Friday, 26 December 2008

Mistakes are Good

If any work of art means something to me, whether it amuses me or not is kind-of immaterial. Well, amusing me isn't the main thing it needs to do, lets put it that way. I don't really care whether a film or a song or anything else entertains me for a while, nor do I care if there are visible shortcomings. If it provides me with a novel way of looking at something and I see life within the work, then it's doing its job.

Popular opinion seems to dictate that we evaluate art of any form by its absence of flaws. The less shortcomings, the better the work of art. I would love to see this value system go away. For me, the more I feel entitled to love work that is rough around the edges, the more my response springs to life.

Case in point. Consider this photo:


This is an image that I saw recently and I just adore it. By common value judgements, it's "wrong". The objects of interest (ie faces) are obscured and out of shot. One is in the top left and the other is in the lower right-hand corner of the photograph. The center of the frame, where the eyes are inclined to go, doesn't contain anything of interest - unless you're interested in toy trucks. And yet I love the framing in this picture and I also love the raw, spontaneous energy. Irrepressibly human. It contains all the necessary information and was taken by someone who was clearly engaged in the moment itself.

Compare that with this photo:


Thin, lifeless, artificial. Disengaged. Supposedly, this is better framed and a more effective testament to the "magic" moments of a loving family. I'm probably being excessively judgmental of a family's earnest attempt to show the world how much they love each other, but I hope anyone who reads this will also interpret it as an effete shadow of the other picture I used.

Barthes once said, "What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself". Word.

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