when ordinary life captured

– becomes extraordinary 

 

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michael wolf

How is it, that the most ordinary scenes, sometimes – when captured by the most watchful eye – can become art? And who would dispute the beauty in this very ordinary everyday scene? 

No doubt the ordinary will have a central place in my study of beauty. Recently I have started to wonder, if the genre of documentary (in film, photo, essay …), is more interested in studying beauty, than the more traditional art forms like painting, performance and sculpture? That is, do we have to go to the borderline between art and not art to find beauty?

 

MICHAEL WOLF: HONG KONG TRILOGY

 

10 Comments

  1. a really good camera, and knowing how to use it sure helps too… 🙂 I am like-mind with you though, seriously, I strive and strive to make what I already have to be perceived as more artful, rather than continually in a quest to find it elsewhere. That, I have found, is a true lesson learned. Love reading your blog about beauty & artfulness ! xx

  2. Brilliant observation about documentary, Sigrun! Thanks for that. Perhaps the reason has something to do with seeing: a documentary artist must see and present; a gallery installation artist doesn’t have to see; in fact, removing the body from the experience is de rigeur. That would make the two totally different art forms: one is body work; the other is mind work. Now, mind work can be exquisitely beautiful, but perhaps it rarely is when it makes a hash of body work, when it has, at its base, a big confusion or mis-seeing.

  3. Totally agree, mind work can be exquisitely beautiful – but, in my opinion; most of the time it’s not.
    This is a main problem in conceptual art: It can be interesting, good & fine. But exquisitely beautiful is different. Rather few of the students who study philosophy become original philosophers, and few artists making conceptual art invent new concepts. I do not mean this as an argument against studying philosophy or making art, but maybe we should strive for more precision when talking about art and beauty.
    ?

  4. Umm, perhaps nothing is ordinary, only that we are too narrow in our perception. The brilliance is that we notice anything, anything that is not dependant on where we are going or where we came from and who we think we are.

  5. It seems whenever we try to hierarchize genres when talking about art and beauty, we begin to go wrong. Think how many centuries the extraordinary ordinary has gone unheralded. Documentary seems to have true-ness. It seems to gather our memories and senses into some kind of satisfying unity. Yet, there is good reason to distrust this and to resist.

    1. Hi Sheila,
      true-ness is an interesting concept, rarely discussed in relation to contemporary art, but central to classical aesthetics. I’m not sure if it is a concept I understand, but it is tempting to look into it.

  6. I am using a concept, if it can be called a concept, far from classical aesthetics. Closer to holistic cognitive evaluation, or even “truthy”! Thank you once again for these discussions, which are to me not study but conversation. I believe we are appreciating art, discovering and considering beauty – maybe even expanding our perspectives.

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