The Invasion of Photographs: A View on Art Culture

The power and excessive joy of having a pocket camera, with the access to share our stories to the world in an instant. The luxury of not having to depend on anyone to create an image. This type of consumerism has broaden to a wide spectrum; affecting our society and culture. With something so influential and addicting; has it disrupted arts essential role or is this art culture evolving?

Art can seem pretentious, in a world where everyone idolizes it. It can define our way of living, form our culture, and help us connect with others across the world. With so many roles for art, and the popularity that surrounds the art world; it is easy to claim anything aesthetic to be artful. There is an art in nature, literature, architecture; as there is in paintings, dance, and photographs. What we forget as artists, is that art is not about your craft, what kind of medium you use, or whether you have talent; but it is a way of thinking, communicating, and reflecting on our realities. It is, expression and connection, in a creative language anyone can make on their own.

We live off of art, we thrive with art. Art is essential but have we misused it to the point where its meaning is lost? Writing is an art ceasing in today’s age. Today we see photographs explaining our words, and more words shortened to acronyms. We see that the power of a photograph can share an eventful day, tell a story, show our achievements, overtake our words, manipulate our identity, interfere with our most exciting, intimate, awed moments; it is a luxury that has become a custom to our culture. Now this isn’t an issue to be shamed about but a topic worth discussing to shine some light on.

When the photograph came into the art world many looked down on the medium that was too accessible and manipulative to be defined as a creation of art. Photography back then was not considered as a form of art, even though it could be just as expressive. It wasn’t as innovative as we are today; where we now have the capabilities to manipulate an image through photoshop extremely. It was just seen as photography, and the real art of photography, is exposure. Exposing people, recording history, showing proof of a particular event. You can’t paint a picture with a camera you can only expose it. That is the art of it.

“The painter constructs, the photographer discloses” — Susan Sontag

Photography’s purpose was meant to expose, record, but to create art was of a different method. It took no skill to capture and appropriate the subject being captured. It does take some skill and luck to expose realities among people with the use of a photograph. Photography now has evolved to be artful, with the amount of tools we have to enhance an image or create a staged image.

Define, Art

To find things in an image that is an aesthetic to our eyes and shout “art!” Is an understatement being overestimated. Is it not just an aesthetic, where one is drawn to? However, it is our way of complimenting that something is artful, that we say this is art. The term “art” is an understatement. Simply declaring what is art and what is not, is not the purpose.

To understand art and its versatility, you must understand its roots. I believe literature is at the core in art. It allows us to connect to the world, free ourselves, and enhance our minds in the most direct way. When you articulate words and connect it to your life it helps structure your thoughts, it depicts our morals, shapes our creativity, and gives us a better understanding. Thoughts are very complex and manipulative; and I think writing is the tool that has always been there to bring us closer to reality. I believe a writers essential role; is to understand and expose our realities as humans living among an innovative world. Much like the cameras role.

Must we not forget literatures role in art, and may we remember that art must have a language; an ability to speak to the viewer, not just its eye-appealing image. Or what would be its purpose? Would it teach our culture anything substantial?

When creating something with your own ideas it should enhance our realities, should be honest, and unselfish. The process in creativity, is supposed to come naturally for the most; through a feeling, an experience; that is what makes the art authentic. To force words with no purpose in my writing, would be dishonest.

Literature is embedded in every art form, art is just another language, but literature is in our roots. It has been here centuries before, teaching us, evolving us, and giving us structure.

So easily can we get lost through a vast content of words. That is why the artists role is to be the innovator; to create a language that simplifies context misunderstood, and connect to those unheard. That is why there is language, and many forms of language. It started out with language that we were able to play write, and decades later to create moving films on screens, we pay to see today. The ability to communicate with others, whether it be foreign or with no words at all, it is incredible and artful. It is art itself. It is in our paintings, architecture, sculptures, photographs, libraries and theaters.

Art is embedded in us, it goes through all of our darkest of days with us. Throughout our years living on earth, it will evolve. In some ways art gives us the ability to thrive; satisfying our senses. However, the way technology has influenced us with art, it’s hard to tell what is authentic now of days, and what is just an aesthetic meant to consume you. Art was meant to be viewed through a personal experience, not through a screen. When people limit art to be a certain style or medium; that is when art culture is ceasing in its purpose.

Living in Instagram

Our social media platforms were meant to socialize among a broad spectrum, full of personal events, and networking. There is a difference in what we do and what we show. Creating the bridge between those two, rely on our personal actions through networking.

Instagram has thrived and succeeded in influencing our culture by taking the photograph and providing a simple platform for socializing. However, how you use that power is important. When the majority of the content influenced is misleading and self-indulged; that is when addiction, pleasure, and self consciousness is at its highest. We’ve come to the point where businesses go through Instagramers to market products and places. On a personal interest, we can achieve fame by what we do, and what we show. The hunger to be known just in terms of self-interest is easily wanted and can be achieved through instagram — with the use of a hashtag and aesthetic images in an orderly fashion. You can never fail at promoting yourself on here. It’s a bridge that never falls. It’s a wonderful world of networking for the usual consumerist. But just like any addiction, too much of a pleasurable thing, can be unhealthy for the mind. Being aware of your mental health has been promoted higher than ever now. Living around a culture full of standards we can definitely find ourselves compelled to live a certain way. It doesn’t seem like much harm at all, especially if you live up to those qualities instagram praises — beauty and perfection.

I respect, that social media has brought me closer to art and I see so many different aspects in this culture. I see the majority of the young crowd wanting to be artists, bloggers, photographers, models; all of them wanting to be known. That is how we label ourselves; by our feeds. Our profiles are shrines of ourselves of how we want to be perceived as, how eventful we’ve been, and our most accomplished memories. I see artists out there, some who rise effortlessly and those who don’t get enough attention at all. I see platforms and magazines uniting our creatives, some empowering, some limiting. However, creating that bridge to art and the real world, to have empathy outside of our digital lives; is something I wish to see more often. There is an influx of “creatives” but a lack of disclosure in authenticity. Often I see people in favor of photographers because it is so easy to have a fetish for an aesthetically pleasing picture. But most of what’s swept our feeds are idealized pictures, nothing revealing, but a clean image of an ideal life of perfection.

Perhaps, if our photographers on instagram photographed real substantial work, than photographs based on consuming the viewer to ‘like’ this picture; this platform wouldn’t be so routine like. However, I understand the different jobs photographers can hold, it is all up to ones own preferences whether you are into fashion, traveling, or documentary photography. I think it is the fact that photography has evolved to have so many roles that it makes the medium too broad to simplify our ethics. Everything is quickly assessed in this digital world, and as artists we create our works to either be quickly assessed or too complex for an image to give it justice. We’ve turned our people to behave that way as well. We are too quick to think. Too quick to act out on things we do not know of truly. We quickly take in, take action, and scroll away to the next. It started from when printed text was created and soon enough text with images; that we were conditioned this way. Practicing the ability to understand anything that surrounds us, is meaningless to us.

The Search for Authenticity

“knowledge sets us free, art sets us free. A great library is freedom.”
— Ursula K. Le Guin

Delve yourself in knowledge and be aware that knowledge isn’t always on the internet or in the books, although books are great benefactors. Allow yourself to update your thoughts from your perspective. Read a book, research, take personal notes, but be perceptive; thoroughly understand what you are consuming these days and relate it to humanity. Thinking too much with your mind and not your heart is also a contributing factor to this issue — as corny as that may sound. Hearts have neurons an ability to ‘think’ similar to the brain, but in its own terms it can send signals to our consciousness. Because the heart doesn’t have the entire neuronal network like the brain does, it has a different intelligence system. That is why we are able to feel emotions in our hearts more than our minds. When the mind thinks, there is no feeling it quickly processes things easily with no lingering feelings. It’s easy to think rationally, and it’s easy to let emotions take control of us. We lose our humanity every time we do something in regards of our quick “thinking” we are conditioned to think with our minds first, allowing emotions to be quickly assessed. There are, in some instances where it is very reasonable to think with our minds, but for the most part we engage in this critical thinking more often where it becomes apart of our humanity. We often have trouble remembering our hearts or how to think with our hearts. We see a homeless person on a street depending on their gender, age, circumstances; we evaluate whether they are worthy of receiving change from you. We don’t give every homeless person what we can offer, for who knows they could be a bad person on the street. We don’t think compassionately first. We judge first. In almost every interaction we have to judge to evaluate what is the most beneficial. It’s that idea of self-interest that embodies our excessiveness. That is the root of our delusional needs to want more, to show more, to benefit ourselves; to live in perfection with no actual purpose, but continuity towards the future on this earth.