I don't make up my mind lightly. It is possible that I sometimes confuse exhausting mental debate, which is actually the product of a maddening compulsion, with thoroughness.
That's why the door's locked but not dead-bolted. If one knocks loud enough, long enough...looks in the window...lays on the door bell, honks the car horn. I might peak through the curtains long enough to give you the finger and mouth "Go Home! I'm calling the cops and loading my shotgun."
No..I'm kidding. Really.
Of course, locks can be picked...just as surely as an analogy can be taken too far and become annoying.
Look at this.... This is a photograph taken by Amy Bartlam. She is a professional photographer in England but, this was just a casual instagram post. I found Amy's blog for the obvious reason. She's a Bartlam. I've never talked to a Bartlam that wasn't a sibling or a parent of some kind. I was curious.
-Adam and I have this running conversation about people's names in these parts...Metcalfe, Shackleford, Vickers, Shaws of every kind, etc. Nine times out of ten* people will tell you they're Irish or Scottish when, in fact, they just have peculiar English names. Somehow, despite being surrounded by Lamberts and Hadleys, Bartlam is a real problem for people to get their tongues around...you should see the spellings my boss comes up with. My last name tag read Erin Barthelam. That's respect. Anyway...there aren't very many of us over here.-
Turned out...she was a really good photographer. There were hip wedding pictures and interior shots that were very...well, professional. She's a professional.. Then she started posting these instagram things. I think that's what you call 'em. I'm neither hip nor hip to these app things...technology. They were these abstract photographs (see we've encountered our first problem right there)...or, abstracts from photographs.
It's gorgeous. A warm pinkish background with frosted streaks, stains and hints of geometric shapes to give it texture. It does...or seems to do arrrrrgghhh...what abstract paintings do best, present beauty as beauty without the mental hindrance of objects.
Then the trick...the stark black steak across the surface is a shadow and the cord or rope that's causing it. This ineffable (except of course it's a *&*%*(&^ photograph) expression is captured...like a song only stationary. With a jolt it's pinned down in time and space.
Maybe I'm just a functioning idiot (can it Adam) but, it knocked me out.
There's a problem though. Up to this point I was absolutely certain that a photograph could not possibly be considered a work of Art...capital A Art. High Art.** It might be possible to manipulate or doctor a photograph into a piece of Art...but, for all practical purposes that's painting. The problem is that a photograph can't help but present an image as is...as image. It's like holding up a mirror to something you could plainly see for yourself at the right time and place.
It's not that objects can't be presented as Art but they ought to have what Arthur C. Danto described as "transfiguration of the commonplace."
Flowers from Botticelli's Primavera
If you've ever seen a flower you recognize these as flowers but....come the &*^%& on! Have the flowers in your back yard (garden for the bar-b-quers) ever struck you like that? The whole painting puts a fluttering pit in my stomach. There's a hint of anxiety because the world I see is not that beautiful. There's sheer awe mixed with joy and hope that somebody has.
Hope. The hope that the world might actually be this beautiful...more beautiful even. That the problem is with us...with the circumstance we have found ourselves in..*** If that's the case...if the hope is for a realization of a more beautiful reality, why can't the photographer provide a glimpse of how beautiful the world might actually be? Forcing you to look at an object as is to demonstrate the beauty of ordinary things. That's quite a feat.
So I'm sticking my head out the door and declaring, as quietly and quickly as I can.."photographycanbeArt." And slamming that *&^*& shut again. Click. Go away.
*That tenth person is indeed going to be of Irish or Scottish decent and have a McPreposterous name. I saw a McStreet sign the other day that I wish I'd written down. Indecipherable.
** I'm trying to separate High Art from art...enjoyable images, etc., whatever. It's not a value judgement but a classification. Much of what I enjoy and surround myself with would hardly be considered fine art.
***WARNING Religious Connotations! WARNING! WARNING! :)