Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Does Art follow technique?

UPDATE: this time with the links

There are a couple of interesting posts and discussions over a T.O.P. (here and here) on Daguerreotypes that raised some thoughts in my mind about the form of photographic art. Not so much about the Daguerreotypes, per se, but the notion coming from the discussions that particular methods yields better results. An age old question in photography, I might even have mused on it before.

To my points (as ever, more questions than answers) - does a photograph have inherent qualities irrespective of display medium? I'm pretty certain that's a no. Apart from the subject being the same regardless of display method, many of the Art qualities - including the ability to raise emotional response - stem from the means of presentation (traditionally the print form, but now we need to include electronic means, too).
But then, do certain qualities stem from the particular display process, which the artist then manipulates to their desire? By implication, does this mean that certain types of subject cannot be adequately represented by certain types of process?

The converse can also be asked, which is where I came from. The original discussion stemmed from the reproduction versus original of the Daguerreotype. At the time, there were limited photographic processes and so photographers were limited in their choices. Does this mean that the qualities we associate with those processes were happenstance at the time? Was the aim the same as today and the result dictated by process? Or, did the artist choose particular subjects or rendering to suit the medium and if so, would they have chosen to do something differently with access to other display media?

That opens up a slightly wider thought - is the Artist quality of a photography then inherent in the subject or by necessity dictated by the combination of subject and display medium? And, on a similar theme, can we render the same subject (maybe from the raw same source) differently for different media and maintain the artistic qualities?

I'm never sure that I agree with photographers who claim that they can only achieve the results they wish with one particular process. Just because one individual cannot match the effects in an ink jet print as they do with a traditional wet print doesn't necessarily mean that it is not possible. By extension, I don't believe that any one process has inherently better artistic value than another, it is specific to a particular way of representing a particular subject.

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