Saturday, November 12, 2005

Thoughts about art. And, of course, me.

There's been this on-going discussion over at my friend N8's site, HERE. (Before you click it, realise that it's a very LONG discussion, but definitely a "must read")

It started out as a musing by N8 about mythology and fell head-long into a discussion of Religion and Eastern Thought.

I got the shit kicked out of me. The people commenting are extremely intelligent, and although I'm not slob when it comes to the brain department, I am rightfully in awe of some of their minds.

I've since pulled out of the discussion, for the primary reason that I wasn't able to express myself in the way I was hoping, I would mean one thing, and I swear it must have come out through my writing as a completely different thing! Ger... Was it frustrating. But anyhoo... It was a really fun time, none-the-less.

The conversation made me think of something, I talked briefly about art, and my brain, and thought, heck... I might as well say something on MY blog about it, as it's about me.

I am a fine-art photographer.

I have to start there, 'cause this is all about me.

Being a fine-art photographer hasn't been easy. First... There aren't many. Secondly, a lot of people, like 92% of the population of the Earth don't really understand what that means. That's not saying that the whole world is silly or anything, it's just that as an established media of fine art, it's pretty fricking new. My friend Brett and I were the first two Bachelor of Fine Art folks at River Falls that MAJORED in Photography, and that was only back in '98 and '99 respectively! Why didn't others get a major in Photography before us? 'Cause it didn't exist! You could get it in painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, even fibres, but NOT in Photography.

Weel... Now you can, and we did, and it was gravy.

After a few years, I went to go get my MFA in Britain, I thought... Heck, good career move, nice C.V. builder, grad-school in a foreign country... Different view-point on the arts, yadda, yadda...

Boy... Was THAT a mistake. While in the U.S. Fine-art Photography, while being rather new as an academic subject, is still accepted. In England? Gah... I was told in my first year of my masters that if I continued making photographs, I'd fail the course.

I didn't fail. And I didn't stop making photographs, but that's a different story.

Anyhoo... In Britain... Fine Art is this "magical" thing. You are creating a piece of art, or performance that "means" something else, or describes something, or communicates this 'larger ideal' of something. The main thing in contemporary art, at the current moment, is "conceptual" art rather than "representational" art. Put it this way, if I took a shit, and smeared it on a canvas, and called it "Daisies in Spring" and then wrote some amazingly boring dissertation about how shit symbolises this, and canvas symbolises this, and Daises symbolise this... Blah, de blah, de blah... I'd be making conceptual art. If I painted a picture like Monet's Lilies, or hell, even a Picasso type painting of a few whores in a boudoir, now-a-days, I'd be laughed at by the modern art world.

This is a problem... As photography is basically pure representation. I look at something that exists and I record it. There's a HELL of a lot more to it than that, obviously, but I don't have a tonne of time to go through modern art theory at the mo', and I digress... What I do is "show" people things that normally they wouldn't notice about the world that we all share. The things exist, it's just that perhaps they're overlooked, or ignored by most folks walking about.

I love doing that. I think I'm really good at it. (Which is why, even doing representational photography, I still passed my course) And I have never wanted to change. The thing is... Is that I am UNABLE to change.

I can't "do" art, the way art is taught now-a-days.

I don't "think" like most of the artist's seem to be able to think in Britain. I used the example of my wife and myself. She's an artist, and a bloody well GIFTED one at that.

If you said "sky" to my wife, she'd probably visualise a blue, or grey, or what-have-you, SKY.

You say "sky" to me, and I don't. I actually visualise (for lack of better term) the letter's "S" "K" and "Y". I never visualise a picture of something... I either "think" of an idea that goes along with it, or lacking comprehension, I'll think of the letters of the word that make up that "thing" you've asked me to visualise.

Weird, huh?

Now... That is a pretty fucking limiting thing when you're trying to be an artist. I mean... If I don't visualise things, how can I be an artist in the first place?

Well... I make photos.

I don't sit in my studio and visualise an idea, and then go out into the world to try to represent, thorough a photograph, this "idea" in the real world.

I go OUT into the world, and make photos of stuff that's already there, and maybe, just MAYBE complete a series of photographs (10 or 20) that TOGETHER can hint at a broader "idea" than a single image could do. But this is an afterthought, not the prime reason the photos were made in the first-place.

I don't know if anyone is going to get this... Or anything... But it's something that I had to write down, and get it off my chest.

I love art. I love my wife's art. Her's is the first "conceptual" art that I am actually able to "get" and understand. I can appreciate other conceptual artists' work, although I may not "get" it.

But... I like my OWN art. I like representing the real world. No hoity-toity ideas of something, just gritty or sometimes lovely visions of reality.

A place that we as a culture seem to be trying desperately from which to remove ourselves.

Thanks for reading.

-- Slàinte