Midterm Position Paper

Midterm Position Paper - Jason Lau Draft of Midterm...

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Jason Lau Draft of Midterm Position Paper 2/15/12 Paint Me a Photo Photography upon its invention has struggled as an art form. Sontag in her essays states that “photography has the unappealing reputation as being one of the most realistic, therefore facile, of the mimetic arts” (Sontag 39). Photography was never seen as something that could amount to the aesthetic value that traditional paintings had. There was nothing in the world that would be able to compete with the beauty of the human mind. However, photographers through experimentation learned to master their medium and create pieces of art that rivaled paintings. They were able to advance photography to share the same prestige that paintings enjoyed. Photography has been proven to have the same capabilities that paintings do, if not more. Because photographs are limited in subject material, some argue that photographers can never achieve truly free expression. Photographs are limited in the sense that they rely on physical objects whereas paintings only require an idea of the mind. A photograph of a specific object cannot be taken without the photographer being actually physically present at the scene. Thus, the subjects of a photograph are limited to objects that exist in the physical world. Paintings on the other hand are not limited in this sense; they only limited by the individual imagination and ability of the artist. For example, Jackson Pollock painted by dripping paint onto a blank canvas. This unique style allowed him to create abstract combinations of color and geometry. These types of subjects are simply not possible in photography. It is impossible to photograph objects that do not exist in the physical world. People see these limitations as hindrances to the creative potential of photography. While it is true the contents of a photograph are limited to physical objects, photographs require the same level of creativity that paintings do. Photography and painting on the most basic level are essentially the same; the differences lie in the equipment and process. Whereas photography relies on light, lens, and film, painting requires paint, brush, and canvas. As Berger states in his essay on the depictive level of photography, “where a painter starts with a blank canvas and builds a picture, a photographer starts with the messiness of the world and selects a picture” (Shore 39). Photographers work with the constraints of the physical world and create photographs from that. Painters work with the constraints of their paint and create paintings from that. Photographers and painters are the same in the sense that they utilize the materials that they are provided with and create images from that. Just as painters have control over their
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This note was uploaded on 04/04/2012 for the course WRIT 039 taught by Professor Stein during the Spring '08 term at UPenn.

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Midterm Position Paper - Jason Lau Draft of Midterm...

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