Today’s post, “JUXTAPOSITION”, is, to me, a different type of conceptual art than my recent examples.
This clearly is the layering of two photographs without any embellishments or enhancements.
But as I outline below, it fulfills one aspect of my definition for conceptual art, which is to tell a story.
Two dancers, two great forms, two entirely different styles, two artists – one at on the ballet stage, one at the Apollo Theater in Harlem – and one unifying theme which is love of movement.
Or maybe you see a different story. I hope you do…
Below is the story of my journey to Conceptual Art.
When I’ve seen conceptual photography in the past, I have to admit it wasn’t for me. Not that I didn’t appreciate the technique and artistry that went into the pieces. It’s just that my mind doesn’t quite work in the way of fantasy or some types of surrealism. It seems I need to have order and reason and symmetry – or at least one of those elements or else I can’t seem to pull it together! Beauty is also very important to me. The picture need not be ultra beautiful in the traditional way, but it must have a sense of beauty about it.
But for some time now, I have been feeling a strong urge to create something beyond just what comes out of the camera. It’s not to say that I don’t think my photos are examples of art. I most certainly do, and continue to photograph in a way that is artistic and very meaningful to me. But after a great deal of thought, plus artistic trials in different styles, I came to the conclusion that I had something to say, and that I needed conceptual photography to say it. However, it was going to be conceptual on my terms. It would be pictures that had a natural look and feel to them, as if all the elements looked like they were always meant to be there. And if there was going to be surrealism, it would have to make sense – at least to me! Now, I have become rather obsessed with the concept of creating works of art in which I can control all of the elements. I’ve found this to be enormously satisfying, creatively speaking. And it’s also been so gratifying to get people’s reaction to these pieces. Works I have posted on Facebook have led people to compare them to the likes of Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper and even Salvador Dali. While I certainly don’t put myself in the category of those artists, the allusions are very flattering!
My idea was to create pieces of art that would look like paintings. I have a theory that painters can use a variety of techniques to achieve their goal. They can add, subtract or change elements to suit their ultimate concept. I believe that even the Impressionists would sometimes paint over sketches they had made, using what were then new brushes, paints, etc. – in effect, applying new technology. So why not do the same in photography? There are so many tools at our disposal as photographers. Why not experiment and apply them? I personally find Adobe Photoshop daunting, but I do use it as needed. ‘On1 Photo 2017’ is my go to. It’s quite user friendly, and has all the bells and whistles you need.
So I began my journey of bringing to life works of art that existed only in my mind. And, being a musician, I likened the creation of these ideas to program music. As in program music, I wanted each of my conceptual art works to either create a mood, paint a picture or tell a story. The natural starting point – because of my love of it , and helped by a large library of images – was the sea and its surroundings. From this I branched out into various subjects, but maintained my goal of incorporating as many elements of my own photos as possible in each picture, and only adding stock photos to invigorate the piece in ways that my own photos could not.
This last thought was something that was intuitive to me, but I didn’t exactly know why it was so important. Then recently I saw an interview with playwright Stephen Karam ( who, I am proud to say, is a Scranton native! ), whose play “The Humans” won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2016. He said something in that interview that really made a deep impression on me. When he teaches, he tells his playwright students to “only write plays that no one else could write”.
The moment I heard this I realized that if I use my own photos in this creative process, no one else in the world could make that same picture. It was validating and empowering and inspirational all at once. It changed the path of my art. Now even when taking traditional photos, I want to take them as if I am the only one that could come up with that perfect angle, discover that unusual lighting or see that intriguing composition. #thankyoustephenkaram