Is Photography Art? Written by Gil lian Chu When we talk about art, what comes to mind tends to be the more traditional art forms, like painting and sketching, ceramics and sculpting. But, is photography really considered as a form of art? Cameras were first invented to faithfully record the facts. In the Victorian time, cameras became popular for family portraits, with everybody putting on their best clothes and most serious face. Photography skills were focused on developing techniques in the dark room, rather than the photo shooting. With the invention of the digital camera, shooting style is more important. With the easy-to-use format of digital cameras, it’s much easier to take artistic photos since you can instantaneously preview a shot on site. Nowadays, almost everyone is equipped with a DSLR or snapping away happily with their trusty ol’ iPhones. Because photography has become so incredibly accessible, how do artists differentiate themselves from the masses taking countless photos of every minute detail of their lives? Many photographers choose to put a creative twist to wellknown images. By replicating renowned artworks, they input their own vision or put a modern spin, which ultimately makes the work more relatable and sheds light on a common image. Gérard Rancinan’s “The Last Supper” sees the iconic scene recreated with plus size models, thus changing the role and theme of the original piece to comment on changing body images. In another example, Chow Chun-fai replicates Michelangelo’s piece, but adds an Eastern element by illustrating the story of the Water Margins, to exhibit his Chinese take on a Western classic.
Snow White and the Seven Paternity Tests, Mark Velasquez
With Photoshop it has become downright easy to manipulate photos. But beyond simple touch-ups, artists are using this ingenious tool to create imaginary landscapes. Artist Yang Yong-liang mixes cranes and electricity poles in what looks like traditional Chinese painting from afar. This unorthodox juxtaposition of urban life and nature criticizes China’s rapid urbanization and disruption of the environment. Photoshop can also be used to conjure an atmosphere that would otherwise not Phantom Landscape, Yang Yongexist with just a regular shot. liang For example, Constance and Eric’s evocative shots would be perceived as pornographic without manipulating the image and creating a blurry effect. The manipulation renders the image more sensual, rather than outright explicit.
All Under Heaven, Olaf Mueller
Photography is also essential to capturing fleeting moments, such as in the photography of Olaf Mueller. By taking photos of Guilin’s natural scenery and overlaying huge bubbles (shots he had taken elsewhere), the landscape is distorted, creating a composition that is at once dreamy and surreal—evocative of the artist’s vision of the world around him.
Photographers—like other artists—are a mixed bunch. While some strictly focus on commercial projects and others on more free-spirited artistic projects—both sides of the coin require deft technical expertise and an intuitive eye for detail. The rapid pace, artistic manipulation and excitement of photography is making it one of the most interesting art mediums today.