LW1193 - Innovation and the Clich


Off Years the editor of Lens Work Publishing Brooks Jensen as an introduction to this topic. Let me begin with a little bit of inside baseball as they say. Did describe how it is that these podcasts come about. Oftentimes they're sparks from something. I read or something someone says to me or an idea. Get an e mail. Sometimes it's ideas that just bubble up out of nowhere. As I've often mentioned this happens a lot in the shower for some reason so I actually have a divers where I can jot down ideas before I forget them while. I'm still in the shower. And that's what happened this morning at phrase occurred to me out of the clear. Blue Sky jotted down. I had no idea where it was going. But I've been thinking about it all day in it's led to a very interesting train of thought. I WANNA share with you. The phrase is as a pursuit in life. The creation of art seems to be a dance between innovation an execution dance between innovation and execution. And here's what occurred to me while I was thinking about this. I've been listening to two different kinds of music of late. I've for reasons I can't explain really gotten into the piano concertos of Rachmaninoff. And I've mentioned that these are available on Youtube Etcetera. Play by this brilliant Chinese Pena's named Eugene and by sheer coincidence. I've also discovered a composer. Young woman who is very talented at composing classical music. And she's been exploring lots of other genres of music are names Nari Soul and she has been discussing of late in some of her Youtube Videos John Cage and his work. With what's called a prepared piano. He would take an open up a piano and attach things to the strings. like paper clips and whatnot and and the piano would make very funny noises and oftentimes. He would not really play music. He would just play notes and things and very innovative very creative. Very modern very sort of avant garde out there and she's been exploring some of his ideas so I I had these two things that are clashing in my brain the extreme precision and accomplishment of the execution of Rachmaninoff by Eugene Dong and John Cage and is prepared piano as explored by Nari Soul. I think these two extremes are what got me thinking about the dance between innovation and execution. LemMe ask the question. This way in terms of piano music which is a higher form of accomplishment. The extreme innovation of John Cage thinking way outside the box not only thinking outside of meter and normal harmonies and progressions but thinking about outside normal instruments. And how they can be modified in played with talk about innovation way out there so we applaud that to some degree and then at the other end of the scale is you. Juwan and her unbelievably precise playing Rachmaninoff. And the the execution that she brings to his scores are not only extremely high in terms of technical proficiency but also in terms of emotional content. So that's a very high measure of success. But can't we agree that these two are at essentially completely opposite ends of the creative spectrum? Both forms of music can bring out emotions. Strong positive and negative is zoom and both of them can be seen to fall in some sort of competition or scale of things. And which do we appreciate more? Well obviously the reason I bring all this up is because I'm thinking about this relative to photography to what's more important in photography extreme innovation here. I'm thinking of the inventive work from the imagination of photographers like Jerry. You'll Zeman or John Paul Capela Negro or Huntington Witherell or dominic rouse or the incredibly precise execution on very traditional lines. And here on thinking of Bruce Marne bomb and John Sexton and and even people like Steve McCurry. Which do we value more? The key idea here seems to me to revolve around our expectations. If we go into a piece of artwork with the assumption that what we're looking for is incredibly talented sensitive execution and we see something like the prepared piano of John Cage or the innovative of Jerry yells men or someone we might say. Well that's not what I call a picture because it doesn't look like what we expect a fine art photograph to look like on the other hand if we go in assuming that what we value. Is something really innovative? Something we've never seen before then we can look at work like. Oh maybe even Louis Balsam Robert Atoms and Lee friedlander Gary Winner. Grand and say well. That's that's not what I call a picture. But wow is that fantastic. Because it doesn't look at all like we expect a fine art photograph to look. I think it's easy for us to appreciate the fact that there are two camps. It's perhaps even easier to fall into one of those two camps without even realizing it if we're a traditionalist we're gonNA look at the innovative and the Avant Garde is being weird and certainly when people look at oh do sharp or Mcgraw eat they might look at those paintings and say that's weird. That's you know. Because it doesn't look like Rembrandt Raphael. On the other hand if greet and duchamp painted like Rembrandt and Rafael. We might look at it and say well. That's boring because it's not innovative so therefore it doesn't seem to add much to the history of painting and so we're not interested in it. Well we can do exactly the same thing in photography. How do you evaluate work when you look at it? Do you evaluate it based on its execution and how well it conforms to the cliche or do you evaluate it based on its innovation and how different and unique it is. There is a position in the Middle. Which gives me pause for concern. Because if what we're trying to do is have the best of both worlds have innovation and traditional execution for example. Then the only thing that's left is what you point your camera at that is to say trying to find something that hasn't been photographed as artwork before and turn that into your bailiwick or your creative vision. In hopes that people would look at it and say beautifully done traditionally printed man fantastic execution of something. That's never been photographed before and isn't that Nice. Do you realize that that's exactly what happened? In the early history of painting this has been discussed by lots. And lots of people. Certainly not a unique idea. And certainly not my own but basically the idea's this for generations for literally. Hundreds of years painting was of the human figure primarily religious pictures descent from the cross kinds of things but usually what happened in those paintings as they had to be set in some kind of scene and so there would be introduced in the background. Some little bit of a tree or a little stream or a building or something and with enough passage of time and hundreds of years. Painters started saying to the figure move over. We're we're more interested in what's going on in the background than we are in the human figure or the story and landscape painting was born but when landscape painting was born that way there were probably lots and lots of people around who said well. That's not what I call a painting because whereas the people this is just a bunch trees that's not very interesting so it was innovative but it wasn't traditional and it certainly didn't measure up to the kinds of execution that were expected in a portrait of a person or the painting of a of a story seen or some such thing but eventually landscape was fully accepted by the painting world and their came on the scene painters who really excelled at landscape painting and it sort of became normal until eventually people said well. Wait a minute Move over landscape. We're interested in this bit of Flotsam Jetson and we want abstracts in you know with enough passage of time. We've suddenly got Jackson pollock dripping paint on canvases that are neither landscapes nor are they portraits and so we value that some people value Jackson pollock's work because it's so innovative and so different. I think the exact same thing can be said of photography in the early days of photography mostly what people were interested in photographing was portraits pictures of people. It was so innovative and people wanted to have pictures of themselves and so a huge branch. Photography took off in that direction and then eventually landscape came about in an abstract. It's the same kind of pattern. Well here we are today here. You are today as an artist trying to make artwork. That is personally expressive. Which do you value more in terms of what you create? Are you most interested in pursuing traditional execution at the highest levels so that someone might look at one of your landscapes and ansel Adams landscape and say I can't tell the difference because they're both executed so well that might be the high water mark for you or you might really Value Jackson. Pollock and John Cage in the prepared piano and say I'm interested in innovation. Therefore you're going to do all kinds of innovative imaginative work. That other people might look at and say well. That's not very you know it's not what I call a picture. It's not anything I can recognize. It's even an abstract or it's you know. Joel Peter Witkin something like that and say that's not a photograph. I can't help but conclude that there there really isn't a right answer to this question but it is as worker to me this morning. A dance between innovation an execution and both have their virtues both have their fans both probably have their non-fans but I think that's not quite the end of the story because maybe from a strategic point of view it's worth asking. Which are we most likely to succeed in when it comes to getting our work recognized in the marketplace in the art world if fame and exhibition publication is your objective. Which is likely to be the path that's going to get you. Those objectives more readily. Is it going to be clean execution of an aesthetic? That's very traditional or is it going to be innovation and that's where I think we get into the rub because I think when it comes to the gallery world and to the publishing world to a large degree innovation is the king. It seems like galleries and publishers are not very interested anymore. In publishing traditional work that somehow the market has sort of leaned toward the innovation side of the equation and away from the traditional cleanly executed beautifully performed sort of work. I'm not sure that's true with the public however I it seems to me that the public still loves traditional work and traditional photography. And if you really WANNA sell work out into the world probably the best thing you can do is make you know. Really pretty landscapes calendar pictures as they used to say. Because that's what the public really likes. But that doesn't appear to be. What galleries and publishers are all drooling over these days? It's the dance between innovation and execution. I'm not sure I have any more conclusions or thoughts about this. Go any deeper than this other than the reality that both ends of that spectrum exist and that from a strategic point of view. Maybe it's worth taking a few moments out of our creative life to think about what we value. Not only in the work that we see in the work that we collect the books that we buy but also in the work that motivates us that we want to do and for various reasons what fills your heart with joy might be one thing what fills our bank account with the results of Sales opportunities might be a different answer. The dance between innovation and execution. Lots to think about here. I'd like to think maybe integration of the two is the best of all worlds. But that's kind of another topic. Get your entries. Ready in twenty twenty. We are shifting gears from six image projects to outstanding single images titled Our Magnificent Planet. Are Themed Twenty. Twenty Book Project is for those of you who prefer to create a standalone standout. Imag- imagine a book of three hundred exceptional examples of the most successful landscape images. Made by Lens Work Readers. Everyone who enters will receive a book whether or not you're working selected for publication visit. Www dot lens work dot com for entry form and instructions deadline for entries is May Thirty First Twenty Twenty Copyright Twenty Twenty Leonard Publishing.

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