First of all I would be remiss if I didn’t send you each a personal and heartfelt greeting on this the 4th of February. However, given the number of people following this blog, a general greeting will have to suffice. I’m glad that you’re all here and I appreciate to no end the contributions that you all make. Your commentary really does make my work better and I digest every single comment even if I don’t have time to respond. So welcome!
Today’s post centers around around the fundamental question I have about art. Succinctly spoken, why do we like what we like? One great effect of posting one’s work online is that you get a good indication of what people like and what they’re just rather blase about. I often find myself really taken by a picture, excitedly post it online, and then scratch my head when everyone gravitates towards a completely different photo altogether. Clearly we all have different senses of esthetic, but being rather a literal sort (I am a computer programmer after all) I want to get down to the nuts and bolts of what makes art really tick. Human behavior is the result of various inputs so surely those must be predictable in some way? Surely there are rules?
I would postulate that sometimes that we can connect with a work of art if we know the background. How much is our perception changed if we have a lengthy description or if someone tells us why we should appreciate it? The photo below has been one of my perennial favorites and I take the shot every time I go to the IMA. To me, this is all about composition. Wide-spread arms apparently embracing the art around her. A hug-like pose welcoming the visitor but with head bowed almost as a sign of contrition. The sculpture itself is a pretty deep piece of work all on its own. Yet this is one of those quiet sleeper photos that I’m fairly certain nobody has ever commented on anywhere that I’ve posted it.
On the other side, there’s clearly an aspect of “you had to be there” in some shots. I can blather on all day about our trip out west several months ago but no matter how much I may describe to you what we saw, I wouldn’t really expect you to necessarily appreciate our “holiday snaps.” Looking at someone else’s holiday is never nearly as entertaining as your own. There’s a long string of memories attached to every photo you take. Sometimes you just can’t appreciate the shot without that string attached.
And closing altogether on the opposite side of the coin there are those shots that other people appreciate that I really don’t. The shot below is the first of my shots that someone went ga-ga about … well, ever, and made me rather think that there might be something to this whole photography thing. Personally I’m still not especially amused by this photo but someone was when I took it. Go figure. I’m sure they have no clue the long path they sent me on when they first told me they’d snagged it for their screensaver.
So I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. What makes a photo really beautiful? Not looking for the technical so much as the esthetic.