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Submitted on
November 9, 2009



A few statements.

Mon Nov 9, 2009, 8:00 AM
Here, I am going to try and clarify what i look for in photographs, and  what i can accept to feature as a DD.
I have noticed that even if i did a folder on my page with all my past DDs, people keep suggesting things that are nowhere near what i enjoy.

So yes, i have to be clearer.

Photography, painting and music are very similar, in the way that you can be a total amateur and still be able to say if you like it or not. Because art gives you feelings, sensations, it brings back memories, it makes you fantasize, it confuses you, it makes you think.
Some art even gives you the illusion that it makes you think, when in fact it only highlights something that was already your opinion, and very often an opinion shared by the majority.

Lets have a look at dA's conceptual photography.…
Lets look at the first 60 deviations featured here as the most popular.
You'll see
-19 photos featuring women, 6 of them in water, 3 of them with the idea of drowning, 2 of them with something on their mouth to be silenced, 5 of them being naked or almost naked.
-12 photos representing the sea, or beach, or water.
-10 photos that could be called "retro"
-9 photos with clouds, 5 of them where humans interact with them
-11 photos talking about "Love", 8 photos with hearts,  3 of them with the word "love" written inside the photo.
-6 photos representing a lonely figure
-5 photos with fake blood
-4 photos talking about man vs woman
-4 photos of animals (remember, this is not the section animals, plants and nature). 2 of those are cats and they look almost identical (and were taken by the same photographer).

In the next row of 60 you have even more women in water, clouds, hearts, beaches and retro colors.

OK so now, lets ask ourselves what is conceptual photography ?
To make it short (i could do an art history lesson but i'm not sure i either have the time or that people will have the patience to read) :
Conceptual photography is photography based on a concept, and that detaches itself from any form of aesthetics.
"Conceptual art is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns."
Conceptual photography appeared in the 60's, 70's with the works of artists such as Ed Ruscha (book : Every Building on the Sunset Strip), Bruce Nauman (Book : Laair), and Dan Graham for example :
Dan Graham, Homes for America.
They are not primarily photographers but the three of them were an inspiration to the rest.
Their intention was to diffuse "poor" images, that couldnt be sold, that were not aesthetic. Ruscha said : "I think that photography as a fine-art is dead. It's only place is in the commercial world, as a technical or informative means."

You may know Bernd and Hilla Becher too...

Anyway, at first it was difficult to separate conceptual art and conceptual photography, as photography was here to keep a trace of the conceptual art, land art, etc.
You have to make the difference between idea (concept), and message.
Conceptual photography isn't about delivering a message by using a metaphor. Speaking of which, most photographs that you see in this so called deviantart "conceptual" photography section should actually be called "metaphorical" photography. Metaphorical photography is very present in Stock Image banks, (which has nothing to do with stock photography on dA) like here…. But you can also find photographs that are similar to dA's conceptual photography on Fotolia, another stock image website and here it's under the term "concept" as well.

Another thing, conceptual photography isn't about illustrating an idea. Art isn't about illustration at all. Illustration serves purposes of... illustration. Illustration helps transmitting messages and is mostly used in commercial photography. Illustrating joy, illustrating loneliness, illustrating the love for an animal...
Art photography, and more specifically conceptual photography raise questions more than it answers any. It questions our reality. The way we represent reality. Our relation with reality.

Art isn't about thinking hey i saw this cool image and i'm gonna do the same one. Conceptual photography is not about taking the photo of a girl wearing a dress running on a beach.

If any art history teacher was coming on this site to look at conceptual photography, he would be very sad to see how the word is mis-used.

Ok, i've spent enough time on this journal and i'm not sure everyone will understand what i mean..

To make it short : i don't care about pretty conventionnal pictures. I want to be surprised, confused, i want to be able to make an effort to understand what i'm looking at. I want to see a personnal vision, i want to feel the photographer's sensibility, sensitivity, and talent of observation.
Yes yes.

cheers :)

  • Mood: Content
  • Listening to: pivot
  • Reading: Krishnamurti - freedom from the known
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ohmeow Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2009
thumbs up. I think a lot of the stuff in the conceptual gallery are cool yes, but they are born from an idea or thought, not a concept, which are much smaller things than a concept. concept should develop from the idea, but the idea alone isn't enough...
It would be nice to see some concepts up there that have been thoroughly thought out, researched, etc, before the image was made. the series i have been doing is pretty terrible - but i learnt heaps by asking what other people thought and the artists who are merely using an idea are missing out on this, too.
the most favorited photos seem to have not taken it above and beyond a moments consideration, which really should happen with conceptual stuff.
so thanks.(i have no idea if i made sense, but basically thank you and i agree)
natashalyonne Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2009
"19 photos featuring women, 6 of them in water, 3 of them with the idea of drowning, 2 of them with something on their mouth to be silenced, 5 of them being naked or almost naked."

oh my. not a surprise, tho.
hope you're fine, gonzi!
Februar Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2009   Artisan Crafter
Maybe you could ask to edit the description of the "conceptual" category.
Do you think you could explain it as good, as in this journal, in one or two simple sentences?
Thanks for clarifying some things, even though I am still a bit confused.
I am not a big fan of categories, but I suppose they are necessary up to some point.
Also: don't get confused by the name "deviantART", as we all know: art is relative, dA is 99 % full of stuff, that does not really fit into "art" etc etc.
The good thing about dA is, that it is open to everybody, of course that includes people with "bad taste", or zero "creativity", but the only other way would be to install a dictatory "quality control" team, that decides what is "art" and what is not, so I think I prefer to live with the boring mangasketches, fakebloodsemigore, "artistic" nude, beach no. 45766454565654 etc.
I understand, that you get a bit upset with the ignorance/lack of knowledge of people, but I think a lot could be solved with actually providing the right info on the page.
Which is why I would really encourage you to suggest that to the staff.
Maybe sometime I also dare suggesting a DD to you, but first I need to make sure I understand :)

Majnouna Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2009  Professional General Artist
bdwfh Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2009
The object being created is of secondary importance to the idea/concept, and this idea/concept should precede realization of the photograph. This much I understand.

I also understand that there is no real subject, even though real objects may be photographed. And as you suggest, there is no inherent message to be deduced. It is all about the concept.

So far I think I am on the right track.

Now, the reduction of the art through the elimination of key characteristics of what the public deems as art, is where I think I have a problem. Must a work be necessarily devoid of pleasing aesthetic qualities in order to be considered truly conceptual?


“If Conceptual photography was not pictorial–it was artless–neither was it purely instrumental–it was not only a vehicle for the reproduction and dissemination of art but a form of art in itself. Nominating as their subject matter the trivial and insignificant, the “least event,” conveyed aptly by the flat-footed composition and careless techniques of snapshot photography, the Conceptual document, simply put, was confoundingly dumb in appearance and purpose.Renouncing virtually all marks of artistic craft and skill and foregrounding the values of the unaesthetic and the useless, these works cultivated a zero-degree style of facticity pushed to the point of banality, inaugurating a practice which, following Douglas Huebler, I am calling “dumb.”

Melanie S. Mariño, “Dumb Documents: Uses of Photography in American Conceptual Art: 1959-1969,” Dissertation, Cornell University, 2002.
Gonzale Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2009  Professional Photographer
Yes, i mentionned the distanciation from aesthetism, but it was just a part of the conceptualists, the most ferocious part, and in the end they got the most confused by their own rules.
And in my opinion they ended up creating a form of aestetic. Which i enjoy a lot by the way.

i <3 snapshots.

Great quote.. i finally have an argument to tell people why i'm dumb ! :D
bdwfh Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2009
“The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.” - Douglas Huebler ;)
Draconis-Wyrm Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2009   Writer
Your point proven. [link]
Gonzale Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2009  Professional Photographer
Liberance Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2009   Photographer
AMEN AMEN AMEN :worship: I will quote your words to explain made it so clear that it can't be improved THANKS...and your writing made me question my self...:clap:
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