The writings of Ming Thein on what constitutes art resonated with me this week, very much so.
“Well, it’s a subjectively biased interpretation of something – whether that something is an event, a place, a person, or a thing, is irrelevant. It’s the bias that makes it interesting: Monet’s waterlilies are interesting because they show us his unique interpretation of the scene, according to the impressionist school — which is yet another subjective way of looking at the world. Picasso’s works are interesting because they show us his interpretation of the world. In both cases, the interpretations present us with such a unique — unprecedented — result, that we are forced to stop, look, and think. The value here is in the uniqueness of the interpretation: what the artists see is so far beyond the normal realm of comprehension for most that it becomes akin to visual magic. It’s also worth remembering that seeing is but half of the puzzle: execution is just as important.” (Thein, 2013).
For me the takeaway message from this week’s exploration of the interaction between art and the contexts in which it is viewed has been not only that there is enormous value in recreating, or at least learning to recreate, “tried and tested” works of art, but also that art is highly subjective so it is important not to overlook the value in trying something new, pushing boundaries, developing new skills and refining existing ones, and in so doing, establishing a niche, a unique style which differentiates and adds value.
Extending this further, and thinking in practical business terms, that’s what underpins every successful business – “adding value”, differentiation, a unique selling point – offering the customer something different that they can’t get anywhere else and which creates a desire within them to consume.
I think it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the theory of “critical theory” and as a result forget that, at the end of the day, photography is just like any other business where an end product with added value is supplied to a customer.
So, how can we, as photographers, as artists, “add value” to our work?
I think this is answered very cogently by Thein when he writes about a “unique interpretation”. In essence, I think it comes down to taking images which simply illustrate a situation in order to convey information, or being creative in expressing your response to experiences in the world. The latter adds value.
And that leads me very nicely onto the subject of my photographic practice, and more specifically my project.
A few breakthrough moments this week. Work on the project has gone very well. Significant progress has been made in terms of both the Critical Review of Practice and the Work in Progress Portfolio.
Not feeling quite so certain about the CRJ though. I think all the “low-hanging fruit” has pretty much been picked, it’s reaching for the parts that are less easily accessed now. Think I’m aiming off target slightly in some areas.
I really need to make up some ground concerning the coursework early on in the forthcoming week to free up as much time as possible studio work. I want to have the work in progress almost complete by the end of the week, at least that is the aim. There are lots of things I wish to experiment with and techniques I want to try out.
It’s also been an interesting week of research into contexts for the dissemination and consumption of photographic work. Apparently “Moles Breath” is a very specific colour. Time has been somewhat limited over the course of the last week and as a result I have yet to complete my preliminary research in this area and to formally document this. However, this is something I will continue to research – partly because it’s highly relevant to the exhibition of work at the end of the MA, but also because I find it extremely interesting.
Thein, Ming (2013) ‘The Line Between Art & Photography’ in The Huffington Post (18th November 2013) [Online]. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ming-thein/art-and-photography_b_4297646.html (Accessed: 18 March 2017)