Not Yet

Upright great egret with wind ruffling feathers

Are my photographs “art”? I ask because Seth had a post about art today.

Art is a human activity.

OK, good so far. I’m human.

Gorse growing up through razor wire atop concrete wall

It is the creation of something new,
something that might not work,
something that causes a viewer to be influenced.

Check, definitely check, hmm.

View along driftwood log on rocky beach with inlet and mountains in background.

Art uses context and culture to send a message.
Instead of only a contribution of beauty or craft, art adds intent.
The artist works to create something generous, something that will change us.

Well, if my photos send a message beyond “Wow, look at this” or “Wow, look at it from over here,” it’s unintentional.

4-photo collage of Roosevelt Lake Bridge

Art isn’t painting or canvas or prettiness.
Art is work that matters.
It’s entirely possible that you’re an artist.
Everyone can be, if we choose.
Seth Godin

Boy, I’m not so sure it’s only about choosing and, I presume, being willing to put in the work. Using images to communicate isn’t just a skill: It’s a way of thinking. Maybe a way of being in the world. I’m not sure I can just choose to be an artist, any more than I can choose to be a bee.

Honeybee dusted with pollen on top of Black-eyed Susan

Don’t misunderstand. I’m thrilled when I get photos I think are pretty or interesting. Or fun.

Accidental face on a space heater,made by two dials and an "On" light

I think I’m gonna throw up.

I’m delighted when others enjoy them too. But I don’t think they’re art.

Not yet. Maybe not ever.

Reflection of two palm trees in car bodyAnd that’s OK. Because enjoying photography for its own sake is a human activity too.


This entry was posted in Photos of Built Stuff, Photos of Faces, Photos of Fauna, Photos of Flora, Photos of Landscapes, Thinking Broadly and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Not Yet

  1. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – could it be that art like beauty is in the eye of the beholder?

  2. Tom Watson says:

    John beat me to what I was going to say, so I’ll second his post.

  3. Barbara Carlson says:

    Whatever moves you to look at something in a new way, think about something in a new way, feel about something in a new way. Def. #26

  4. Jim Taylor says:

    I once had a sign on my office wall that said something like: “Genius is seeing what no one has seen before. Artistry is seeing what everyone has seen, but haven’t realized they’ve seen.” I don’t have that sign any more, so I can’t quote it exactly. Your photos fit that definition of artistry, though. We’ve all seen birds, and bridges, and bees, and faces. But they float by, unperceived, unrecognized, like, umm, darkened ships in the night. But then you take pictures, and suddenly we ask ourselves, “Why didn’t I see that too?”
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – OK, I could buy that definition of art. (Weren’t we supposed to study this in school?) And from that point of view, I think we *can* all be artists for each other.

    • Barbara Carlson says:

      Yes, that’s the job of the artist — to point out the common sights we ignore, the collateral beauty of the dire and ugly, and the absurdity around us (pushing it into humour). All those things, and it needs to take us out of ourselves if only for an instant to surprise us, quicken us, provide solace, make us more reflective, AND help us not to sleepwalk through life — that 1 trllionnith chance that it happened to us.

      • Isabel Gibson says:

        Barbara – Interesting. I have no memory of having studied “art” at all in school – of having thought about what its role is. Likewise science and history and so on. Maybe I was talking. Maybe we didn’t talk about it. As I recall there wasn’t much “meta” conversation in school . . .

  5. Tom Watson says:

    I read the link to The Lobster. I also found this plot to the movie: “In a dystopian society, single people must find a mate within 45 days or be transformed into an animal of their choice.”

    Just reading that alone would convince me to go clip my toenails or something exciting.

    Thanks for saving me!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – As a friend of ours says about such movies, “That’s 2 hours I’ll never get back.” Looks like you cut your losses after 2 minutes. Good thinking.

  6. Tom Watson says:

    By the way, I’m not a fan of dystopian literature anyway.

  7. I have been studying Seth’s Permission Marketing for the past three months. I think he is a genius at marketing. He would not be my go-to person for a definition of art.

    Your photographs, on the other hand, often capture all of the elements of art. I should be writing poetry about them. However, I feel like someone caught in a wind tunnel and I’m coming through it far less gracefully than your elegant white bird under a seemingly cloudless sky. And therein lies the magic of your art. I could look at that photo endlessly for the beauty within the tension, feathers so magnificently awry, neck so astonishingly curved, beak pointing with the precision of a machinist’s tooled work. Humanly impossible and mysteriously able. You seek and find the glory in nature with extraordinary skill and vision and we are privileged to hold those images you have created in our memories. I will defend your art in the marketplace, too, if you have a mind to sell it. That would be one way of giving Seth a new idea for another blog post. 🙂

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – LOL. I won’t be offering it for sale, but many thanks for your vote of confidence. It’s interesting to see what people think of art (definitionally, I mean) and always instructive to see what you see. And I hope the wind tunnel calms down soon.

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