I was at a really nice park the other day, enjoying the sound of chirping birds, water rushing, the cool breeze in the shade, and looking up at the trees and sky and I thought to myself:
Wow, the blue shade of the sky is actually quite ugly.
Which made me wonder —
What are we trying to do as visual artists/photographers — glorify reality and nature, or to make it look different (according to our own vision of beauty)?
Why I love nature
I love nature and her creations. I find epic visual stimulus from being out in nature — the infinite permutations of animal and plant life, all the epic shapes and forms of natural things, and the infinite array of colors and tones.
But when I had this epiphany about the color of the sky — I wondered:
What if the sky was purple? What if the sky was red? Would it look more interesting?
There is camera technology (infrared) that can change the way reality looks. Same goes with painting — you can paint the sky (or reality) however you would like!
Do you want to create images that are picture-perfect, or look different?
As photographers, are we trying to depict reality “picture perfectly”, or are we trying to create our own artistic representation of what we witnessed and saw?
How can you use different colors, tones, and post-processing styles to convey a certain feeling or emotion?
Are you trying to perfectly transmit your own emotions and thoughts with reality with 100% accuracy to your viewer, or do you want your viewer to interpret your artwork in a different way?
Why art is worthwhile
One of the reasons I love artists like Jean Michel Basquiat is because they showed their own inner-world (however chaotic and crazy it seemed)— and did it in their own way. They didn’t care to show a picture perfect inner reality. Instead, they used their artistic power to TRANSFORM reality— to change it.
Did Piet Mondrian hate reality?
Another interesting thing about artists like Piet Mondrian (and others):
I think that they thought reality was ugly — and they could make it more beautiful through their artwork.
For example, Piet Mondrian took reality and abstracted it to the extreme (and yes, Mondrian as well as Basquiat both knew how to paint picture-perfect paintings).
Picture perfect artwork is boring
For myself, I like experiencing artwork because it is different from reality. I think this is also why people enjoy film, video games, and other forms of media and entertainment.
We are bored with reality, and we want a stronger audio-visual stimulus.
My personal thought:
Perhaps in artwork, we should try to embrace the extreme of things which are totally DIFFERENT from reality// but in reality we should embrace reality in all its fullness and ugliness.
We all know that real life ain’t like a movie — and it shouldn’t! Similarly, I don’t think a movie should be like reality either.
For photography, let’s not make photos that look like reality. Let’s make photos that look DIFFERENT from reality. And in real life, let us not get suckered into thinking that real life should be picture-perfect.
More turbo thoughts to come!