In doing today’s Photo 101 assignment, I reached an epiphany on why contemporary artists and art aficionados are so obsessed with process. I have always held the view that art should have some minimum requirements or standards, e.g. a canvas with a red dot should not be considered art. Gerhard Richter’s Blood Red Mirror (it’s literally a canvas painted in red) sold for $1.1 million. I never quite understood these one-colored canvases until I took my “Street” photo above.
My initial idea for today was to get an open shutter shot since it’s not something I commonly do, and this Photo 101 course is all about experimenting. As I was taking my shot on the bridge, my bus pulled up to the bus stop, so I ran to catch it. My shutter was still open, and it captured little bits of details illustrating my short journey. This whole back story is not explained by looking at the photo, and to be honest, I don’t think it’s a great photo, but when considering the process and background of how this photo came to be, I find it ten times more interesting.
An artist may think his art is interesting because he created its context. By sharing this context (i.e. background, methods, intentions, etc.) with the audience, bad art can potentially become great art. The context provides a moment of clarity for the viewer, and this “aha, that’s why he did it” realization allows the viewer to forgive the artist for delivering subpar work. The work represents more than what meets the eye, the viewer thinks. Maybe art today is not about the art itself anymore, but rather about the art of making art.