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When does Photography become Art?

 
 
Eatmorepies
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      06-08-2007

"John Ortt" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:46692d58$(E-Mail Removed)...
>I have been following the In-Camera or Post-Camera thread for some time now
>and the main bone of contention seems to be the level of alteration the
>original photograph undergoes.
>
> >

> At what point does an image no longer become a photograph?


If one sort of art is an image that inspires spirtually then an undoctored
photograph can be art. Daily I look at a photograph of a small section of
hawthorn tree bark and find it inspirational (it's above my toothbrush) it's
not been messed with and I call it art - thus it is art.

I also have one of my colour pictures near my telephone table, I adjusted
the colour, the levels and probably several other parameters - I am inspired
by it and call it art - thus it is art.

So an image that is a photograph is often also art.

John


 
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Colin_D
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      06-09-2007
John Ortt wrote:
> I have been following the In-Camera or Post-Camera thread for some time now
> and the main bone of contention seems to be the level of alteration the
> original photograph undergoes.
>
> At what point does an image no longer become a photograph?
>
> Ever since the dawn of photography people have dramatically altered their
> photographs by applying special effects in the dark-room (even splicing or
> overlaying two photographs).
>
> It always strikes me that these adjustments were seen as far more acceptable
> to the community than the current techniques using computer software.
>
> Is that because it is too easy these daysand hence too prolific? Is it
> because it is too effective and people can often pass off a digitally
> manipulated work as an original?
>
> At what point does an image no longer become a photograph?
>
> What do you all think?
>
> Thanks for your time,
>
> John
>
> (P.S. I can't crosspost to alt.photography or.slr-systems so if someone
> else wants to do so for me on their reply that would be fine as it might get
> a better debate going.)
>

A photograph is always a photograph, just as a painting is always a
painting. And, just like some paintings are a waste of paint and
canvas, some photographs are a waste of silver/ink/film/paper.

But, some photographs, whether photoshopped, darkroom manipulated, or
neither, envelope the viewer in an experience of delight or sadness,
evoking memories or new feelings, producing an awareness of one's
reactions that can be breathtaking, way beyond the literal content of
the image. One can feel that something ethereal has been learned, an
insight that will never be forgotten. One can actually forget that one
is contemplating a photographic image, seeing only the implications,
feeling the mind's response to the connections made with one's own
experiences.

Such images are art.


Colin D.

--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com

 
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Aaron
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      06-09-2007
And lo, Colin_D <(E-Mail Removed)> emerged from the ether
and spake thus:
> John Ortt wrote:
>> I have been following the In-Camera or Post-Camera thread for some time now
>> and the main bone of contention seems to be the level of alteration the
>> original photograph undergoes.
>>
>> At what point does an image no longer become a photograph?
>>
>> Ever since the dawn of photography people have dramatically altered their
>> photographs by applying special effects in the dark-room (even splicing or
>> overlaying two photographs).
>>
>> It always strikes me that these adjustments were seen as far more acceptable
>> to the community than the current techniques using computer software.
>>
>> Is that because it is too easy these daysand hence too prolific? Is it
>> because it is too effective and people can often pass off a digitally
>> manipulated work as an original?
>>
>> At what point does an image no longer become a photograph?
>>
>> What do you all think?
>>
>> Thanks for your time,
>>
>> John
>>
>> (P.S. I can't crosspost to alt.photography or.slr-systems so if someone
>> else wants to do so for me on their reply that would be fine as it might get
>> a better debate going.)
>>

> A photograph is always a photograph, just as a painting is always a
> painting. And, just like some paintings are a waste of paint and
> canvas, some photographs are a waste of silver/ink/film/paper.
>
> But, some photographs, whether photoshopped, darkroom manipulated, or
> neither, envelope the viewer in an experience of delight or sadness,
> evoking memories or new feelings, producing an awareness of one's
> reactions that can be breathtaking, way beyond the literal content of
> the image. One can feel that something ethereal has been learned, an
> insight that will never be forgotten. One can actually forget that one
> is contemplating a photographic image, seeing only the implications,
> feeling the mind's response to the connections made with one's own
> experiences.
>
> Such images are art.
>
>
> Colin D.


My contention is that the only prerequisite for art is intent. So long
as the artist intends for a piece to be art, it is. Whether that piece
has any merit whatsoever is another story, but it was conceived purely
through intent.

Further, we could debate the meaning of the word "photograph" until we
are all dead and gone, but it won't change any photographically
derived artworks. If you splatter a watercolor with acrylic paints,
technically it ceases to be a watercolor; we might call it "mixed
media." That doesn't stop it from being art, though.

The unique debate in photography seems to be the idea that digital
post-production is, in fact, an art form all its own and that it can
wield such power over a photographic image that the image is
"splattered with acrylic" and ceases to be a "photograph." It's a
semantic issue, and not one worth losing sleep over.

Still, it's an interesting discussion. I am somewhat confused as to
why this topic is so heavily debated in this day and age. Traditional
post-processing techniques have gotten more powerful with each passing
year since the invention of the negative (circa 1839), so why should
it stop with chemicals and slides? Why didn't people decry
cross-processing or the Orton effect as stripping photographs of their
essence?

--
Aaron
http://www.fisheyegallery.com
http://www.singleservingphoto.com

 
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Shawn Hirn
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      06-09-2007
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
Aaron <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> My contention is that the only prerequisite for art is intent. So long
> as the artist intends for a piece to be art, it is. Whether that piece
> has any merit whatsoever is another story, but it was conceived purely
> through intent.


The eye of the beholder is much more important than the artist's intent.
For example, I took a photo of a bunch of trash cans, just to fiddle
around with a new camera. A friend saw that photo and he thought it was
"arresting." Go figure! To me, it was just a photo of a bunch of trash
cans.
 
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Robert Coe
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      06-09-2007
On Fri, 08 Jun 2007 12:22:10 GMT, "James Silverton"
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
: John wrote on Fri, 8 Jun 2007 11:34:47 +0100:
:
: JO> At what point does an image no longer become a photograph?
:
: JO> Ever since the dawn of photography people have dramatically
: JO> altered their photographs by applying special effects in
: JO> the dark-room (even splicing or overlaying two
: JO> photographs).
:
: JO> It always strikes me that these adjustments were seen as
: JO> far more acceptable to the community than the current
: JO> techniques using computer software.
:
: JO> Is that because it is too easy these daysand hence too
: JO> prolific? Is it because it is too effective and people can
: JO> often pass off a digitally manipulated work as an original?
:
: JO> At what point does an image no longer become a photograph?
:
: JO> What do you all think?
:
: JO> Thanks for your time,
:
: I used to to enjoy the level of artistic selection and printing
: in exhibitions by professional photographers and I still do but
: often a spectacular color picture causes the thought "Photoshop!"
: I'm not sure that I consider a much modified or combined picture
: to be *photographic* art and, if I said "Photoshop" aloud at a
: show I'd probably get thrown out!

The acknowledged grandmaster of photographic accuracy and compulsive attention
to detail was Ansel Adams. Yet he was an artist, not a mere recorder of
scenes, and spent countless hours in the darkroom adjusting his pictures and
experimenting with special effects. If Adams were in mid-career today, how
would he react to Photoshop and its various cousins? Would he embrace it? If
not, would he denounce those who do? If he had become as skilled with
Photoshop as he was with an enlarger and a set of dodging masks, would his
work be considered any less "art"?

Bob
 
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Roy G
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      06-09-2007

"John Ortt" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:46692d58$(E-Mail Removed)...
>I have been following the In-Camera or Post-Camera thread for some time now
>and the main bone of contention seems to be the level of alteration the
>original photograph undergoes.
>
> At what point does an image no longer become a photograph?
>
> Ever since the dawn of photography people have dramatically altered their
> photographs by applying special effects in the dark-room (even splicing or
> overlaying two photographs).
>
> It always strikes me that these adjustments were seen as far more
> acceptable to the community than the current techniques using computer
> software.
>
> Is that because it is too easy these daysand hence too prolific? Is it
> because it is too effective and people can often pass off a digitally
> manipulated work as an original?
>
> At what point does an image no longer become a photograph?
>
> What do you all think?
>
> Thanks for your time,
>
> John
>
> (P.S. I can't crosspost to alt.photography or.slr-systems so if someone
> else wants to do so for me on their reply that would be fine as it might
> get a better debate going.)
>

You are asking 2 questions which are not interrelated.

When does a photograph stop being a photograph, and the answer to that is
not until it is torn up and binned, it is then just scrap paper.

No amount of manipulation stops it being a photograph.

When does a photograph become Art, when the Artisticly inclined Photographer
presses the shutter release.

It could be argued that the vast majority of happy snappers out there, are
not trying to produce Art, but now and then or perhaps much more often, one
of them does produce a piece of Art.

They may not have realised that, but someone who knows about Art would
recognise it as soon as he / she looked at it.

That is the only answer you can ever get to a question, which relies on
others peoples perception of what is and isn't Art.

Roy G


 
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if
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      06-09-2007
"John Ortt" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> At what point does an image no longer become a photograph?


I asked that same question here about 6 months ago, you could
googlegroup for the answers, thread title was "What is a photograph?".


> Ever since the dawn of photography people have dramatically altered
> their photographs by applying special effects in the dark-room (even
> splicing or overlaying two photographs).
>
> It always strikes me that these adjustments were seen as far more
> acceptable to the community than the current techniques using computer
> software.


No, manipulating images has always been controversial regardless of the
level of technology. My own impression though is that it has actually
got less controversial over time, not more, perhaps because people have
become more comfortable with the idea of photography as an art form. If
you look at articles in Steiglitz's Camera Work magazine published
c.1900 you will see people pontificating about manipulated photos back
then. throughout the 20th century you see the same in photographic
publications and in photographic society debates, questions like, is it
acceptable to crop an image, or to retouch, to dodge and burn in, to
make montages, etc etc.

ISTM though that none of the subtance of your question touches on your
subject line - "when does photography become art?" Photography has always
been an art form according to many (or not, according to some). Whether the
images are straight or manipulated has little or no bearing on
Photography's status as an art form.
 
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Neil Harrington
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      06-09-2007

"Floyd Davidson" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> "Neil Harrington" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>>Strictly speaking, photography doesn't "become art" at all.

>
> It can't become art. It is art by definition, the
> instant it is created. (It isn't necessarily *good* art!)


It isn't art at all, as you describe it. You don't "create" anything by
pressing a button. The machine creates something, but what it creates is a
record -- not art. If you have chosen an appealing thing to make a record
of, that's good but it still isn't art. If you've chosen certain conditions
of light, etc., to make the record in, that's good too but it still isn't
art.

>
>>Photography is a means of recording an image. Recording something by
>>pressing a button is not art, no matter how appealing the image may be.
>>Many
>>people confuse beauty with art, but one does not necessarily have anything
>>to do with the other. For example a sunset may be gorgeous but it isn't
>>art,

>
> All true.
>
>>and recording it isn't art either.

>
> There are in excess of 1 billion ways to record any
> given sunset, all different than the in excess of 1
> billion ways to record the next sunset. Choosing which
> way to record any given sunset necessarily makes the
> result an art,


Not at all, unless you are using "an art" in the loosest possible way (e.g.,
the art of washing a car, the art of slicing onions, etc.). That simply
makes the word meaningless for all practical purposes.


> simply because the results are not
> predefined. Each "record" is different.


Doesn't matter. You might as well say that selecting a dinner from a menu is
"art," or deciding which shoe to put on first is an "art." We all make all
sorts of choices every day, probably tens of thousands of little ones.
Making selections is not art.


> The difficulty
> of doing exactly the same twice in a row demonstrates
> the fact.
>
> art n.
> 1. The employment of means to accomplish some desired end;
> the adaptation of things in the natural world to the uses
> of life; the application of knowledge or power to
> practical purposes.
>
> 2. A system of rules serving to facilitate the performance of
> certain actions; a system of principles and rules for
> attaining a desired end; method of doing well some special
> work; -- often contradistinguished from science or
> speculative principles; as, the art of building or
> engraving; the art of war; the art of navigation.
>
> 3. The systematic application of knowledge or skill in
> effecting a desired result. Also, an occupation or
> business requiring such knowledge or skill.
>
> 4. The application of skill to the production of the
> beautiful by imitation or design, or an occupation in
> which skill is so employed, as in painting and sculpture;
> one of the fine arts; as, he prefers art to literature.
>
> Take your pick, they all apply! Obviously 4 is the most
> suitable to this discussion.


The list is useless. Your number 4 makes a distinction between art and
literature. Do you really think literature is not an art?

The others could apply to slicing onions. This is the problem with trying to
use these sorts of definitions to determine whether a thing or activity is
art.

>
>>If the image is altered in some way by human intervention it may then be
>>art, but the art is in the alteration and not in the photographic process

>
> Except that the "image" is *necessarily* altered by
> human intervention by the very nature of how it is
> produced. That camera may be a black box to you or to
> others, but some human sat down and made decisions that


Again: making decisions, choices or selections is not art. We all do those
things all the time.


> were *not* arbitrary (and not science either) in
> deciding *exactly* how the camera would process image
> data. Indeed, which sensor is used was not an arbitrary
> decision either! Those decisions are all based on how
> the final product is expected to look, and what appeal
> it will have to others. That is art.


People do those things while deciding which TV program to watch. That isn't
art.

>
> There has been considerable artistic knowledge and skill
> applied to everything that happens when a photographer
> releases the shutter, even when the photographer is the
> least skilled/artistic.


You are diluting the meaning of the word to perfect uselessness.

>
>>itself. Simply making choices about viewpoint, focal length, exposure,
>>filtration etc. may all have to do with one's expertise as a photographer
>>but they do not make the photograph "art" either.

>
> Those are indeed the basics of the art in a photograph.
> Any one of them can make or break the artistic appeal
> produced by the final result.


"Artistic appeal" does not imply art. A nice sunset has artistic appeal. It
isn't art.

>
> Not one of them is an automatic decision, a guaranteed
> known, or in any way invariant between different
> photographers.


Again, you are talking about making selections. Choosing a picture for the
living room is not art. Deciding on where and how to hang it is not art
either. These sorts of things certainly involve some degree of artistic
sensibility, but they are not examples of *creating* anything.

I have never really understood why some photographers want to think of
themselves as artists. Good photography is a good thing in and of itself. It
need not try to pretend to be something it isn't.

>
>>At what point does alteration of an image become "art"? It's impossible to
>>draw a line that everyone will agree with. I remember seeing the efforts
>>of
>>a photographer who took ordinary, rather blah photographs, made deep
>>scratches in the emulsion of the negatives and then printed them. An
>>enthusiastic critic wrote admiringly about that photographer's "work" as
>>though it conveyed some serious and important message. As far as I'm
>>concerned it was sheer nonsense, but to a large degree "art" is in the eye
>>of the beholder.

>
> Your last sentence is exactly correct!


Thank you.

Neil


 
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Floyd L. Davidson
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      06-09-2007
"Neil Harrington" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>"Floyd Davidson" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
>news:(E-Mail Removed)...
>> "Neil Harrington" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>>>Strictly speaking, photography doesn't "become art" at all.

>>
>> It can't become art. It is art by definition, the
>> instant it is created. (It isn't necessarily *good* art!)

>
>It isn't art at all, as you describe it. You don't "create" anything by
>pressing a button.


Since I did not say art was created by pressing a button
(and in fact agreed that it was not), much less claim it
is created *only* by the pressing of a button, your
following discussion is with yourself and not with me.

....

>> art n.
>> 1. The employment of means to accomplish some desired end;
>> the adaptation of things in the natural world to the uses
>> of life; the application of knowledge or power to
>> practical purposes.
>>
>> 2. A system of rules serving to facilitate the performance of
>> certain actions; a system of principles and rules for
>> attaining a desired end; method of doing well some special
>> work; -- often contradistinguished from science or
>> speculative principles; as, the art of building or
>> engraving; the art of war; the art of navigation.
>>
>> 3. The systematic application of knowledge or skill in
>> effecting a desired result. Also, an occupation or
>> business requiring such knowledge or skill.
>>
>> 4. The application of skill to the production of the
>> beautiful by imitation or design, or an occupation in
>> which skill is so employed, as in painting and sculpture;
>> one of the fine arts; as, he prefers art to literature.
>>
>> Take your pick, they all apply! Obviously 4 is the most
>> suitable to this discussion.

>
>The list is useless.


Look, that is an abjectly stupid statement. It is a list of
the definitions of the word "art" in the English language. It
is useless only if we are not using the English language to
communicate. To deny that dictionary definitions of words are
accurate and useful is ridiculous.

You denied *every* part and every definition of art. That too
is over the edge.

There is no point in discussing the topic when you are that
obtuse.

--
Floyd L. Davidson <http://www.apaflo.com/floyd_davidson>
Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska) http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)
 
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Neil Harrington
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      06-09-2007

"Floyd L. Davidson" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> "Neil Harrington" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>>"Floyd Davidson" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
>>news:(E-Mail Removed)...
>>> "Neil Harrington" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>>>>Strictly speaking, photography doesn't "become art" at all.
>>>
>>> It can't become art. It is art by definition, the
>>> instant it is created. (It isn't necessarily *good* art!)

>>
>>It isn't art at all, as you describe it. You don't "create" anything by
>>pressing a button.

>
> Since I did not say art was created by pressing a button
> (and in fact agreed that it was not), much less claim it
> is created *only* by the pressing of a button, your
> following discussion is with yourself and not with me.


You said (just above, for pete's sake), "It is art by definition, the
instant it is created." That certainly implies you think it's "art" the
instant the button is pressed.

> ...
>
>>> art n.
>>> 1. The employment of means to accomplish some desired end;
>>> the adaptation of things in the natural world to the uses
>>> of life; the application of knowledge or power to
>>> practical purposes.
>>>
>>> 2. A system of rules serving to facilitate the performance of
>>> certain actions; a system of principles and rules for
>>> attaining a desired end; method of doing well some special
>>> work; -- often contradistinguished from science or
>>> speculative principles; as, the art of building or
>>> engraving; the art of war; the art of navigation.
>>>
>>> 3. The systematic application of knowledge or skill in
>>> effecting a desired result. Also, an occupation or
>>> business requiring such knowledge or skill.
>>>
>>> 4. The application of skill to the production of the
>>> beautiful by imitation or design, or an occupation in
>>> which skill is so employed, as in painting and sculpture;
>>> one of the fine arts; as, he prefers art to literature.
>>>
>>> Take your pick, they all apply! Obviously 4 is the most
>>> suitable to this discussion.

>>
>>The list is useless.

>
> Look, that is an abjectly stupid statement. It is a list of
> the definitions of the word "art" in the English language. It
> is useless only if we are not using the English language to
> communicate. To deny that dictionary definitions of words are
> accurate and useful is ridiculous.


Dictionary definitions do the best they can, but they are intended for the
general public and not the knowledgeable specialist. There are many things
dictionaries get wrong as far as people with special interests are
concerned. For example, most dictionaries accept "bullet" as another word
for "cartridge," but serious shooters know they are not the same thing at
all and no literature on the subject would ever make that mistake.

As I said, using "art" in a sentence like "the art of slicing onions" is
perfectly correct, indeed would satisfy most of the definitions you've
listed; but that is not "art" as I think we are using the term. It is not
"as in painting and sculpture" as mentioned in your No. 4 above. And neither
is photography.

If you think there is any similarity or equivalence in the nature of the
work, try doing some serious painting or sculpture and it will quickly
disabuse you of that notion.

Neil


 
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