Technique vs concept?

As a visual artist I’ve found my work in alternative processes (salt prints and gum prints specially) becoming a repetition of common places and subjects. Maybe its part of my learning curve, and the need to evolve from what is basic in terms of concept before to pursue something more daring visually and intellectually.

But I fear that maybe is part of the mainstream I’ve noticed in many of the people who employ these techniques as part of their creative processes.

My bachelor’s degree project was made, half of it, employing salt prints. But was a bet to something different (I hope so) than the simple repetition of a ninth century set of techniques. My bet was to express my thoughts about the role of be a man in my culture and for that I used analogical and digital processes. After that I think I’ve been chasing my tail and in the pursuit of perfect the technique I’ve lost my hunger to explore.

That led me to ask myself why there’s such few artists -that I know, maybe is just my ignorance- which employ classic techniques to explore new subjects or approaches in visual terms to what means to create images.

I’ve seen really few abstractions, surreal explorations or post-modern approaches employing that beloved techniques. There’s a bunch of farms, countryside landscapes and classical portraits. That’s off course great, are so many beautiful works, but the question is why as artists more of us don’t run risks and take the tools (thats what digital, analogical, classical, edgy; processes and cameras are, merely tools) to the very limits and expand it beyond what have been done with they so far.

I make the question in plural but the question is deeply rooted in my own work. Why I’ve become so attached to the old practices and I am condemning the techniques to become simply nostalgic emulators of the past?.

I hope that my new, that’s relative of course, works with double exposures will be the seed to the expansion of my artistic horizons once again. To broad the spectrum of my explorations have been the goal behind a lot of my work almost since it beginnings, for that reason have been so frustrating to find myself only walking other’s steps these last months.

I’ve always be proud of emulate and follow other’s steps but only as an initial stage for my own walk and the pursuit of my personal pathway.

There’s a whole universe from this….

Acetone transfer
Acetone transfer

To this…

Gum print
Gum print – Gaga e Iván

No one is better than the other but the first is more my kind of exploration, is full os uncertain aesthetical values and is a more interesting visual challenge.

As Dubois says the photography is a compulsive act of repetition and there’s nothing wrong in repeat techniques, photographs, ideas or whatever do you want. The lack of an artistic proposal behind my work at this point is what really bore me, not the repetition of themes, tecniques or approaches.

3 thoughts on “Technique vs concept?

  1. Interesting article, recently I have found myself asking a very similar question except I am looking at it from another direction. My hypothesis is that to the vast majority of art consumers it does not matter what process you use to achieve your image as long as visually it has put your vision onto paper or screen. There will always be purists who need the image to have been created “properly” but I feel this is a very small minority unless you are targeting a very high end market.
    I am beginning to recognize that I conform to modernist ideals when it comes to image making but that doesn’t mean that the images I create are old fashioned. There is no point in trying to be something that I am not so I photograph what I like, how I like with equipment ranging from large format to the camera on my phone and my audience doesn’t seem to care as long as it is a good image. The same would go with the printing process, do it the way you want, that process is what makes you different to everyone else and if it is sitting right with you then the resulting images should be all that matters.
    Getting back closer to your original thoughts, one of my colleagues at the polytechnic I work at did her thesis with digitally captured and processed images which were then printed with various historical processes such as cyanotypes. That was her whole point that it is the aesthetic that the process can provide not that you are a purist.
    Anyway this is purely my opinion from what I have experienced so may not hold true for you or anyone else.

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