BT Robinson

David Campbell: Reading #7

In Photographic Interaction on March 23, 2011 at 2:44 am

(Original Article)

With every artistic medium, the conversation of intent vs. reception is bound to come up. I believe it started with literature, when the new schools of criticism rose up and argued (controversially) that the intention of the artist is not important in the reception of the work. Because once we receive it, how can we know the artist’s intention without the artist, in some way, ruining the piece?

We take for granted the ambiguity and multiple interpretations that result from any observation of work. To bring it closer, we can think of all the critiques in which we’ve participated. How often does a student, or the professor even, go off on what the piece says to them? What they think all of it means? It’s especially entertaining when we’ve “faked” our way through a piece just to get it done, because their bullshit smells just as fresh as ours.

Does that mean we defer responsibility? That we allow art object to be taken out of it’s context and used however the recipient chooses? Or do we tie the reins on a bit, attach pieces of text, video, other photos, refusing the single object to sit in isolation? Does a clear narrative aid the piece, or obfuscate it from a vague and relatable beginning?

The single is more difficult than the single book, or the single poem, or the single film. Even the single painting has something in the gesture that can more effectively direct the conversation. It all comes down to whether the artist believes in the truth of her or her work. It may seem naïve today to believe in the truth of a piece of art, especially the photo in the days of Photoshop. Do you see my bias coming through now? Or have you seen it from the beginning?

Even the words I write on this screen have a certain intention. It’s probably really obvious what it is… do I say it, and make it blunt? Or do I consider this “art” and wait for the viewer to decide? We wish that people were straightforward with their words. But especially when it comes to responses to certain ideas, we don’t want to land anywhere too suddenly…

Or maybe that’s just my bias again.


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