Tuesday, December 3

Protection's Just Another Cage

How many years
Is a generation?
How many are
Packed in a century?

How crowded is
It in  a compression
Of minds that
Escape only in dreams?

What happens when
The rains never stop?

St. Augustine, Fla. has two monuments… One to a sheriff who locked away slaves to protect others from them. One to marchers who burst free. Have you noticed that protection is another cage?

Images captured through my Canon EFS 17-85mm (f4-5.6) onto its Canon 7D sensor. Processed in PS4 with assist from various AlienSkin and Topaz tools. Custom filters and brushes. No stock images… ever. 


Cedric Canard said...

As long as we have attachments we are in a cage.

Ted said...

Do attachments breed protection? Hmmm…. And what breeds attachments :-) The problem, Cedric, seems to lie in the pesky breeding problem. Y'think?

Ted said...

You made a number of trenchant points back on my November 23 posting, "Vacuous" which relate to the idea of art versus craft, and the way I tend to dismiss "pretty" pictures. Some thoughts…

1) Thanks for the supportive compliments, I am twirling my toe in the dust and whispering "Awwwwww.." :-)
2) Yep, pretty don't do it for me. I can do pretty anytime I aim my lens at a flower.
3) The purpose of art is to conceptualize emotion. Art is an interactive process. Sure, you can be a poet if no one ever reads your work, or a musician if no one else ever hears your clarinet's song. But you are still emanating a communication even if there is no ear to hear it (the old saw).
4) Art skips its traces the moment it’s released into the wild. The artist's intent is unimportant to the audience's. If you want to reduce ambiguity… send them a telegram, better yet, send them an equation. Every interpretation of art is valid, the artist has no proprietary claim to any but his own.
5) With respect to this image. I showed it first to a friend, immediately after I completed it. He asked me a rude question… "What does it mean?" Rude because, embarrassingly I had no idea what it SHOULD mean. Should is a value judgment. And what I’d produced here was an non-verbal feeling And to the degree that my explanation differed with his “meaning” in ANY way, reduced the value of the piece for each of us. I had no intention of reducing the value of whatever this piece means to me. Nor to trivialize it by “explaining” it in a short summation.
6 )My meaning then is unimportant to a work if it is art and triggers emotional emotional reaction. You’ve heard of EQ as opposed to IQ? Well there’s FC, factual communication and EC, emotional communication.

If a viewer refuses to play the game by asking the artist, “What does it mean?”, that viewer is demanding exactly the same information as someone who asks a magician, “How did you do that?” It is a rude question, because to answer it ends the magician’s career. Someone who explains his “magic” may be a lot of things, but magician is not one of them.

Cedric Canard said...

Just to let you know, I will share my thoughts on all the points you raise as soon as I can.

Cedric Canard said...

In response to your first comment: Not sure but I suspect to some extent we create attachments out of a belief that they provide a sense of security (protection) but I would suggest that letting go of all attachments (if it’s possible) would be the ultimate freedom from any need for protection.
Now for the rest:
1) I was sincere with my support but I have a feeling you are bullshitting me with your toe-twirling, self-effacing, bashfulness. Somehow you don’t strike me as the toe-twirling type. :)
2) Pretty pictures, like pop tunes, have their purpose but unless something is added to what was already created by nature then it remains entertainment rather than art. Like you however, when it comes to my own work, I’m not generally interested.
3) Oh dear. As I see it, art is indeed an interactive process needing at least one other person other than its creator to make it art but to see art’s purpose as simply “to conceptualise emotion”, oh my, oh my, Ted, that cheapens art way too much for me. If this was indeed art’s purpose then all the pretty pictures of sunsets and flowers and cute puppies and baby pendas would be art. This is not to say that art can’t conceptualise emotions but when it does, it does so as a side-effect (intended or not). Naturally, the purpose of art is subjective but I would propose that art’s purpose is primarily to question our perceptions, our beliefs, our biases even our knowledge. Its purpose is to shake our foundations and create new paradigms; it’s to elevate humanity, to make us more conscious, more awake to ourselves and our environment, and how we interact at any and all levels you care to name. Cubism, surrealism, fauvism, the artworks from those genres were not created to provide some emotional slap-and-tickle; they were created to push us down the rabbit hole and force us to look more closely at our beliefs and understanding.

Cedric Canard said...


4) The least ambiguous language we have at our disposal is indeed mathematics but few people can adequately interpret its symbols and equations. Words are heavily loaded and except for skilled poets and wordsmiths, are probably ill-suited for the purpose of reducing ambiguities. The dualistic nature of language creates more ambiguity than it resolves. Art is a language of its own but where it fits is up for discussion. For me, depending on what the message is, art can be more explicit than mere text. It can cut to the core of a matter more effectively than the sharpest words. Unfortunately, art is also like mathematics where the deciphering of its message can be just as complex as grasping the consequences of E=MC2. And this leads perfectly into your next point.
5) I would suggest that your friend isn't being rude so much as he is being lazy. As I mentioned in point 4, art requires some work to decipher in order to grasp its full intent. I have worked at art appreciation for much of my life but I would consider myself a rank amateur. I struggle where others seem to simply see with barely an effort. But at least I try to do it for myself and only when I have gained some level of understanding would I consider approaching the artist. And even then, I would do so not with a question but with an explanation of my humble perception thereby giving the artist a chance to compose an answer in the context of some mutually understood parameters (namely, my interpretation). If the artist wants to go beyond those parameters, then that would be up to him/her. But once the viewer has attempted to decipher the work then I don’t think it’s rude to engage the artist for clarification. The thing to remember about art is that it doesn’t always have to be deep and meaningful. Just meaningful is good enough and the meaning can be as simple as: it’s about being happy/sad/angry/whatever or: it’s about E equaling M C squared.
6) I don’t see art as a game in the sense that viewers are required to play it. Art exists or its own sake. Art seeks out implementers (which we call artists) and brings itself into existence through them. Its meaning is inherent in its structure and its nature. Meaning is added by the artist only in the sense that art chose that artist because his/her mental/emotional state best matched the intended meaning. Ok, maybe you think that’s going too far but I’m not alone to think this way. Many artists in history have claimed to merely being “tools” for art’s sake and fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time to have been picked as the delivery mechanism. Ok, some artists may have said they were doing god’s work but it amounts to the same thing. I suspect there are plenty of artists who would not be able to explain why they do what they do or what it all means. That does not make them any less artistic nor does it make the art any less meaningful.
There is more to say but this will have to do for now. Don’t be fooled, none of this is totally clear in my head so blame me if none of this makes sense.