Photography as a Medium of Art
Guest Speaker: Joe Finkleman
Tuesday March 8th, 2011
Joe Finkleman captured our full attention throughout his presentation as he explained the many concepts of what art is and as he scrolled through the many fascinating images that he considers art. Joe also discussed why people make art and how we can ask questions about art.
Joe was first exposed to photographic art at a very early age, at age 9. He realized that he is an artist while he was unlocking the mysteries of patterns that came clear to him and may not have been clear to others.
According to the linguistic theory, as Joe explained, the birth of art started long before we could speak. Humans first danced, made sounds, gestures and rhythms and movements before they drew pictures and associated them with words.
We, human beings, have 3 major questions that drive us to seek answers:
- Internal chaos where we try to make sense of our conflicting feelings, thoughts and impressions.
- External sensory world that is often confusing to us. We try to make sense of that world and we have an internal question of it.
- A world beyond our senses that we know has to be out there.
In our attempt to answer these questions of the eternal mysteries, sometimes we go on spiritual journeys, sometimes we try to make order and sense out of it by relying on science and having rational journeys, and sometimes we rely on art.
Art has always been an integrated human activity. We have this need to communicate and by communicating we can bond, and in this bonding experience, art emerges, thus we see art everywhere. We are so linked to this process of imagination in art that we call a myriad of activities art such as culinary arts, graphic arts, healing arts, etc...
In spite of all that, photographers still struggle today of what is art and what is not art. This struggle could be related to the historical view that photography using a camera is machine made and not man made and photography is more science than art. On the other hand, drawing with brushes and literally writing with pencils have never been questioned and have always been viewed as art. According to Joe, if a person considers something art, then it is art. If millions consider it art, then it is elevated to great art.
Because everyone has his own list of how art should be viewed, Joe decided to make his own list. He views photographic art in terms of Composite, Graphos, and Portal:
- Composite: refers to whatever is in the picture descriptively, to the information that we gain by just looking at the photograph. Joe advises that the first we should study and see what kind of information the picture is providing. You do not have to know the context or the information about the artist. It is like a shopping list or an inventory sheet: a book, a table, a chair, etc.... Within these descriptive qualities, lies a variety of truths, some probable, some possible, some assumed or sometimes incomprehensible truths.
- Graphos: refers to the elements of design. This is a about aesthetics, lines, shapes, forms, colors and tonality.
- Portal: refers to the inviting doorway to your story, to your subjective interpretation as the viewer. If it is art, it will invite you to respond, or initiate your story to add to the experience. It is this emotional response that makes you say "Yep, that's art."
Try to remember if you have ever been to a musical concert or an art exhibition and been so moved by the music or the visual art that you felt different afterwards. Art is that experience that reaches inside and shakes things up.
Joe then showed multiple examples of what is considered art. He showed his own work where he makes paper puppets and then makes B&W photographs of their shadows and finally he hand colors these photographic prints:
Musician & Dancers Joe Finkleman
Joe also discussed the work of other well-known photographers such as Oliver Gagliani, Man Ray, Julia Cameron, Eugene atget, Walker Evans, Bill Brandt, Andre Kertesz, Edward Weston, Eliot Porter, Dorothea Lange,.......
Club President Rob Floerke closed the meeting by asking club members to submit images that are meaningful to them in an effort to understand and appreciate each others work. These images will be discussed at the next club meeting with the concepts that Joe discussed in mind. This would be an opportunity for members and guests to share their work, interact, and grow while enjoying each other's photography.
We hope that you can participate in our next meeting.