“Photography is capable of representing much more than a moment in time.”

Liz Deschenes

If you have some time this week, I highly recommend reading MoMA’s “Surface and Light” as well as this insightful interview with Liz Deschenes.

Her insights sum up the struggle I’ve had while cycling through different media to express an artistic idea. Over my life I’ve painted, sewn, drawn, knit, potted and photographed and the constant struggle between craft and art has frustrated me no end. And during this enforced at-home time, my desire to do anything creative has bottomed out.

Featured photo by fotografierende on Pexels.com


  1. Reading the Liz Deschenes interview I realize there are artists with a capital A and artists with a small a. πŸ˜‰

  2. Hmm . . . my problem is this: if anyone else had done the exact same thing, but didn’t have a recognized name, would it still be considered high art and worthy of an exhibition? Would it still be held in high regard? If the artist had not explained the intent, would anyone guess the intent or even what it is they’re looking at?

    For my plebeian tastes, it wouldn’t matter if a piece is from an artist or Artist, and, in fact, I often can’t tell the difference provided there’s a level of skill involved.

    The (high) art world appears, at heart, to be a cult-based culture. Not to take anything away from famous artists, but museums will (and have) paid big bucks for purported works of a recognizable name, only for the worth of that work to be suddenly set as zero because deemed a forgery.

    But, on a lighter note:

  3. So basically you’re saying the art world is a bit insular, a bit inbred? πŸ™‚ I can agree with that, to a certain extent, but before someone had a recognized name, they didn’t. Going back to Liz, in the STP interview with her, she came across as a very down-to-earth person with a lot going on in her head. We’re only the recipients of her experiments.

    Very funny clip and so spot on for Rev Jim.

  4. I hesitate to continue because, if I know me (and I do), this won’t be quick . . . but, what the heck. In for twelve cents, in for a buck-seventy-seven.

    I’m saying worse than that. Let me give you an example.

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with the comic Crankshaft. Anyway, he’s randomly picked to be one of the judges for an ice carving contest. He’s one of three judges, the other two being professionals art critics. He’s supposed to represent the “common man’s perspective” in the competition.

    Anyway, one of the artists fails to show up but they still set up his cube of ice that everyone starts out with. Long story short, the two judges fawn over the “meaning” of the cube, going on about what it might represent, while Crankshaft keeps pointing out it’s just a cube of ice.

    Yes, the cube of ice wins first place.

    As far as at some point an artist not having a name, let me give you another example.

    At the onset of blogging β€” much like the onset of podcasting β€” the first few “pioneers” gathered a lot of attention and followers in part because the competition was minimal. Eventually, those pioneers gathered literally millions of followers and those blogs and podcasts are still leading the pack because their names are recognizable.

    Now, I’m not saying they didn’t or don’t merit it, but they also had the advantage of limited competition (and now, name recognition continues to gather them followers . . . it’s how iTunes and the Google search engines work, after all).

    Someone starting a blog or podcast today faces tremendous competition, and even if they offer something unique and new (and better), they would need a sponsor (sounds familiar?) that can shine some light on what they do. All it would take is for someone of note to mention them, and instantly their work would be elevated not because it suddenly got better, but because a popular person liked it. (Why celebrities are paid big bucks to say they wear a particular item of clothing or drive a type of car.)

    I remember Leanne Cole’s post about her frustration with getting recognition and finding sponsors for what she did. Had she been ten years earlier, she’d probably be leading the pack of photography blogs/sites.

    The moral according to ejd? No moral. It’s just how things are (and always were), but that awareness makes me skeptical about stuff that is touted as great (be it art or anything else).

    For example, I’ve stood in front of the Vietnam memorial and had my eyes well up . . . and I’ve stood in front of the statue of David and La Pieta’ and felt nothing. For me, there has to be something I can connect with, and moire patterns are something that grates on me and that I try to avoid in photography. It’s difficult for me to view them as “important works” no matter the process to generate them.

    To wit, there’s a great show I used to watch called “How it’s made” . . . basically, you watch something (often a mundane object) go from raw materials to the finished product. The process is fascinating. Yes, I’m saying that an exhibition about Deschenes’ process would probably be multiple times more interesting to me than the end product . . . but the end product is what’s being admired (by consensus).

    . . . maybe it’s because I’m an engineer . . .

    Final Note: none of this is meant to take away from someone’s enjoyment or appreciation for any piece of low or high art. More power to them. But it’s a bit like if I insisted the pinnacle of American television was the show Firefly and I then judged people by their appreciation of it (or lack thereof). I mean, I’ve joked that I do, but not really . . . maybe.

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