Re: You Say Krappy, I Say Crappy

From: Katharine Thayer ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 01/09/05-05:43:18 AM Z
Message-id: <>

But going back to your music analogy, then I take it that by your
definition, jazz isn't art?

Schuyler Grace wrote:
> Katharine's response to one of my earlier postings about what is art got me
> to thinking (so blame her, not me) and looking at this question from a
> musical perspective. I said earlier that, for me, art is about
> communicating what's in the artist's head and the true measure of an artist
> is how well s/he controls the medium and effectively communicates with the
> viewer (or listener, or whatever). And despite some opinions to the
> contrary, I still don't believe happy accidents make art, in and of
> themselves, but those accidents are what many "artists" are generating with
> "krappy kameras" and paint splatters and other such techniques.
> Like Katharine and others on the list, I have experimented with pinholes and
> zone plates and nasty old lenses, hoping they might help me to express the
> feelings I had about a subject. So far, though, I haven't been able to
> control their effects to my satisfaction, even though some of those happy
> accidents have happened, encouraging me to experiment further. But in the
> end, what I am striving for is to capture an image that's in my head, not
> simply say, "that looks neat!" and call the results art.
> Perhaps the reason I work/think this way is because that's how I approach
> music. When I play or compose, I hear the music in my head, and I try to
> make my hands and the instrument reproduce what I hear. Even with an
> improvisation, I am hearing where the music is going before the notes
> disturb the air, and I'm not consciously making my hands do what is required
> to play. Also, some of my instruments have to be perfectly set up before
> they will work for me, and others need to have nasty, old, barely tunable
> strings to gain their voice. But the point is that I know the medium and I
> have a vision of the image I want to create, so what is created expresses
> that vision (unless some part of the process doesn't work). Of course,
> things don't always work out that well, and I have had my share of
> happy/unhappy accidents that lead to new discoveries, but they weren't part
> of my vision for that work.
> In the photography realm, I see the world the way my cameras and lenses and
> film do. As new materials and/or techniques come along, I incorporate them
> into my mental vocabulary, and I do the same with photographic happy
> accidents. Sometimes, I even go out shooting looking and hoping for happy
> accidents. But I can't ever recall a time I though one of those happy
> accidents was a finished image. Rather, they become parts of other images
> as I work to explain what's inside of me.
> Finally, I understand an image that has great and specific meaning to me may
> have no or a completely different meaning to someone else, and I expect
> that. If I want someone to experience my images the way I do (or as closely
> as they can), there has to be more explanation than just the photograph,
> itself. Shelby Adams's work in Appalachia is a great example of how a
> contemporary photographer and his images can be at once reviled and
> applauded. When I first saw a collection of his images, I was astounded at
> how well he had captured the spirit and soul of his subjects. I was just as
> astounded to discover that a great many people look at his work as being
> horribly misrepresentative of the people he photographs. But I grew up
> around similar folks and understood what Adams was trying to convey, and
> without that background or other support, I realized most people would be
> horrified by his images. So, the image is not necessarily the be all and
> end all in communicating your vision.
> Hopefully, this diatribe has helped some of you on the list understand a
> little better where I'm coming from, but that's not to say I'm correct, of
> course. And I will most likely never consider myself an Artist in any
> medium--a craftsman, maybe, but not an Artist--so take what I have said with
> a giant grain of salt.
> -Schuyler
Received on Sun Jan 9 13:39:23 2005

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