23 March 2009

an artistic problem

sunday morning
Originally uploaded by oferchrissake
With photography, there is a persistent problem with how it can be art. In a sense, photography is no more artistic than meeting notes--it's documentation of event(s), and can be just as plain as text. On the other hand, there is the idea that the photograph is inherently visual art, because it evokes time and place, action, stasis, and emotion. There is a story told, or intriguingly not told, with any image. Photographs are no more "true" than any other first-person account, and yet they're regarded as more valuable evidence than the expressed memories of a human brain. A photograph is not a painting, or a drawing, and yet offers the expressive qualities of both. It's a kind of printmaking, but somehow regarded as a less venerable tradition. New money, not to be relied on or accepted fully into society. And yet, it is money, and makes its own society.

So, is this photograph of red underpants on an asphalt sidewalk Art? Is it documentation? Is it true? Is it suggestive, does it tell a story? Is a single such photograph trivial, while a book of photographs of underwear on the ground becomes an epic? Where would the line be drawn? 5 photos? 10? 100? Is there no limit to the number of photographs that I could make of this theme that would turn it into an artistic statement?

Or is it already, in and of itself, Art?

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