Aesthetics Of Photography Essay Research Paper Status — страница 4

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ambiguity of a photograph’s meaning (p.128). Imitation of Reality Humans tend to organize the disorderly world in an intelligible way, as Langer says, but sometimes we reverse the process in attempt to disintegrate the world order into disorder. Sigmund Freud made an insightful point that humans have both life and death instincts-the tendency to create and to destroy. Does the world have an order? What is the relation between the art and the reality? These questions are important for us in defining what photography should be. In Bell’s well-known book Art (1921) he refers to painting as creation and to photography as imitation. However, imitation is a strength of photography rather than a weakness. When painters regard painting as a creation, they treat the artistic realm as

a self-sufficient world without the reference to reality. Therefore painters dare to ignore the existing world order and form their own. There is a controversy as to whether a universal world order exists as Kant, Hegel and Leibniz found, or whether there is no order and all things “just happen”, as Humes and existentialists suggested. Nevertheless, in everyday life we must assume that there is an order in reality or we cannot function in this world at all. Although modern artists are so revolutionary as to break many traditional rules of composition and color harmony, and do strange things such as to glue broken glasses on the canvas, they cannot make the paint float on the air, use paper as the stretched bar, or thin the oil paint with water. Because they insist that we

must not judge art by the concepts of the real world and representation is not an important issue, modern art has gone into a state of anarchism. In fact, the nature, or the spatial reality, is full of order, though it has terror and ugliness. Artistic creation should be based on the real world rather than ignoring it. Photography is an imitation of reality. No matter how non-representational a photographic image is, the photographer must take a subject from reality. For example, once Grobe made a fabulous abstract image of matrical circles. Actually it is a magnification of integrated circuits (Livingston, 1985). The image of a painting can be constructed through a pure mental process. But, when a picture had been taken, it means that the thing was really out there before.

Therefore, the beauty of photography is derived from the existing world. A photographer can distort the scene by various filters, lenses, darkroom techniques, and/or digital retouching, but the skills are applied for enhancing the natural order such as making the color more saturated, polarizing the contrast, and so forth. Nonetheless, art, especially photography, also has the power to show the terror, ugliness, disorder and absurdity of the world. Sontag (1977) says that photography can reveal an “anti-hero” (p.29). In her view, American photography aspired to demystifying; some photographers used the medium to level the gaps between the beautiful and the ugly. A picture of an athlete could be taken at the moment that he falls. A photo of a beautiful woman could be taken

while her make-up is messed up by rain. The camera has the power to catch so-called normal people in such a way as to make them look abnormal. However, even if you want to expose the terror and ugliness of reality, there will still be an order of terror and ugliness. Collingwood (1964) goes even further to say, “It is impossible to imagine anything that is not beautiful…ugliness is a low degree of beauty” (p.61, p.62). For example, war is terrible, but Wessing presented the horror in an order. One of his famous pictures is the scene of soldiers and nuns walking in different directions, which constructs a beautiful composition and implies a political or even a philosophical theme. In another picture showing a corpse and his weeping mother, Wessing wisely uses a high angle to

form two diagonal lines amplifying the helplessness of the people. “Death of a Loyalist Soldier,” by Capa is another good example of how the terror of death can be presented in a beautiful and orderly manner. The off-center composition and the decisive moment of the soldier’s falling reveals that it is a picture by control rather than by luck. When one judges a photographic image, reality should be as a reference. It doesn’t mean that the viewer should look at how sharp the picture is or how much the skin tone on the photo matches the real person. Instead, one should ask, “If the image on the photograph had occurred in reality, will the viewer think the image is beautiful and prefer it to the original one?” For instance, once I add a polarizer and a sepia filter on