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Saturday, April 16, 2005 - 12:47amSanction this postReply
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Good essay, but where are the examples? =)



Post 1

Saturday, April 16, 2005 - 1:09amSanction this postReply
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Heidi,

Brilliant article :-)

Jeff,

Try SuperBeauty.org and BodyInMind.com - at least I assume that's the sort of thing Heidi meant?

MH




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Post 2

Saturday, April 16, 2005 - 10:59amSanction this postReply
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Photography?

Playboy maybe?

Michael




Post 3

Saturday, April 16, 2005 - 11:21amSanction this postReply
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Jeff,

One good example of the "dark" type of work I was thinking about is the photography of David Penprase; the www.bodyinmind.com site which Matthew mentions, from what I can tell at a glance, is a good example of the other.  I'll try and find some more examples! 

- Heidi
http://heidicorinne.blogspot.com




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Post 4

Saturday, April 16, 2005 - 1:27pmSanction this postReply
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Heidi,

Just to be absolutely fair, I should expound a bit on my "Playboy" remark above. I believe that the erotic is also a very valid artistic consideration. Since erotic nudity also tends to appeal to the human "I see sex, I want to do sex" impulse (attested by the very popular use of it everywhere in the marketplace), the erotic nude in art is normally looked down on or completely excluded as a baser consideration.

But it is there and it is powerful.

I consider some of Playboy's nude layouts over the years to be some of the most life-affirming celebrations of the female body in still photography nudity I have ever seen.

Even Ayn Rand had no problem falling between magazine covers together with Playboy Bunnies in her famous Playboy interview. btw - One of her unfortunate misfires (which I wistfully regret) was that she considered that photography was not a valid form of art (see The Romantic Manifesto). Happily the world has gone on its merry way making photography very much a valid form and I love it.

I am surprised by the lack of any examples in your article, as Jeff suggested. As you are female, most hetero males who read this immediately think the female nude. So, without any referents, the tendency to joke is irresistible. But there is some amazing photography out there on male nudes and I believe you want this facet included in an appreciation of your article.

To be absolutely frank, I believe that this article of yours deserves to be expanded. You could include, say, a discussion of Robert Mapplethorpe as one of your "dark" examples (maybe with a swipe at federal funding) and the collective city-stoppers of Spencer Tunick as post modern nude photography. And there is an issue of where artistic nudity with children and child pornography cross and intersect.

Just as an aside, I put together a layout for a TV interview/variety program on art in Brazil once called Falando de Arte (Talking about Art). The last section of the program was to have been the "Nude of the Week," where artistic nudity in major art works was shown and discussed. This was an obvious audience draw, but it was also a very valid issue. Unfortunately a huge Protestant organization bought out the station and my program was scrapped.

Last aside. Good luck with your environmental-from-a-free-market-market-view endeavors. Many good things can be done there and I applaud you interest.

Michael



Post 5

Saturday, April 16, 2005 - 2:08pmSanction this postReply
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Heidi, I find "art is an idealization of existence" to be much more clear and simple than the skull-cracking "selective recreation of reality".

As a sometimes published writer on philosophical topics, I find your writing style is simple, spare, and elegant. I agree that concretization, examples of the nudes would be good, but that doesn't detract from the virtues your piece has already. And your concretization of the importance of selectivity, of stripping away the non-essential is crystal clear.

And refreshingly free of baffling-to-the-layman Objectivist jargon.



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Post 6

Saturday, April 16, 2005 - 2:58pmSanction this postReply
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You might, Heidi, consider this,http://www.visioneerwindows.blogspot.com/, and check under August 07, 2004, at least  in regards artworks and nudity...

And as for the remark regarding photography - the mistake is not that she recognised it was not art [ no, it isn't], but that there is confusion in the usage of the word 'art', in that it is taken to mean both fine art and aesthetics [a broader understanding which encompasses both the utilitarian and the contemplative, and the bridging of the decorative arts].... the same with architecture, something others also have fierce disagreement over - and for, basically, the same reason......

(Edited by robert malcom on 4/17, 9:13am)




Post 7

Sunday, April 17, 2005 - 4:34pmSanction this postReply
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Michael:

"One of her unfortunate misfires (which I wistfully regret) was that she considered that photography was not a valid form of art (see The Romantic Manifesto). Happily the world has gone on its merry way making photography very much a valid form and I love it."

I agree with you that she made a mistake here.  Obviously, I also disagree with Rand on this point... ;-)

I may very well consider an expansion - with my senior thesis looming over me this summer I may or may not have time, but I think it certainly deserves expansion in order to illustrate what I'm talking about.  Part of the reason I strayed away from specific examples is that I didn't want to alienate certain readers by choosing examples that they disagreed with, when the specific examples aren't that relevant to my point.  Artistic preferences are so subjective, and so personal, that in some circumstances it can be counter-productive to provide examples.  And of course if I mention an example which the reader doesn't recognize that's decidedly unhelpful. 

Philip:

"I find your writing style is simple, spare, and elegant."

Thanks very much for the compliments.  I'm glad you found my piece pleasing to read.  I have one rule for my writing which, though hard to follow, serves me well: my mother has to enjoy reading it.  That serves a two-fold purpose: one, she's a fantasticly well-trained writer and really lets me have it if my prose style is sloppy; and two, I have to stay away from obscure jargon since she's neither an economist nor a philosopher.  Luckily, she's open-minded enough not to complain when she disagrees with me strongly on certain issues (not being an Objectivist herself).  It sounds pretty silly to claim "my mommy has to be able to read what i write" but in my case it actually works out well and keeps my writing style better than it might otherwise be. 

Robert:

I'm very curious as to why you think photography isn't art.  Care to elaborate?

- Heidi Morris
http://heidicorinne.blogspot.com





Post 8

Monday, April 18, 2005 - 7:45amSanction this postReply
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Good article Heidi!!!!

I am pleased that you have started participating in SOLO.

Cheers!!!!

Ed




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Post 9

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 11:46amSanction this postReply
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I'd like to take on Robet's question from Heidi:

I'm an amateur photographer and I enjoy it and love it very much and am often strongly moved by photographs (though never as much as great paintings or sculpture). Although I think photography can be very expressive in many of the ways that traditional art can be, I do not think it is Art. There is an element of creation, of originality or uniqueness that is missing in Photography. I think it is this missing element that makes painting and sculpture Art & not photography.

Art comes straight from the mind, straight from the artistís ideas. The photographer must rely too much on the world as it stands.

An artist has control over every single tiny drop of paint, over every drop of clay. He can fully re-create his vision into exactly as his mind sees it. It is this that allows art to be original -- originating from the mind.

Photography lacks this kind of control. The photographer must rely only on what is already there. Yes, he can set up a scene to his specifications, make the model pose the way he wants, control the lighting, etc. but in the end what he has is EXACTLY what was there.

If art is the selective re-creation of reality, then photography is only a REFLECTION of it. It can never be art. The idea is not so much "created" as it is "recorded."

Photography also has a different effect on the viewer than art. The viewer knows how photography works. He knows that everything in the photograph exists as it appears in the photo, for the most part. The viewer has it all figured out. But a painting is different. It is its own entity -- and entirely new world. A recreation of the mind of the artist -- it is him.

The sense of time is also important. A photograph is only a moment in time and that moment actually existed. The sense of immediacy that is created makes photography different from art. A photograph cant transcend time and space, like a painting or sculpture can.

Having said that, I really enjoyed your piece, Heidi. I think you nicely summed up the reasons behind my strange preoccupation with Fashion Photography and that silly show America's Next Top Model.

I do love photography and hold it in high esteem as a form of expression, communication, and what is it best for: a recorder, reflector of what is beautiful about life, right now!



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Post 10

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 10:05amSanction this postReply
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One of the biggest problems in dealing with understanding Art is the neglect given to the utilitarian side of Aesthetics. Much of this is because the word Art is used in,as mentioned before, two distinct meanings - fine arts, that whose function is contemplative and for its own sake - and aesthetics, which is an "umbrella" understanding of beauty and form, encompassing both the utilitarian of Craft and the contemplative of Arts, with the bridging of DecorativeArts being between.

Part, also, of this is the notion that there is mystical applique to aesthetics such to consider it as some kind of supernatural embodiment - which, in reality is to say it deals with non-reals [since the supernatural is a figment]... this, of course is false, as the non-material is as much real as the material, and aesthetics deals with certain aspects of the non-material as it pertains to being visualized - it is as such the science of beauty and depends on the ethics as foundation for its practicality in both the fundamental realms, crafts and arts.

When all is said and done, the primary function of photography is that of recording.  This is taking of the given, and mechanically imposing that given image on something, usually a sheet of paper for the purpose.  Whatever aesthetics are involved in photography is to the extent it seeks to imitate Art, seeks to have its given with acomposing arrangement.  With judicious selectivity in what is taken as the given, the end result can show a very pleasing set of placements.  Photography, in other words, involves technical skill as its primary, not aesthetic skill.  What aesthetics shows up is like with arthitecture, primarily elements of form enhanced thru composition - as applied to a utilitarian object.  Unfortunately, in the attempt to imitate Art and claim aesthetics where there is little of it, photography has in general cheapened itself to bloated pretentiousness.  It has, in effect, become not even good craft.

As Marnee pointed out, "art... originated from the mind."  Properly, the definition of Art should better read as "Art is the selective re-presentation of the artist's metaphysical or fundamental value-judgments", as this is the meaning she was ascribing to re-creation, not at the time apparently realizing that 're-creation' implies a first 'creation' from which one is 're' or 'doing over'...   the issue of re-presentation involves visualizing abstract - theming...  as Marnee also pointed out, photography works with a given, and the arrangementing of  that given, to the extent it can be, is according to compositional forms - the sense of aesthetics - balance, color, geometric shapse, and so forth - and as she further pointed out, "photography is only a reflection of [Art]' - or as I said, it  "imitates Art."




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Post 11

Friday, April 22, 2005 - 12:59amSanction this postReply
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Marnee wrote,
Art comes straight from the mind, straight from the artistís ideas. The photographer must rely too much on the world as it stands.

An artist has control over every single tiny drop of paint, over every drop of clay. He can fully re-create his vision into exactly as his mind sees it. It is this that allows art to be original -- originating from the mind.

Photography lacks this kind of control. The photographer must rely only on what is already there. Yes, he can set up a scene to his specifications, make the model pose the way he wants, control the lighting, etc. but in the end what he has is EXACTLY what was there.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Are you familiar with some of the techniques used by renowned photographers like Jerry Uelsmann, Man Ray, Bill Brandt, Minor White, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy? Any visual that can be imagined can be produced on film, with or without using actual objects as a starting point, and can be infinitely manipulated down to "every single tiny drop" of film grain by using combinations of pre-digital techniques such as orthographic masking, projection and in-camera masking, negative/positive film alignment, multiple exposures, time exposures, color, diffusion and distortion filters, and selective dodging and burning.

If anything, advanced photographic techniques offer more control than what is available to a painter.

Best,
J




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Post 12

Friday, April 22, 2005 - 8:56amSanction this postReply
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Thank you, Jonathan. I was going to post something like that, but you beat me to the punch.

Rand dismissed still photography as an art form - as opposed to moving photography (motion pictures), which she defined as a form of literature.

I am only going on memory right now, but in both cases, I always had the feeling that she limited the concepts of both forms to a "snapshot" understanding of photography.

Whoever has messed around with visuals in general knows that things other than literature are operating - like the effects of Rorschach blots, subliminal visual messages, etc.

Also, there is a sore point I have from having lived with painters. Not all painters are actual artists. Some are mere pattern makers without rhyme or reason (house painting comes to mind), and others aspire to be precisely snapshot photographers with a brush.

It is entirely possible for an "artist" painter to "paint" with photographic equipment and resources, so why don't we just call such a person a photographer, but let him/her be an artist too?

In music, there is a parallel. There are many new advances in technology, especially keyboards and computer controlled equipment, that allow you to create a song and complete arrangement with very little musical training. Despite being easy to do, like pushing a button on a keyboard instead of actually playing the keyboard (and say, like pushing a button on a camera instead of painting on a canvas), would anyone say that the resulting music is not an art form?

Michael




Post 13

Friday, April 22, 2005 - 3:08pmSanction this postReply
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Michael writes: " In music, there is a parallel. There are many new advances in technology, especially keyboards and computer controlled equipment, that allow you to create a song and complete arrangement with very little musical training. Despite being easy to do, like pushing a button on a keyboard instead of actually playing the keyboard (and say, like pushing a button on a camera instead of painting on a canvas), would anyone say that the resulting music is not an art form?"

Great question!

My own theory is that since art is primarily a product of the mind, I would say yes, it is still art, maybe assisted living art...Just as a composer may not play the dots on the paper, leaving it to the performers,there's a division of labor involved.
(Edited by Joe Maurone
on 4/22, 4:57pm)




Post 14

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 4:23pmSanction this postReply
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Johnathan:
Yes, I am familiar with those photographers. I am also VERY familiar with the photographic process and there IS NO WAY IN THE WORLD that any photographic techniques can compare to taking a blank canvass and spreading paint on it to create a conceptual whole STRAIGHT from the mind of the artist.

Artist: Starts from scratch (even if he has a model)
Photographer: Starts with a model and does not deviate -- not as much at least as an artist has the opportunity to.

The artist can control EVERY DETAIL. The photographer is stuck with what his camera can handle or his chemicals can handle and his creation/concept is always still limited by what already exists, existed. The artist is only limited by his own ideas and his talents, which he can of course improve.

Here is a good example of what I'm talking about:
http://www.tracyfineart.com/blog/archives/2005_04.html#000410
(Blog of artist Robert Tracy)

I think it is best to keep in mind that just because a creative endeavor is not art does not mean it is not important. I think many give the idea of art a very mystical quality because so much of it reaches an untouchable level of beauty and creation that moves us. So when we are moved by a photograph we automatically want to associate it with art. That is not a fair judgement.


Michael:
I never meant to imply that all painters are artists or all paintings are art. The (My) definition of art is very clear and would exempt the "artists" you described.

I dont think your music analogy is a good one. It isnt the instruments or the medium, its the creative process that Im concerned with. Music made electronically is of course still music -- the creative process remains the same. Overall, there are no more limitations on the creator of electronic music than there are for a traditional composer.

$



Post 15

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 7:10pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Marnee,

Here's a rather simple example of what I was talking about in my last post:

http://photos14.flickr.com/14567222_5862ed290c_o.jpg

It's a scan of a photo that I created sometime in the early 80's when I was into experimental photography. Nothing in it is real. No objects were photographed to create it, nor was any part of it drawn, painted, cut out or in any other way rendered by hand. It was created using nothing but the mechanical processes of cameras, lenses, film, filters, lights, stands, and a light table.

Looking at it now, I regret that I didn't take the time to shoot variations of the "petals," but instead shot multiple exposures of the same one. Oh well.

Best,
J



Post 16

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 8:21pmSanction this postReply
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That, Marnee, is why I emphasize that there is a difference between Art - and Aesthetics...  and that while aesthetics is involved in the crafts [of which photography is one] , crafts are not art.



Post 17

Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 6:38pmSanction this postReply
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The artist can control EVERY DETAIL. The photographer is stuck with what his camera can handle or his chemicals can handle and his creation/concept is always still limited by what already exists, existed. The artist is only limited by his own ideas and his talents, which he can of course improve.


I remember a thread somewhere else on this site where it was discussed whether or not a film score is as “artistic” as a symphony, since the artistic vision of the composer of a film score is subject to the vision of the film's writer and director, whereas the symphony's composer is free to choose notes as he likes. I'm uncomfortable enough with the idea that a film score is “lower” than a symphony, but by the standard you're implying here, a film score isn't art at all. So I can't really accept the idea that a medium must give the artist complete control to be considered art.

Every medium has a specific nature, and someone working in that medium must conform to the rules of its nature. Photography is limited by the objects available to photograph and the physical behavior of light. Painting is limited by the chemical structure of the paints used, the types of brushes available, and the size and texture of the canvases available. Writing is limited by the rules of the written language. Architecture is limited by the strength of the materials used, the contours of the building site, and the needs of the customer. Computer games are limited by the graphics and sound hardware and the interface devices. Some media have more confining limits than others, but there are limits of some sort in all of them. So the existence of limits to an artist's vision cannot be the defining characteristic of an artistic medium.







Post 18

Thursday, October 12, 2006 - 12:27pmSanction this postReply
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Good to see this back.... would that more discussion of concepts and principles were so civilly conducted....



Post 19

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - 8:49amSanction this postReply
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Once again see this pop up... and it is good seeing this art discussion, which needs be revived over and over again until some of the points are better understood....  make no mistake, there is a lot of sympathy for those objects and ideas so comforting which one may carry on thru life - even as they error philosophically, biologically, and so on...  nonetheless, errors they are, and the solution is not to try to squeeze in oddball examples to claim the not-true as otherwise, but to examine the alternatives and devise means of glorying reality such that none of the non-real needs be enchanting, and that everything that is possible can be real....



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