It is not a Vacuum

I’ve often heard, and used, the phrase “Art is not created in a vacuum” – its true, it isn’t. I was curious recently as to the origin of the phrase, so I went looking. It’s apparently a derivation from something that was said by a film director (I am not very familiar with film directors, so forgive me) – his name was Andrei Tarkovsky, and is largely considered one of the greatest film directors.

His actual words were:

An artist never works under ideal conditions. If they existed, his work wouldn’t exist, for the artist doesn’t live in a vacuum. Some sort of pressure must exist. The artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn’t look for harmony but would simply live in it.

Andrei Tarkovsky

However we look at it, he was quite correct, we are all influenced by something or someone, our actions are influenced by some external stimuli. While this applies to the creation of art, I’ve found that it equally applies to our evaluation of art.

Feedback is important, whether negative or positive, it allows us to understand how others feel and react to our work, and I don’t mean those friends and family who always tell you that its “great”, I mean those few friends who will tell you exactly what they think because they respect your work, and wouldn’t want you sharing something sub-standard. If you don’t have a few of those friends, get some, people who tell you all the time that your work is good are not helping you as an artist.

Yes, we want to be told that our work is appealing, but we also need to be told when someone thinks that there’s a flaw or here’s something that does not appeal to them in the work; to the less than positive feedback we listen, we pay attention, we try to see the point of view of the person viewing the work, and whether or not we let it influence future work, is up to us. We need not agree with everything that we are told, but keeping an open mind is what will help us grow as artists.

What brought all this on? I was recently processing an image that I took in 2020. Obviously, to me, if I selected it for processing, then it appealed to me, there was something there that I wanted to share. At the end of it all, I stared at it on and off for probably a good twenty minutes, and was unsure whether I wanted it to be something I should share or just relegate it to the pile that remains unseen. At about that time I was chatting with two other photogs, you know the ones who I hope would tell me when something is trash, and I shared it with them, surprisingly, neither one suggested I dump it.

So its their fault that you are being subjected to it. 🙂

Untitled – 20-6824 | Annandale, East Coast Demerara, Guyana. 2020 | Canon 60D, Sigma 10-20mm

The point is, even as art is not created in a vacuum, we do not live in a vacuum either, and sometimes, its just as simple as asking people “what do you think? and be honest!” At the time I had asked my friends “Is it fine? is something missing? should it be tossed in the bin?”

Feel free to let me know your own thoughts. I don’t think its an award winning image, but its a good image, do others see it as better than good, do they think its just another seawall photo? Keep shooting folks, and click on the image to see it in the Collection along with other Seawall images in the Gallery.


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