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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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Old August 17th, 2010, 08:54 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Default Fantasy Pictures made of elements. The Language I Attempt to Use

I'm trying to address those who find no language to approach work like this picture.




Asher Kelman: Sunset from a Primitive: #1

The single photographic element, is shown three times in stacked panels in a triptych. The last minutes of the setting sun shines through trees. The shot is carefully made to show the rays and aurora we would see if we have a smoked glass to look through and protect our eyes. It's asymmetrical. The outline of the branches of the trees on the left shows spreading branches outlined by the sun. To the right the leaves are seen less clearly against a progressively bluer sky. The branches could be viewed as choices we might make as consequences or just as branches or something else if you wish. There are no rules to this.

The three panels represent a time sequence from top to bottom as the sun fades. The parts on the left have been separated by a vertical band which has some of the patina of the trees in it. So now we have time going vertically in the one axis and space going horizontally away to the right.

What about the sun? Where the sun is coming from is another dimension putting us at two end of a vast scale. We look at the sun as something awesome. No doubt, from the sun's point of view we, ourselves are the opposite. This picture is them compounded to provide some entertainment and a place for contemplation.


Put aside, for the moment, whether or not you like my picture. Some do and others might find it fails. Instead of "success" or "failure", I'd like to address those who find this kind of photographic work obscure, unreachable and in a language that seems to make no sense at all!

As you know, almost all the pictures I share are of beautiful people, especially students and models or else architecture that I admire. All these are real and understandable.

I show what I saw. Yes, I admit, there maybe some added whimsical prettiness or awesome scale compressed and curved to fit a frame, but everything is of something anyone could observe through such a particular lens. It's what I've called "factive". IOW, it's real life! Yes, the shading might be enhanced but essentially you have no barrier to "getting" the picture. You may or may not like it, but for sure it's understandable!

Now why would I or anyone else who happily makes pictures of real things, then consider making weird, unreal and fanciful pictures that might be a puzzle to understand? What I'm doing is asking you to allow me to lead you to see not what what one might see in real life(or that which might appear to be true but is actually staged or a photoshop creation), to something, well let's just call "fanciful". Here you are asked to see beyond what's shown. Put away the ideas that this is merely "artsy fartsy". Also please put aside for the moments ase any other terms that mght bother you like "impressionistic", "modern", "post-modern", "contemporary" and the like. Instead allow to me say what it means being "fanciful".

Well, for me, at least, being "fanciful" and not exact, allows us one extra leverage from the photograph. Beside showing real things that matter to us, we can also play games and muse! That's what poetry might be. It put's together thoughts in an order such that we imagine things in a novel, thought-provoking and often emotionally charged way. In dong so, the work might also have profound consequences, but that's not my intent here. My wish if to allow us to be amused and entertained based on out own library of experiences, songs, stories and life values.

There's a great value in using one thing to explain another even if it's only one vague quality we refer to, like "Your the death of me!" or "You're a brick!" or a "Prick!"

Think of something poetical like "cupid's arrow". Imagine how unpractical it might be to have a lover's arrow shot directly into one's heart! But this is allowed in the stuff of poetry and we only use the bow and arrow to make us think of the jolt one gets with the sight of a person one falls in love with. There's a sudden shock as one feels shaky, nervous, we might blush, our hearts race, we say silly things and become under some spell. It's simpler to think of being shot by cupid's arrow. It's that sort of work that pictures fanciful, (or "modern"/"contemporary") picture can do to us. They make the mind struggle with an image! Things are out of place in some way and in unexpected positions and relationships. So we have to think! It's a puzzle and can be fun! Either the artist can
  • Direct meaning or
  • Provide a shaped space where the viewers can bring their own ideas and memories to muse and wander,

Either way, the picture gives us satisfaction and amusement in just allowing us to contemplate according to our fancy or needs.

Here, in this series, real photographs are the start. What we hopefully end up with is a way of showing unending related ideas that you, the viewer supplies, but are referenced by the original picture. The work is constructed to stimulate your own fanciful thoughts, like a poem or song might do.

Instead of showing something real, (borrowing from the work of many artists), things might be exactly true, exaggerated or simplified to be representational. They may be even in shorthand simple strokes, so there's just enough elemental information for you, the viewer, to recognize the pieces that make up the whole.

In this type of fanciful work, I start with pieces that I call elements or primitives. Ideally, these should have been photographed carefully so that one has a choice of what will be perfectly extracted later on. Then different elements are positioned, maybe with markers or maybe blended in some way, to enable the pictorial elements to work together like a poem.

This is written with a humble basic intention to help you engage when otherwise you would just pass by with eyes rolled up to the sky! I hope this is not just more "artspeak" mumbo jumbo. Tell me if this is helpful at all . If anyone can help express this better, that too will be appreciated.

Asher
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; August 17th, 2010 at 11:44 PM.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 11:48 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Mine is only a modest personal approach.

I hope others will add explanations, guidance and references to help folk approach photography that goes beyond what pictures of something actually are, a likeness of what's illuminated in front of the camera.

Asher
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Old August 18th, 2010, 04:28 PM
Mark Hampton Mark Hampton is offline
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Asher,
I think that every picture is a Fantasy just made of elements - reality as I experience it is not frozen in time - sharp beyond our fauves - I think I would find it difficult to understand the real if I ever faced its reflection, by that, I mean all wave lengths all in focus at the same time with no illusion of movement but real movement.

I find it strange that as an art form photography has crystallised into two camps. The "real" and the "fiction" or "Fantasy". There is no true distinction.. just degrees measure and output.

As for the purpose of the photograph there is no such thing as direct meaning - only cultural memes.
Everything in photography is an abstract, a measure that can and sometimes is controlled by the maker; every image is a snap shot of certain wavelengths of light over time.

This is to me the beauty of making pictures.

Now I must sleep.. but thank you for the post above... I spent a lot of time at work thinking not of work but of photography ..

cheers
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Old August 18th, 2010, 05:23 PM
Ken Tanaka Ken Tanaka is offline
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Mark makes keen and accurate points. His post is worth reading slowly and deeply.

Asher: Fewer words, more work! Don't dwell. Do it, consider it, do more.
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Old August 18th, 2010, 05:23 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Hampton View Post
Asher,
I think that every picture is a Fantasy just made of elements - reality as I experience it is not frozen in time - sharp beyond our fauves - I think I would find it difficult to understand the real if I ever faced its reflection, by that, I mean all wave lengths all in focus at the same time with no illusion of movement but real movement.

I find it strange that as an art form photography has crystallised into two camps. The "real" and the "fiction" or "Fantasy". There is no true distinction.. just degrees measure and output.

As for the purpose of the photograph there is no such thing as direct meaning - only cultural memes.
Everything in photography is an abstract, a measure that can and sometimes is controlled by the maker; every image is a snap shot of certain wavelengths of light over time.

This is to me the beauty of making pictures.

Now I must sleep.. but thank you for the post above... I spent a lot of time at work thinking not of work but of photography ..

cheers
Thanks mark for knocking down artificial barriers. Your post is one folk should read and then bookmark!

You are so right! It's really an error for us to believe that what we show in the best photography is the truth. Maybe a penny in the palm of one's hand that one can move around and examine is one truth we could agree on. However, each picture, we see, represents a whole with just only a simplified part. It's the imagination and our library of experience, likes, dislikes, prejudice and wishful thinking that fill in the gaps. So what truth can that be?

Still, I accept that some folk don't want to remove a leaf from a scene and feel righteous about that honesty! Others will touch up the clouds and each thinks his work is a report, a fact of what is/was/might be there. Others openly stage shots. I do that! I have zero conscience altering a picture designed as entertainment; it's a conversation not a legal document! With "Fancful" photography, however, the casual idea of truth ends! With "Fancfull, unquely, the scene couldn't have occurred as shown. That is my own workng distinction between the spectrum from Factive to Fictive and Fanciful!

The photographer who is prepared to see the world of photography as opening more varied means for expression, will benefit. What the opened mind can conjure up in all photography, Factive, Fictive or Fanciful is the following:

  • Enhanced Sight: seeing things that are there and are not there, missing, hidden, lost or hoped for
  • Bolder Muses: asking questions, exercising one's imagination and making spaces for the same

The more we are prepared to see what's not there, the more beauty we'll discover and the more to celebrate and protect in the thin fragile film of life, here on our only home, planet earth. We all breathe the same air, drink the same water and have the same fleeting visit before the janitor taps on the tour bus window and our journey is over.

So, while we are at it, take a lot of photographs and be nice to the others in the tour bus!

Asher
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