2. Is art meant to be "good"? in the sense that it is pro-life, anti-cruelty, pro-equality, pro-health, that type of thing - does it have to have a political or religious or moral agenda? It would be difficult to make that case - take "Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer" (please, take it, as the joke has it); or the film of "Last Exit to Brooklyn". Neither of these seems to me to offer the viewer something "good" or positive, just as slasher films don't, nor certain sculptures or books or a dozen other possibles. So, no, not, morally good, and we remain with "just" complexity, thought-provoking goodness. And yet, as I write this, I think "actually, you know what, I do want art to be good, in the sense of morally Good". I hated Last Exit to Brooklyn and the nihilism of Henry, POASK. I cannot bear the lazy amorality of the Chapman brothers work (no link - they get me that riled up that I don't want to encourage people to see their art). Probably I should, and I will, examine why, but for the purposes of this post I'll note that yes, I do like a bit of moral goodness in my work - I want to care about the characters, the people portrayed, in the main. Even in still photos, if that makes sense. Anyway, one to come back to later.
3. How much complexity is needed? How many layers to the onion? A piece of Pollock's, for example, looks complex, and people are sold on the idea that the ideas behind it are complex in part, perhaps, because of its spidery, difficult-to-read appearance. But in truth, how difficult is it? One splash on one canvas and that's the idea explained - randomness fused with intentionality all bound up in a piece for a gallery or plush home wall, displayed to be seen and interpreted as Art. Yes, a few layers to the onion there, including the slightly edgy possibility that the viewer is being taken for a fool, but really, truly, you only need to do this once and then move on - does anyone claim that there is more to be gained from looking at two Pollocks as opposed to just one? We get it Jackson, we get it, but what else do you have?
4. So. In a photo, is compulsion to re-view it possible? This isn't art, nor this, [warning: possibly disturbing content], though certainly compulsive and important to see, albeit that viewing it again and again isn't something one would want to do. So, as well as compulsion, more is needed, more complexity, more depth, more meaning. In fact, if you have all the meaning in one fast hit, you haven't really got art, just representation. And though it can be skilfully done, more meaning, hidden below the surface for the viewer to find, or rather, to keep looking for, that's what's needed. Gregory Crewdson certainly understands this, with his idea that you don't look at a photograph but through it at something else, but what of others? And, of course, for the blogger, what of me? Do my photos have a depth and complexity that might take out of the realm of the mundane? Mostly not, mostly they are simply representational. But of course I aspire to more; which, being the case, what to do, what to do? I'll leave this up, marinading under the public glare (well, the two sets of eyes) - it helps define and refine. Meanwhile, here's a picture: