Random Thoughts

 Photography and Art at The Art Institute of Chicago

I've always, in spite of having studied it, been a little ambivalent about photography. I'm not sure it is an art, though the museum and art world in general treat it as such, or at least, some portions of it. Though I've embraced digital, I think computer control of images makes it even less of an art, speaking only of the minor manipulation inherent in photography from its beginnings. There was and is  more "hand" in the wet, optical process, as in the darkroom performances of Saint Ansel.

Maybe, for me, hand, is important, and a lack of hand, negates the art. A hand made pot, by a child, might have more "art" than a beautiful image from a digital camera, computer enhanced, and mechanically printed, but never touched by hand, until pulled from the printer.

The idea of hand made versus mechanically reproduced is a notion I've been pondering of late, and I am not without contradictions on this subject. The so called giclée print, an ink jet print, is not a hand made object. If I make a frame using molded ornaments, the molds were hand made, the ornaments are cast and pulled by hand, and they are definitely fit and applied by hand, but alas, it is a mere bagatelle in the world of ART; it is only a picture frame.

Though “hand made”, it is possible to reproduce those ornaments ad infinitum, but there is still a lot of “hand” involved.

I am ambivalent, and as far as art goes, I’m probably far more inclusive than most, but photography is documentary, sometimes enchanting, and a huge part of the world of the new Millennium, but for the most part, not art. Hand is important!

And, for the sake of this post, I’m not going to touch on craft, but leave you with the work of a great artist, one that some would call a mere illustrator:

Earnest H. Shepherd, Eeyore

James Montgomery Flagg's definition of an illustrator, I paraphrase, was an artist who ate three meals a day, and could afford to pay for them. I think there was some ambivalence about art, craft, etc.