Seeing is art.

So I was sitting at home today, I made a cup of tea and took an apple then put them side by side. I lean to the laptop (of course) and for a moment I looked down. And it struck me as beautiful.

<read on->

I mean the view from the above on the objects, the dark color of the tea, the greenness of the apple, the proportions of their shapes etc. This led me to think that if I just took a camera right now and got a picture it’d turn out beautiful. Now imagine that such photo would be considered art. If you find it hard to trust my layman’s eyes, it’s not a problem for the idea itself. Just think of some artistic photography took by a famous photographer and imagine the moment he is looking at the scene, just before he takes the photo. Suppose no filters, computer enhancement is made, he frames exactly what he sees with his eyes. I’m not an expert on photography but I’m quite sure it’s possible to take a ‘natural’ photo or something indistinctly similar to it. That’s the start.

Now look closer. What is the difference between the photo and the fragment of reality seen by the photographer just before he took it. At what point the ‘art’ is ‘born’? Does it have to be translated into some solid material? I can see two options here.

a)      You can see some part of reality as ‘art’ without taking pictures, panting or telling about it. The problem is that there is no way to communicate what you see. Therefore it’s your private piece of art, only possible to grab for a second and only for your eyes. Maybe ‘ar’t is everywhere in the world, it’s like air, ready to be grabbed by anyone who is willing. In this case the artist is one who is best capable of materializing art, catching it, filming it, showing it to others. Art is everywhere, it’s easy to encounter and it only takes good intentions to feel it. The difficult problem is communicating, transmitting art, for only gifted individuals can write captivating descriptions of their experience, fears or fantasies.

b)      The alternative is that art comes into being when the photo is taken. When the fragment of the world is caught, turned into letters or graphics and made available for everyone to see or feel in as a readymade version. The magic happens when the ink dries, so to speak. Or to use another metaphor you put some feelings into oven, bake them and take out an art cake. With this idea comes the conclusion that art needs an artist to create it from raw experience or thoughts. A normal person cannot touch it in its natural environment it’s only available as prepared by artist and showed to people. There is no easy translating here, the art itself happens ‘inside’ the mind of an artist. It’s probably close to a romantic vision of a genius poet etc.

I feel guilty for over theorizing such a touchy subject. The only thing I can do now is to refrain from any suggestions and evaluations. I won’t try to persuade you that one of the two is better or more reasonable.

But, well, after all, how can I deny that every person should be entitled to his/her own art?

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5 comments on “Seeing is art.

  1. Bella says:

    What a great post on the philosophy of art! Especially using photography as the example…I studied photography and I’ve thought this same, exact situation you have just written about….therefore, you are the artist of my own, past thought and have manifested it beautifully! I am glad that both A and B exist, bc I am touched by things that I see and can personally experience a private moment with in my memory treasure box with a mental snapshot, but I am also glad that others, and myself included are afforded the sometimes, taken for granted moments and share it with others to appreciate it’s beauty, by capturing it in a still frame. Have you ever read the Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer? If you haven’t, I suggest it, you will find many a great quotes to share in there. 🙂

    Another random thought, have you ever witnessed performance art? What do you think about the fact that the performing artist is being filmed to share later on in the future…is it not performance art anymore, since the observer watching is now watching a video of a performance and not physically experiencing it in real life, as the performance artist intended? What do you think of performance art? You don’t have to answer, just something to think about.

    • A lot of things to say here:> Thanks for Dyer it looks like it might useful for my research, actually photography caused a lot of trouble for intellectual property law, as it is relatively ‘realistic’ and is often question in terms of ‘is this enough to make an art piece?’ So expect some quotes from this book ^^ On the other note I don’t feel confident enough to say anything about performence art, not at the moment.

      • Bella says:

        Your welcome 🙂 I’m interested to see which quotes you decide to use from the book. It has some of my fav quotes about life and art in there. I know exactly what you mean by intellectual property law….I ran into many road blocks in terms of my photography over the years, being stopped by city officials, security guards and various other “authority” figures while in school shooting street photography…I cant wait to see more of what you think….The book by Dyer has some of the best and most prolific photographers of all time in there and their concepts and philosophies of humans, life, art and society…it’s a brilliant and thought provoking read. 🙂

  2. This is such an interesting subject to me, especially when you come to the second idea as it could also mean that something isn’t art if you’re not using ‘proper’ techniques – i.e. for something to be considered art it has to be recorded in a certain way, possibly using certain tools. And maybe that just means there’s different kinds of art. I look at some pieces and am in awe of the colour, or the concept, but in others it’s the execution that impresses me – in other words it’s the technical skill of the artist that makes it enjoyable.

    Speaking personally I love the thought that art is everywhere, sitting waiting for discovery, made out of everyday things. Alright, you can take it a bit far and try to say that everything is art (and possibly it is… possibly not), but I don’t think it makes it any less valid. The expression and execution and presentation of it all is still no less part of it though, at least in my way of thinking.

  3. Yes, that deserves more thought, I mean the problem of ‘proper techniques’. Yet there is something that enables us to tell, even if it’s performence art without prior knowledge. From this would follow that it can’t be ‘everything’ that is art, only some special bits and pieces. Why are still not sure why they are speciel, we look for reasons, mechanisms and definitons but it’s ‘magic’. Kind of. Or it’s so deeply intertwined with our consciousness that we can never extract it properly.

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