Ahoy ahoy lovely readers of the blogosphere!  I am back with another post, though this time it is a somewhat guilty one as I thought we didn’t have to post about last Thursday’s lecture, as it was a library session and I figured “Everyone knows how to use a library, I’m sure I don’t have any divine wisdom to impart on this topic.”  But Gemey seems to think we (as a class) do!  Result: a rather long entry today, but a good one! (I hope)

So lecture on the 5th.  We began looking at photography influencing the art of oil paintings and landscape paintings and were faced with the concept of photography being an art or photography being a science.  This whole concept always somewhat amuses me.  People still argue over whether or not photography books ought to belong in the science section of a library or should it belong to the art section?  To me, the whole idea of creating art is a science.  In nature, I would say that many things are seen as aesthetically pleasing.  Mountains, rivers, trees, even the way people and animals move and are shaped– we see these things as being visually pleasant, at least most of the time.  In order for an artist who is painting a landscape in the sense of a traditional landscape painting, is also trying to create something visually pleasant, whether it is the view of a forest or a canyon ridge, whatever.  So in order to do this, the painter or sketcher must attempt to recreate images from nature onto a 2 dimensional surface.  A landscape is almost always three dimensional and in order to make something properly function as three-dimensional, you have to have at least some concept of how mathematical proportions and geometry function.

I don’t think people look at math and call it art.

This is not to say that artists sit around working out math equations all day long.  But I am saying that I believe artists learn a particular, geometric and mathematical way of thinking that gets translated into the success of their works on a 2 dimensional surface.  Furthering the connection of science and art, when a science textbook demands a detailed, in-depth reproduction of a work, do they turn to a photographer or an artist?  To complete an illustration of a cell, it is only natural that an artist would first look at a microscopic photograph before attempting to sketch it out.  Photography, like art, serves many different purposes aside from just being decorative.

Another idea that could factor into the concept of what classes as a science and what classes an art is the idea of graphic art.  Graphic art is created on a computer, and it definitely requires a knowledge of how to use a computer, which is considered a scientific machine, much like many would argue with the camera and the processes that were originally used to develop film.  Now we have programs like photoshop and digital photography so anyone can make the colours of their sunsets more vibrant or eradicate wrinkles from the face of an ageing woman.  Is someone who works with digital art not an artist?  Is their work any less authenticated as art than someone who uses paper and a pencil?  So how can one say that photography is either one or the other when it is so clearly both?  This divide between science and art is such a Western concept and it applies throughout the comparison of science to many other studies as well, such as sociology, music and a variety of other schools of learning.

Our lecture on September 30 was more of a library based session about different research methods available to us as Mount Allison students.  Now, as a student, I can say that research is an integral part of our day to day lives.  For our upcoming essay in Canadian Art we’re invited to use a variety of sources in order to complete our essay.  In the digital age we have access to so many different sources of information.  Entire books can be found online and downloaded, along with countless journal articles, old newspapers, visual images…the list really goes on and on.  But who are these resources created for?  The Wikipedia page about Emily Carr is a very different information source than a scholarly article written about Emily Carr.  A collection of her works, bound in a coffee-table book, is yet again information aimed at a different audience.  A Wikipedia entry can be used as a jumping off point for research, yet because it can be edited it can also act as a forum for people to share what they know.

So often, as a student, you get your information from a secondary source, you research someone else’s research.  This entire concept sometimes seems so bizarre to me, especially when it comes to analyzing works of art.  Is it okay for me to just think for myself and make my own interpretations?  Does background information about an artist intercede with my own personal feelings about a particular piece, or will it help me to understand if I find myself confused?  This is especially difficult when that artist is deceased because we have to rely entirely on interpretations from others.  Research can sometimes produce even more questions than it answers!

Well that’s enough on that subject.  In other news of art and art history, my roommate Liz and I have decided to do a collaborative art project for our Modern Art class.  We’re using a bunch of different media on paper, ie pastel, ink, pencil, paint etc and doing a series of automatic drawings and writings.  She or I will start the piece, and the other will finish or we will both add to it until we feel it is complete.  I’m really excited!

That’s all for now!