Thursday, May 22, 2008

New York Photo Festival - What Is Art, Anyway?

I went to the New York Photo Festival this past Sunday. This was the inaugural edition of the event, held in DUMBO, Brooklyn. It seemed like a great success, as the streets of the neighborhood were much busier than usual during the 4 day festival - and when I went, the exhibits were pretty crowded.

The photography exhibits were spread out across 7 or 8 different venues, all within a few blocks of one another.

It turns out that I live right up the block from a couple of these venues. And when I say “venue” I mean previously empty - but ready to be cool – old warehouse space.

So, I’m no photographer by any means. Most of the photos on this site are either taken with a camera phone or “borrowed” from elsewhere on the internet. I spend a decent amount of time trawling for these pictures. But, for example, I didn’t actually shoot the photo of Barack Obama playing basketball, or the one of the entire cast of “Lost” standing in the jungle.

To continue with my furious streak of honesty - I did not take this photo. I ripped it off from the festival's website.

That being said, I do like to look at interesting photos. And there were plenty of ‘em at the NY Photo Festival.

But at the same time, as I looked at the wide range of subjects and styles of photography, I couldn’t help but wonder – why is a photo of an old J. Crew t-shirt hanging in a closet considered art?

The answer? I really don’t know.

And that’s why I’m not a photographer, or otherwise any sort of visual artist.

I could just as easily put together a bunch of pics of what dogs found on the sidewalk and tried to eat, but were foiled by their masters. A piece of pretzel. A dead bird. A popsicle stick. An apple core. Dog shit. The potential list goes on and on. It would be quite an extensive exhibit.

Art? Definitely. And even the dog knows it.

In fact, I think this sounds like a good idea, in terms of art.

Again, this is probably why I’m not an artist.

My brain just gets in the way.

Jaimi told me that an important part of creating photographic art is the ability to choose which pictures to include in your display. So, an artist would know that the picture of the popsicle stick on the ground IS art, whereas the picture of a Kit Kat wrapper is NOT art.

Art? Probably, but I'm not really sure.

I sort of liked that explanation. Leave it all in the artist’s hands, and don’t try too hard to figure out what they’re thinking.

Art for the lazy. Ain't nothin' wrong with that.


Luke Carter said...

Great stuff, I like the blog and the bits and bobs of the photos. The festival looked great - I agree with the bit of art you aren't sure about. I think thats just a random stray or something!



JG said...

umm... i believe that also you posted some of the pictures that i took with my camera on your blog (and i'm still waiting for credit...)

Anonymous said...

Re: Paper towels. The various modes of folding were artistic-as well I suppose as the placement of the rips and tears. It must be a wondrous thing to be able to see beauty in such mundane objects.

The Mill said...

Luke Sir Chicken Caesar, thanks for stopping by. You are truly an officer AND a gentleman.

JG, you will get credit if credit is due. I bought that camera, so I own those photos - based upon my own internal laws. It's like if I bought you a paintbrush and you painted a masterpiece, then it's mine - if I hadn't bought you the brush, you wouldn't have been able to paint anything. Try to find a flaw in that logic!

Re: paper towels. Yeah, that was some cool origami shit. I liked that too.