What does the word “art” mean to you?
Traditionally, art was comprised of paintings, sculptures, and drawings. And I think of the “Old Masters;” the fully trained painters prior to the 1800s. But art forms have changed drastically over the years, and I’m sure all of us have questioned whether some of the modern forms are truly art – the giant badminton shuttlecocks strewn about the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Art Gallery come to mind.
The reason I throw this question out there is, I’ve always wondered if people thought of photography as being true “art.” You point a mechanical device at an object or landscape, push a button, and wallah, you have an image. Not from your imagination or from an attempt to transform and express the external world by creating a new presentation through painting, drawing or sculpture – the actual use of the hands and the mind without mechanical assistance. Isn’t nature the true artist here?
And if photography could be called an art, by observing the photographer does form a composition with what the lens will capture, and does make settings as to the shutter speed and aperture opening to regulate the amount of light and depth the image will reveal, what then of all the modern digital enhancements that can be made to an image once captured? Clicking on more buttons on a computer screen. Pre-programmed techno-algorithms that you can purchase in bulk. Is thought and imagination even required for use of these programs?
Or, does altering the original photograph with all of the various mechanical features transform a simple image into a creative work of art?
While Merriam-Webster has a long list of definitions for the word “art,” we can boil it down for purposes of this discussion to: “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination” . . . to produce “works as pictures, poems or songs” . . . and “creative visual works as painting, sculpting, and drawing.” This definition certainly seems broad enough to encompass photography and all of its forms.
The feature image is a “photograph” by William Lesch called “Lightstorm over Tucson, Night and Day Thunderstorm Time (Montage). My understanding is he uses time-lapse photography and color enhancements to produce his work, and I do think the picture is absolutely stunning.
But what do you think? Is it “Art.”