April 24, 2005

Cool photos.


~~~
Originally uploaded by John Cohen.
I gave my son John one of the free Flickr accounts I had, and he's uploaded a ton of photos. Here's a particularly cool example!

MORE: A nice thing about the way Flickr works is that if you click on the picture, you'll enter John's "photostream" and can see the other pictures next to it. Whether that answers your questions about what's going on in this picture is a different matter! It's an art project!

YET MORE: If you liked that, but would prefer a different color, try this.

26 comments:

Louis said...

Cool?! Sheesh. (Sick, more like.)

Ann Althouse said...

Louis, what's really upsetting you about the picture? Don't you like painting?

Alan Kellogg said...

I know, it's a post-modern deconstruction of daffodils.

Finn Kristiansen said...

I don't know what they are "saying" that picture is...

but if the government were hiding giant Hostess cupcakes, and you had just busted in and eaten part of one to protest Federal corruption, you would look just like that.

Or if your mom had had a secret affair with Gene Simmons of Kiss. You would like that too.

price said...

Better than the Romero zombies at least.

Louis said...

Sorry, I'm just not a fan of "art projects" whose main point is to shock and disturb. I guess I'm just a dinosaur who thinks that art has something to do with beauty.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Louis, that photo is actually not technically of photo of an art project; it's the aftermath of an art project. This is a photo of the art project itself: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johncohen/10451443/

Ann Althouse said...

Louis, I think that picture does have something to do with beauty.

price said...

Maybe it was Plato who said this, but if everything has its ideal Form, then the closer you get to that ideal, you've found beauty. So, something that is the ideal Form of horror can be beautiful. Or the ideal Form of a paint-covered artist: beauty! Beauty is truth or whatever.

Louis said...

So, then, pictures taken at Auschwitz in the aftermath of the war - surely the apex of horror & evil - are "beautiful" and deserving the name "art project." Why not? If horror and evil and disgust can be considered beautiful, then all is permitted.

And, yes, that photo does have something to do with beauty: it is its opposite.

Ann Althouse said...

Louis: To test your theory -- what about a painting of the crucifixion?

John Althouse Cohen said...

Louis, what you have to do is distinguish between the art itself and the subject of the art. War: ugly, definitely not beautiful. War photography: could be ugly or beautiful.

The Captain said...

Nice contrast in colors there.

Louis said...

I suppose if one were to take a totally Wildean view and separate form from content, then, yes, perhaps, some art with disturbing content can be beautiful. This sees art as nothing but technique, and, yes, I feel this view has some merit. I'm not a total prude. However, sometimes just by spreading frosting on a turd doesn't make it more edible. Sometimes, the content does overwhelm its presentation and, no matter how technically beautiful it is, its still crap. (I think the pic Ann posted has neither beauty of form or content.)

As to the crucifixion question: That's a special case, isn't it? On its surface, its a depiction of torture, barbarity and death - truly disturbing and evil - and no matter how beautifully it is rendered it cannot be thought "beautiful" is some asbolute sense. However, to the believer, no matter how well or poorly executed, it is transcendently beautiful because it represents to sacrifice of God, in the person of Christ, for all of humanity, a sacrifice which releases us all from the effects of sin and death. Thus, it is "beautiful" in a way that transcends earthly concepts of beauty.

Of course, art can be debated forever. To me, there are standards, and merely sending a message, political or social, is not enough. There are aesthic standards as well. What bothers me is this post-modern, or post-post-modernist program of destroying everything just to make some ironic (or post-ironic) point. Thus, we have "art projects" or "conceptual art" where little still or technique is required beyond the ability to take pictures of shocking or disturbing subjects. Then we're just celebrating the death of art. And of life.

Ann Althouse said...

Louis, would you then have to say that a painting of the crucifixion is art to some people (Christians) and not to others (non-Christians)? And what about paintings like this and this?

Louis said...

But don't you get it yet? Art is whatever you say it is. To quote the Supreme Court, I can't define it but I know it when I see it.

Ann Althouse said...

Louis: In this whole comments thread, I've never asserted anything was art. I've only responded to what you said and asked you to focus your ideas, which were accusations, beginning with calling something "sick." Now, you're basically retreating to saying that you know what you like. It seems to me that you don't want to face the hard questions -- which you yourself brought up!

Louis said...

And it seems to me that I forgot you're a law prof. And this poor artist/waiter will be no match for that!

I think it's undeniable that Christians will have a different relationship with pictures of the Crucifixion than non-Christians. Maybe art works differently for different people? It's notoriously difficult to define what art is. When we try to "focus" on it and define it, it vanishes. I can only repeat I know it when I see it. Sorry that that doesn't quite stand up to Socratic dialog, but, then, this isn't a law classroom. ;-)

Ann Althouse said...

Louis: you're right that this isn't a law school classroom, but this is the Althouse comments section, and you tripped one of my hot buttons when you called a photo taken by my son (of a wonderful young man who's his friend) "sick."

Louis said...

Ah, I see, I unknowingly got between a mother bear and her cub.

To clarify, I didn't accuse the photographer of being sick, or even the artist or performer or whatever. I was personally repulsed by the image; I found it "sick" in the sense of disordered or disgusting or tending to induce nausea (I have the same reaction to KISS). Maybe that was the artist's intent?

Personally, I'm a little sick and tired of constantly being confronted with stuff whose main objective is to "disturb" or offend or change the definition of art to what offends or disturbs. I'm also not much for sending a message (use Western Union I think Sam Goldwyn said). I'm more of a Monet guy. But that's just me - a dinosaur fit for the junkyard, a rank elitist (as I've been called).

And, yes, it's _your_ blog. Sorry I intruded.

Ann Althouse said...

louis: well, to be realistic... something was a big deal to you, and you just admitted it didn't you? It was the young man's tongue! Be honest. You tried to turn this discussion into one about art, but then you didn't really want to engage on the definition of art, because that really wasn't the source of your distress!

Ann Althouse said...

And let me add--at the risk of being too hard on poor Louis -- the fact that the picture disturbed you really shows it's a good picture. It's striking. And it's not obscene. Here's a young artist awash in his enthusiasm for paint, and whose choice of black and white then causes his tongue to look weirdly colorful, and the photographer captures the moment. I like it!

Louis said...

This is from someone who loves "American Idol."

I rest my case.

Louis said...

One other thing:

Ann wrote:
"You tried to turn this discussion into one about art, but then you didn't really want to engage on the definition of art, because that really wasn't the source of your distress!"

Yes, of course, it was all about the tongue. My hidden agenda revealed! But what about yours? -

'...you tripped one of my hot buttons when you called a photo taken by my son (of a wonderful young man who's his friend) "sick."'

Yep, of course: it's not about art at all, is it? It's about protecting your son. I wondered why you were so intent on putting me down. YOUR hidden agenda, revealed.

Thus, art has nothing to do with any of this. As usual, it's all personalities and hidden agendas.

I really liked your blog and reading about your experiences so far from my own here in So. Cal. Unfortunately, this has poisoned it for me (and you as well, I think). So, farewell...

Ann Althouse said...

Aw, Louis, don't take it so hard. I never even said it was art. I said it was "cool." You called it "sick." Then you acted like you wanted to talk about art but you didn't. Don't go off in a huff. Think it through!

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