Home > General Discussion (Mixed Workflow Forums) > Ethics and Philosophy > If it's automated, is it still (fine) art?

If it's automated, is it still (fine) art?

  1. As I spend some hours in my new darkroom light night, my brain was kind of chewing the topic.

    I'm no artist, far from it. But I've made I few prints I like, and more importantly - I value. They tend to be of my family, as this seems to be the topic I really care about. And frankly, I'm fine with that. Gone are the years of seeking the answer to existential questions, which fuel more open approach to art. So yeah, for me it's just relaxation and meditation. It's incredible really how mindful darkroom work is, specially compared to anything we do with computers.

    So back to my prints. There's a print I've made last winter, of my daughter in a street. I spent hours on getting that print just right, as the available light was tricky, plus I want to make it what I envisioned. I have a log of numerous trials what worked and what didn't. Sure, I was very new to darkroom so I spent maybe even more time than many of you would.

    But still, when I look at that print, I really look. It's not a snapshot. It's not just a good looking photo. It's something I've created. Spent considerable time, work, creativity in that one print. And it's unique. If you want to see it, you need to come to my place.

    This kind of too long overture brings us to the topic: great masters of art, whoever you name... Michelangelo, Picasso, Dali, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Ansel Adams... and many more... all of them spent a great deal of time and skill working on their creations to perfection. Is this kind of persistence a requirement for true art? Is art in many ways demonstration of personal growth through developing a certain skill?

    To approach the question from the other side: if today's Van Gogh used a computer to create his paintings in a fraction of time he needed with paint and a brush... would that still be art? Apparently, Van Gogh was a fast painter and didn't spend "more than a few days" on some of his well known works. But see here, how quickly it can be done today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eXSaJS0Gts

    Another example: if todays Michelangelo took a 3d scan of David (yes, such scanners exist) and have it 3D printer, would that still be art? OK, 3D printers are still a bit rough for a masterpiece like David, but how about a CNC stone cutter? Yes, such stuff exists: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3Ff0qwYMyY

    How many people would call the robotic sculpture art? And how many would call the digital paint art? (personally, I'd expect none for the sculpture, but some for the painting; would be an interesting research actually).

    My hypothesis is, that people inherently value something as Art, when it's hand made by another person.

    Certainly, I "like" the photos of my daughter I snapped and "manipulated" with a few clicks, and they do bring the value of the memory they store and aesthetic they have. They do not, however, "contain me". They contain more genius programmers who created the algorithms than me.

    That print. That one print, however - there's nothing but me in there. And that's what art is all about, isn't it?
  2. Fine art is a marketing term.

    It has no real definition.

    Neither does art.
  3. What is art? Seriously?

    More has been written about what is and is not art, than any of us will be able to read in our lifetimes.

    I would like to say that it requires thought, and input, from the human mind, and then some fool mucks it all up with a painting from an elephant, or a monkey.

    Does it take long hours of effort and dedication? Is that what makes it art? Then does a copy of the Mona Lisa qualify?

    Does it need originality? Then do the monkey and the elephant become artists?

    Personally, if the result speaks to me on more than a superficial level. If it stirs something in my supposed soul, then I believe it is art. Whether it was created off a CNC machine, or by a monkey. If it pulls me in deep, and whispers a new message, an unthought word, makes me FEEL something. Then I call it art.
  4. Rather than get in a debate as to whether art truly exists apart from a "marketing" term, lets work with the more common idea the word represents in order to address the question as we each interpret it. After all, words are merely signifiers to which we all _believe_ we agree in regard to meanings, and a treatise on any word, such as "marketing," seems too large to tackle in the context of the question.

    One may argue a photo is merely a replication, but we could counter by pointing out composition, lighting, manipulation when printing, etc. Art, when representing something real (as opposed to abstract), is not mere replication. It is the process, interpretation, representation, technique/skill, and the process as an whole. I have a good friend who is an artist. She does abstract paintings, and regardless of whether some like her work (I do), it is art. I could not paint anything myself and have it considered art.

    Regarding "paintings" using a computer - have you ever seen what some people did with M$ Paint over a decade ago? Yes, it was done on a computer, but essentially "by hand." No scanning or digital capture, each pixel or stroke was added, one by one, manually. What about the scenes some people can do with an Etch-A-Sketch?

    I don't know if I'd consider it art if it were scanning and then sculpting via CNC or 3d-printing. There is no real skill involved in letting a computer/machine replicate something exactly; that would be like photo-copying. However, if you hand-programmed the dimensions - each cut to the material - that might be a different consideration; but that's not really automated. Also, this might imply it is art to input x-y coordinates to cut a piece of plywood in half - to which I would NOT agree.

    I believe this brings me back to my fist paragraph - and to an example.
    Look at some of the wonderful photos on APUG that would be considered art. I take snapshots, I have used some of the same film and developers, doing it all myself, and mine certainly don't qualify as art.
    The tools and media, and even some of the processes, neither make something "art" nor "not art." I believe art is found in what the artist brings to the process.
  5. Really just the application of one's craft for no other reason than to evoke a pleasurable response in the viewer.Some works may appeal to a very narrow range of viewers (like family photos) or to a vast majority...like Michelngelo's works.
    I have an abstract painting at home, done by a local artist, that I never tire of viewing....to me that's art, others have no response at all. Your print of your daughter was wholly created by you, with probably a great deal of emotional input, and this is something that may only be obvious to you, but to you, it is most definitely art.
  6. "Art" is all over the board. For example try pricing an original Ed Ruche "Every Building on the Sunset Strip." That seems to have quit a bit of value. He had his camera mounted on his vehicle. As he drove through the street and the camera automatically exposed the film used to make the book.
  7. With relation to “what is art”, I quite like Emile Zola’s definition. Later in life Emile Zola would have a dinner party every Thursdays at his home and regular guests would include people like Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro. I think the question of what is art may have arisen during dinner conversation (but I can’t prove that). However, Emile came out with this quote - “Art is a corner of creation seen through a temperament.”
  8. A lot of people who are very highly regarded as artists did not print their own work. The fact is that no one cares how hard you work to make the print. The art world, with its galleries, museums, scholars, patrons, collectors, and artists all simply care about the final image and nothing else.
  9. And what's wrong with that?
  10. "Nobody cares how hard you worked"

    Good post about this by Ctein over on Mike Johnston's blog:


    "It's a really, really important lesson that all photographers should take to heart. If someone already likes your photograph, how hard you worked doesn't matter. If they don't, telling them how hard you worked is not going to change their mind."
  11. And from a collector's standpoint if you don't think a shark in a tank is worth millions, don't bid on it!
  12. I'm not really sure about that. This is mixing business vs art. Sure, if you are after success, recognition or money, you'd probably want to do the most impact with the least work possible. There's another twist to that of course, as what first might give you the edge, will result in saturated market very, very soon if you don't find a way to diversify.

    But Art doesn't care about that. Franz Kafka, for example, only published a little while he was alive. He worked hard - so hard actually, it probably killed him. Not to mention Van Gogh.
  13. Grab a copy of "Art and Fear" from the library. Special points for me are to be pleased and confirmed doing what you see and producing what is in you demanding to come out rather than attempting to do what others think, believe, or comment about. Your art is bringing forth your vision. Be it fixing my car correctly, soldering in the copper plumbing for my darkroom so there are no drips, mowing my lawn when I'm gone and not forgetting the trimming. Art is doing it 'right' when no one is looking. No matter who you are. A friend started working life as a "Track Dog' on the railroad. He thought he was pretty good when he could get a spike down to rail in three blows. That was pretty much the "measure of the Man." Except he was on a crew with a huge old guy called "Dirty Denny". Dirty Denny could do it regularly in one blow. Never measure yourself against some one else's scale. The cartoon is my suggestion. Ignore the others 'education'.
  14. Hi Chris,
    Is that what you believe, or what you think should be true?

    I just ask because that would imply that a collector or museum only cares about the final image and therefore places the same value on a JPEG shared on Dropbox as a print made by Ansel Adams. I don't know much (anything) about how museums decide what to purchase, but I'm guessing provenance plays a role in certain purchases?
  15. I like this.
  16. Neither. It is simple fact, whether we like it or not. Provenance has nothing whatever to do with how something was made. Provenance is a record of a work of art's ownership, an important thing when buying and selling work after it has left the artist's studio. If you can show a paper trail documenting purchases and sales of a piece going back to the artist and showing every owner the piece has had, that proves the piece is authentic, not a forgery (or a modern print from the original neg).
  17. I'm not explaining myself very well. I suppose what I mean is that if the 'galleries, museums, scholars, patrons, collectors, and artists all simply care about the final image and nothing else', does that not imply that collectors, museums etc. would place the same value on a JPEG of Gursky's 'Rhine II' as they would the original negative and print?

    I'm not an art collector by any means, but I do buy original paintings, i.e. actual paint on canvas. For me that does provide a certain value over an inkjet print of the same thing, even if the final image is identical. Perhaps in the art world, that is frowned upon, but for better or for worse, I do place value on that.
  18. Tell me how many hours Cartier-Bresson spent slaving over a print that he couldn't quite get right....

    As others have said, if the viewer didn't know how much effort was put into a shot, would the viewer actually care
  19. Exactly zero. Apart from the beginning when H.C-B was a clumsy amateur he made no photographs at all, only exposures. But he screamed, and raved, and threatened, and bullied his darkroom staff without limit or pity until the final pictures supported his own idea of his own legend. And yes, there is grand art in that too; just not the art people imagine. There is nothing in the rules that says a great artist has to be a good man.
  20. That's my point Maris - I am sure that if he could HCB would have had someone else press the damn shutter if he could. I am also pretty sure he would have embraced digital if it was available when he cared about photography.
  21. I somehow feel words being inserted into my mouth. I don't suggest at all that a photographer has to develop film or prints to be an artist, I've never said that. My point is only that I think there is more to value (either money or otherwise) than 'the final image' or indeed the final work of anything.

    I would imagine the last roll of negatives that HCB shot before giving up photography would be worth more than 36 scans on Flickr, both in financial terms, and in the sheer pleasure of ownership.

    My only point, and this is my only point: I think value comes from other places than simply 'the final image'.
  22. Thanks! Got it on my e-book reader, and even the first few pages give very insightful perspective to art and artist!

    This is actually something to live by.

    I've seen this cartoon before. I need to print it and hang it in my living room.
    I want my children to get this in their heads and not to be manipulated by people telling them any different.

    Thank you.
  23. I am afraid you conflate "art" with craftsmanship. Obviously they are not the same: craftsmanship may be part of your artistic arsenal, or might be not. Artistry is all about inventing your own reality; the more consistent it is the greater artist you are. Respectively, merely registering the existing reality does not suffice, and it doesn't fall in the category of "art" no matter how "beautiful", or "dramatic", or "whatever" it is. I know, major museums exhibit and claim photography (and cars, clothes, etc) is "art". That fact simply reflect the intense market pressure the museum institutions were subjected to a couple of decades ago.
  24. By this definition, we can throw most great photographers right out of the window.
    More, even Michelangelo's David is just replication of reality. Out of the window it goes, too.
    Most of Greek sculptures -> throw them away, worthless replicas.
  25. No, that's plain wrong! Realistic art may bear superficial semblance to real world, but more often than not it is not a replication. Funny as you mention it, Greek sculptures are entirely intellectual construct, and bore nothing even remotely resembling real people. As for "Michelangelo's David is just replication of reality", sorry, but that's tosh.
  26. Fairly recently there was an exhibition at the Louvre "Late Raphael". In terms of pictorial representation Raphael was the most conventional of the Italian high Renaissance geniuses, the other two being Michelangelo and Leonardo. Yet when confronted with his portraits live I was astonished how subjective, how inventive and creatively distorted his portrayals were. His compositions, delineation, palette were not only sur-real; all was clearly aimed at not literally to describe, but at deliberate simplification of reality and synthese. One clearly realise real people don't look like this yet I couldn't care less - so engrossing, suggestive and evocative his portraits were. You don't get anywhere even remotely close to this level of creative process and creative expression in photography. Notwithstanding the formal similarities (two dimensionality; use of colour/achromatic depiction; overlapping subjects) IMO the two are in completely different realms.
  27. Could be. All I know is that Michelangelo probably illegally dissected bodies in order to better understand anatomy.
    Yes, David's hands are too large and yes, his eyes are off - but the truth is, we don't know why. It could be because originally David was supposed to be placed on a roof top. It could be artistic emphasis, or it could even be artistic failure. We don't know.

    In any case, David is pretty much realistic compared to Dali's sculptures, or even contemporary sculptures. Sincerely, would David today be recognised as Art, or would it be ordinary and dull?

    Further, when it comes to photography, what is realistic about it? Here's a short story about Picasso's view on realism of photography.
    Also, most people perceive world in colors. By that definition, any monochrome rendering is departure from reality. Then again, some people's vision is actually monochrome. What's art for most is not art for them? But there's a bigger issue here: reality is very subjective.
  28. Thanks for saying this so I didn't have to, again.

    I prefer coarse art.
  29. Michelangelo is notorious for his exaggerated proportions which depart from the classical/academic canon; of course, all with the aim for better expressiveness of his creations. Make no mistake, was he born in the end of 19th century (i.e. contemporary of Dali and the rest of the European avant-garde from the first half of 20th century) he would have developed his talent under the influence of the ideas of that time. For instance, when Picasso moved to Paris he was completely nobody - there were hundreds if not thousands of painters like him. For about 10 years time, under the influence of the circles he was moving in, he became the leading avant-garde painter.

    Sure, reality is subjective, there is no question about. My point is that some mediums are infinitely more empowering to convey the individual's subjective perceptions, thoughts, ideas, visions, etc.; and usually these mediums are associated with the so called "high art". As much as I enjoy photography I wouldn't place it in the same league with music, literature, and traditional fine arts for the reason stated above. It is not because is "automated" (as the thread ask), but because the very nature of the medium is very restrictive - one can photograph only what exist here and now; and his "creative choices" are merely a few options. By contrast, even a simple pencil in your hand gives you infinitely more artistic freedom.
  30. This thread and this ongoing argument is merely about two things. Names and ego.

    A painting, a sculpture, a photograph, a digital photograph (for those who still can't let it go), a building, a chair, a Gretzky pass, your daughter, etc etc, are all things.

    Things we put names to. We could call them something else but we ended up choosing to call them this.

    You could call your beloved daughter a lot of names but you merely picked one and stuck with it.

    The problem is when someone else comes along and tries to make money off that person, place or thing and has to define it for marketing purposes.

    Or when the creator has to identify it for ego reasons to boost his standing or his finances.

    So he comes up with terms and names to impress.

    And so we get the word, art.

    Totally meaningless and not worthy of argument.

    The things it defines, just are. They exist on their own.

    No further definitions needed.
  31. Look at this: http://www.shootingfilm.net/2013/05/stunning-surreal-photography-by-jerry.html
  32. I have to disagree with this. I think the possibilities are infinite. I don't think a photograph has to have anything to do with what exists here and now. I did this, a few years ago. It's film, silver gelatin paper, and paint. I think, technically, that makes it a photograph (although there was some argument when I posed the question, here):

  33. You may only be able to "photograph" what is here and now however as illustrated by the link above the creative choices are virtually unlimited if you've the mind and time. And the most important aren't afraid to fail with your vision. So keep on clicking away.

    Success represents the 1% of your work which results from the 99% that is called failure.
    Soichiro Honda

    Not an artist (to my knowledge) but most certainly a successful individual.
  34. [​IMG]
  35. Why?

  36. OP
    anything you want to call Art is art, its just a word.
    i've seen food that i would call art its just an opinion ...

    and im with eddie..
    photography has NOTHING to do with reality

    maris .. every other post here on apug you argue that digital image making has nothing to do with photography
    and then you go into a rant that photographic prints are not photographs but something else, because the negative is in essence the ONLY photograph a "photographer" makes ...
    now you suggest HCB wasn't a photogtapher, but an exposure maker??!

    is that because he didn't process hos own film? pr some other reason?
    i find this point of view to be laughable seeing probably99% of every commercial photographer
    or portrait photographer has someone else process and print their exposures ..
    do you mean that karsh and others who didn't do everything themselves are jusr exposure makers??
  37. Some of the same old bitter and tired answers from the same old crowd eh? What a load of self serving BS some of you are spooning up from out of the compost heap.

    A couple *Facts* I encounter more and more each day as I make the transition from being a commercial photographer to a fine art one:

    1. If no one is asking you how you arrived at your final image, then they are not interested in the image at all and are not likely to even buy it, full stop. In every single case that I or a local gallery has sold one of my images, the buyers ask before signing the check, either because they want to hear about the journey I took as an artist so that they can further bond with the piece and share that with who will view it in their home or want to know the level of craftsmanship it took to arrive at the image.

    2. I suspect the people on this site who keep parroting that no one cares about how a photograph originated live in a crap art market. Sorry Chris, but Ft. Wayne is likely at best 1/1000th the art market that I live in, I suspect this is over influencing your opinion in that regard.

    You can keep beating this tired garbage into the ground, but when it comes to how people view the origination of a piece of art **IN MARKETS THAT ARE WORTH BOTHERING IN** you had better believe that in most cases they care.
  38. If a piece of work is created with the only intention of being sold, is it art at all, or just a product successfully positioned and marketed?
  39. I'm not really the guy to ask because the number one reason I make an image and a print in my darkroom is for me, it's simply my being. I also happen to understand the potential in selling photographs across a large spectrum of uses and clearly see my future best in engaging with people who will buy my prints.

    Just because an artist succeeds in realizing and monetizing a market for his or her art does not mean they are no longer making art, are not as free to explore their art or are not enjoying as much as the hobby type....

    There seems to be an overwhelming gloom of negativity on this site that perpeutates the notion that people who earn a living from photography do not do it for themselves and do not enjoy it as much as the weekend hobby snapper and that no one cares how an image was made.

    It's probably the number one reason I log out and never want to return....people living a lie.
  40. yes and no .. no and yes

    images are a commodity whether they are sold as a piece of "decorative art" or "commercial art"
    some "artists" make decorative art the same way others make commercial art
    the lines are blurred .... then there are people who suggest making art is part of their soul and part of who they are
    the same can be said about people who make commercial art ( product shots, portraits editorial and annual report work, photojournalism &c ) ...

    in other words, its just a game. while some might be called sell outs, because they don't make their own artistic decisions
    (an art director, customer, managing editor, client telling them how to work or what to do) ... at the end of the day, its the same thing,
    because the buying public, gallerists and collectors become the invisible art directors, clients, customers, managing editors
    and often times direct the photographer when making decisions about what to make ...
    and if it is a decision about being able to get paid or eating mac and cheese for another night
    i am sure after 300 meals of mac and cheese the idea of eating something else sounds pretty good
    so "they" make another image that will satisfy the people in charge of their paycheck.

  41. Not so much an opinion but an assertion, perhaps. Since the days of Marcel Duchamp it seems that anything can be made art by simply declaring it so. This does not preclude the likelihood that it is thoroughly bad art worth ignoring.
    The contrary can be put convincingly. Photography is the only picture making process that is absolutely and physically bound to its subject matter. All other pictures are built by mark-making devices controlled by information in the form of coded instructions. A photograph is an existence proof of subject matter. A digigraph, or painting, or drawing is not.
    Photography is making pictures out of light sensitive materials. Digital picture-making, painting, and drawing don't work that way. It's always possible, absolutely and unambiguously, to distinguish a photograph from a digigraph by following the work-flow that produces it. There is no imperative in the simple-minded notion that if a camera is at the front end of the work-flow all resultant pictures are photographs and the credited picture-maker is a photographer.
    Always and consistently I insist quite the opposite. "Photographic prints" is misconstrued weasel expression for "Photographs". It's almost as if some people are ashamed of the word "photograph" and need to apologise for its plainness and directness by adding "print". Photographs on paper are not made like prints. Rather, they are produced in exactly the same way as photographs on film. The only difference is that the subject matter for photographs on paper is often (but not always) another photograph. Again there is no imperative in the notion that if a photograph on paper looks like a print it is a print. I say "photograph" and I say it without diffidence.
    Like it or lump it, that's how H.C-B and Karsh and Leibovitz and Stern and Nadar... the list is very long... operated. The tradition that acclaims them as photographers is, I reckon, a lousy one and not worth worshipping. I don't see the denigration in admiring them as exposure-makers supported by a team of picture-making employees. It's just another path to great art. But it isn't the art of the photograph maker. The argument would be moot if it were not for the existence of acclaimed photographers who don't just stop at exposures. I'm thinking of people like Julia Cameron, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams...the list is very long...and many people at APUG who actually make the photographs they sign. The two groups are different, the makers and non-makers, and I know which lot I admire.
  42. im not thinking of marcel duchamp or r mutt, but other things. there are plenty of things that can be considered art, from origami, to hand made paper to sushi to fish rubbings.
    no one said all art is good art, and there is plenty of art by "the masters" that so many people hold in esteem that i think is a load of cr@p, i won't go naming names but there are a lot of them ...
    any art is worth ignoring if you wish to do it, but you might miss the message, and sometimes bad art has even a more important message than the stuff people swoon over.

    while i believe some of that to be true, yes, something had to be there to interfere with the light on the media but that can be just the beginning. i have made things that just consist of emulsion painted
    on paper exposed in the sun and they have no bearing on reality any more than a painting. and i find it to be strange that a sensor isn't light sensitive ?
    it is as light sensitive as film or paper. the technology is different that is about it.

    digital image making DOES work that way, you just dont see it so.
    it is every bit possible to record information on a sensor, have it create a file and have it printed out on film or paper, just the technology is different. the work flow might be different
    but the result can be every bit the same as a traditional silver based image, just like making a xeroxagraphical duplication of a photograph can be used to make a paper negative and a cyanotype can be made from that. or are cyanotypes not photographs either ?

    agreed :smile:

    i understand what you are saying, but i don't really buy it. i find the list of people you suggest are just exposure makers to be photographers as much as
    anyone who does the chemical work themselves. its like saying da vinci or michaelangelo weren't sculptors, painters &c because they had assistants who worked with them and did some of the work ...
    .. but to each their own

  43. Maris, making a decent contact print or a simple enlargement from a negative is very easy and fast nowdays using modern prefabricated* materials. Why do you value this last step, which can be pretty straightforward and easy to accomplish, so much?

    *it would make a difference if these materials would have to be made by the photographers from scratch
  44. Who's talking about a contact print or a simple enlargement?

    Have you seen the negative of the Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico??

    Have you seen Edward Weston's retouching table??
  45. What's your point?
  46. The point is that making the negative is the simple part!

    Making the final photograph from that negative requires hours, days, maybe even more.
    The negative is only the intermediate step. It's like a painter making a sketch, then taking it to his studio to make the final painting!

    Honestly, have you even been in a darkroom??
  47. "Art" is something a school professor can make have a big fat salary and pension teaching about, and have contributed nothing to the world the whole time. Art, schmart. Either you like a picture or you don't. If you like it, it's "art". Maybe. I tend to think its just a nice picture.
  48. Is it? Ask Rober Capa. Oh, you can't, he died "making nagatives" in Vietnam.

    Yes, I've just build my 3rd one. Maybe practice made it easy for me.:smile:

    p.s. I don't think the skils or the rate of manipulation while making photographs is what Maris had in his mind. Let's wait what he has to say, shall we?
  49. I wish.
  50. unless someone does the whole thing... they arent "a photographer" ...

    making negatives is ez,
    retouching is ez,
    making photographs/prints is ez,

    but unless you do it all you are just a exposure monkey, a film processor, retoucher, or printer ...

    it would be very ez to take this to another extreme and suggest that
    unless you mixed your own chemistry and emulsions from scratch,
    coated your materials,
    used a large format camera
    you arent real photographers ...

    (or maybe you even have to make your own compounded chemicals and paper and grind your own lenses too? )

    kodak and others lowered the bar in the 1880s, it wasnt the dadaists ...
    lucky for most people with a camera the jin is OUT of the bottle.

    over the years there has been a small grass roots effort here on apug to exclude people who
    don't process or print or whatever ... themselves. people who scan film or shoot chromes
    or use a lab, use LOMO or HOLGA or lo-fi cameras have been deemed unworthy by a vocal few.

    the view that a "photographer" has to do every step of the process ( expose, process, and print )
    use specific equipment, print in silver, or pt/pd, or wet plate, or calotype, or shoot only landscapes
    or representational images &c is part of this skewed idea that any less than everything is barely worth mentioning,
    while they are on the path to making great art, they fall short.

    i find this whole idea to be narrow minded but then again, i think the movements that shook the artworld
    were important. and that a folded piece of paper, piece of sushi or a found object,
    or something painted by thomas kinkade can be considered art just as much as a boring grande landscape
    or overdone portrait or hackneyed image printed in silver or PT/PD or on tin or glass.

    what do i know, im part exposure monkey and part photographer :munch:
  51. Except this extreme is red herring.

    There are two exposures when making the final photograph.
    The first one is when making the negative, and the second one is when making the print.

    With the negative, you control composition, exposure, DOF and other properties.
    With the print, you control the final contrast, interpret the relations between darks and highlights, or you can go to the extreme and make surreal montages.

    The first one haven't changed that much with the modern technology, while the 2nd is - for many modern photographers - nothing but pushing the buttons.
    I download "nude packs", print them on a 3D printer and call them my work, there.

    This has nothing to do with emulstion, chemistry etc.
  52. have you ever used a light meter ?
    it automates measuring the light so the photographer can make his / her exposure,
    they are handy if the exposure maker doesn't have the ability to read the light on their own

    have you ever pit a negative in a densitometer / exposure meter?
    you put the film in, it spins around and it pretty much tells you what to set the enlarger timer to.
    and you press a button and go through the motions of developing the positive.

    making photographs isn't always as you described.

    the extreme i described .. is an extreme, that's the point :smile:
    and it is just as of an extreme to suggest that someone
    who shoots chromes and takes them to a lab is just an exposure maker.
    or that a sensor isn't sensitive to light ...
    or that nothing but a portrait is a true photograph or ...
    there is a whole list of equally absurd things i have heard over the years.
    ( a leica is the only REAL camera? )

    do we need to label everyone ?
    labels are kind of lame ...

    getting back to your thread's title ..
    i don't think there is any such thing as "fine" art ...
  53. I have to partially disagree with you. Many photographic processes are only one exposure the Daguerreotype,Ambro/tintype, Direct positive paper, Slide film,Instant film,etc.... The whole photographic discussion in analogue photography only deals with Neg/pos processes and leaves all direct positive processes out. A Polaroid is an automated process and many great artists used it. Come to think of it a minilab is an automated process as well so photographers using their own minilab are no longer artists because they use an automated process B.S..

    The important thing in art is the vision and only to a much lesser extant the execution. The vast majority of modern sculptures are designed by artists and made by others same could be said for most renaissance and Baroque artists only a small number of them did their paintings they had minions (sorry apprentices) who did it for them.

    If Automation is part of the artistic vision it's art, if the work lacks the artists vision or the photographer didn't have a vision when he made the image it's not.
  54. I've been following along closely, trying to see all sides, and honestly, trying to figure out where I sit on the issue myself...this caught my eye.

    By this rationale, then, in these times when analog is little more than a niche...are you saying that there are no photographers left except those who shoot film, develop, and print? That any of the modern names in photography are nothing but pretenders?

    If that is indeed what you're saying, that's okay (I guess), but from the cheap seats out here, it seems to be straying perilously close to the realm of "the way I prefer is the only way".
  55. I would pay a premium for a similar product that can't be recreated at the push of a button. It has some scarcity value. A high-quality darkroom print is probably worth a couple hundred bucks worth of labor alone from a skilled darkroom artist/technician.
  56. I'm not actually saying anything, just wondering.

    I know I can make an image which has the same visual effect and power (minus the final detail the darkroom print presents, but 99% viewers don't care to see anyway) effortless with my digital camera (yes, I do have it and use it) compared to hard work it takes to create similar image in the darkroom. Lack of effort means I can create huge volume of photos, which by definition means inflation and decreased value.

    Something like swiss watches. Totally obsolete, yet still valuable.
  57. In that case, I'd say that value, both artistic and monetary, depend entirely on what the viewer/buyer feels that they're viewing/buying.

    If they're looking at it based on the history/technique/etc. then those portions of the piece's past are crucially important, to the point that the actual subject matter has an importance quite possible ranking in the afterthough-to-irrelevant levels.

    If, however, the viewer/buyer is looking at the photo from a more pragmatic perspective of "do I like this photo", then the technique behind it only becomes relevant if that technique contributed meaningfully to the impact on the viewer (for example, if they appreciated the touches that only a specific process can deliver).

    From there, at least for me, it becomes pretty clear (again, by my subjective view) that 'value' exists entirely within the mind of the consumer, and when discussions of value arise, any evaluation from the creator are not, in fact, talking of the value as placed by the creator, but rather, that creator self-consuming their own work as a consumer who is interested in the history/technique/etc. and often assuming that others will, or should consume with the same considerations as their own.

    Just two more cents for the pot! :smile:
  58. Well, this kind of view certainly has the spirit of our time, the time of consumer.

    One could however apply Kant's categorical imperative to art.
    Kant's philosophy was, that people need to do something not in exchange for any kind of personal benefit (even feeling good about yourself for doing the deed), but rather only because it is the moral thing to do.
  59. The definition of "art" aside, there's no reason to assume it can't be created by a collaborative effort. I've no doubt that the photographers mentioned for not doing their own printing had great input into the final print. I doubt they'd sign the work, unless it met their vision.

    I no longer color print, but work closely with the lab when I have them done. There have been occasions when they've made a half dozen prints before I'm satisfied with the results. In the end, they match my vision, I sign them, and it is, most certainly, my work.
  60. I'm not sure I follow...could you elaborate on what you're trying to say there, and how it relates to the discussion?
  61. Digital (or 'automation' as the OP calls it), in its nature, sits better with the ethos of Pop Art (early postmodernism) than film does. Pop art is a movement out of which colour art photography and conceptual work as we know it was born, some people should remember. Modern art photography, as a concept made famous in the 70s, is a part of the postmodernist ideology. Postmodernists have always had a penchant for 'mass production'. So yes, in answer to the OP - as most fine art in galleries today is postmodernist, if it's automated it probably is fine art.

    But here's the crux. People who really appreciate art know how slippery, inconclusive and misconceived the term 'fine art' has become (as evidenced by this thread); which is exactly why, as blansky pointed out (in the first response no less), it has found its home in marketing.
  62. My photography isn't "Fine Art" whatever camera I use, I'm happy if I can produce competent photographs.
  63. Not to be controversial but in my opinion if you aren't making your own cameras and lenses you are a fraud.
  64. Fine Art: Photos that sold for a very high price.
    Art: Photos that were sold that weren't from your wedding.
    Photos and Pictures: Everything else that wasn't sold that your wife has allowed you to hang on the wall.
    Snapshots: That stuff in the boxes on the top shelf in your closet.
  65. Does that mean we don't have to make our own film/emulsions? :smile:
  66. you have to do that or else you are a poser
  67. You can't see a JPEG, so not exactly. If the artist provided the monitor and computer which the artist used to create the image then yes. A 'print' of this would be a second computer displaying the same image but also tweaked by the artist. In that way only would the JPEG itself have value. Once the artist produces a hard copy of the image on paper, the JPEG on the hard drive that is not connected to a monitor no longer has value.

    Bret Weston famously burned a number of his negatives since the print was REALLY the art piece and no one could print his negatives like he could. This implies that in his mind the JPEG was like the negative, or vice versa. This also implies that it is ONLY the final print that has any artistic value, i.e. the processes used to create the print are immaterial. The negative, or digital capture, used to create the print are worthless.

    Yet even the display of the hard copy may not be art to the artist. The height of the work, the amount of space around the work, even the lighting may render the image garbage in the eyes of the artist. Reference Rothko and his attempts to control the environment in which his paintings were displayed.

    It's all subjective, perhaps collectively so, but still subjective.

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
  68. This whole damn thread is a red herring.

    There is art (the content and semantics) and there is craft (paper and photons and chemicals and bits). You represent your art using a craft. You can automate a craft or change which particular strain of craft you use, but that has got nothing to do with the art that you perform using your chosen craft.

    99.99% of APUG is craft; art ain't got nothing to do with what goes on in here.
  69. Agree 100%
  70. The question can be rephrased then:

    is craft a necessary component of art?
  71. For all my 42 years since the first time I developed film in my GAF tank with D-76, I have contended photography is not art. It is a craft, but not art. But that's my opinion. As an aside, I believe that first roll was 120 I shot with my Dad's Ansco Color Clipper.
  72. Sure, insofar as you need a medium. However you can do great art (graphical, literature, etc) with minimal (technical) medium/craft, e.g. a pencil. Or just your voice; speech is a medium and a great example of a craft requiring significant and non-obvious skill to do well with despite its apparent technical simplicity.
  73. Would you say, then, that a medium, not necessarily a craft, was necessary as a vehicle for art...and that that medium could take the form of a craft, skill, or both?
  74. A printout of this thread would make an interesting exhibit in an art gallery.
  75. There is no such thing as an art gallery.

    It's merely an empty building with stuff on the wall and on stands.

    The rest is just marketing.
  76. I've always believed something like this. It's all craft.

    Then the viewer determines whether TO THEM it reaches the level of emotional content to become ART, to them.

    Some windbag in a gallery or marketing piece can try and spin the bullshit but that is just marketing.

    This is the only way the definition works. That way a singer can partake, a mime, a guy pissing on a crucifix, a movie maker,a woodworker, a dancer, an actor, a photographer, a guy in Australia making strange noises about his minimalist declarations that only silver halide analog, you do your own printing etc etc yada yada, and well as every other form of expression can be brought under the umbrella, and catagorized.


    And ART is personal.

    An artist, is a term like " a lover". Well to whom? I may not think you're a lover, I may think you're an asshole. But someone else may think, you are a great lover. OK. Some people may think you're a terrible lover and some may think you are a beginning lover and some may think that if you don't carry out every aspect of the lovemaking experience then you aren't really a lover at all.

    You could have someone else do the foreplay and you step in and do the orgasm part, then are you a great lover? Beats me. Ask the recipient.

    Are you a great lover if you use a totally different body part to help her attain orgasm. What about if you use an electric vibrator instead of original equipment? OR even a battery operated one. Or solar powered. Are you really a lover if you use technology like that. What about a selfie?

    Same answer. Ask the recipient. It's a personal experience. If she says, you're an artist and the experience was ART. She should know.
    Hell, I still think you're an asshole. But that's just me.

    However in all cases, it took craftsmanship to gain the desired result.
  77. I would say that you need a medium in which to execute your art, otherwise it's just your imagination. To me it's not art until it's outside your head and reified.

    And you need some level of skill to work in any medium, but the bar can be pretty low. A 5-year-old's scrawl is sufficient craft-skill to execute literature, the art is in the emotions etc evoked by the words, not the physical form of the words. Or if you want to do photography, you need to be able to compose and push a button, optionally make a selection of aperture/speed - again, I could teach that to a 5 year old. What matters is your composition, choice of light and how it affects the viewer - all the crap with phenidone and thiosulfate or photoshop and inkjet is just craft choices and can all be outsourced if you want without reducing the art that you reified (made real, fixed into a medium) when you opened the shutter - just like HCB outsourced all the craft of print-making.

    Sure there are some correlations between people with powerful craft skills and people with good artistic vision but that's only because they practiced them concurrently. There a many more people with one and not the other, especially people with craft and no art. Citation: 99.9% of the photos people put on the internet. Conversely, I've seen wonderful art made with shitty cellphone cameras and while they might look better shot on LF Velvia, that doesn't reduce the artistic value of the images those people made where the only craft skill involved was "push the button".
  78. I don't think my photos would even be considered craft, lol.
  79. The idea that photograph is "Art" is very recent one, certainly during the last fifty years mainly as a marketing ploy by photographers agents and galleries to help sell their work.
  80. I can buy the argument that photography is not an art. But then painting isn't an art either.
  81. "Art" is the pontification of a craft.
    "Art" is what you get your master's degree in so you can get a job at the IRS.
  82. After reading this thread, It reminds me that I preferred to be called a Craftsman, or a technician, than photographer or especially artist.
    Just so I don't have to argue with others, or most importantly myself.
  83. A bit more that 50 years though. It started in 1905 with the Little Galleries of the Photo-Sucession, later 291 art gallery, ran by Stieglitz.

  84. I guess benjiboy was referring to the mainstream museum institutions acceptance of photography as Art, more or less on equal footing with the traditional Fine Arts.
  85. Maybe but he said the idea that photography is art. That idea is much older.
  86. Oh certainly, the idea is older; probably as old as the photography itself.

    But there is a hint: am not aware of any other creative group so preoccupied with the question is what are they doing art or not. This is clearly driven by a deep sense of insecurity, and possibly sense of inferiority. No need to, but it's indicative of the collective mental state.
  87. Art,craft,yes,no........???? Jesus you all sound like a bunch of old ladies at the bingo parlor all trying to be heard at the same time.
  88. it boils down to its whatever you want to say it is.
    and it doesn't matter whether it was made by a man or machine
    cause after all, a camera is a machine too, that the "exposure monkey" operates
  89. Further to Blansky’s statement that “There is no such thing as an art gallery. It's merely an empty building with stuff on the wall and on stands. The rest is just marketing”.

    I think a good entry for the Turner Prize would be an empty gallery. That way any gallery on the planet could display the concept.
  90. what is your definition of 'fine art'?
  91. Whether photography is art may not ultimately be settled to universal satisfaction in APUG but it has been decided in a court of law; and a very long time ago too.

    1861 in France saw photographers Mayer and Pierson bring a copyright action against the photographic duo of Betbeder and Schwabbe. The ruckus was over pirated pictures of Lord Palmerston. Mayer and Pierson claimed copyright protection under the French copyright laws of 1793 and 1810. The catch was that those laws protected only works of art so the court's decision hinged on whether photography was art.

    Mayer and Pierson lost! Photography apparently was not art according to the court's judgement of 9 January 1862.

    Mayer and Pierson appealed the decision on 10 April 1862. Their lawyer, a Monsieur M.Marie, gave an eloquent defence of the art of photography using many of the ideas now raised in this very thread. The court reversed its previous decision and declared on 4 July 1862 that photography was art.

    The battle was not over. Later in 1862 a group of famous painters including Ingres petitioned against the decision. The arguments they used bear a striking resemblance to the anti-art-photography sentiments also found here and there in this thread.

    Finally on 28 November 1862 the French court threw out the painters' petition and photography has enjoyed secure status as art ever since; at least in France it has.

    Another curious corner of history reveals that the Paris Salon of 1859 admitted photographs to be displayed along with paintings and sculpture. The catch was that the photography display was accessed through a different doorway. Even more curious than the admission of photography was the exclusion of the Impressionists as obviously not qualifying as creditable artists!
  92. Maris, THAT is a wonderful post! I enjoyed that immensely.


  93. Yes Maris, that was wonderful.

    Any French litigation about digital being Art?

    Reminds me of the old drinking laws around here. You can see remnants of them in old, former "beer parlours" which had two entrances - one labeled "gentlemen" and the other labelled "ladies and escorts".
  94. to methe wordsautomation andartare in conflict by definitio, because art is created not copied
  95. Interesting question as this story was just presented on PBS.


    Does this make Vermeer's paintings any less artistic because he used the technology of the day? Other famous artists have used the camera obscura to help them. There is more to art than just the mechanics. One must have a vision before anything else. Vermeer was very thorough in planning out the settings of his paintings. Technology is no help there.
  96. This topic is quite confusing, contradicting, and opens more questions than answers.
    If renaissance was about craft, why is it considered art today?
    If art is only not depicting reality, these are not art, either: http://www.cuded.com/2013/02/50-mind-blowing-pencil-drawings/

    If feels like the craft of creating objects which are visually pleasant had been called "craft" for the most part of the history, and only in more modern times it departed from copying the reality. Maybe with the raise of Baroque, continued with symbolism, impressionism and of course surrealism and pop art. It came to the point where anything depicting something "ordinary" is not considered "art" anymore - but that is ONLY at this particular point in time and we'll see how the future generations evaluate our time and decide what was art and what is kitsch or just insanity.

    Anyhow, there have been many good thoughts shared and many different views. There is no final answer, so it's pointless to trying to find it.
    Personally, I find peace with the quote below. I don't feel the need to create "art". I just like doing what I'm doing.

  97. As much as historical anecdotes are entertaining often there is the unspoken assumption that past generations had the same values like us; more often than not that is not the case. During the 19th century photography gained prestige and was valued precisely because it was not subjectively artistic, but objective rendition of reality based on scientific principles; that was the century of exciting scientific discoveries, and many in the visual arts (impressionists, cubists, art nouveau, art deco and modernism) wanted to implement some of them. To have their portrait taken was a matter of prestige for the middle and upper classes precisely because of this photography's aura of objectivity and scientific prestige (it was 20th century with it's use of sciences as murder and brainwash tools that tarnished the public perception of science and technology). Respectively, high brow art never had this kind of universal, almost mythical prestige which it have today, no doubt due to it's objectification and fetishisation by the contemporary capitalist society; indeed the very idea what is art, and of artistic significance changed/evolved with each century, and what we consider art today, was not thought as such in the past (as recently as 18th/19th century only marble was considered suitable for the elevated subject matters of sculpture; or, of instance, during the construction of the St. Peter cathedral in Rome the Italians, under the guidance of such luminaries as Michelangelo, Bramante, and Bernini, used the Coliseum as a marble quarry... )
  98. I believe there was a case, but they lost the evidence.
  99. Hi,

    Interesting topic.

    I have just completed a bachelor degree in visual arts so perhaps I can provide a little perspective here.

    In the first year of my degree there were many discussions about "what is art" all of which came to the conclusion that there is no definition of art.

    It seems that you are drawing from examples of the great artists as the basis for your definition of art in todays time. The problem with this is that since modernity the idea of what art has changed rather drastically because of the Dada movement. Think urinal, think bicycle wheel on a stool, think readymades. So if that is art, then what isnt't? Anything can be art. Then we came to POST-modernism, things became even more conceptual and in my opinion often more boring to look at.

    In my degree our artworks are judged first and foremost on concept, then technical skill. I believe that it is important to have both. In my opinion the role of art is to pose a question and good art is that which challenges the way we accept the way the world is and tries to fill in the spaces that are left unattended in our societies.

    Everyone each has their own definition of art. I for one don't think a painting can be done on a computer because there is no paint involved. I also think that if a sculptor decides to use a 3D printer to create an object is totally acceptable if there is enough conceptual reason to make that object. For gods sake the artist who made the highest selling contemporary work of art ever (damien hurst) didn't make it himself nor does he make anything but a commodity. Sadly, craft and skill - which are important to me as a photographic artist - don't particularly constitute the validity of art as they once did.

    There was an important essay written by Walter Benjamin which you might like (or not like) to read called The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction which is relavent to this topic.

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