the kiss of victory given by a soldier to an unknown girl in N.Y. at the end of the war), a touch of immortality, a hope in our life, a solution to our problems. This is a photo to remember, this a good photo for me..All the others are excellent photos in terms of aesthetics and originality and that's all. Nobody remembers them after a month, a year or ten years if you want. Thanks Al. Take care.
     
  31. As Diane Arbus once said, "A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know."
     
  32. I'm thinking of a pepper.

    Marios Lefteriotis asked:

    "Can you mention Al a "good" photo, which has no back stoty? An historic photo who everybody remembers. And I mean everybody, not only the critics and the photographers. Can you? You can't, because a good photo, is the one which gives us the reality behind the image. It is the one which gives us a treasure of memories, a piece of history (ask war photo reporters, or remember the photo of American flag and the soldiers setting it during world war II, or the photo of the kiss of victory given by a soldier to an unknown girl in N.Y. at the end of the war), a touch of immortality, a hope in our life, a solution to our problems. This is a photo to remember, this a good photo for me..All the others are excellent photos in terms of aesthetics and originality and that's all. Nobody remembers them after a month, a year or ten years if you want. Thanks Al. Take care."
     
  33. oi.

    Marios, I've seen photographs and pieces of art that blew my mind, I could sit and stare at them for hours not caring a pinch for what they "said" or who made them or what the artist intended. I couldnt tell you their names or sometimes even where I saw them but they are still there in the back of my mind and I carry them around with me. That being said, I've also seen and heard art that took my breath away and then, after learning more about the person that created it, my appreciation deepened into wonder. I can do with or without both. Visceral emotional response and intelectual response both, seperately or together, are just fine with me. I dont need both at the same time to appreciate.
    I remember the first time I saw the Pieta, by Michelangelo. It feels the same every time I look at it, and I still know next to nothing about the man. Good thing I know a little about the subject :) but I wonder, would my response be the same had I known nothing of the Saviors life?
     
  34. Nicole you said :" I've seen photographs and pieces of art that blew my mind, I could sit and stare at them for hours not caring a pinch for what they "said" or who made them or what the artist intended. I couldnt tell you their names or sometimes even where I saw them but they are still there in the back of my mind and I carry them around with me."
    I should like to know WHY these photos blew your mind. So please remember one of these, the best, describe it in details and let us find together the reasons which made your mind blow. I am sure that they will not be the beautiful colours, or shapes or anything else related to aesthetics and originality, but something that touched your unconcious mind. A back story very well hidden there, that was motivated by this picture. Do you want us to make this experiment? Let's go, I'm waiting..
     
  35. Alan and Al

    (pepper talking)

    take one of these "gorgeous" pepper photos, the best, and put it side by side with this famous portrait of Vietnamese little girl, which stopped the Vietnam war and tell me if you continue to insist in this pepper talking..Take care my friends
     
  36. I know which one I'd hang on my wall and which one would give me nightmares. One is about beauty, the other makes me feel ashamed to be human. Beauty is what makes life worth living. Recognizing the beautiful is one of the greatest gifts we have that makes us different than the other animals, if you believe in that sort of thing. That pepper is all about finding beauty in the everyday and mundane. You can find beauty in your very own kitchen, you don't even have to hike out into nature to find it. I'm not saying your opinion is invalid, I'm just saying that it's like, your opinion, man. Both photographs gave me an immediate emotional reaction the first time I ever saw them. I never even considered the photo of Kim Phuc to be art, but incredibly powerful photojournalism.
     
  37. a couple of things.

    Two particular paintings come to mind and one photo, and one I do know the name of although I know nothing of the artists or their lives.

    1. Girl with a Peal earing, by Jan Vermeer.
    2. A painting of two little girls in white dresses lighting white paper lanterns in the twilight surrounded by white lilies.
    3. A mother with two children leaning on her during the depression.

    These aside from the Pieta which I could look at always and several georgia okeefe paintings i dont know the name of. I dont know if any of these could be considered "the best." All of these strike me for different reasons.
     
  38. 1. Alan B.arglebargle

    "I never even considered the photo of Kim Phuc to be art, but incredibly powerful photojournalism"

    We come again Alan to the main point of this discussion: What is Art. I already have said my personal opinion. For me Art is everything which is useful for our soul and helps us understand this world we are living in and especially what the nature of human being is..So LIFE is ART for me. And I agree with you that beauty in our kitchen is Art ("Beauty is what makes life worth living" I absolutely agree with you) as well as every little detail in our life. The question is what hits us. And this is strictly personal I suppose. In that way, for me, photojournalism can be art. I don't reject these pepper photos as an Art Work, but I believe that this little girl's photo, gave a deep meaning in our life because it changed, at a certain moment, the route of history. That for me makes this photo an Art masterpiece because it changed our life to the better. Anyway Alan I don't disagree with you in anyway because I realize that we both believe in some major values of life, perhaps in a different way..

    Take care

    2. Nicole York

    "All of these strike me for different reasons".

    Just one point my friend Nicole. Do these reasons extend beyond aesthetics and originality? and if yes try to dig out and find the initial roots (you know memories, experiences and so on) and we shall go on with it tomorrow.
     
  39. A photograph without "back story", however minimal, is merely eye candy. The back story is a hint to the viewer as to what mental machinery to invoke to appreciate the photograph and the photographers intentions.

    Without back story it is possible to appreciate a photograph but the mental hum generated is just the noise of the viewers own wheels turning. The viewing experience does not extend beyond what the viewer brought with them in their head.

    Another photo viewing experience without back story is that of pareidolia (or para eidolia); seeing what is not there. Cloud shapes become animals, a half burnt taco bears a portrait of the Virgin Mary, a ripple in a lake is the Loch Ness Monster. Back story is immunisation against delusion.

    Looking without thinking, just looking, is a harmless alternative. The photo to the brain becomes as chewing gum to the teeth; engages but does not nourish.
     
  40. The fact that photographs ? they're mute, they don't have any narrative ability at all. You know what something looks like, but you don't know what's happening, you don't know whether the hat's being held or is it being put on her head or taken off her head. From the photograph, you don't know that. A piece of time and space is well described. But not what is happening.
    I think that there isn't a photograph in the world that has any narrative ability. Any of 'em. They do not tell stories - they show you what something looks like. To a camera. The minute you relate this thing to what was photographed ? it's a lie. It's two-dimensional. It's the illusion of literal description. The thing has to be complete in the frame, whether you have the narrative information or not. It has to be complete in the frame. It's a picture problem. It's part of what makes things interesting.

    ----- Gary Winogrand
     
  41. 1. Maris Rusis

    "A photograph without "back story", however minimal, is merely eye candy"

    I like that Maris! Tell us more..

    2. Jacob Brown

    Welcome back Jacob my friend (I mean it). You are a passionate fellow and I like it! And now to our subject.

    " The fact that photographs ? they're mute, they don't have any narrative ability at all. You know what something looks like, but you don't know what's happening, you don't know whether the hat's being held or is it being put on her head or taken off her head. From the photograph, you don't know that. A piece of time and space is well described. But not what is happening."

    You are mostly right. A photo can not describe what is happening. But it can describe what HAS HAPPENED, and there we can find a part of ourself. For example, we see a photo of a man hunged with a rope in a room and a letter close to him. We can assume that this man has commited suicide. Then we see details upon him and the enviroment and perhaps we can assume a story about him and the reasons which made him kill himself and so on. Besides this is the way police detectives are investigating these kind of things. So by a photo we can tell a story which has happened and there we can find parts of ourselves. The problem is elsewere: We need more data in order to make it in the best way. So we start making changes on photos. We give more light at the foreground and we darken backround in order to focus attention on a certain part of the synthesis, we make changes to colours, shapes, cropping them and so on and finally we imitate movies by taken two or more photos, surimposing them and making a new image which combines many frosen moments, in order to give a certain impression and motivate viewers to the direction we want. Now for me the big question is this (and this is my next chalenge to this forum): Are these PS workouts, photos ? (including mine of course). And what is a photo? Is axactly what camera captures the moment of shooting? And if yes, what all the rest are? Because I think that the vast majority of photos published at this site, have been restored the one or the other way.

    Regards, take care (ask Ellis Vener to join us as well)

    Marios
     
  42. Marios, even a suicide is not so cut and dry (in my opinion). Not only the photograph of
    the suicide but the suicide itself has been motivated in a certain way. If my own father,
    let's say (which is not the case) had committed suicide I would likely shoot another suicide
    differently
    than someone who might, him/herself be considering suicide. I believe we put an
    individual perspective (a spin, as it were) onto what we shoot and there is no such thing as
    some objective
    reality that we capture. For me, the notion of "reality" or "truth" that a photographer who
    doesn't manipulate images (which, in my opinion again, is impossible, since I manipulate
    from the time I pick up the camera) supposedly captures is a myth. It's like God. We seem
    to have the need to believe that there is something certain, something unchanging,
    unalterable, that is beyond man/woman's own ability to create and perceive. Well, I prefer
    to think that we humans have all we need and all we're gonna get. And that includes one
    of the most important terms a photographer or anyone else is going to learn . . .
    perspective. This is what we bring to any experience, situation, photograph. "Reality," as
    often used in the history of philosophy and certainly by many who post on these forums
    about the "purity" of photography or even just the desire for a photograph to be
    "unmanipulated," I think, is an anachronism. Just as is the notion that there is ANY
    conveyable objective reality
    beyond the reach of my perspective. What I convey through a photograph filters first
    through my perspective and then through yours. The "reality" has long been left in the
    dust. I
    think the way "truth" and "reality" are often tossed
    around these days is still because a lot of western thinkers are caught up in Descartes's
    dualism of mind and body only, in some sense coming at it from the opposite direction.
    Where Descartes elevated the mind's role over the body (body, of course, including the
    entire "physical" world), the notions of "reality" often expressed somehow tend to elevate
    the physical over the mental. So that "reality" (as opposed to human mind or perception or
    perspective) becomes a fixed and reliable and eternal concept that is capable of being
    represented by mere mortals. It is hard to think that there is no distinction because we
    have been so programmed to think in terms of our bodies housing our minds and souls.
    When we realize it's all one, we will start asking different questions in a different manner.
    Until then, we will keep spinning our wheels in disagreement. The arguments about
    representation of reality often remind me of the arguments about the existence of God.
    They get passionate, divisive, and each side really can't understand what the other side is
    grasping at. Part of the problem is that we don't yet really have a vocabulary that
    adequately communicates
    where philosophical thinking (whether metapysical or esthetic) is these days, and so we
    still argue with history-laden terms that put us right back into those dualisms we should
    have gone beyond by now.
     
  43. Very deep thinking Fred. May I add a word about reality? What is reality? We say that reality is what really exists, and we assume that we are living reality in our everyday life, so we can understand and describe it. But this is totally wrong, because we are living in the past and therefore we can not touch reality. J.Krishnamurti all his life was teaching this, and he was wright. So if Art can reveal to us the "real" reality, then it can change our life. That's why we say that Art goes ahead of our time, because it can represent to us, this which we are going to understand tomorrow. So, because I think that this is very serious for our life, I started my text, in the beginning of this discussion, with the definition that "Art is the representation or the reconstruction of reality", but unfortunately it was misunderstood and caused a series of serious controvercies.. You see I had not thought of this problem of insufficient vocabulary, as it was, so well, said by you..

    Regards

    Marios
     
  44. To Fred Goldsmith

    Fred, you gave my ideas on photo backstories in a very practical and well understood way. You will allow me to present your reaction to a photo of my portofolio (it would be the same with photos of any other portofolio), as well as my answer to you, because this "happening" explains in a very practical way, what a photo backstoty is.

    Fred Goldsmith

    "Marios, since I enjoyed reading your philosophical musings in the forum on "back stories," I thought I'd come experience your photos. This one stood out to me. At first glance, of course, the interesting and unique design caught my eye. What a construction! Then, of course, I choose to take it one step further and see that you have thoughtfully placed a gesturing human subject in the midst of man's structure. And then I go without to the natural blue sky. Suddenly I am struck by nature, man, and man's creations. A thoughtful and visual photograph, the best kind. --Fred"

    Marios Lefteriotis

    "Fred, thank you because you got my idea of photos backstories, which I want to convey to everybody interested in. You made a slight effort and you discovered these beautiful things which are a part of yourself now. That's what I am trying to convey in philosophical forum, under the title "WHERE IS THE BACKSTORY".
     
  45. Marios, I would add that this statement of mine is my own construction, which I often do
    when providing a critique. It is meant to convey some of the chords that are struck within
    me so the photographer has a hint of what I am seeing. It may be that different chords will
    sound for me tomorrow when I look at it, and that different or no chords will be heard by
    others when looking at it. When I look at a Mondrian painting, I don't react in the same
    way. For that matter, when I look at the Mona Lisa I don't either. Some photos hit me on a
    much more "gut" level to which I don't react literally. All that is said keeping in mind that I
    do better understand what you are saying now that we have had a few back and forths (the
    sign of a good dialogue). I'm thinking that your notion of reality is not as fixed as I may
    originally have interpreted it. I'm also aware that, often, the back stories or emotional
    findings people comment on regarding my own photos are neither intended by me nor
    have
    even been thought of by me. Nevertheless I take pleasure in knowing that I have
    stimulated ANY reaction, even strongly negative, in someone. None of this makes the
    reaction or "back story" any less genuine for the person
    reacting, but it does bring back into play the important concept of "perspective,"
    something through which we all see and interpret. My particular perspective and what I
    strive for (whether successfully or not) is "creation" rather than "reconstruction." For me,
    the best works of art create a new "reality" rather than imitating or reconstructing a tired
    old one. That may be why you provide an almost spiritual definition (over the course of
    your many statements here) of art, which is naturally going to rile those--me among them
    to an extent--who recognize that, over the years, many artists have tried to bring art
    down off its high horse. Lastly, the matter did get a bit complicated by talking both of
    the philosophical nature of art and the more mundane task of understanding the critiquing
    methods or lack thereof on this web site. Clearly, they are two different topics, both
    worthy of quite separate treatments.
     
  46. Fred, you have touched so many important aspects of Art, Photography and Life, that we could speak for days in order to exchange thoughts and analyze them. Let me isolate some strong phrases out of your text for sake of our friends who may want to join us.

    "It may be that different chords will sound for me tomorrow when I look at it, and that different or no chords will be heard by others when looking at it"

    "I do better understand what you are saying now that we have had a few back and forths (the sign of a good dialogue)"

    "the back stories or emotional findings people comment on regarding my own photos are neither intended by me nor have even been thought of by me"

    "I have stimulated ANY reaction, even strongly negative, in someone"

    "spiritual definition (...) of art"

    "create a new "reality" rather than imitating or reconstructing a tired old one"

    "over the years, many artists have tried to bring art down off its high horse"

    "understanding the critiquing methods or lack thereof on this web site. Clearly, they are two different topics, both worthy of quite separate treatments"

    Of all these the one that hits me best, is (in my own words): "stimulating reactions, positive or negative, occasionally beyond the intentions of the artist!!". I like that because it shows that the viewer of a photo, when reacting like this, in good faith of course, is ALIVE and FREE and is living his or her life in FULLNESS.

    Alive, Free, and Fullness of Life, being words and expressions not to be explained and understood by dictionaries, but by a long, strictly personal effort, during our presence in this world..
     
  47. I read nearly the whole thread and well it took some time and I have my response:
    Oh! god I am scared, I'd be better off writing this in my notebook and imagining that you all praised me! I feel your guns pointed at me, you people full of knowledge and words and me helpless without the slightest idea of what to say that might make all agree and praise, and oh what am I saying? at best I could hope not to be shot, ..... but hell! wait! there ain't no guns, I am sitting in my dorm room in front of my laptop and I ain't even connected to the internet; so what am I so afraid of?
    I'll tell you. I'm afraid of what you people might say and that you might pull your guns at my thoughts and blow my beliefs away; but come on that won't kill me, it's just my beliefs, I'd still be here healthy and all, so why all the fright? It is because I am my thoughts.
    Don't worry I ain't going to wright a book. First of all I'd like to point out that a photo of any genre is not what it shows; I mean to say that the photo of Mario is not Mario, it is paper with some chemicals over it; Get the point? The photo of the Vietnam war is not the Vietnam war, it is just paper and some ... So let us be clear that it is the observer that makes the relation between the photo and what it shows, and that the photo, in soul has no relation what so ever to what the observer thinks it shows. I think that was philosophical enough, unless you want me to pull Emanuel Kant out of his grave, to point it out.
    Second. A photo when seen by the observer has no relation to reality, because the photo shows something of the past, and the past is not real. Now is the only reality. So what is real in the observation of a photo is the brain of the observer working to find a relation between the photo and the many bits and bytes of info and things in his/her memory. Our thoughts make images and store them in our memory, so does the camera except on paper.
    So what is it that makes a photo so special, so as to stop a war, make a protest, bring tears to my face, or for the least make me want to watch and watch and watch? Is it the back story? but is it not me that makes the back story? What about the pepper photos? there ain't no back stories to them, unless I make them; but I make all the back stories, even when there are clues (Don't forget who interprets the clues). So how does a photo touch me?
    It brings out a series of images in our memories, it has the ability to suggest a relation between those images, and our thought has the ability to manipulate all this and make an idea, a new perspective to look from. It is still the past, but maybe it has helped me find something in my memory I hadn't paid attention to so far. That is it. There isn't even reality in my new thought, since it is the result of manipulating the past.
    This is why a photo may have the potentiality to stop a war, but never will any photo have the potential to stop war, because in order to stop war totally, and make peace and harmony, everyone of us has to stop this continuous action of manipulating the past and just look at war right now, look at ourselves right now. if we want to change the way the world goes, we have to look at now. Maybe that is why a photo brings food to Africa, but there goes AIDS attached to the food, because the human who observed the photo wasn't in relation to now, he was watching the photo and it reminded him/her of Macdonald's Big Mac , the hunger of an African child, the fact that he/she owes the poor child some of what god has given us all, and the disgusting story of our shameless need for a silent mind. So I am asking myself right now:
    Hey! Ali! why did you put all this energy into photos, or why should anyone put any energy into photography apart from its uses in identification and police work or ... ?
    For a minute there, I thought of giving up photography, but I finally caught it. I have made images of life too and of tranquility and peace of mind, of how one can live free and be aware at all times, and of myself. Maybe your photo will have the potential to relate all these memories together and bring out the contradiction I have always believed in: that there is a me, and there is my thought; Maybe I'll come to react to this contradiction and find out that I am thought, and then maybe I'll take my big part in stopping war and feeding the hungry; Just Maybe.
     
  48. URGENT INVITATION TO


    Marios Leftheriotis,

    Ellis Vener,

    Jacob Brown,

    Matt Laur,

    Justin Black,

    Steve Dawson,

    Steve Swinehart,

    Dick Hilken,

    Carl Root,

    D.B. Cooper,

    Mike Dixon,

    Al Kaplan,

    Ric Johnson,

    RML.

    Alan B.Arglebargle,

    Nicole York,

    Maris Rusis,

    Fred Goldsmith

    and everyone else who has not state his ideas and comments so far,


    WE ARE IN DEEP WATERS AND NOW IT IS THE TIME FOR EVERYBODY TO SPEAK
    about photography, about life, ABOUT OUR SURVIVAL ON THIS PLANET!!!
    If there are solutions, let's find them N O W ! ! !

    Ali has opened a channel. LET US EXPLORE IT ..
     
  49. Marios, you raised an obviously complex question - or questions, if you include the meaning of art and of reality. As to these things the discussion so far has been covered and considerably exceeded 250 years ago by Immanuel Kant - I can strongly recommend you read even a brief introduction to his work if you are not familiar with it. A very minimal summary is that reality only exists in the combination of sensation and understanding. Likewise the artistic power of a picture depends on a combination of the abstract properties of the 2-dimensional image and the emotional impact it has on the viewer, which may either be because of a perceived "back story" or a direct, probably subconscious, effect of the design which maybe resonates with an inner story.
    The more immediate question of why don't people make more effort to look deeply into intentions behind photographs is, I think, a problem of too wide a choice of images, plus the fact that not much effort is put into most of the pictures by the photographers (eg "a nice shot of my cat / cute kid", "a pretty flower", "a sexy-looking model", "yet another sunset", "an old building I saw on my travels", "some random people walking in the street - in B&W, of course"). If the viewers could be assured that some serious thought had gone into the composition they may take the trouble to think about it. But it is quite unlikely unless the shot has some immediate appeal that grabs their attention.
    Some people say that the image should tell its own story but if it isn't obvious there is no harm writing a few sentences to get them started.
    I think we have to accept that most people are basically lazy and just looking for a quick fix of "eye candy" but there are also many potentially interested viewers who might miss some good work because of a lack of initial impact.
     
  50. Jonathan welcome to our discussion I agree with you and I invite you to stay with us and eventually visit at my portofolio the abstract photo "Metamorphosis" where this discussion continues in a different deeper level.
    00LKvN-36767484.jpg
     
  51. Ali has stated some very important ideas about photos in relation to our life. I will try to isolate some phrases from his text in order to give a dynamic to our discussion, and then give my comments.

    Ali Soltani Farani

    "The photo of the Vietnam war is not the Vietnam war, it is just paper and some ... So let us be clear that it is the observer that makes the relation between the photo and what it shows, and that the photo, in soul has no relation what so ever to what the observer thinks it shows"

    "So what is it that makes a photo so special, so as to stop a war, make a protest, bring tears to my face, or for the least make me want to watch and watch and watch?"

    "It brings out a series of images in our memories, it has the ability to suggest a relation between those images, and our thought has the ability to manipulate all this and make an idea, a new perspective to look from. It is still the past, but maybe it has helped me find something in my memory I hadn't paid attention to so far."

    "This is why a photo may have the potentiality to stop a war, but never will any photo have the potential to stop war, because in order to stop war totally, and make peace and harmony, everyone of us has to stop this continuous action of manipulating the past and just look at war right now, look at ourselves right now. if we want to change the way the world goes, we have to look at now."

    "For a minute there, I thought of giving up photography, but I finally caught it. I have made images of life too and of tranquillity and peace of mind, of how one can live free and be aware at all times, and of myself. Maybe your photo will have the potential to relate all these memories together and bring out the contradiction I have always believed in: that there is a me, and there is my thought; Maybe I'll come to react to this contradiction and find out that I am thought, and then maybe I'll take my big part in stopping war and feeding the hungry; Just Maybe."

    Marios Leftheriotis

    It is obvious that the photo of a tree, is not the tree, as also the word tree is not the tree as well. But in order to communicate, we have agreed that this photo and this word must mean a tree, the photo being superior than the word, because it can show the kind of the tree too. Besides let us not forget that more than two billion people in earth, communicate through images (ideograms). It would be very interesting if we had a Chinese friend here to make his comments. So a photographer can, through his photos, give messages, ideas and feelings to the viewer and pass to him back stories. In this way a photo can stop a war, but unfortunately this is temporary. And here comes the problem of human behaviour. Wars will stop for good, only if we stop war inside us, caused by contradictions raised in our minds by the mal processing of thousands of images gathered or made by our self. So the question is how can we stop this war inside us and have inner peace, in order to spread it to our surroundings and little by little transmit it to the whole world!

    I think that the first step for this, is the deep understanding of the way which human mind works. And for this Ali has proposed some ideas. Let's listen to him!
     
  52. Marios,it's midnight here in Athens,and all I can see is darkness.All around me.You started a big discussion on art.There are countless books,thousands of authors and millions/billions works of art.For me it's the natural aptitude of humans to creation,a phenomenon that appeared 30 thousands years ago.Time evaluates human creations with a completely different way than in the era in which a work of art was made.There is no common outlook among the writers,no holistic,neither theoritical,nor philosophical approach in art.In India there were ritual written rules which sorted out any work of art.In China,where an immense philosophy created an aesthetic ideal,there were also various minor and independent artists who caused a lot of reaction.There are artists all over the world,that mould new aesthetic theories,because their transcendence exceeds modern rules,or simply does not obey them.It's a mistake to interpret art on a basis of historical,technological,social,or economical database,because artworks constitute autonomous branches of thought.Erst Gombrich is right to comment that 'art feeds from art'. Excuse any mistakes,my eyes are too tired to correct my text on a PC screen.
     
  53. Marios!
    I think our friends have left us; There are few who would contribute to such a discussion, be frank, and not fear.
    In the book named The The Solitaire Mystery by Josetin Gaarder there is a part where the main character, Hans, tries to communicate to some little strange guys; The only question which, when ever asked by Hans makes the little guys run off, is this:
    Who are you?
    All of those little guys are afraid of this question, just as I was.
    Let us follow the discussion our selves; maybe they will join us. I have many things I would like to discuss with you and Fred Goldsmith amongst the others.
    I watched a film some days ago named "Gandhi"; Some time near the end there is this beautiful phrase by Gandhi:
    I am a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim, and a Jew.
    Now look, there is this verse from the Muslim Quran:
    To Allah religion, is the Islam.
    Many verses of Quran state that the Christian, Jew, Islam, ... religions were from Allah; The above verse in combination to the others, means that to god religion is one whether it be Jew, Hinduism, Islam, or Christianity, the name is Islam.
    The word Islam, is related to Taslim( Arabic ) meaning being surrendered.
    Now look at what we have been speaking of: The freeness of man from himself and all other authorities, in order to be in peace and harmony to nature. The action of the free man, whose action is that? It is the action carried out by a human body, it is in response to seeing the truth, it is in harmony with nature, it is also correct, but where is the actor? The free man has no answer at that point. He would say I just knew it was the right thing to do. The actor is love. It is love that acts when the man is free of all authorities including himself. The man is surrendered to love. To me he is Muslim.
    Hafez, a Persian poet, says: ( in meaning )
    Hafez! you are the curtain in front of your own eyes, get out of the way.
    In our world everything is so united. For the free man there is no difference between people, there is no borders, there is no such thing as my country or your country, there is only unity. There is only NOW and there exists only love.
    Hallaj, was hanged at his time for saying : Ana'l Hagh; meaning I am god. He had come to find the unity in our world and it was so obvious to him, that he didn't have the capacity to hide it from those he knew would kill him for saying it.
    Last but not least, I find this little piece very coherent to our discussion:
    "... and you, Marcus, you have given me many things; now I shall give you this good advice. Be many people. Give up the game of being always Marcus Cocoza. You have worried too much about Marcus Cocoza, so that you have been realy his slave and prisoner. You have not done anything without first considering how it would affect Marcus Cocoza's happiness and prestige. You were always much afraid that Marcus might do a stupid thing, or be bored. What would it realy have mattered? All over the world people are doing stupid things ... I should like you to be easy, your little heart to be light again. You must from now, be more than one, many people, as many as you can think of ... " - Karen Blixen
    ("The Dreamers" from "Seven Gothic Tales"
    written under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen,
    Random House, Inc.
    Copyright, Isac Dinesen, 1934 renwed 1961)
     
  54. Hi Ali,

    Ali Soltani Farani

    "I am a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim, and a Jew"

    "It is love that acts when the man is free of all authorities including himself. The man is surrendered to love."

    "In our world everything is so united. For the free man there is no difference between people, there is no borders, there is no such thing as my country or your country, there is only unity. There is only NOW and there exists only love."

    "Be many people"


    Marios Lefteriotis

    I isolated these marvellous phrases Ali, from your text. You are a Muslim, I am a Christian Greek Orthodox, he is a Catholic, she is a Jew, the other one is Hindu, Protestant, Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Buddhist and so on (sorry if I don't remember now all dogmas and religions). But the Truth is one: GOD is above God!! Meaning that this which really exists and we name GOD, cannot be understood by our minds, and that's why, He is above what every one of us, little, weak and egoistic human beings, thinks God is! So,

    GOD UNITES, EGO DIVIDES...

    You say that we have to be surrendered (in God you mean, I suppose)

    We say that we must have faith and complete confidence in God, which is the same.

    So, basically the majority of religions and dogmas, using different ways, say the same things, and it is natural because they speak about the same God.

    But there are many fellow human beings too, who don't believe in God and many of them are good people, sometimes better than some of us who claim that believe in God...

    So we have to find the uniting factor for all human beings, believing or not in God. And I think that we have agreed that this is the transcendence of our egoism until we reach the state of love. And that's what we are exploring here, starting from the art of photography and how can we, by using art photos and back stories, help others transcend their personal problems and become better human beings.

    But unfortunately we have a big problem here. You mentioned it at the start of your text. People do not care about these. They love their silence, waiting for something to happen tomorrow, that will change things to the better. But world has reached a critical point and we don't know if there will be tomorrow!! So we have to act now, so everyone of us, makes his personal inner revolution against egoism in order to start respecting, caring and loving others...

    Ali, I gave a new definition of Art but nobody understood it:

    "Art is everything which is useful for our soul and helps us understand this world we are living in and especially what the nature of human being is... Life is Art"

    We cannot accept it because we are living in the past. We shall understand and accept it perhaps tomorrow (if there is tomorrow). But the fact is that this is the only way to make human beings realize the bad aspects of their nature and do something about the major problems humanity faces to day, before it is too late...
     
  55. To PhoS Sant

    Hi PhoS, welcome to our discussion.

    "It's a mistake to interpret art on a basis of historical,technological,social,or economical database,because artworks constitute autonomous branches of thought"

    I agree with your text PhoS and especially with this phrase. But I should like to know what is the interpretation of Art for our age. We don't Know it yet, because Art is in a process of continuous transformation and as we are living in our thoughts and memories, which come from the past, we are unable to catch the oncoming new aspect of Art. So we are exploring the facts of our times and what human beings need more, in order to guess the new face of Art.

    So PhoS, please read my discussion with Ali Soltani Farani and tell us your comments on it, or perhaps propose some new ideas. It should be very interesting to listen to some fresh aspects on this great issue!
     
  56. Marios said "Life is Art" but if the concept of art is no more specific then the word becomes a useless synonym.
    For me art is an attempt to get to the "self" ie the inner subconscious being of Carl Jung's psychology and make some kind of communication with others at that level. It is of little interest to me whether it is new or old - this is the concern of art critics and historians - it only matters how well it succeeds. So when someone says a photo of mine "really stirs something inside" I feel I am on the right lines.
     
  57. Dear Jonathan! Art is not Life, Rather Life is Art.<p>
    Life is beautiful, every second of it, it is in itself a creation, which helps one understand the world; so if Life "really stirs something inside" it is in no doubt, Art.<br>
    Yet Art is not life, because life requires one to be free of all; one can not devote his/her being to the creations of others and his, and chain himself to Art, rather one would do the right thing what ever it may be( That may be devoting one's being to Art, if that is the right thing to do at all times ). If one has the energy and peace of mind to be serious of all aspects of life, learn from and enjoy each second that passes by like he/she enjoys and learns from Art, then his life is in no doubt Art.<p>
    Regards. Ali.
     
  58. To Jonathan and Ali

    Jonathan Charles

    "For me art is an attempt to get to the "self" ie the inner subconscious being of Carl Jung's psychology and make some kind of communication with others at that leve"


    Ali Soltani Farani

    "If one has the energy and peace of mind to be serious of all aspects of life, learn from and enjoy each second that passes by like he/she enjoys and learns from Art, then his life is, in no doubt, Art"


    Marios Leftheriotis

    "Art is everything which is useful for our soul and helps us understand this world we are living in and especially what the nature of human being is. So, life is Art".


    I believe that all three of us say the same thing, in different way. The key word for that is COMMUNICATION. And for Ali and me, it is obvious that communication comes, when we live in fullness and therefore this living is Art. For Jonathan, art is some kind of communication (in subconscious level). But what is this kind? For example is it art, when we are communicating (subconsciously) for making a crime, or promoting merchandise and so on? I don't think so. Art therefore has to convey messages and ideas (consciously or subconsciously), which help human beings overcome their problems and find a way out from the dead ends, especially in our times. And we, photographers, have in our hands, a marvellous instrument, called camera, which can do that in the best way. It produces images which everybody can read, if they are shot in the proper way and so we may communicate between each other, like billions of people do through ideograms?

    And my final question to myself and everybody else:

    Are all other kinds of photography, especially NOW, just marvellous eye candies?

    (I really don't know the answer because I like shooting landscapes and portraits and flowers and all this kind of stuff, as everybody do, but this question stays there all the time, in the back of my mind).
     
  59. You raise the question of whether art can be used as a technique for bad purposes. I believe it can, as none of us are all good and so art can make contact at a deep level with our negative instincts. Often this can be used to make these known to us in a valuable way, such as in the ancient Greek tragedies and Shakespeare's plays. But it can be used in a negative way such as in political propaganda. In fact this is in common with other human activities - science, social organisation, commerce, religion, even love can all lead to bad things as well as good.

    My artistic attempts are all aimed at positive ideas of beauty and communion with nature - but that's just my personal choice and not IMHO intrinsic to art in general.
     
  60. I think Jonathan makes a great point. I was thinking of Leni Riefenshtahl, whose Olympiad
    and films about the Third Reich generate much debate about the purpose of art. I also must
    say that, in my opinion, there is too lofty a purpose being given to art by some here. I don't
    believe in "souls" but I do believe in art.
     
  61. "I also must say that, in my opinion, there is too lofty a purpose being given to art by some here. I don't believe in "souls" but I do believe in art"

    Can you be a little more specific Fred? Please name what is this "lofty" a purpose for you and what is your meaning of the words "souls" and "art".
     
  62. I will have to leave for the day, so won't respond probably until tomorrow and have to be brief now, sorry. The kind of "lofty" sentiment I was referring to is quoted below and when I speak of soul not existing I am thinking of something nonphysical about us that often gets elevated as being above or more important than or superior to our corporeal existence. I also don't believe we are living in the past. I believe we exist in the present, remember the past, and look forward to the future.

    "Art is everything which is useful for our soul and helps us understand this world we are living in and especially what the nature of human being is... Life is Art" --Marios
     
  63. O.K. Fred my friend (how beautiful it sounds!, I mean it)

    I respect your opinion and I will change a little, for you, my definition of art.

    "An artist's creation is Art, if it helps us, in any way, become better human beings"

    Do you accept this? If you don't, please make your corrections, in order to find together, what Art has to be, especially for our times.
     
  64. Dear Marios and Fred!
    what difference does it make, to believe or not to ... ?
    They're the same in nature, and that is memory. Seeing, is what makes the difference. Seeing a flood coming right at you, makes you take action, what difference would it make, to believe in or not to believe in, the coming of the flood. Let us be free of our beliefs and see.
    For Dear Fred!
    "... when I speak of soul not existing I am thinking of something nonphysical about us that often gets elevated as being above or more important than or superior to our corporeal existence. I also don't believe we are living in the past. I believe we exist in the present, remember the past, and look forward to the future."
    That something that often gets ... superior to us, what is it Fred? Is it not an image in your memory, when you speak of it? Is it not of the past?
    The comment on May 29th written by me might help clear out what is trying to be said here.
    We exist in the present, our body and mind; but where is our thought wandering? Can thought act on the present? Is it not thought that takes us to action? If thought can not act on the present and if it is thought that takes us to action, then our actions, although carried out at present are the result of our memories, thus we humans seem to pull the past and bring it to the present, thus living in the past.
    And when we look to the future dear Fred, is it not an image of the past, trying to fake it self as the future? The future does not exist thus looking at the future is a mere illusion of the past.
    Regards. Ali.
     
  65. O.K. Ali

    "I believe that all three of us say the same thing"

    If you are refering to this verb "believe" of mine, I can change it to "I see" which conveys the exact meaning of my words. And at this point of course you are right. Sorry. Marios
     
  66. Using words like "better" (as in "helping us become better human beings") when referring to art can be tricky. I like to keep art and value judgments distinct. Surely there is some overlap between esthetics and ethics, but there are differences as well. I think some art is just meant to be interesting or stimulating or exciting or different or quizzical or enigmatic or beautiful or disgusting, for that matter, to look at. I'm not sure how Andy Warhol's soup can gets us to be better human beings as much as it changes (not necessarily for better or worse, just different) the way we view objects and art. Marcel Duchamp's Urinal doesn't seem to make me a better person when I view it, certainly wouldn't turn a sinner into a saint, just gives me a laugh and my sensibilities a nudge. Leni Riefenshtahl's films helped do the world great harm yet are very artistic and contain magnificent images. I love to look at Mondrian's paintings but don't usually choose to talk about them literally. They are a visual treat for me. I don't attach meaning (in the verbal or literary sense) to such paintings. This is not to say I don't appreciate the type of art, also, that you speak of. I try, often, to convey emotions in my photographs because I like that sort of communication and connection both to my portrait subjects and to my friends who view my photos. I think that kind of expressiveness and emotional vulnerability and communication is a "good" thing. It's just that I don't think art necessarily has to accomplish that. I long ago gave up trying to define Art. I think we are better off just doing it and allowing it to happen and seeing and feeling what the result is. But getting stuck on defining it misses the point. I had an experience recently where I questioned the existence of God to someone claiming to believe in God. I said I didn't believe in unprovable things. She responded by saying that she saw proof of God's existence in various human situations. I have had much religious and philosophical training and always understood that what defines religion and how one would relate to God is through faith. So it seemed odd to me that someone believing in God would try to claim there is proof of God instead of just asserting her faith. While I don't have faith, I respect greatly those who do. I also find it fascinating and like exploring it with them. But, to me, it undercuts the specialness and beauty of faith to claim that it is accompanied by supposed proofs. And that's a long way around of trying to explain a little bit how I feel about art. By talking about it, by trying to explain it and define it, we undercut it. We may not know what it is, but we feel what it is. Why undercut it by trying to be rational about it and putting it into words? Instead, we might be photographing more and looking at each other's photographs and that will tell us how each one of us approaches art and what art is for each of us and what art conveys for each of us.
     
  67. Butterfly effect in Art Photography

    Fred

    I red very carefully your marvellous analysis about art and religion and I have to accept that in general you are right. The mistake in all this discussion I started about photos back stories is that I did not cleared up from the beginning my intentions. So we have seen the trees but we have lost the forest and it's me to blame for.

    My idea is very simple. We are living in a very dangerous world and everything is going to the worst everyday. We hoped that governments and politics should do something about it, and eventually they do, but it is not enough! Why? Because human beings don't change to the better. What do I mean by changing to the better? Start caring and helping others, stop chasing this idea of making more money, instead, start spending money in order to loose less when they die, and all these things. Are you smiling? Perhaps. Because the easy answer to all these is: Well, you are right, I am starting doing this. SO WHAT? what can be done just by me and you and some others? There are billions of people in this planet?

    But Fred, science has proved that even a thought by one person, changes the world, changes the whole universe?It's called Butterfly effect. It is only a matter of time?But even that, isn't it worthwhile, for sake of our children and theirs children, to do so?

    So Fred, why don't we stop making eye candies with our cameras and start making back stories, which will help others to become "better" human beings? And by doing so, we will impose a new ideal about Art Photography!

    You know Fred, what we are discussing now, you and me and some other friends, is changing the world. It may not be realized by us, during our life, but someone else will realize it in the future... It's a matter of time, as science says? Believe me. I am not just another dreamer.

    I should like very much to listen to your thoughts about all these!
     
  68. Dear Fred I agree absolutely with you. Unfortunately for the art every
    ...ism ( fascism, communism, christianism etc.) is trying to put rules to art and artists. But fortunately for the art it's always going on without the need of any guru. So they try every time to give a their explanation about what is art, artist and the scope of them. Art does NOT need priests and colonels.

    I think that these thoughts explain too many things.

    "Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live".

    "The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible".

    "The world is divided into two classes, those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable".

    "When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers".


    "Manipulation of art is the fascism of "ideologists"".

    "A photography that needs explanation it?s not a photography".

    I respect every ideologist like my friend Marios but I respect most of all democracy and human freedom.

    That's why I do not like to take part in discussions like this.

    "Why undercut it by trying to be rational about it and putting it into words? Instead, we might be photographing more and looking at each other's photographs and that will tell us how each one of us approaches art and what art is for each of us and what art conveys for each of us".

    So my friend Fred I believe 100% your previous thoughts. Everything else is completely USELESS.
     
  69. As Fred says, you don't need faith in what's provable. Religion is like logic - you use it all the time without necessarily being conscious of it. You believe in it because few conscious thoughts have any meaning without it. Every time you make a value judgment or moral decision you are expressing your faith. It may not coincide with the teachings of any of the religious organisations but more likely it will be along the same lines as all of them - they are not so very different.

    Art is also part of human nature but its language is not logical or ethical IMHO. It speaks of all those complex drives and experiences that make up our personalities. We all want greater understanding of ourselves and others and art gives us a window into the deeper mental world - "through a glass darkly", but it's the best we've got.
     
  70. Welcome Michael my friend

    I was long expecting your presence here and I am so happy because you are with us now.

    Michael the beauty of this world is our differences (in good faith of course). Think how boring should be this world, if all of us had the same opinions and beliefs in our life. So I deeply respect your aphorisms because these are YOU, my friend. All of us have our own personalities, quite different, but, IF we respect each other, these differences make the Harmony in life? And I think that we all agree on that.

    Michael, Jonathan, Fred, Ali and all the friends of this discussion

    I made a proposition some hours ago, in my answer to Fred, titled "Butterfly effect in Art Photography". It has to do with our life and our future on this planet.
    PLEASE STAY ON THIS and react. Say your opinion what ever it is.

    Don't you see that I am trying to find similar aspects in our personalities in order to agree on major problems of this life and do something about them, using our love to photography? It's our life and our children's life and we have to do something about it!! Dont you agree?
     
  71. I don't think we're supposed to get too political on these forums, although trying to keep politics out of photography or art seems like a ridiculous endeavor. I welcome any thoughtful and respectful dialogue, as you do Marios. I also, like Michael, worry about putting art to certain use. While it can be done, I don't think it necessarily has to be done. Better, I think, if the masses (at least of my fellow countrymen and women) would take the simple step of voting and staying informed about global politics instead of sitting on their collective butts watching American Idol. I'd sooner protest in the streets about the wrongs I feel are being perpetrated by my own current insipid government rather than hoping for some butterfly effect to work its way slowly around the globe as 18-year-olds are dying and killing.
     
  72. Fred

    I said "start caring and helping others". Is it bad, or is it political? Does it prevent you from doing anything else?

    Fred I don't want to persuade anybody about my ideas. On the contrary at June 2 09:23 PM I said "(I really don't know the answer because I like shooting landscapes and portraits and flowers and all this kind of stuff, as everybody does, but this question stays there all the time, in the back of my mind)". So even I, have not yet persuaded myself, because I like making eye-candy photos. But I want to try for something better..
     
  73. Marios, I didn't mean you were getting political. I meant I was about to (with my statement
    above). I suppose I was still stuck in some of your original statements about what art MUST
    be and have. You have since adopted a very different tone and I do acknowledge that. I think
    you are right, that we are not very far apart in a lot of our thinking and desires. Certainly,
    nothing you have said is "bad." And I enjoy hearing your views. I'm not sure there's much else
    to say on the matter. We seem to have covered a lot of territory and aired a lot of ideas and
    suggestions. I appreciate that very much!
     
  74. Dear Marios!
    "... I like making eye-candy photos. But I want to try for something better.."
    Maybe us trying for something better is in itself a defeat of our purpose. I would like to discuss that.
    Dear All!
    5000 years ago we killed using stones, today we kill using guns and mass destruction weapons. I see no difference; we are still killing. No person, no group, no ideology, nor religion has stopped this. Let us stop depending on these and act on our selves. The American president won't bring peace and harmony to the middle east, nor will the president of my country, Iran, stop Americans from watching American Idol. If the world is this way and we are concerned, let us start with our selves; We are all responsible for what goes on in the world. Hoping for the butterfly effect to work it's way around the globe, doesn't stop us from taking part in protests and voting. Do what is right.
    Photos do harm, as they do good; There is no virtue in Photography or Art for that matter.
    I was touched by this movie named Gandhi. Gandhi stoped the Indian civil war. He fasted. He didn't make speeches or gather in groups, he didn't even try to find the people who provoked the issue, he just fasted until the people realized the wrong in their doings. Gandhi only tried to make them realize, and for that he acted on himself.
    To define Art is to limit it, let us just shoot, yet beware of what we cause. Art has shown to break all sort of limits. To define Art would also limit the Artist.
    I see no responses to what I say, except of Marios; Maybe I am off limits or real damn wrong, tell me if it is so. Maybe it's because I am younger or maybe it's my name or religion or nationality. What ever tell me. I am free of all. I find no use for borders, or difference in religion, or age.
     
  75. I didn't mean to ignore you. I thought I was responding to you somewhat in some of
    the things I said but realize I didn't address you directly and I am sorry for that. You make
    many interesting points but, frankly, are a little all over the map and a little obscure for me
    to understand how to respond. You are welcome to get my email address from my home
    page and start from the beginning and tell me what you want to say. I was a little put off
    when I read that post of the 29th, where you started off about being shot for what you'd
    say here, etc. I wasn't sure what to make of that, so didn't want to respond directly at that
    point. If you mean that people who make points in the philosophy forum are often
    treated without respect by other members, I agree. The fact that you are Iranian or young
    does not make you any less able to speak here and convey your thoughts. I have talked
    much with younger people and realize that youth and innocence combined with age and
    experience can often lead to interesting and substantive dialogues. If you could try to be
    more straightforward about what you are saying about the past and present, it sounds
    interesting, but I am not quite understanding you (also in relation to the soul--I'm not
    sure what the soul and memory or the past have to do with each other in your eyes). I
    don't think trying for something greater than eye candy is defeatist, I just don't think it is
    necessarily what art strives for. I agree with what you said above about not trying to define
    art. I think, there we have similar ideas and approaches. My trouble with religion generally
    is not so much a problem with someone's personal beliefs, it is that the powers that be
    (and often the individuals who believe) of the religion are so often trying to convince
    others of the rightness of their beliefs. The amount of wars and hatred and disharmony
    that can be attributed to these beliefs in a so-called benevolent and merciful deity or
    deities is reason for me to question the benefit to man/womankind of faith and
    spirituality. In the name of faith and god too many atrocities have been perpetrated, too
    many people put down, too much power taken and exercised, and too much reason lost. I
    associate the soul with religion and therefore reject the whole notion of it. As was said
    above, the physical for me is beautiful and satisfying enough. And I include in physical the
    mind, emotions, expressions, etc. Anyway, feel free to continue with me personally. I'm
    not sure that eventually some of our thoughts won't be stricken from the forum as being
    inappropriate to this web site's purposes.
     
  76. Dear Fred!
    It is fine. I just wanted to know the cause.
    The 29th, it was my first contribution to a forum, and after reading the whole thread I felt like people were trying to prove each other wrong instead of helping; So my response was to be honest and tell them what they cause. I was scared, and the process that helped me over come it was just what I stated there. I thought that brief introduction might help.
    Yes, I am all over the map, I am sorry. Marios invited me to the thread and our idea or what we had spoken of was the relation of art and life at our time. So first I tried to clear things about the relation between the photo and the observer:
    First of all I'd like to point out that a photo of any genre is not what it shows; I mean to say that the photo of Mario is not Mario, it is paper with some chemicals over it; Get the point? The photo of the Vietnam war is not the Vietnam war, it is just paper and some ... So let us be clear that it is the observer that makes the relation between the photo and what it shows, and that the photo, in soul has no relation what so ever to what the observer thinks it shows.
    Then I tried to clarify the relation of a photo to reality:
    A photo when seen by the observer has no relation to reality, because the photo shows something of the past, and the past is not real. Now is the only reality. So what is real in the observation of a photo is the brain of the observer working to find a relation between the photo and the many bits and bytes of info and things in his/her memory. Our thoughts make images and store them in our memory, so does the camera except on paper.
    Then I asked myself and others what was so special about a photo, and for a moment then, I saw no point in photos, as a means of help to life. But after some time something struck me, and to explain that we have to see the nature of thought and what we call "I" or me. I see thought as PS software working on
     
  77. Thanks. That helps a lot. And I am now more convinced that we are thinking along similar lines, although I imagine more will get clarified as other questions are brought up and we continue to discuss such matters. I think we both have a notion of the amorphous and fleeting nature of "reality," the fact that the observer brings as much to it as the physical world gives it. So that a fixed idea of reality, to which something can relate such as a photograph, might not be for either of us the right approach. I don't think photos represent reality, I think they sometimes represent what we believe reality to be (our perspective on the physical world) but those representations are always also interpreted by a viewer who has his/her own perspective and brings to it his/her own additions. And sometimes a photo creates its own reality. I do worry that you are elevating "thought" (by identifying it with self) a bit too much. I think we are very much our bodies as much as our thoughts. I am reminded of Alzheimer's patients and how their loved ones relate to them. There comes a certain point when we say, "that is no longer the person I came to know all these years." That is because her thoughts are so far from normal for her, the memories are gone, and we have a hard time identifying her as herself. So when we say "she is no longer herself," we identify her with her thoughts (as you seem to be doing when you say "I am thought"). Yet, we still feel that closeness to her, we still care for and about her as if she is the same person. That's because she is the same body and we don't just let that go. Once the mind is gone, few of us if any would give up on the body if it is reasonably healthy. We still want to love it and to care for it, and that's because there is still some identifiable entity which we consider important to us. Your philosophical and English skills are remarkable and admirable. I have studied philosophy with many non- English speaking students and you show an incredible fluidity with the language, and the language of philosophy is not an easy one to use so freely and successfully. It is a pleasure to get to know you and all who have contributed here and I'm glad we have persevered to this point.
     
  78. Dear Fred and Ali
    In order to help your dialogue I put here the discussion we had with Ali under my photo "METAMORPHOSIS" at my "Trilogy of human behaviour" and "Restoring inner peace" sections of my portofolio:

    "Marios Lefteriotis

    You see Alibek, we are what our thoughts are. By changing them we can change ourselves to the better

    Ali Soltani Farani, May 24, 2007; 09:12 A.M.

    I agree with you on the thought issue, and even go one step further to say that we are our thoughts, so a change in our thoughts is a change in us as you said, but to me thought comes from the past and so I am the past and as long as I am -through my thoughts -living in the past I am dead, so the end of thought is the birth of the true me, yet I shall not try to end thought because I can see that it is impossible since I am thought. Through seeing with out the conflicts of thought one may see what thought truly is and what "I" is and then only through this seeing thought and thus the "I" may vanish all at once, leaving the truth of humanity in us to take action, and that action is the action of love in its most true face.

    lovely PS work; Congrats.
    Regards. Ali.

    Marios Lefteriotisphoto.net patron, May 24, 2007; 04:18 P.M. (edit | delete)

    My friend Ali Thank you for starting this discussion. I agree with you or, I should say, with J.Krishnamurti who all his life was teaching what you have just said. By changing thoughts, I meant changing intentions, changing our minds and the way we see life.. (there is a very beautiful word in Greek for that). But I want to go a step further and say that in order to succeed in all these, we need a terrible amount of energy inside us in order to have a continuous self awareness and we can not do it by ourselves. So we must admit that we are weak human beings and we need help. I don't want to continue, in order to let other friends to state their oppinion on all these.

    Ali Soltani Farani, May 28, 2007; 05:53 P.M.

    Hi Marios!

    J.K has inspired many and that's great.
    I doubt our need for help Marios, although I agree with you on the point that we need a great deal of energy in order to be aware of our "I"s always. Well let us see where our energies are being wasted.
    There is the continuous activity of thought, even when we are asleep waring away our minds and wasting loads of energy . Let us look at the true nature of thought and how it works. But J.K says that the observer is the observed; so let us look at thought without the presumed fact that there is such a thing as my thought. Maybe, just maybe, I am thought. Maybe this is a prior question: am I thought? Well who is called me? is it my feelings? is it my body? maybe it' s my body and mind. That is in fact an answer, many would argue over. When I say I, do I refer to my body and mind or is it something else that I refer to?
    There are so many bodies and minds all over the world; would I be prepared to take the fate of my friend who just had a bad car accident or do I say "Thank god is wasn't me". Which one? if I refers to my body and mind then what makes me think that my body and mind is superior?
    There is a better counter example. let's say someone insults me by perhaps saying something along the lines of "you freaking bastard". I know that I am not a bastard, yet many of us are hurt by such happenings and that shows that what we identify as "I" is not our body nor is it our mind. So what is "I"? This beautiful question is maybe the answer to all our miseries and mischiefs. Just this question?

    What is I?

    The I that is sometimes scared, sometimes fearful, maybe he/she is courageous, maybe clever, good looking. I love asking this question, it is so helpful; just asking it. Maybe at the moment of asking the mind is free of the I;

    We make images, of everything and settle them down in our memories. Sometimes we take them out of memory and change them in our minds as if we have a PS in there that manipulates the images we have of the past, of people in the past. Our memories acting like a hard disk full of images of the past and our PS software doing all the manipulations and then saving them, and then loading new images, manipulating and saving again; sometimes importing new images.
    We make images of our selves; Perhaps this starts at a very young age; your playing soccer and you score two or three goals, and your team mates encourage you and you make an image of the me that is good at football. why? because it was a happy moment and the mind likes to repeat that happiness by watching and manipulating that image. That is the pleasure that our memory gives to us, and our memory gives us fear too. Yes our memory gives us fear too. Well who is this guy doing all the PS work? loading the images and manipulating them. Who is the software? That is what we all call thought. The act of entering our memory and doing all the PS work. Its our thought; but is it not me, loading images out of my memory and then manipulating them? It is. Its me. I am thought. Yet thought has made an image of me and put it inside my memory and all the time it fools me (or I fool me) telling me that the "I" is my body, my mind, my feelings.

    Marios! I think what was said would arouse a lot of questions and many would doubt it and have things to say. I would love to see this continue, it would help me see better what "I" is, and how it works; Thanks for the chance.

    Regards. Ali.

    Marios Lefteriotisphoto.net patron, May 29, 2007; 04:17 P.M. (edit | delete)
    Restoring inner peace!

    Ali, welcome back

    Thank you for joining us here, as well as at the Philosophical forum, at the entry under the title "WHERE IS THE BACKSTORY". As you can see there, I sent an urgent invitation to all our friends to speak and state their comments..

    As we are digging here a little deeper, I should like to make things somewhat simpler in our search of what "I" is, through a case study of a situation in our life, we all have gone through : LONELINESS. At the same time I will explain a little more what I have said about our necessity to admit that we are weak and helpless.

    What is Egoism? The word is Greek and the route is "Ego" which in Greek means "me" or "I". So egoism is the result of the activities of "I" inside us. And these activities are these PS workouts, so vividly described by you. Unfortunately the images, simple or complex, made by this process, tend to prevent us from communicating with others (if not attacking them), because they build a superior image of ourselves and we have to protect it from exterior attacks. So as you can see at the first photo of my Trilogy of Human Behaviour, titled "lonely" (at the right side of the screen), this woman is sitting in the dark, staring at a blank TV set. This is the beginning of despair. Then we become aware of our condition and we try to change our behaviour, but remaining at the same dark prison we have built for ourselves and as nothing is going better for us, despair deepens. This is the case of the second photo titled "alone", where this woman faces the opposite side, thinking that she made radical changes to her behaviour, but at the same time, realizing that nothing changed to the better. And finally we end with "hell", where we are totally isolated from the others, imprisoned in the walls of the castle we have built to protect our ego, and in full contradiction with ourselves (sitting back to back). This is the case of the third photo (the "hell" photo), which describes the absolute despair of this woman.

    Now Ali, there comes the necessity of feeling totally weak, in order to repair this situation. This is the critical moment to do something about our life. If we realize, by these circumstances, how weak we are, which means how trivial our "big" image about our self is, this awareness, if deep enough, can destroy and transcend the walls of our egoistic prison and make us open ourselves to our fellow-human beings (symbolically asking for help). This action and only this, is the great moment of the beginning of our inner revolution to a total change of our existence. This is the case of the photo titled "help" ("Abstract - Restoring inner peace"), which describes these extraordinary moments of great decisions in our life. And finally we come to this photo titled "Metamorphosis" (a Greek word meaning transformation), where images inside us, have been definitely transcended and love and compassion is flowering in our life.

    And there comes Ali now, the serious question. Why do we have to pass through this "Odyssey" in order to achieve inner peace?

    ISN'T IT MUCH EASIER TO UNDERSTAND JUST NOW WHAT "I" IS ?

    Regards, Marios

    Ali Soltani Farani, May 29, 2007; 05:53 P.M.

    Well, Marios!

    Frankly I have been through this process or at least part of it and I have seen the different ways the "I" has fooled me; Maybe I am in that part of this odyssey between hell and help. Believe me, I am being hurt, but there is this beautiful verse from Molana (A Persian poet, known as Rumi among the world) that helps me:

    What sadness do I have in the destruction
    Under the destructed there is the treasure

    Well your question is very essential for me, I too would like to see myself clearly and end this misery I am living in.
    Well Marios! The I is my thought, and I see this, yet as you mentioned earlier I lack the energy to be aware of this always, at all times. For years this process of PS work and looking at everything through "I" has been happening.
    Are you suggesting that the step from hell to help and then on is to truly realize our weekness?
    Regards. Ali.

    Ali Soltani Farani, May 29, 2007; 06:02 P.M.

    Well can you see i in what I just said; I am trying to take myself out of this misery, but is it not I that is the misery. Yes that is true. I is the misery, thought is the misery; it is all made by thought and I was just fooling myself again. I am my own misery; and seeing this fact has ended my misery right now;
    In what ways Marios do you think we waste our energy, other than the continuous work of thought?


    Marios Lefteriotisphoto.net patron, May 30, 2007; 11:09 A.M. (edit | delete)
    From hell to help and then to heaven!

    Hi, Ali

    Here we are again in our exploration of "I".

    You asked two questions :

    1. "Are you suggesting that the step from hell to help and then on is to truly realize our weakness?" and

    2." In what ways Marios do you think we waste our energy, other than the continuous work of thought?"

    The only way to transcend our egoism and start truly communicating with others, is humbleness. I think this is obvious. So, by realizing the ways "I" builds images about us, how false they are, and how these images keep us inside our castle, and if we are quite strong and clever, WE END NOW with watching "I"'s activities and we go straight to humbleness, then to compassion and finally to love and heaven. All our energy is redirected from watching our thoughts, to outside activities of helping our fellow human beings, and so we are avoiding hell.

    But usually we cannot do this (including me), and we are living our daily misery, admiring the superior image we have built about our self. So either we start fighting each other to impose our image upon theirs, or we isolate our self in order to protect our image from exterior attacks. Both ways drive us to this hell situation. And then here comes Nature or God or what else you name it, to give us a last chance to stop misery and restore inner piece. If despair is strong enough, then WE ARE OBLIGED to realize our weakness and how false the image of ourselves is and therefore cut our chains and start truly communicating with others. The beautiful Greek word we have for that is METANOIA and is composed of two words : META which means "go after" or transcend, and NOUS which is the mind, the intellect. So this word says that we have to go after or transcend our mind, our ideas and change completely to a new life..

    A last word Ali. In this process of continuous awareness of our thoughts and images there is a danger of creating another very strong but invisible image. Remember what we are doing when imposing images one to another when working with PS. We control opacity to a certain level. But if we set opacity to zero, image disappears. We cannot see it, realize it, but IT EXISTS, it is there! So in this continuous observation of "I", we may create an image of our self doing this serious, deep work of "I" awareness and we may not realize its existence. And this is the worst of all , because we are totally captured in this process and we lose contact with reality..

    Finally I think that we have to discuss the nature of this energy inside us. But let us do it later on.."
     
  79. I don't agree that the misery is "I." That sounds a little too much like religiously-imposed
    guilt or something. Some misery is bestowed upon us from without . . . hurricanes and
    earthquakes, etc. One can be comfortable in misery sometimes while working through it.
    It's not your fault. Bad things happen and sometimes no one is to blame. Bad things
    happen and sometimes others are to blame. Bad things happen and sometimes I am to
    blame. I like the communal sense of "I" you've suggested above. Even Sartre, in his
    Existentialism Is A Humanism, suggests a reformulation of Descartes's "I think, therefore I
    am." One might encapsulate Sartre in this article (with a lot of qualifications and care not
    to misread him) as saying "We think, therefore we are." What he suggests is that our sense
    of self and identity comes to us not only through us but through others as well. We see
    ourselves as others see us quite often and that helps define who we are even in our own
    eyes. I worry a little bit about identifying "I" with egoism. I think we can operate with a
    sense of ego without being egoistic. I think we should critique each other's photographs.
     
  80. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/05/science/space/05essa.html
     
  81. Fred

    I don't want to disturb your dialogue with Ali, but let me clarify the meaning of some words I have used, in order to avoid misunderstandings.

    When I am driving and I am thinking how I will find my way back to home, or when I am working out a mathematical problem and so on, it's me who is thinking in order to find a solution to a practical problem of my life. So, I don't mean this "I" or "me" or "ego" and these "thoughts" which have to be understood and stopped, but the psychological ones. Thoughts of superiority or inferiority, or thoughts to find ways in order to beat others and so on, you know what I mean?Sorry for interfering.
     
  82. Marios, yes I understand the distinction in kinds of thoughts you are making. You are not
    interrupting at all. I think of you as the glue holding this conversation together.
     
  83. To Ellis and PN

    Thank you Ellis, thank you PN

    For encouraging this discussion by proposing a new very interesting aspect of back stories:

    UNIVERSE, THE GREATEST BACK STORY OF ALL TIMES

    But first let us kindly wait for our friends Fred and Ali to complete their dialogue
     
  84. jtk

    jtk

    Photography isn't an "art," it's a craft. Nothing is an art.
     
  85. Dear Fred!<p>
    Thank you.<br> Frankly I don't know much philosophy, yet I have spent much time trying to solve the problems I faced. I will try to explain further what is meant by misery, the "I"; I choose to speak of myself as a case study, hoping it will not result in an image of me in others minds.<p>
    To many in Iran, being qualified for higher education is like a matter of life and death. They face the fear of missing a healthy and wealthy life if they get unqualified. Around the world though, there are problems, we all face, like fear, anger, jealousy, ... When these problems reach an extreme point it is often the time when we act to solve them.<br>
    That is when I started. I remember the time when I thought everything was mathematical; I believed in Islam and it's teachings as if it was a fixed algorithm for living, there was also my opinions in politics, rigid. So then, there was this Ali, who was politically left, religious, and he was also one of the best at his studies. At this time photography came to me as a tool to prove to the outside world, that this Ali is not a nerd, he can also practice Art. All this would bring fear, anger, shame, guilt, and above all a lot of contradictions, and of course pleasures; At this time the mind is full with images, of himself, of others, and of different aspects of life; and thought is working very hard to manipulate all these and solve the contradictions; and of course it leads to action. Actions based on images of the past, images manipulated by thought, all towards the safe keeping of what is called I, and at all these times and through all these actions one is unconscious of the evil in his doings. It is only when fear, anger, and numerous contradictions reach a threshold that one realizes the amount of misery being taken, the many chains that bound one to this misery; but there is also pleasure, the pleasure of winning, of proving others wrong, of being praised, of remembering the happy times. So
     
  86. PN : Please delete the last reply. it is mine and it is incomplete. If you do so, then delete this one too. Thank you.<br>
    PS: If you can recover it then do so.
     
  87. I think Art is a chronicle of an artist's journey to his deep conscience.
     

Share This Page