Start Making Sense

Art is hard. Or maybe just a lot of hooey. Or maybe some of each. Or maybe I still have no clue about anything.

Being a straightforward person, it's sometimes difficult to look at an object - something to photograph - and look for ways to "transform" that object into something else. Sometimes it's easy, and sometimes it can be fun to go abstract altogether.

The thing is, I'm getting kind of irritated by hearing people say, "how can [the thing] be [essentially] not at all like the thing?" and I get that, to some degree, but sometimes I WANT YOU TO KNOW IT'S THAT THING. THAT'S WHAT MAKES THE PICTURE. For me, anyway.

The other thing is, it's all subjective. There are some rules, but in the end, it comes down to what every individual will pull from the work - everyone will see something different. Though I've noticed, during class critiques, there is an *awful* lot of BS bandied about... People trying to talk about art or sound like they know how to talk about art - it's often painful to sit through.

Also painful is the idea that one has to choose a specific direction or concept. For example, after a marathon class reviewing everyone's contact sheets (six hours total), I received the following note from my instructor: "It looks like you still don't know what you're interested in." My negatives included all sorts of subjects - clouds, murals, still lifes, landscapes, urban decay, night shots of people on the street, classic car shows and a doll with a sad substance abuse problem.

Are you kidding me? I'm interested in everything! Was that not obvious? Is that not a good thing? After reviewing our notes, I said to her, "I may not ever have a single thing I'm interested in, and I think that's fine." What an entirely unhelpful comment. Why not find one thing she liked and tell me to explore that more fully? I'd have been happy to see that. That would have been helpful.

I should add - the point of the class was to learn old skool color printing and color theory for photography. Of course, we should be stretching our creative muscles whilst shooting roll after roll of film to fulfill the assignments, but most days it's all about getting it done - on time - with the highest quality.

If the point of the class was to create mind-blowing artistic work the likes of which the world has never seen before, then OK - lay it on me. But it wasn't. So keep that in mind when you're nitpicking what I've shot. (To be fair, she gave me an A, so I shouldn't bitch - yet I do...)

Sometimes I prefer to make quirky or silly images - Barbie and Dawn dolls have become some of my favorite subjects. But I've noticed those projects don't garner much of a reaction - not with instructors. Classmates seem to enjoy them, which is the point - they got it - they're meant to be enjoyed. But then does that disqualify it as art?

Why can't the Dawn doll look like a Dawn doll deep in the tragic grip of an oxycontin & tequila addiction? To "transform" her to look more human (with ridiculous macro/depth of field) would just make it weird, or sad. To me, the point is, it's a doll. A doll with a nasty drug problem. That's funny to me. I don't want her "transformed" to look like anything other than the pink plastic junkie that she is.

Admittedly, I still have a long way to go to making sense of all this, but I'm hoping that if I ever do become an "artist," that I won't have to leave my straightforward sensibilities behind, or avoid humor. That so much of what I see, all over campus, is devoid of humor is troubling. Y'all need to lighten the fuck up and have some fun. Isn't that the point of all this?