Have you ever looked up a definition of art? I just did. It’s almost impossible to define, it’s just too subjective, and this is probably why the dictionary gives nine different definitions. The one I like best, I suppose, is “High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value.” But what I really wonder is is what I do art? I go out in the garden, I wave my camera around a bit, I twiddle a knob and press a button. Sometimes I might shove an extra bit of glass on the front of the camera too. That’s not art, is it? When I’ve done in the garden I connect the camera to the PC, upload 30-odd pictures, choose a couple that are passable and then start tweaking, manipulating, changing. Is that art?
I do think some of my images have aesthetic value. People certainly seem to like them. My flickr friends, who know something about photography, say nice things about them. My non-flickr friends, some of whom know nothing about photography, say nice things about them. One of my friends is an artist. I have no idea whether she knows anything about photography, but she says nice things about them. I don’t know whether she considers my images to be art though, I shall have to ask her.
Plato said art was about imitation. My image is an imitation of a flower – it’s not the real thing. I’ve imitated (well, borrowed from) various writers and taken the words of the wise. Art? Dunno.
Tolstoy reckoned art had to evoke some sort of emotional reaction. He talked abut the link between art and pleasure. My images please me, so perhaps that’s art. As I’ve already said, other people like them too.
My own opinion of art is that you either have to learn a special skill or be born with a special talent. I don’t consider myself to be a particularly skilled photographer and I certainly wasn’t born with a talent for creating anything, which is why I doubt the artistic merits of what I’m doing. I want to be better, I want less of the results to be down to chance, I want to hone my skills. Until then, I can’t consider this to be art, regardless of the aesthetic qualities or the pleasure it gives.
In the minutes between me uploading the picture to flickr and typing this here, someone has defined today’s photo as art. Thank you Ike – but really, you’re too kind.