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Art Theory: Idea workshop. Warning, not the truth here, just a venture. Examining what makes an image worthy of saving and what it does for us.

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  #1  
Old July 5th, 2011, 06:37 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Default Can Art have no Artist's Statement, Vision or Idea?

There's a trend in photography, amongst young graduates to attempt to leave meaning up to the viewer as a higher form of art!

Once again, we have a serious photographer putting forward work elsewhere n OPF, which is left for the viewer alone to find meaning and value, care having been taken to not contaminate or alter the matter of the subject with the photographer's mind!

But is this even possible, let alone a valid claim for art.

Let me quote Brooks' Jensen's latest Lenswork podcast on the matter,


"PIFFLE"





I'd offer that Art
  1. Is some crafted physical manifestation exported from the human brain,
  2. Comes from the mind of a person with some values, representing some fascinating construct woven of the imagination with personal choices.
  3. In that exported manifestation, if faithful, and crafted successfully, there are ideas, vision, themes, substance and or imperatives to move us.
You must listen to Brooks Jensen's podcast. Ask yourself if he's correct in his "Piffle!" assessment. Are there exceptions?

Asher
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  #2  
Old July 5th, 2011, 09:13 PM
Maris Rusis Maris Rusis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
There's a trend in photography, amongst young graduates to attempt to leave meaning up to the viewer as a higher form of art!

I'd offer that Art
  1. Is some crafted physical manifestation exported from the human brain,
  2. Comes from the mind of a person with some values, representing some fascinating construct woven of the imagination with personal choices.
  3. In that exported manifestation, if faithful, and crafted successfully, there are ideas, vision, themes, substance and or imperatives to move us.
Asher, a sharply perceptive list although things like found art, conceptual art, performance art, and committee art pose some problems.

Anything can become found art merely by an artist declaring it so. I suppose the artist's mind is involved because one thing is chosen rather than another. Photographers who only do camera work, point 'n click, and have all subsequent work executed by others are a good example of "foundies", I think.

Conceptual art eschews physical manifestations on the basis that the central thing of value is the artistic thought . In practice successful conceptual artists sell objects but the objects are not the art itself but merely certificates that the great thought has been thunk.

Performance art disappears the instant the performance concludes. But, as always, it is possible to sell a recording to ease money from collectors.

Committee art is arrived at by concensus. Some threads on OPF seem to be headed that way: How shall I crop this picture? What would make this better? What Photoshop manipulations will deliver success? The original artistic mind fades away in pursuit of mass approval.

One thing that I fiercely insist on is that the artist will have put the work through their own mind mind. If they can't be bothered doing that I can't be bothered putting it through mine.
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  #3  
Old July 5th, 2011, 09:44 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Originally Posted by Maris Rusis View Post
One thing that I fiercely insist on is that the artist will have put the work through their own mind mind. If they can't be bothered doing that I can't be bothered putting it through mine.
This Maris, is a brilliant and simple way of approaching stuff offered as art.

As far as ideas on cropping, contrast and other presentations, these are never and should never be presented as the ways to make a picture work. Rather as delicate, shy offerings to be considered in completing the technical presentation of the latent mage.

After all, a 35 mm format mage, for example, may include part of a scene that the photographer, at the time when the shutter was released, would have been masked off, if that was possible. However, we do not have the capability of masking in the view n the camera. In LF photography, work is much more precise, as a rule. Still, the shape of 4x5 might not exactly cover the subject of interest and exclude everything that has to be excluded. So cropping is likely to be on the LF photographer's mind, more often than those working with a tiny format.

The exposure may be perfect, but then the print can be made in so many ways! This is where I learn the most in going to exhibits and galleries. We cannot know everything, but we can share our diverse experiences. It's this need for technical sharing that we can be doing in OPF and broadening each other's horizons. Here, n OPF, we cannot create by committee. That can work in rare circumstances. More generally it's so destructive and an exercise in delusion and pomposity or else the original photographer's intent is skewed, corrupted or swept aside.

However, one can ask, how do I make X more important than Y or how can the house on the bottom left be made to not dominate the picture? Our expectation is hardly that we solve every such particular problem. Rather we become more aware of such issues effecting the outcome of our work in planning the next image from the very beginning, and for all the steps that follow.

Asher
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  #4  
Old July 5th, 2011, 10:02 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Hi Asher,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Brooks Jensen has devoted his life to photography and to careful review and uncompromisingly wonderful prints of photographic works; always at prices one can afford. Getting a subscription to Lenswork is a gift to oneself and one's home. Each issue s packed with the work of marvelous photographers and the prints are spectacular.




Visit the Lenswork website here and get yourself an amazing gift at $39/year. There are numerous other subscribing options. In addition to print, there are editions for you cell phone or tablet.

Asher
I presume that this is a sincere recommendation and that there is nothing in it for you. But IMO, it is an advertisement and should not be in this forum.
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  #5  
Old July 5th, 2011, 10:25 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
Hi Asher,


I presume that this is a sincere recommendation and that there is nothing in it for you. But IMO, it is an advertisement and should not be in this forum.
Cem,

OOPS! You're right, that should be as a news announcement and I have moved it.

I regularly receive the magazine. I thought about the January 2011 Edition, No 90, and then the great and ambitious project by John Kok here, to make a 30 image description of a girl by shooting her but not interfering and then searched out the work by Hungarian photographer, Péter Korniss who embedded himself in Romanian and Hungarian villages to understand the workers who travelled to the cities but returned weekends to their villages. He also collected scores of pictures over the years on each worker he befriended.



Péter Korniss: From "Guest Worker"


These tiny scattered rural communities are unchanged over hundreds of years! Now, with the fall of communism and the Internet, life is changing. Korniss's work preserves the lives for posterity. This might inspire John and others in their own work to describe people by a large series of images. Look here at "The Guest Worker", for example for the result of his dedication to editorial portraiture.

By chance, I listened tonight to Brook Jensen's podcast on art (with no intent) and was struck by the coincidence that this very same day I had sought out and found again, the Kerniss article I remembered from the beginning of the year in Brook's publication, Lenswork. I realized that his insights were so helpful to me and might resonate with others too!

I point out Lenswork, as it's a very practical clear window to living photographers, who's work is inspiring, explained and within reach. It was Lenswork that introduced me to Korniss' work and for that alone, it would a worthwhile. I realized that I should spread the word no less than reporting on a Canon TSE 24mm that helps me with my work or promoting SNS-HDR, simply because it helps the work for you, Ben and Bart, just in this forum!

Asher
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; July 6th, 2011 at 10:05 AM.
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  #6  
Old July 6th, 2011, 12:14 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Answer: No

Statement 1: Show me, I shall decide if I think it is Art or not.

Statement 2: If it shall me a good financial return; I don't mind calling it Art.
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  #7  
Old July 6th, 2011, 10:10 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fahim mohammed View Post
Answer: No

Statement 1: Show me, I shall decide if I think it is Art or not.

Statement 2: If it shall me a good financial return; I don't mind calling it Art.
Fahim,

The three together make sense. After all, museums and collectors are making bets on what to save for the future that civilization will treasure. Willingness to invest money in art, while not a perfect tool by any means, does at least reflect on community reactions to art. In this way a lot of art worthy of safeguarding will be secured for future generations.

Of course, there will be great art missed and nonsense collected, but that's the best we can do, apart from having an official "Society" or authority that selects art and that could be far worse!

Asher
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  #8  
Old July 6th, 2011, 11:27 AM
John Kok John Kok is offline
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As my work deals with personality and character, who is to say that the personality and character of the audience does not influence their interpretation of the presented work ? =)

This question kinda touches on the question as to whether or not we are each unique and special, and whether or not what we think or do is significant in the grand scheme of things.
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  #9  
Old July 6th, 2011, 12:39 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Kok View Post
As my work deals with personality and character, who is to say that the personality and character of the audience does not influence their interpretation of the presented work ? =)

This question kinda touches on the question as to whether or not we are each unique and special, and whether or not what we think or do is significant in the grand scheme of things.
John,

Of course it's the case that we, as observers, always bring to a work of art our own experiences, icons, mythology and cultural preferences. Despite that, the prime move has to be the mind of the artist. The artist makes the physical expression of what is synthesized in his/her mind.

We then do our best to receive it and re-experience the emotions and thoughts the artist intended to provoke.

In a way, it's best to think of a camera as a tool for exporting your ideas. Of course you might be a Bresson, capturing a man skipping across a puddle in Paris, but that still requires a disciplined and trained brain in the timing and position for the picture. Did you listen to Brook's podcast and did it alter in anyway your ideas on how to proceed?

I do not insist that Brooks is correct. It just seems to me that he's spot on, although someone, no doubt, might craft exceptions.

Asher
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  #10  
Old July 6th, 2011, 02:11 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
There's a trend in photography, amongst young graduates to attempt to leave meaning up to the viewer as a higher form of art!
It evolved as a reaction to the previous trend, which was to impose the artist message and opinions, usually political, upon the viewer.
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  #11  
Old July 10th, 2011, 08:48 AM
Vivek Iyer Vivek Iyer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
It evolved as a reaction to the previous trend, which was to impose the artist message and opinions, usually political, upon the viewer.



If it is art, does it need verbalisation (from the artist) of whatever it tries to convey?
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  #12  
Old July 11th, 2011, 12:28 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vivek Iyer View Post



If it is art, does it need verbalisation (from the artist) of whatever it tries to convey?

Vivek,

That surely is dependent on the context in which the artist creates. For example, art showing a flower or a mother nursing requires no introduction. Art celebrating biblical stories just need the cultural background to get the sense of the work and then some experience in the idiom of that kind of craft. So, in a western society, a crucifixion picture requires little to no introduction. So it would appear, indeed, that art can speak for itself!

However, not knowing about Picasso's inspiration by sculptural works of Matisse, for example, might limit one's experience of Picasso's work that depends on it. Picasso's Marie-Thérèse Walter heads are sensually and sexually extended forms copied form Matisse's series of Jeanette heads. The idea that art must speak for itself ignores the weight that context, education and culture has in our appreciation of things. So is verbalization always needed? Well of course not! That flower, nursing mother and child or any other expression of beauty can be often appreciated immediately just as they are!

Still, with most other art, whenever an artist does share, (even just a title), we've narrowed down the context and removed misdirection to untold universes of misinterpretation!

Asher
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  #13  
Old July 11th, 2011, 01:21 AM
Vivek Iyer Vivek Iyer is offline
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Asher,

Yes, as in your example, it also depends on the context, time, culture and numerous factors.

AFAiC, there are no misinterpretations.

For your Q (title) the answer is always, yes. But should the audience know about it? IMHO, no.

However, as the saying goes, mileage varies.

Case in point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Sunday

Most of current humanity would have no clue what an "Yew Sunday" is relative to Palm Sunday. However, if anyone cares to look at the original context, both signify the same.

Last edited by Vivek Iyer; July 11th, 2011 at 03:25 AM.
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  #14  
Old July 11th, 2011, 07:48 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vivek Iyer View Post
Asher,

Yes, as in your example, it also depends on the context, time, culture and numerous factors.

AFAiC, there are no misinterpretations.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman
Can Art have no Artist's Statement, Vision or Idea?
QUOTE=Vivek Iyer;117744]For your Q (title) the answer is always, yes. [/quote]

Vivek, do you really mean that always Art needs "no statement, vision or idea"?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Vivek Iyer View Post
? But should the audience know about it? IMHO, no.
I think there's a great misconception here. Without knowing about the underpinnings of works, the mythology, iconic forms and patterns, the audience cannot have evoked in them more than the immediate superficial primitive emotional reactions caused by the subject, poses and gestures.

I would assert that almost if not all art is sparked by some idea, born of the imagination and fed by libraries of innate and cultured preferences, patterns, rhythm and poetics. To get the full measure of experience that the artist imagines, we need to hear the artist's voice.

What bring to the art conditions our appreciation. There are three processes going on.
  1. The physicality of the artist work is experienced by all and there's immediate value in that

  2. But the deeper value, impact, structured emotional response, significance and full appreciation and benefit depend on there being some emotional and/or intellectual thread woven into the work by its creator.

  3. Specific culture and education might be needed.

Everyone will therefore receive the work on some common basic grounds and then also on different levels depending on their emotional sensitivity, esthetic sensibility and background. But that's not all, Then we must add the uniquely individual reactions and experiences based on the baggage and treasure each individual brings to his/her dialog with the work of art.

Of course, one might think basic and individual reactions are sufficient as in observing a flower or that mother nursing an infant. However in the latter case, knowing the artist wishes, helps fulfill the artists hopes beyond the obvious to give us the experiences he/she hopes for, for example, a spiritual approach to sanctity buttressed by the iconic forms and mythologies of Christian culture.

A leaf floating on the water might be appreciated then for its own transient beauty. A photograph of that in certain light can evoke that beauty many times over. However, when the photographer declares the title, "A Life's Journey", a whole new range of ideas are sparked, all directed by the artist who is absent for his/her art. Somehow, the artist has to convey to us something physical expressing just imagination and memory. If these never existed or are not expressed then there's then no art to appreciate just craft.

Asher
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  #15  
Old July 11th, 2011, 08:44 AM
Vivek Iyer Vivek Iyer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post

Vivek, do you really mean that always Art needs "no statement, vision or idea"?



Asher
Asher,

Mostly, yes when the art itself is the statement of the artist's vision/interpretation based on an idea.

How an onlooker interprets it based on the impact that art piece has on her/him is best left alone.

Personally, to me it does not matter how many volumes have been written on a particular piece of art. It would not cloud my understanding or perception (however small or big or different it might be) of it.
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  #16  
Old July 11th, 2011, 09:20 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post

Vivek, do you really mean that always Art needs "no statement, vision or idea"?



Asher
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vivek Iyer View Post
Asher,

Mostly, yes when the art itself is the statement of the artist's vision/interpretation based on an idea.
Your statement, having the controlling idea, means that you do not mean "Art needs no statement, vision or idea", LOL!

It's that controlling idea that's essential!

Asher
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  #17  
Old July 11th, 2011, 09:37 AM
Vivek Iyer Vivek Iyer is offline
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That is exactly what is not essential (in fact, it should not be there!), especially if it is "controlling" and restrictive.

Let us say inspiration instead idea.

How one execute it, how it shows up in the end and how it gets perceived are completely different.

In other words, I do not gain anything by knowing the process prior to looking at an art. If an art provokes any curiosity to compel me to look for such factors I will do that not otherwise.

Recently, I commented on a photo (elsewhere) that showed a half empty bottle of Bourbon at the foot of an infant in a buggy in a middle of a busy street festival. My comment was: Safest place to store..

The photog's title (that appeared afterwards): "they start them young".

The title still has not changed my perception of that photo.
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  #18  
Old July 11th, 2011, 09:43 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vivek Iyer View Post
That is exactly what is not essential (in fact, it should not be there!), especially if it is "controlling" and restrictive.

Let us say inspiration instead idea.

How one execute it, how it shows up in the end and how it gets perceived are completely different.
Vivek,

What worries you about the term "controlling"? It does not restrict the viewer, but guides them. After that, they can react as they wish! Essential to photography from the outset is idea, (as far as I know pretty well uncontested), that photography is about inclusion based on some idea and exclusion based on that same very same idea.

Whenever we point the camera, we want to include a certain array of things from one chosen angle, light and distance at a particular time excluding other matters. If that's not controlling, then what is?

Asher
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  #19  
Old July 11th, 2011, 10:17 AM
Vivek Iyer Vivek Iyer is offline
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Asher, I was editing (added a bit) my earlier post when you posted yours.

Take a look at this (untitled):


Untitled by Vivek Iyer, on Flickr

Note your reaction to the image and then check the comments at the link.
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  #20  
Old July 11th, 2011, 11:40 AM
Mark Hampton Mark Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vivek Iyer View Post
Asher, I was editing (added a bit) my earlier post when you posted yours.

Take a look at this (untitled):


Untitled by Vivek Iyer, on Flickr

Note your reaction to the image and then check the comments at the link.
Vivek,

My reaction was look at the - colour - texture - oh that may be an image ov a star fish behind a rock - then I lost interest and clicked the link - there I noticed it was a flower from the comments - I then wondered why you didnt identify this in your title - I then though it was a conceptual joke and it really was a star fish about to eat the rock - I then thought I would reply - my son is in the bath playing and I think I will go and play - then i though why am I typing this - then I went to delete my post but decided I wouldn't - god I need some wine - not as much as Murdock I guess - but he desires the whole earth - talk about star fish-eating rocks !

thanks for the time - nice star ship
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  #21  
Old July 11th, 2011, 11:54 AM
Mark Hampton Mark Hampton is offline
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Found Text altered by M Hampton

There's a trend in photography, to leave meaning up to the viewer.

we have a serious photographer putting forward work , which is left for the viewer alone to find meaning and value.

But is this even possible, let alone a valid claim for art.

I'd offer that Art
  1. Is some manifestation from the human brain / mind.
  2. In that exported manifestation there are ideas, vision, themes, substance and or imperatives to move us.
these words have been remixed from their original source and only reflect the ideas of the mixer. As i find it takes me so long to write cohearantly I think this should be the way i post - Asher if you have any objection please remove the post - I think it moves the ideas on.

cheers
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  #22  
Old July 11th, 2011, 12:27 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vivek Iyer View Post
Asher, I was editing (added a bit) my earlier post when you posted yours.

Take a look at this (untitled):


Untitled by Vivek Iyer, on Flickr

Note your reaction to the image and then check the comments at the link.
This looks like an Xray of the pelvic brim which has been colorized, but why I have no clue.

Asher
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  #23  
Old July 11th, 2011, 12:31 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Well, Vivek,

I looked at the link and am surprised. I find no feeling of a flower, just some colorized X ray study! Without the guidance I was lost and then had to use my own library of images and got it wrong and little out of it worthwhile.

Asher
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  #24  
Old July 11th, 2011, 01:05 PM
Vivek Iyer Vivek Iyer is offline
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Mark,



Asher,

Of course, I photographed a flower. As Albin comments there (not prompted), I saw a Triffid.

It is a Triffid image!

(It is not X-ray but an UV induced visible light- Fluorescence image. FWIW, I do not colorize anything, not even the TEM or SEM images that I used to make and work with years ago.)
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  #25  
Old July 11th, 2011, 01:33 PM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vivek Iyer View Post
Asher, I was editing (added a bit) my earlier post when you posted yours.

Take a look at this (untitled):


Untitled by Vivek Iyer, on Flickr
Note your reaction to the image and then check the comments at the link.

Alien ( other worldly,,not a foreigner ( ! ) in the States ) Resurrection!!
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  #26  
Old July 11th, 2011, 01:52 PM
Vivek Iyer Vivek Iyer is offline
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Fahim, Wouldn't that be so convenient to everyone if it is that easily identifiable?

Here is a lucky grab of mine (i deleted the tag i had there for now):


Untitled by Vivek Iyer, on Flickr

FWIW, it is a tricky one as that statue doesn't look like most other representations elsewhere.
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  #27  
Old July 11th, 2011, 02:20 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Hampton View Post
Vivek,

My reaction was look at the - colour - texture - oh that may be an image ov a star fish behind a rock - then I lost interest and clicked the link - there I noticed it was a flower from the comments - I then wondered why you didnt identify this in your title - I then though it was a conceptual joke and it really was a star fish about to eat the rock - I then thought I would reply - my son is in the bath playing and I think I will go and play - then i though why am I typing this - then I went to delete my post but decided I wouldn't - god I need some wine - not as much as Murdock I guess - but he desires the whole earth - talk about star fish-eating rocks !

thanks for the time - nice star ship
Thanks Mark for this, it puts things into their right perspectives.
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  #28  
Old July 11th, 2011, 02:37 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Let's forget the details for one second and take a look at this debate at the meta level. So far it looks like this:
- Debater A asks a closed question, to which he seems to expect a preset answer
- Debater B provides his personal answer which is not what Debater A expects
- Debater A debates that this answer is not correct and that Debater B should see things differently
- Debater B asserts that he stands by his opinion and explains why
- This cycle is repeated a couple of times, with more opinions added in order to prove one's point
- Some other debaters also chime in
- Each participant sticks to his opinions and does not wish to compromise

Now I always stay away from these debates for these reasons. It gets us nowhere in the end. I am sure that many of you will disagree with me and that is exactly what I mean.
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  #29  
Old July 11th, 2011, 02:48 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Cem,

If you bring things to this level, that shows disrespect for the arguments put forward. Your analysis is simplistic and does not help the argument. Either pitch in or not, but don't do this!

As a start, Debater A is not here!

posts 15 - 18 show that Vivek has in what he has written, (if I understand him correctly), at least, conceded in part, but does not like the word "controlling" in my use of the necessity for a "controlling idea", as he worries that it limits interpretation.

In that, the debate has made definite progress, as there is not simple disagreement that's repeated as you assert.

Asher
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  #30  
Old July 11th, 2011, 02:59 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Cem,

If you bring things to this level, that shows disrespect for the arguments put forward. Your analysis is simplistic and does not help the argument. Either pitch in or not, but don't do this!

As a start, Debater A is not here!

Asher
No disrespect meant. I could try to persuade you that this meta analysis is exactly right, but it would be in vain. Besides, I do not believe in persuasion. However, I too have the right to voice my opinion which I did. If I am not allowed to, this forum ceases to be open.
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