Tuesday, November 19

Grab - Puerto Madryn, Argentina Duo

1. Free carousel on the Puerto Madryn, Argentina beach.

So it's possible that art's about memories? That memories are the ultimate filter? 

But memories go goofy. Lots of people, like me, rarely dream in color. Something sucks away everything but shades of grey. Which is like emotional liposuction. Hmmmm.... Invented in 1983, the prefix to the word... "lipo" comes from the Greek word "lipos" for fat.

What's it mean to surgically remove all but various shades of one color? Is only fat gone? Or has the operation become... profound? While I've got color-blind cousins, I see what I call colors. And you do the same, right? So removing all but say, B&W shades strips away...? Is it possible, in any way, to do an accurate picture of anything without some commonly accepted agreement over the identity of say red from green? Green from blue? And all of what our brain defines of every gradation resulting from any possible mixture of RG and B?

Is all black and white representation... illustration... as opposed to say, photography?

Are your non-color dreams photography or illustration? Are your conscious memories, for that matter. photographic? Or are they something else each time you take them out for review? Tried another way... Is the mere act of "remembering" a... in photographic terms... a lossy process? Like jpeg images, they suffer a loss of information each time they are compressed and recompressed, and... 

2. Free carousel on the Puerto Madryn, Argentina beach.

Of course memories are filtered through a lossy screen each time they're examined... and they have a shelf-life problem even in their storage bins. Who can argue that their images are "representational" in any sense in the face of infinite contrary evidence? At best our memories are illustrative. And to the degree that we assemble them to draw conclusions - which after all is what art does - well,,,

Note that word, "draw". We're back to sucking. Huh? To draw is to what? To represent something with tools, words, or such. Or to pull something out. I can draw blood from your vein, draw gold from its vein, or draw a conclusion. But, a conclusion from whom?

Say what? Well do these two images draw any conclusions from you? About what? Or have I drawn conclusions that I'm representing in either one or the other of these images? Representing to whom? Me? You? 

Are we each sucking on the same story vein? Does color liposuction cause us to draw... different conclusions, me with my tools, you with from your own emotional vein? 

Are either of these images illustrations of reality? Or has the lossy process of art sucked away enough of the sculptor's stone that maybe a goofy angel gets released? Sigh... 

Enough questions for a crisp November night? 


Cedric said...

Great image Ted, especially the colour one. Who doesn't have some mental association with carousels? Positive or negative.
Straight out photography is usually considered a memory. I've seen many photo-filled shoe-box or album titled "Memories". Art? I'm not so sure. Me, I definitely do not see photographs as memories. Rather I see them as triggers for memories. Mostly, the mental image never matches the photograph but then again, I find memories to be untrustworthy so I rarely pay them much attention. It may also be why I don't tend to keep photographs. I never really understood the point of that but I am weird that way.
As far as memory triggers go, art can certainly deliver on that as well as any photograph. Sometimes, art just does it in a more abstract manner. For example, your carousel raises a bunch of memories in my brain even though I've never been to Puerto Madryn. I can't be sure if these memories that are being surfaced are things that have actually happened in my life, or whether they are a conflation of actual events, movies, stories and so on. It matters not to me. What I focus on is the overall feelings that emerge. Unlike the memories that are of past events, such feelings are happening now, right here, and quite likely, this immediate experience will go on to modify the memories in some way so that the next time I see a carousel, the memories will be slightly different. The feelings may become slightly modified too. Who knows? Not me, since I have no base line by which to measure the differences. It's just a gut-feel really, that's these things change with time. I'll never know and it matters not at all.
As far as images being illustrations of reality… I would have to ask: who's reality? I suspect that I could never share my reality, nor could I share yours. I will never know what you see, nor you I. Not in terms of the finer details, in terms of things that matter. Our brains are massive filtration systems, they apply their filters on everything including photos and art. And it's unlikely any two individuals share exactly the same filters, operating at exactly the same time :)

Ted said...

Nice reasoning Cedric. Like the way your mind goes...

Psychologists have a word, “Reconsolidation” by which they mean our brains rewrite memories each time they are retrieved. Since opening them folds in perceptions, conceptions, and the debris of life - well their use, some say, is best for creating metaphors or entertainment… but not so much for heavy lifting. For me, photographs like all representations of the past, point to some memory drawer, and perhaps a specific spot inside. Maybe they focus more tightly upon the kernel of moments than random retrieval and that’s useful, (sometimes delightful, sometimes unsettling) with respect to blue-printing metaphors and entertainment - which probably are necessary conditions for making art?

So? Does art trigger memories… or is the visa versa? Or both? Hmmm… Regardless, I rarely do "straight" photographs. My photo are a kind of the underlayment of what I do... questions… I guess one could say metaphors? Wish I could do that as well as you… totally miss “Plop” and the platform for your visual conceptual wonderings.

Oh, BTW... Is there a difference between photography and illustration? It seems as if representational photographers are anxious to copyright their ownership of the word "photography" so to sweep conceptual digital artists into the category of illustrators. Hmmm... While I rarely post or show photographs, I'm not willing to concede that my images are something other than photography nor anything more or less. It is simply one extension of camera captures post- processed through my questions. Of course my recently posted Christmas tree is an illustration even though it's digitally based upon a couple of photos. There's no question there, simply a straight forward carol.

Frankly, I think that representational photography is much closer to illustration than conceptual photography... Which is what I aspire to doing. But both are photographic fields and neither has a monopoly upon the term photography.

P.S. Art is only capable of asking questions, answers are way beyond the pay grade of artists. When artists attempt answers, they are either polemicists or mathematicians. Which are way different talents :-)

Cedric said...

Photograph vs illustration, hmm, what's in a name? That which we call art by any other name would look as sweet (apologies to the Bad of Avon). One thing you never need to do Ted, is to put yourself, or your work, into some category. Your work speaks for itself most clearly and would not benefit in any way that I can see by having a label pasted across it. To care about labels curtails one's ability to understand the full nature of things. But anyone who see the true nature of things around them will see labels as mere flotsam and jetsam that may have once held some usefulness but which were discarded along the path to a more holistic view of the world.
As for your statement in your postscript, I respectfully disagree. I am surprised that you would limit art so. Art is only capable of asking questions? Only? Surely not. Art may well ask questions but it never fails to also provide the answers. Admittedly, art will not shout out those answers to any old punter who happens by, it will make us work for it, we must be worthy of its wisdom. When people react strongly to an artwork, positively or negatively, it is not the aesthetics that makes them react so, it is the slap to the back of the head that the artwork dishes out, the rude wake-up call, that they respond to. If that shake up awakens them then they will see art in an entirely new way. They may even see art where there had been no art before. But if they remain asleep, then they will place the reason for their reaction back on the aesthetics or whatever, and dismiss it out of hand and move on to the next distraction, completely blind to the true beauty that presented itself if only for a short moment. Well, it's a thought, in any case :)

Ted said...

Part 1:

Don’t you think that the "work" that an audience does is a response to an art work’s question. I feel we are on the same page there. I really do believe that art without wonder is merely craft. Okay, "merely" seems a petty dismissal of craft, but it is on a different tier from art. That isn't to say that art cannot be functional. Much art is carried by a craft base... The Fountains of Trevi for example or the astonishing boho designs woven into fabrics . Which means to me that functional items can come wrapped in wonder. But without the latter, well only the utilitarian aspect remains and hence the word "merely". Art transcends aesthetics.

The essence of wonder is its provocation... i.e. the provoking stimulus...

Of course questions imply wisdom, AND simultaneously provoke it. There's a symmetry there, huh? Aesthetics and utility are a cloak, not an essential condition of art. There are those of the "Ashcan School" who are (were) sincere in their controversial appreciation for the wonder that large B&W prints of images of overflowing ashtrays contained art. Wonder is its essential condition...

As to the categorization of art... As say images as photography or illustrative... Well, there's a functional reason that this is a recurring irritant. Over the last two decades I've entered my works in juried shows and auctions. Frequently it is not permitted in front of the juries because organizers are either traditional photographers or painters. I'm not sure why photo club (and some academic) photographers in particular reject conceptual photo based images as opposed to traditional representational work. In my bitter moments I think they may come with the threat of a new and complex learning curve. Other times I realize it is probably a generous way of gently filtering out my submission and gently refusing it entry on the basis of its lack of quality. The priests of old-school photography sects have spent lifetimes mastering intricate incantations, potions, incense, crystals, and orthodoxies that allow them to filter out new entrants who’ve found easier routes to finished products (Photoshop is a form of cheating). So, how to create an effective barrier to entry? Simple you create both inclusive and exclusive names.

Until something is named, it doesn’t exist.

Ted said...

Part 2:

Which is why that topic of exclusionary definitions of what photography is recurs in my essays. BTW, those who use brushes, crayons, and/or paints and dyes are just as protective to entries into their denominations. It is the rare fine art gallery that peddles digital based photographic fine art. I confess to a similar intolerance when it comes to representational and conceptual work composed of stock photos that are subsequently (and often brilliantly) made part of digital collages. I'm sort of intolerant to allowing artists who’ve never held a camera nor who “took” any part of their final montages… to imply their work is photography. Yeah, I know, it’s bigotry… It doesn’t mean I’m unimpressed nor moved by their stuff… but something in me insists that photography implies photographers and photographers do photography and… and.. Well OK, the word ‘tautology’ does spring to mind: Sigh.

Hence my pique at those who claim ownership of the word, "photography" while concluding that what people like me do belongs to what they imply is an apostate cult of illustration. Can stake-burning be far behind? Ewwwww....

Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are... :-)

Cedric said...

We are indeed on the same page, as there is only one page, just as life is being projected on only one screen, and yet it appears that we are all watching different movies. Still, where you and I are concerned, we do seem to converge on the same take. Which could just mean that we are equally deluded of course.
I agree that art transcends aesthetics. But I would say that the work an audience does upon witnessing an artwork, is due to an inner struggle triggered, or provoked as you say, by whatever the artwork reveals to each individual. Humans are lazy by nature. We tend to always look for the path of least resistance. If art only asked questions, art would have lost it's audiences long ago. People like answers, even if it is to questions they hadn't thought of asking. Art, however, can be very blunt and often reveals things that can be most uncomfortable. It can force individuals to go into places they don't want to venture into. The stirrings, the reveals may not be happening at a conscious level but they can be felt rather strongly all the same even if they are not fully understood. The reaction, in such cases, can be contempt or hatred for the artwork, often aimed at the superficial aspects like the aesthetics or, in extreme cases, aimed at the artist who had no more to do with the revelation than the paintbrush, the chisel or the camera.
As for your "topic of exclusionary definitions of what photography is", I cannot contribute anything overly useful towards it. It is what it is, I suppose. For me, labels or names are only useful to a point and we have taken things way past that point in the last couple of decades. All the way into the land of Nonsense. I cannot say why this is, though it may simply be that we thrive on drama more than cohesion and what better way to induce drama than through discrimination which is facilitated so nicely when we have loads and loads of labels.
Also, "Until something is named, it doesn’t exist"? Surely everything was named after it was experienced which implies that it existed, if only for a infinitesimal period of time, prior to being named. I would say that until something is experienced by consciousness, it does not exist. Or as I like to put it, every thing is born out of consciousness :)