Context and energy in art
I am lucky enough to have recently started a gap year. My days for the foreseeable are all about travel, creativity, nature, experience and connections. Its given me space to start a passion I have always had but never nurtured; photography and videography.
Its easy to take pictures. Looking around at any group of people and you would be forgiven for thinking everyone is a photographer. Phones now have the photographic sophistication cameras only 5-10 years ago would envy. Advanced camera equipment is no longer the stalwart of a dedicated or privileged few, its in the hands and around the necks of many. Take a look online and you can live seconds of many lives though their lenses.
The art of photography and film is fascinating. I am starting to understand the technical and artistic merits of any film or photo, which is opening up a new way of seeing. I start looking at everything with a new perspective, that of an artist, film maker, photographer. Any piece of film is looked at with body and mind. What do I think about subject, lighting, perspective, sound... an endless list that highlights the enormous potential of capturing images. How do I feel about this piece? What is the taker trying to say? What does it mean to me? The enormous impact it can have.
This is where I have had a step change in thinking about art. I used to think that any piece of art, a photo for instance, should be valuable in its own right. Each piece should work without support. I used to get annoyed about art installations that required more explanation than art to work. This view I have since abandoned. I have come to the unoriginal and no doubt already accepted view for many reading this that Art is everything the artist presents in and around the piece. Artists can use the tools at their disposal, and take risks on the over and under use of them to ultimately create their piece, but that is about the merits of the art, not if it should be part of it at all. It is a new and profound view for me!
Single images, while beautiful and executed perfectly, may struggle to support a narrative. Clips, however well shot, need a before and an after to make sense. I have started thinking in terms of context - of film and photo being collections around a theme. When bringing together pieces around a theme you can craft a narrative. The photo of the beautiful bird can show a marvel of nature. The picture of the bird surrounded by pictures of a decimated forest can articulate a savage threat to our natural treasures. Followed by a picture of an empty nest to licit question and emotion that can be a powerful driver of action.
Context is important. Art does not have to be isolated. Pieces should not be forced to work as a stand alone. Art is bigger than that - it is the final piece standing on the shoulders of description, setting, engagement with you as the viewer. The artist can seek to land the desired emotion, meaning and impact with the sum of all parts.
Giving context can all help to bring art to life. Be it a narrative around a collection of images, information about the land a film was shot on, the background of an artist. Its not cheating - its expanding the realm of possibility, of the mediums we have to make meaning. I think context can include the emotion of the Artist as well. The emotion that went into the piece. The energy the artist has for their craft. The magick they imbued their offerings with.
We can all create individual moments of genius. I am sure that everyone has written a master piece once, even if it was only one line in a poem that they wrote as a teenager and never showed anyone else. I think the reason we see some art over others is that the intention of the artist is a part of the art itself. And when artists give themselves to their craft, their story becomes part of the context, becomes part of the story, and in doing so gives it power.
The writer that has bled for art cuts deeper with words.
The dancer that has broken bones can shake your whole body.
The photographer that has been blinded by exposure can steal moments from the universe.
The musician with burst eardrums can blow listeners heart chambers.
This emotion that goes into creations can be felt. It adds the weight of the years, months, days, hours and seconds of life that have been joyfully given at the altar of their craft.
I think this is the same as witchcraft. The magick that feels real is the magick that has been crafted and shaped over time. Practiced each day, honed, refined, despaired, loved, lost, found and forged again.
That journey; the emotion, skill and energy, means something. Its part of the context of their craft. Imagine the power you would feel in the magick of one of these people.
The witch with blistered hands can change your reality.