Sunday, February 3

Amateur Standing

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So I'm wondering: is there a fine line between photographic art and unsalable imagery? Art is what the art establishment says it is. I'm not upset by that, just realistic. For example, would Andy Warhol's "Brillo Boxes" have sold in the 17th, or 18th centuries? What art is... is not determined by artists, right? So if you want to sell art, you have to look up the definition du jour and do that. Or you need to skitter together some of the people who are in charge of the definition today and get them to go, like, "Whoa! Yeah Baby, you give good art.! Let me sell it for you, okay?"

Take for example Andreas Serriano's "Piss Christ" - a very large super sharp color photograph of a crucifix floating in a glass jug of urine. The original is said to be magnificently lit, and the amber fluid creates mysterious glimmerings and..... And it not only would not have sold in the 1600s, Serriano would have hung. Which brings me back to my question, is there a fine line between photographic art and unsalable imagery? And do you have to be on the Serriano side of that line today to attract an audience that will part with money? And is parting with money the final arbiter of whether a work is ultimately both art and good? Or is there still a role for Amateur Standing?

If there is, I'm there: with images like this I created from a rainy morning at the Salty Dog's docks along Hilton Head's inlet.

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Here's what the original looked like to my camera...
GEEK STUFF: Canon EOS 20D, 6/3/07,7:24 AM: Lens 17-85mm, Focal Length: 30mm, Exp 1@f/25, ISO 400, Metering Mode: Auto, Exposure bias -1.67, Camera RAW

3 comments:

John Setzler said...

"Art" is an intriguing concept. The way I see it is that 'art' is inversely proportional to the number of people who will like (or buy) it. Trying to make 'art' is futile. The image you posted here is an example of what happens when people try to produce 'art.' They tend to strike down any fundamental concepts of accepted photography and go out on a limb of blur, grain, contrast, or whatever else they believe creates a transcendence between 'art' and the mundane. I'm sure you are aware that no two people will define 'art' or 'great' or 'fantastic' in the same way when it comes to photography.

I could post my own definition of 'art' but that would sort of defeat the purpose :)

Ted Byrne said...

Your thoughts are prescient John, but they address a different topic. And that, I fear, is my fault. I have no idea what art is... Or at least every time I get confident that I've got a hnadle on it, the handle comes off.

So here in my post I was not probing to find a usefule definition of art. No, I'm interested in the credentials of the folks who sare defiining art. How dare they?

Take for example the academics who protected by tenure never face an art market. Never compete or succeed in anything beyond their virtual worlds. Yet they brand one thing as art, another as dreck. THey claim elevated tastes, mystical insight, and an historical license. They declare the players in the post modern art game.

And yet their "standards" have resulted in post modernism becoming a post audience bust.

Yeah, there are techniques which have become cliches of art. Yeah my image today applies some of them. But brush strokes are techniques, so are shutter speeds. To dismiss them as communication devices in a guilt-by-association declaration is invalid. It's as if a minor F chord is an invalid musical expression since it has occurred before.

Still whether or not my work is pretentious is not the issue, but rather whether the art-definers are pretentious is. I'm not wondering what art is, but whether the emperors of art rule-making are without clothes.r even who they are.

pnfphotography said...

I find this a very valid and strong questioning point at this time. I think so many artist want to critique others work and yet they seldom "RISK" putting their own out there especially outside their "familiar" networks. I think taking that RISK helps an artist grow and receive different messages. I am not saying the message is always a positive nature but it all equals growth. I hope as I continue to grow into this art form I never express the kind of resentment and judgment I am starting to see as the competitive edge grows. The day I can not be excited for a fellow artist for their success is the day I will quit shooting!