Here is an interesting argument i engaged my dear friend Adeoye Adewale in, few weeks ago, and we made a deal to put our argument into essay and see what others says about it, Adeoye is a remarkable scientist, one of the best in present day Unilag and has a wonderful reflection over the arts, so read his ground breaking argument and let me know what you think.
This simple essay attempts to discuss on a rather difficult topic, namely, does photography qualify as an art or an art form? While I cannot claim to possess the force and tact of an art critic who in these days of specialisation qualifies to render opinions on such subjects, I wish to refer my reader to the natural rights of the layman to estimate values and substances in these nontechnical fields; these are apparently subjects of opinions and of the mind, and it is in this comfort I go ahead with my arguments.
It would be immediately necessary to clear certain definitions or stances with the reader in order to foster understanding and a good relationship with him. I make to assert that "art is definable." This point is extremely important and cannot be overemphasised, if everything is to be understood. And why shouldn't it? Why shouldn't it be definable? In order to prevent such hideous speculations which take roof under sentimentality and emotions, unlasting expression-states, this axiom becomes not only responsible, but the only way to constructive development in the subject of art. The nonstimulation often witnessed with the arts (as opposed to the sciences) carry the effects of over-sentimentality, weakness to define or inability to recognize forms, and lack of critical art analysis and reviews. So, reader, we shall do away with all such foreign thoughts and set out to make certain postulations about art and its forms:
1. Art is definable and tangible
2. Art is accessible and analyzable
Also it can be said of art that it is an evocative singular and thorough exercise of the mind and body, and a complete realization of individualism. And of course art may the other things, which don't necessarily exclude the above mentioned points.
In recent times however, an emerging form claims to suitably express individuality. That it can insist on artistic quality and tangibility however represents a quite disturbing leap in its claims. This form consists in the “artist” observing his immediacy (note immediacy) and by aid of an electronic device capture this in still form. It is called photography and with its many proponents across the world seeks to grace the art podium and make merry with such established art forms as painting and sculpture. There are many ways to look at this, one of which consists of sentimental review or its equivalent in the outpour of emotion/thoughts by the observer. To grapple to such “proofs” and insist on the qualification of this form through results obtained by such means betrays irresponsibility, for there is always a reaction to that superficially observed. It’s no more such shows as those which constantly play on the streets or in one’s room; watching a marketwoman display her wares or call to buyers also creates such feelings in the observer (of which he is surprisingly most often quickly emptied) and yet says nothing of the marketwoman and her wares as objects of art. It is important to note this.
Thus, I insist, the worth of an art object is intrinsic and clearly isn’t only apparent upon its evocation of feelings in the observer.
Photography proponents claim the uniqueness in shots make a scene, the ingenuity of the photographer in capturing a still moment which most often can’t be repeated add substance to the act itself, but they seem to forget that even under their own rules, any one shot irrespective of time, space and form can be sufficiently interpreted as art. Should art then lose its form only to satisfy the definitions of a few? It follows that the outcomes, these shots, are hardly tangible/unique, and thereby insufficient as art forms
An argument which very well raises the greatest doubt about the artistic quality of photography resides in the common realization that art is design and by design I certainly do not mean craft or its relations, but willful and conscious participation in the eventual form and state of an outcome. It is only too obvious that the photographer has his home in fortuitousness and the likes. Many a work begs on suddenness in order to realize force, which they do have at times. It is no news many a photographer are often bailed out, in some sort, by a tiny fleck, an unplanned twist, just at the flash of the bulb, what they eventually hold to in substantiating their results. Art, of course, is more than accident and has been for years a relative companion of science in hardwork and toil.
My feelings are, that the mid-20th century decadence in thought and action, represented grossly by the American hippiedom, the craze for sport, unguarded excercise of liberty, and the rebellious teenager, mutated in accidental and quick expressions and eventually stabilized seeking honour, taking eventual forms and consolidation in the acknowledgement of false for true, creationism for science, capitalization for end-of-history and photography for art.
There is resistance however and in the same thread, much of Hollywood hardly qualifies as art. Thus, it surprises how much thought is given photography. As pointed out earlier, that intrinsic in photography is immediacy points to its transitoriness. It suffices to watch (supposed craftily) and only thereafter capture the still, perhaps even irrationally, once the name is made. This makes a mess of real work.
Of course, photography does well in informing, serves well as news-items and as a result can enjoy classification under headings of whatever names, except of course art.
I am indeed a layman in these things and so, though I show mistrust,
can be lightly convinced. For the proponents of photography or her apologists, it isn’t sufficient to tell away my arguments as opinions or views of one simply complementing the grand whole. Rather, a return of arguments proving the inherent artistic substance of photography, if it should exist, must be tendered. So, the ball lies in your court.
(c) Adeoye Adewale