Friday, 13 May 2011

I know what I like

Is photography art? A question as old as photography itself. In reality a non-question.

Nobody ever asks if painting is art. An equally meaningless question. Both photography and painting can be art, but take a look at the daubs of any group of 'Sunday painters' and you'll soon realise, if you are at all visually aware, that painting isn't necessarily art simply because paint has been applied to canvas. No more is a photograph art because it has been put in a frame.

Art lies not in the medium (sorry Mr McLuhan!) but in the way it is used.

That said, I'm always wary of photography that presents itself as 'art' or 'art photography'. The former is all to often pretentious beyond interest, and the latter all to often merely office decoration. Great photographs are art because they are great photographs. Someone once told me that 'art is truth', I was taught to strive to make 'equivalents' of the subject when painting rather than likenesses, to seek Bomberg's 'spirit in the mass'. These aims apply equally well to photography - making photos that are about the subject rather than of it.

It sure ain't easy, because photos are always 'of' the subject. I think it's what I've been exploring with my recent 'studies', photographic sketches trying to make small things express a wider environment. It's just flailing around trying to find a direction at the moment. Pretentious? Probably. Art? I doubt it!

ivy and bramble study

burnt dune

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