Is photography art? And why it's more art than concept art.

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    Is photography art? And why it's more art than concept art.

    Some time ago i have started discussion about art photography and majority of participants stated that photography has nothing to do with art.

    unfortunately, such statement indicates lack of basic knowledge of art history, and no understanding of what art is whatsoever.

    From about 50-100 years art is no longer about being "visually pleasing". Pure painting is craft, no better or worse than photography. In contemporary art world, art is all about thought, intention. Whatever is it paiting, photography, sculpture or rotten banana - this is just form of expressing this certain thought. The quality of certain artpiece is not definied by "how good does it looks", but "how good does it express this certain thought".

    That's why painting of a black rectangle, or urinal might be considered as one of biggest masterpieces.

    It's silly to say that photography is not art, because anything may be art if used properly.

    That's also why 99% of concept art has to do with art as much, as Library science with science. . There is no thought behind it. You just want to be good at painting, that's it. This is craft.


    However, since you didn't understand what art is, one more question must be raised.

    Is craft of painting harder than craft of photography? Again, many of you thinks, that all effort of picture taking is just clicking a button. Photography is 90% about composition and lighting, 10% about mechanical stuff, whereas painting is is much more about mechanical stuff (which may be very expressive itself, which is great virtue of painting). That doesn't makes photography any easier or worse than painting. Sure, anyone can "take a picture". But that will be a crappy picture, and anyone can paint a crappy painting.

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    The medium has nothing to do with whether it is or isn't art.Photography can be art.Painting can be art. Sculptures can be art.Music, film, you name it. I often look at a work and don't like it so I won't put anymore effort in analyzing the piece. Art is too relative to the beholder to state what is absolute.
    And it all depends on the artist how deep he is willing to go so there can't be a harder.

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    You're here to learn figurative drawing/painting. Why dilute it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hellbike View Post

    That's also why 99% of concept art has to do with art as much, as Library science with science. . There is no thought behind it. You just want to be good at painting, that's it. This is craft.
    What the heck, concept art is, by definition, the translation of an idea (as in a concept) into visual form. How is there "no thought" behind that?

    Anyways, the distinctions you want to draw between what is art and what isn't, what is "more" art than something else or harder to learn or whatever are just useless. Go create stuff, stop sanctimoniously judging other people's work depending on how/what/why they do what they do.

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    Seriously??? What is the point of this post? If you rather do photography than concept art, then do so, but why try to justify it by putting down the work of others?

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    http://www.conceptart.org/showthread...698&highlight=

    this is why i have created this topic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hellbike View Post
    unfortunately, such statement indicates lack of basic knowledge of art history, and no understanding of what art is whatsoever.
    Indeed, no understanding whatsoever, as you have just shown.

    From about 50-100 years art is no longer about being "visually pleasing". Pure painting is craft, no better or worse than photography.
    It has never been about "visually pleasing" to begin with, and it had always been a craft, no better or worse than any other. There had always been artists who liked to paint pretty pictures, and ones who liked dramatic stuff, and ones who liked shock value. As well as skilled craftsme and bad ones, inspired ones and dull ones.

    Once the art market degraded after the Great War, the real painters had moved on - some still did fine art and others moved to illustration, and yes, currently the strongest market for representational work is concept art. Nothing really changed in the past 50 or 100 years, apart from the 19th century art scene getting gradually hijacked by bullshit artists. In fact, representational art is enjoying something of a renaissance right now, while the "contemporary art" scene is mostly ignored by the public.

    Why do you feel that to defend photography, you need to degrade concept art, in any case? Can't they both be art?

    In contemporary art world, art is all about thought, intention. Whatever is it paiting, photography, sculpture or rotten banana - this is just form of expressing this certain thought. The quality of certain artpiece is not definied by "how good does it looks", but "how good does it express this certain thought".
    Don't you notice you are contradicting yourself? First you claim art is a craft; now you claim art is about pure intention.

    But this does not make concept art less of an art, because "how well does it express this certain thought" applies to it fully.

    That's also why 99% of concept art has to do with art as much, as Library science with science. . There is no thought behind it. You just want to be good at painting, that's it. This is craft.
    Methinks you are trying hard to get Sturgeon's Law on your side, and failing. Also, I am getting a clear impression you don't know what you are talking about. Perhaps you should go back to your contemporary art scene and make haughty claims about superiority of philosophical intent over crude skill there. You'd find more appreciation, I am sure.

    However, since you didn't understand what art is, one more question must be raised.

    Is craft of painting harder than craft of photography? Again, many of you thinks, that all effort of picture taking is just clicking a button. Photography is 90% about composition and lighting, 10% about mechanical stuff, whereas painting is is much more about mechanical stuff (which may be very expressive itself, which is great virtue of painting). That doesn't makes photography any easier or worse than painting. Sure, anyone can "take a picture". But that will be a crappy picture, and anyone can paint a crappy painting.
    Just as anyone can take a crappy photo.

    It's highly irrelevant what the medium is. Any image-making requires technical skill along with idea - photography, sculpture, cinema, anything. You need an idea (concept if you will) and means to express it. Both are important: skill without a concept is empty and concept without skill can't communicate well. Your dissing of technical skill over the almighty idea is as silly as dissing the idea in favor of technical skill.

    Look, you are making a lot of claims here about what "we" think. That "we" believe photography is not art, that "we" believe it is too easy, that "we" are mistaken to believe that concept art is art, that "we" don't understand what art is, etc. Who are "us" that you are chastising here, and what makes you qualified to make these claims about us?

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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    Who are "us" that you are chastising here, and what makes you qualified to make these claims about us?
    He can't paint?

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    Hellbike may I ask what was the purpose of this thread. I'm just wondering. To prove the other is wrong? Or do you want to hear that you've chosen the right medium?Something else?

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    I'm not sure if this is a troll post or not, but who decides what art is anyway?

    From about 50-100 years art is no longer about being "visually pleasing". Pure painting is craft, no better or worse than photography. In contemporary art world, art is all about thought, intention.
    So.... all art before that time is now invalid? Monnet, Van Gogh, Da Vinchi, Rodin and all of their friends were just craftsmen and Duchamp is a genius? While I think Duchamp was okay and his urinal was funny at the time, I don't think everyone should be doing it until the end of time. The joke isn't really funny anymore and artists like Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst, are kind of starting to annoy me. It's all becoming a bulshitting competition. No one dares to say that the Emperor is naked because they might be labeled a philistine. There is still a lot of great conceptual art out there and I'm not saying it is crap (some is some isn't) but there should be room for "normal" art too. Not everything has to be an avant-garde urinal or a piss Christ.

    Concept art/illustration isn’t just about making pretty pictures. Yes you could only make pretty pictures and there is nothing wrong with that, but it can certainly be art. It’s just like photographs. You can take a pretty commercial picture or you can take a risk an take a picture that truly moves people. You could also take a commercial picture that is so good that it moves people. Whatever you choose to do, who cares? People take the word art too seriously. As if labeling something with it gives it a godly status. Suddenly the heavens open up and the world rejoices in the birth of a new artwork that of course is worth billions. As if calling something non-art means that the work is vile and unworthy. It’s just a bunch a stuff. Some I like, some I don’t like, some you like that I don’t like, some I like that you don’t like and some is so great that I obsess over it for days, years even. Who really cares if it holds the label art?

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    We've already had this discussion. You want round 4? put a little more thought into it.

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    As Gibi said, the medium has nothing to do with art. And yes, you are right about art being all about thought and intention(expression). It's funny that some of the points you are trying to make contradicts your argument. You say that concept art is pure craft and has no thought behind it? Perhaps you should know what concept art is.

    Quote Originally Posted by hellbike View Post
    unfortunetely, such statement indicates lack of basic knowledge of art history, and no understanding of what art is whatsoever.
    lol this thread. Where should I put my face, palm or desk?

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    Hello there. I apologize in advance for this lengthy reply, but I felt like this response was necessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by hellbike View Post
    unfortunately, such statement indicates lack of basic knowledge of art history, and no understanding of what art is whatsoever.
    I can understand the sentiment here that things like this shouldn't just simply be dismissed due to lack of understanding. However, as someone has pointed out, the reverse can be applied here. Do you know what is entailed with the process of concept art?

    Quote Originally Posted by hellbike View Post
    From about 50-100 years art is no longer about being "visually pleasing". Pure painting is craft, no better or worse than photography. In contemporary art world, art is all about thought, intention. Whatever is it paiting, photography, sculpture or rotten banana - this is just form of expressing this certain thought. The quality of certain artpiece is not definied by "how good does it looks", but "how good does it express this certain thought".
    It's certainly true that there has been a massive paradigm shift in art history with the beginning of the "art for art's sake" mindset. However, there's a key point you're missing here about "expression and thought". So, you're saying that "pure painting is craft", yes? What exactly do you mean by "pure painting"? If you're referring to painting that involved heavily on representation, than that is simply not true because art from the old school of thought also required "expression and thought."

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    Padmanpani (Lotus-Holder) from the Ajanta Caves

    Before the advent of the avant-garde art movements, the pleasing aesthetics of art then actually had a function within a cultural context. Usually, this function was for the artists to gain religious/spiritual merit or to promote religious/spiritual ideas. For example, the medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods in Europe often had artists commissioned to make didactic art for the church (though beginning with the Renaissance, the art was moving more towards humanism). In another instance, Buddhist artists under the Pala and older dynasties in South Asia wanted to be commissioned because of spiritual merit. They believed that by disseminating the different tales and teachings of the historical Buddhas (yes, there is more than one Buddha), it would lead them to Enlightenment.

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    Mughal emperor Jahangir sitting on the right

    Other functions of art included political propaganda. For example, artists in the royal Mughal court in India painted their emperors in a favorable light to the common people. Often, they would use symbols such as light to illustrate that these emperor had the "divine right to rule." The reason for this propaganda was because Mughal emperors were descendants of Muslim conquerors who came to India (where most of the common people were not Muslim).

    And often these aesthetics followed a set of guidelines based on the culture. It's not because artists were thoughtlessly conforming to their society. If anything, they were very thoughtful in their work BECAUSE they knew what they cultural society valued and believed. For example, the Mayans often had motifs of quadrilateral shapes in their art because their cosmology is based on the four serpents governing the four corners of the universe. Next, you'll see a lot of vertical motifs in Mughal miniature paintings because the axis mundi, the axis connecting Earth to the heavens, played a very important role of the emperors' "divine right to rule". Then, various African art features fractal shapes because traditionally, quite a lot of African societies were based on what's called a "self-structured" organization. (If you want to learn more about this, see Ron Eglash's wonderful TED video here.)

    Quote Originally Posted by hellbike View Post
    That's why painting of a black rectangle, or urinal might be considered as one of biggest masterpieces.
    The reason why a "painting of a black rectangle" like Malevich's or Duchamp's urinal are considered masterpieces is not simply because of "how good does [the art] express this certain thought". It's way more than that.

    Semir Zeki's book, Inner Visions: An Exploration of Art and the Brain, elaborates on why avant-garde artists were ahead of their time. The author's key observation was this: these artists would begin a long-term experimentation on deconstructing how people processed visual information, old-school artists and laymen alike. A primary example would be the Impressionists' analysis of how we perceive color and light through "color modulation."

    In addition to the Impressionists, the Cubist's example is also very intriguing. Artists from the old school of thought (at least from the Western aspect), would paint and draw from observation. Some of the challenges of making an image from one view is that are so many small inconsistencies that are happening in real life. This could include slight changes in lighting, colors, poses (if a model is involved), view, and perspective. If we were in their shoes, our brains would quickly discard these small inconstancies so that we can see one constant image (and also so we don't drive ourselves nuts.)

    So fast forward to Cubism. Intuitively seeing how our brain processes those inconsistencies, Cubists made it an integral part of their work instead of discarding. So their line of thinking was probably along these lines: "Hmm, well what if I took all the different views I saw and collapsed them into one image?"

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    Braque's "Le Portugais"

    And so the experimentation begins . . . (Can you see that Braque's painting is a man holding a guitar?)

    By deconstructing and tweaking with how our brain processes visual information, avant-garde artists were exploring the different ways of how to make art. So when Duchamp showed his urinal to the public, he wasn't just questioning what qualifies as art. He was also questioning the various possibilities of how to view and create art!

    Quote Originally Posted by hellbike View Post
    It's silly to say that photography is not art, because anything may be art if used properly.
    True, but the reverse is also true. It's silly to say that concept art is not art because anything may be art if used properly.

    Quote Originally Posted by hellbike View Post
    That's also why 99% of concept art has to do with art as much, as Library science with science. . There is no thought behind it. You just want to be good at painting, that's it. This is craft.
    But "art" is in the term "concept art." Plus, this statement is very far from true. Here are some examples (though I'll admit this does involve more of my bias because these are some of my favorites):

    SPOILER ALERT!

    Kazuma Kaneko from the SMT series:
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    Meet Varuna, the demon form of the protagonist, Serph, in Digital Devil Saga. Pre-Vedic times, Varuna was a supreme deity that had govern other deities. But later when local religions in different parts of India had combined with Hinduism, Varuna had become a god of the seas and rivers. That would explain why the design consists of scale and fin-like motifs and why his magic strength in-game is water (ice). Note though that Varuna's design isn't literal, but rather that it contains abstracted elements. Part of this is to reconfigure the demon into a cyberpunk/post-apocalyptic world (though the world is full of Hindu overtones). And part of this is because Kaneko is inspired by high fashion design, which is known for building upon and reinventing the body form. This is an important because creating interesting silhouette shapes is vital to creature designs in concept art. Also, Varuna is an Asura (which the protagonist and his comrades are also called that in Digital Devil Saga 2). In Hinduism and Buddhism, Asuras are powerful warriors who are in constant strife. This is significant to the Varuna's design and Digital Devil Saga's plot because the main characters themselves are stuck in a constant war with other tribes and cursed with demon forms. Not only that, leveling up in the game revolved around cannibalism!

    Masahiro Ito from the Silent Hill series:
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    Pyramid Head! His design is particularly interesting to note because of the interview with the monster designer, Masahiro Ito, in the Silent Hill 2 documentary.


    Watch the video from 16:11 to 19:55 for Ito's interview. Note that his main inspiration is the English painter, Francis Bacon! If you want, you can also go back to 6:30 listen to Takayoshi Sato's thoughts on his character designs, which is also equally interesting.

    From these examples, I hope you can see that concept art is far from thoughtless. In fact, these artists are actually deconstructing design elements, and the way they use them is really smart.

    Quote Originally Posted by hellbike View Post
    However, since you didn't understand what art is, one more question must be raised.

    Is craft of painting harder than craft of photography?
    Good question. Though based on your post, I'd have to ask you what you mean by this. If you're literally asking if the processes of painting are more difficult than the processes of photography, yes and no, depending on the type of processes. Types of paint like oils and gouache are rather difficult to master. And some photographers still prefer to do analog photography, and the chemical processes behind it aren't easy to do. A more important question though would be: "Is the difficulty of a medium or field significant to its validity as art?"



    Again, sorry for making an essay out of this post. However, I felt that only a few sentences could not accurately portray the complexity of this discussion. I also want to point out that this shouldn't be about traditionalist vs. modernist, representational vs. non-representational, or anything like that. The true value of this discussion is seeing these connections between different fields of art. No field is better than the other.

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