Art is something.
The notion of what art is can range depending on your art literacy. The term art is so encompassing that it can be something used to both describe and discuss.
However, what is that talking about?
Art is talking about the artist’s life and all that is entailed in that; it is the art of their life. More importantly art is a personal experience, in which we can engage in a visual dialogue unique to
It is this visual dialogue that puts the category of art into such a jumbling and
often confusing array of niches in our society. Art can be the vendor in the market, the
billboard, the comics, or heaven help us Damien Hirst.
How do we talk about it with integrity?
With this broad scope it is hard to be able to attach language to arts.
Language is our form of communication that is universally there to clarify. Without language we could not think. Words are descriptors, and in art these words have loaded meaning, so much so that for some words they are “dead” in meaning. Words like “Beauty” and “Essence” are so over used that they now drip with a lack of integrity.
And integrity my friends, is important when talking about art.
Some would argue, “But art is a visual language.” Yes. And in the overlap of trying to translate art to language several things can happen. One is over intellectualizing, attaching meaning that did not or never exissted or perhaps thinking something is better than it is.
Through over intellectualizing the art work, the integrity is lost.
The integrity of a work is immediately challenged when placed into the realm of translation into language. This integrity is determined by the ethics within the piece. These ethics are not the good or the bad of the message, because good and bad are not always universal, but it is the clarity and purpose of the individual who created the piece.
That is the ethics of art. The individual who starts a conversation has to take a responsibility for communicating clearly and with a purpose. The artist must also take responsibility for the way in which they live, and not only in daily life, but in the way they live in the work. Contradiction can easily occur in this phase of creating and hang like a black shroud with the piece for its life span.
This is not to say that the viewer does not also assume some responsibility for muddling in the integrity of a piece. It is after all a conversation, meaning two sided. I am simple focusing on the artist since I am one.
As a photographer of the non specific subject, I am often posed questions about the work. It is either over intellectualized or it is assumed to be the easy way out. “What is that?” “What does it mean?”…Not only battles photography as an art form, but also photography as an abstraction can make conversation about the images challenging.
How can we talk about it if it is abstract?
I must also say that this integrity can manifest itself in many ways of visual dialogue, including abstraction. I do not think that abstraction in art is purity of avoidance, or is distilling any messages or simply taking an “easier path” at all.
Perhaps if abstraction is being approached from a technical view, in comparison with some Reinassance works is seems like the path for the lazy and unconcerned. Yet, in doing this, abstraction is also asking a very important question about those art works that take the “harder path” of technical skill. The abstraction is questioning the notion of the medium and object versus subject matter.
Just because it does not have a specific object, does not mean it does not have subject matter, and in overlooking that I think that portion, I think that viewers will be missing out on an entire section of communication of ideas.
Shoot it. Talk about it. Be genuine.
While this article may seem a bit off the cuff for my site, I think it is just as valuable to talk about assigning words to what we are making as it is to learn how to shoot within an app. I challenge you to approach work as a conversation, but also to not attach meaning because you think it needs it.
I also challenge you to be genuine in your own work. What is it about? Do you know yet? What draws you to a subject? Do you shoot abstract images? Is it important to you that people understand them?
Some thoughts for this rainy day. I would love to hear yours and keep an open dialogue about conversations in art.