Does medium affect your perception?


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Oct 16, 2012
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So say I decide to start sculpting my favorite 80's sitcom stars using piles of horse dung. Now the sculptures are decent but nothing special, should I get extra credit for using a tricky medium or should I be judged on my sculpting alone? You see it all the time online, people making things out of weird objects.

Not to turn this into a film vs digital argument but apply it to Photography. Say I use some old fashioned type of camera and film. Does me using this technique make up for a badly composed photo?

Ps not a runnah thread, being serious.
I think great art is great art, regardless of what it's made out of. I'm sure s*** sculptures have been done, but still looked like s*** and that's why nobody cares.

I made a pretty neatt soap sculpture of a person in high school. Pretty much the antithesis of your poo people.
Sometimes in high-concept art, the medium is the message, or at least a large part of the message. (I am thinking of religious figures, rendered in dung, but there are other examples too.)

In photography, the medium can play a part in the impact of the images. Have you seen platinum or palladium prints of large-format nature or landscape work? Simply unrivaled by 'conventional' gelatin silver photo prints, or prints made from basically any 35mm-sized film. Sheila Metzner's old-timey gum bichromate images are amazing. Sheila Metzner - Google Search

And "no", alternative processes and the use of an odd or novel or old-time medium does NOT compensate for bad photos.

"The camera used" can play a part. Pinhole cameras for example, or low-fi cameras like the Diana or Holga or Lomo--all those types of cameras give unique aesthetic and technical shaping to their images. Same with square-format images, and the same with panoramic camera images. In portraiture for example, larger format cameras like 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10 make images that "look different", on many levels, than images made with small,mobile, fast-operating, hand-held cameras.

In sculpture, I would look with MUCH more esteem and appreciation at a standing nude figure carved out of solid marble than I would the same figure sculpted out of Playdough. Or dung.
Spending time in the darkroom with certain chemicals would occasionally change my perception, at least for a while! Does that count? ;)
If a photo is good, it does not matter on medium. If you like taking poorly composed pix, better get into street work. I have crap shot of film, crap on digital. Does not matter. If your looking for a quick fix to making every shot fantastic...find another hobby.

A lot of the people 'in charge' hate HDR. To me it is no dif than desaturating to BW. HDR 'hyper real' is just on the other end of the spectrum. But HDR, BW, diffusion, chiaroscuro, bokeh, whatever. These are all tools to cpliment a good photo.

You will aways find the sensationalists that band saw cadaver heads in half to make a still life. Another lady makes her still life's bleed. A nude specialist sticks 'GI Joe's' up the lady privates or has her pissing on the floor...Tachen luvs that type of work.

Some people claim my photos are of the sensationalist nature as well. But they are all naturally occurring. They are not staged.
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Of course it does.
Look how people worship platinum prints or carbon prints.
Or how huge prints get more respect.

Or very good prints of mediocre images.

I think we are hard -wired to give extra credit where we recognize extra special work, regardless of whether it is worthwhile or not.
Lew is exactly right. More "difficult" processes get extra credit.

I am waiting for the inevitable expose in which it turns out that so-and-so's large portfolio of basically fairly bad wet plate work turns out to have been mostly shot with a Canon and photoshopped. The van Meegeren effect will fly into action, and it will turn out that the photographs were actually pretty crappy all along and, as soon as we can get the papers shredded, it will turn out that the people in the know knew it all along.

It should not be so, but it is. We *do* give credit for labor and difficulty. This is in part because photography has always had an issue as an art with being "too easy", we want to see some work going in to it. This is why Sherman and Gursky command high prices -- they're *working* and you can *see* it. Sherman especially deserves props for ringing the changes on portfolio after portfolio, it's effing hard work.

Derrel is spot on as well, the medium frequently is (part of) the message. We should not get confused and start flinging that consonant phrase around too wildly, but it's certainly true in many cases. With photographic work, the medium is almost never any substantial part of the message, though.
If we talk about perfecting an image or artwork as much as possible. Sure, medium can be a big part of it.

If it was not, then one pix would be as good as another.
The medium being part of the symbolism is a good point.

But I think degree of difficulty doesn't make up for a flawed artistic result.
With photographic work, the medium is almost never any substantial part of the message, though.

On line that is true but in person, medium and 'concept' becomes a big part and execution shrinks in importance.

Why do you think that is?

Edited to clarify: Is it because it is harder to get blinded by the medium when everything ahs the same "on a glowing screen" medium, or is it because the audience online versus in person? Do you feel like it happens to you too, or do you see through the medium? I find this totally interesting.
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Say I use some old fashioned type of camera and film. Does me using this technique make up for a badly composed photo?
No, for the simple reason that there's nothing inherently better about any given medium.

>>IF<< your use of old fashioned film was such that this choice enhanced the message you were trying to convey in an effective way, then yes, it would do something to offset a slightly worse composition.

But just willy nilly using it for the sake of using it is just as likely to make your photo even worse as it is to improve it.
When I think medium, I don't really think online versus print, for some reason. I think more like tintype vs. digital.

Honestly, I don't feel any difference at all conceptually when looking at photographs on a monitor versus a print. If anything, I find prints more annoying due to the texture of the paper often feeling distracting (some guy's gallery I went to the other day printed everything on CANVAS, bwah? Totally obliterated like 50% of his detail), glare from reflective prints or glass in front being distracting, dim lighting sometimes, etc. None of which IMO ever help anything.

The only advantage I see personally in prints as an artistic benefit (not just so that it is possible to hang them on your wall) is if you want to do a multimedia piece where a 2D image is only part of it. Or if you're going to fold up your photograph into origami or something.
I don't think that's really on point.
A large canvas will get more 'respect' than a image in a screen, as will a carbon print, a platinum print, etc.

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