If creating an artifice though interesting brings no particular value and is essentially unimportant, and documentation is a truthful depiction or accurate copy of a place, then where exactly does whose artistic interpretation of such begin, with choice of a pencil over a pen or a brush over an iPhone? How to strike balance between the truthful objectivity of documentation and the inherently biased orchestration of art in imagery? Is all photography fiction – death of a moment in that it captures one that no longer exists?
artifice: a skillful or artful contrivance or expedient
I suspect that the discourse as to where art begins will always be the realm of the critic, while the doing spirit of self-expression thrives without the need for refuge. The art question is a good one, and reflection on these have up to now has offered no better framing than this:
Self-expression approaching art – may choose to intentionally titivate any aspect or perspective of a given scene or not. In this mode the craft is contemplative, self-indulgent and serves one’s own narrative. The conversation with accepted wisdom on art remains fluid. It is an indulgence that demands time and space for exploration and error to properly emerge. It requires giving oneself permission to admit, to not knowing, and at times not having much more than a slight sense of why.
Documentation – tries its hand at professional objectivity, ideally with no artistic intent, pretentions or ego on the part of the shooter. Quality is subjective and measured against previously well communicated purpose. In this mode, while professionalism is a given, even the notion of “creative skill” may less relevant as the professional seeks only to accurately document someone else’s vision. Chances are the professional had already been sought and selected out based on his or her known “normal skill” levels.
The latter mode troubles me still, because every job desires something of a soul in return. How authentic can any shooter claim to be if it is all done with knowledge and intent to digitally enhance later? And what about any attempt to authentically document an elaborately planned event, does the fact that the event is staged make the documentation of such less legitimate?
It stands to present reason that attempting to be an artist for hire offers balance between modes. This brings tension and cannot be a still state of affairs. Two or more theoretical extremes must consistently be re-negotiated – a perpetual dance if you like. An image “still un-still” is similar, like a crossroads between the viewers’ different versions of the past that possibly lead to its creation, and speculations about the future through the sometimes skewed lens of derived meaning. The evocative image invites further discourse on various and recurrent truths, incities unending conjecture, mythologies – and in so doing mockingly transcends rigid constructs.
As for the said fictitious quality of capturing a moment – every image worth its salt, that supposedly speaks without words is eventually afforded many – new life and new meaning at every glance. What is fictitious about that? Any one image is real and any one the meaning is not – perfect satire – an unending dialog that merely lends itself to fleeting, colourful titillation through ever more imagery and verse.