Tag Archives: Art

3099 – Totem Pole II

It’s pretty hard to get an image like this “right”. Were the colors more saturated? Sure. Did I try to bring that on screen? Oh yes! Did I fail? You bet 😀

In the end I used a much cooler color temperature than I’d have expected, just to keep detail in the overwhelmimg yellow. Then I pushed saturation of the oranges and maybe pushed them a tad towards red. Is this “correct”? Hell no! Does it work? Yup! Hope so 🙂

The Song of the Day is again “Totem Pole” by Lee Morgan. Hear it on YouTube.

2264 – Someone Else’s Eyes

If you’re interested in photography, you have likely read the buzz about photographers who use images from Google Street View for their work, either directly of by photographing the screen showing the application. The PetaPixel blog had an article about the phenomenon, Mike “The Online Photographer” Johnston ran another, and always we see the discussions whether this is art or not.

For all practical purposes this has been decided by the market, whatever we think about it, the consensus seems to be that, yes, it is art.

You may ask yourself why I mention that at all, but the answer is simply that it happened to me. I did the same thing, I enjoyed it and I can testify that it is definitely a creative act. This is the story of how it happened.

When you’re in a city and it’s raining, when there is no light worth recording, when everything tries to discourage you and you still don’t want to give up photographing, one of the many things that always work, is to go into a church and take some architectural images.

Churches are great for that, even if you are not religiously inclined at all. In the part of the world afflicted by Christianity it were churches, elsewhere it were temples, mosques, synagogues or other places of worship, but everywhere these are the buildings that were built most artfully. Castles and fortresses can be beautiful as well, but most often they are not. They are impressive and sometimes radiate power, but more often than not they are simply utilitarian and sometimes even plain ugly.

Not so churches, and that was the reason why I decided to visit a church that I had not seen in twenty years, Karlskirche in Vienna.

I was slightly taken aback when I had to pay 8 € just to get into the church, and when I asked what was included in that steep price, the answer was the museum, the church itself and the panorama lift. I shrugged, made sure that photography was permitted and paid the amount.

The Image of the Day shows the view that greeted me upon entering. For 8 € I got to see a construction site!!!

Shock and anger subsided immediately though, when I realized, that a lift went up to a platform suspended just below the cupola, and that from the platform stairs went further up into the lantern.

In the end I decided the money was well spent. Most people took the lift only to get up to the lantern and make iPhone images of each other in front of the rainy view over Vienna. I think on a sunny day it may even be an interesting panorama, but this day it left me completely cold. What I was after were the freshly renovated frescoes.

Using the 7-14 I made overall images of the four sides, and then I began, just like other photographers do in Street View images, to frame my own personal views of these paintings. That’s something you rarely get the chance to do. Normally it is impossible to come that close, and if so, for instance in a museum, taking photographs is frequently forbidden.

Now again, is this art? Can this be art? My only creative act was framing, but then, this is the most important and defining act in photography, and whether the scenery is real or part of the frescoes in a church’s cupola, why exactly should that make a difference?

Yes, I know, there is the matter of timing, the decisive moment and all that, but not all genres of photography depend on decisive moments. In landscape photography you frequently come to a place that you may never visit again, and whatever the light is, whatever the circumstances are, you try your best to get an image that you can be proud of. Does it count that I visited this church in the right year?

Whatever your opinion of the “art” question, it is still an interesting thing to do: to see what someone else’s eyes have seen, to see it through your own eyes, to view the details in your own way. Try it, you’ll probably agree: it is a creative process and you may enjoy it as well 🙂

The Song of the Day is “Someone Else’s Eyes” from Aretha Franklin’s 1991 album “What You See Is What You Sweat”. Hear it on YouTube.

1059 – Celluloid Heroes

Kraków, Poland, just as promised. My Internet connection is great, the only problem is, that I forgot my computer mouse. Editing images with a touchpad is, well, interesting. I’ll get one tomorrow 🙂

We drove all day, everything went well, but we arrived when it was already dark. I was tired from the road and only went out for half an hour to make some images.

These bronze soldiers stand on the small square just in front of our hotel. I have no idea who they were. There is an inscription at the bottom of the monument, but of course it’s Polish. I’ll ask at the reception tomorrow.

The Song of the Day is “Celluloid Heroes” by The Kinks. I have it on disc two of “The Ultimate Collection”. See a live video on YouTube.

1040 – Sad Song

I read an article about jazz today, about the festival in Saalfelden, Austria, and about how jazz is completely accepted as art. You can’t provoke a scandal with jazz anymore. This made me think. Do we need scandals?

The history of the visual arts is a continuous progress towards ever more perfection, and it reached its high point during Renaissance. There was no way to get more realistic, no way to get more detailed, and from then on, it went the other way: towards abstraction. You see it begin in Titian’s colors, how he mixed red and green, you see it much stronger in Tintoretto, Rubens used a rougher brush with longer strokes, El Greco and the late Goya pointed up to our times, impressionism re-invented color, expressionism warped it, and with Kandinsky and Mondrian that second progression finally came to an end.

There was always a tendency to mix art and scandal, because scandal sells almost as good as sex, but the art of the 20th century was especially characterized by the tendency to shock the viewer and that is very much due to the fact that art had to search for a new orientation. The gesamtkunstwerk was born.

I understand all that and I understand how necessary this was in many cases, but there is also the question of what becomes of a piece of art, when the performance is over, the shock has worn off. Is it still art? Does it keep its value? Can it persist in spite of being isolated from the original context?

This weekend I have got my copy of “The $12 Million Stuffed Shark” by Don Thompson. I have not read it yet and won’t do so during the next weeks, but I guess this book will answer some of my questions, at least from the point of view of economics.

For me the most important point is, that we live in a post-modern world. Of course this is old news, but it is essential to realize, that this gives us enormous freedom. The river has come to an end, there is no more need to swim with or against the current, there is no current any more, we are floating in an endless sea of possibilities. This is scary but liberating.

It is possible to take up pieces from older times, it is possible to combine, it is possible to simply do what you feel you need to do, regardless of trends and fashions. There is nothing to win by trying to swim with a current when there is no current at all. You can as well be you and be happy with it. In an age of ubiquitous and instantaneous communication you may not get rich, but you will find your audience.

The Image of the Day is one more bicycle for the book, and the frogs were hanging outside of a shop. A sad and a happy image, that’s it for today.

The Song of the Day is “Sad Song” from Lou Reed’s 1973 album “Berlin”. What a wonderful song. Hear it on YouTube.