Aesthetics Of Photography Essay Research Paper Status — страница 2

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Cartier-Bresson, few of them ever heard of “Photography of Decisive Moment.” Further, nowadays it would be acceptable if an art school does not offer the photography emphasis, but painting is required. Even if photography courses are offered, they are electives while painting courses are compulsory. Painting overwhelmingly dominates in many art magazines such as American Artists and Art in America. Although there are several photographic magazines such as Popular Photographer and Outdoor Photographer in the market, they feature the technical aspects instead of the aesthetic. Take all of the above into consideration, it is necessary to build a theory of aesthetics of photography. Few philosophers of art address the aesthetics of photography. Even if the topic is addressed, the

way of studying photography by most photographers is highly reliant upon showing. For example, in 1977 a group of photographers held an exhibition and afterwards published a book entitled Reading Photographs: Understanding the Aesthetics of Photography. They proclaimed that “what we need, above everything else, is an informed and interested public that is aware of the scope and the nature of photography and consequently cares to go and see the best examples” (Photographers’ Gallery, 1977, p.7). However, the lower status of photography is not due to the lack of good examples, but to the lack of an aesthetic theory that locates the nature and scope of photography in terms of its relations with artist’s inner life, symbols, and reality. Since the last decade of the 20th

century, the advance of digital photography has added more complexity to this issue. Digital photography is perceived as hindering rather than helping the status of photography. While conventional photography is regarded as a result of a mechanical process, digital photography is considered a result of an electronic process. Many believe that with more advanced machines, the creativity in the work declines. While further discussion of digital photography is out of the scope of this article, the preceding misperception, which can be found in both conventional and digital photography, is a focal point of this paper. Throughout history, many philosophers of art tended to develop a universal theory that can be applied well to all arts. However, when those philosophers developed a

“universal” theory, they relied on only one or two media; thus, biases are expected. For instance, Aristotle bases his theory on tragedy and claims it as the highest form of art. Susanne Langer (1957a), one of the most prominent philosophers of art in the 20th century, says in her book Feeling and Form, that the symbolic function of arts is the same in every kind of artistic expression. But she realizes that every art is different. In Problems of Art (1957b) she says that her approach to the problem of interrelations among the arts has been to take each art autonomously, and ask what it creates, what are the principles of creation in this art, and what are its scope and possible materials. A close cousin of universal aesthetical theory is “pictorialism, ” in which

photographs are said to be judged in the same way that other pictures can be judged (Desmond, 1976; Sadler, 1995). Unlike universal aesthetic theory that can be applied to visual art, performing art, and literature, pictorialism confines the criteria of judgment within pictures. Pictorialism views photography as a means and art as the end, and de-emphasizes the unique and intrinsic value of photography. To rectify the situation, this paper will describe what photography is in terms of the uniqueness of the medium. Audience’s Standpoint to Art There are two ways to approach the aesthetics of photography. First, we can look at photography from the perspective of audience. The second method is from the viewpoint of the artist. Collingwood (1950) tends to evaluate art in terms of

its effect to the viewer. He states that art is not amusement but a magic that can bring the audience emotional current to keep their lives going. I appreciate the effort of Collingwood to exclude amusement art that only emphasizes mere sensuous pleasure from the genuine arts–art proper. However, how can we measure the emotional current? How can we know in what way the audience’s lives have been moved by the art? A picture that is an amusement for one person may be art proper for another. Furthermore, Collingwood (1964) asserts that art is the primary and fundamental activity of the mind. Art arises of itself and does not depend on the previous development of any other activity. It is not a kind of modified perception. He is disappointed at the whole of our education because