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Sunday, June 26, 2011

What is art?

A visit to the Hirshhorn Museum this weekend has me thinking about this. And thinking about an argument I had with someone years ago about what constitutes art.

In my world, art is something that someone creates for a specific purpose. That purpose may never be known but it's there. It should cause a reaction in you. You like it, you love it, you hate, you don't understand it - something.

Before I continue on, two things should be known: 1) I'm an art school drop out and 2) I'm the family archivist. I document everything. Both of these facts probably cloud my judgement a bit.

The Hirshhorn is full of weird things. There was a 60 minute video of Niagara Falls. It consisted of nothing more than the water falling over the falls. Yawn. What makes that art? There was another video of something that I'm not sure how to describe. It sort of looked like a city view with weird lights, sounds and other graphic images moving around on it. I thought it was cool but not necessarily art. I might be changing my mind, though, as I've thought about it several times since seeing it.

The yarn hanging display annoyed me. It looked like vertical pick up sticks. And it did absolutely nothing for me except cause me to wonder why the museum spends its money on things like that.

The argument I had with someone was about my photos, few of which I'd call art. I document my life because I'm a doom and gloom kind of person. I think if I die today, what will my kids know and remember about me. They will certainly know the importance of a camera in my life. No question there. But will they remember the rest? Will they remember how I see things in a way that is often different from the mainstream? That's what I want to document. I have pictures of everyone who is important to me - regardless of the reason. I take pictures of almost every place I go because I want my kids to know what I enjoyed doing. Sometimes the pictures are artsy. Sometimes they're not. I never take a picture with the idea that I want it hanging on someone's wall. I do want to make sure a memory is created forever when I click the shutter. There's a difference in intention.

Some pictures I take can be called art, though they weren't taken for that purpose. I have some of those posted at Red Bubble. You can see the ones I like at http://www.redbubble.com/people/judirock/portfolio/recent.

I will continue to take pictures all the time. I might even let one or two go up on my wall.

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