It’s an (im)perfect world…

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

The great challenge of art is not learning to use the tools of our craft, but learning to say something human with them. The second is learning to be OK with the silence until then.

David duChemin Making it human

I’m conflicted about DuChemin. He’s a little bit too preachy/feely for me, but I have to admit, in the context of our upcoming week with DAH at GPP2014, this post was spot-on (and his very own publishing empire does put out some useful and cheap resources).
That said, the whole “I feel” vs “I geek out” meme is nothing new. The entire smartphone-as-camera and mirrorless industries are pretty much based on it. What are instagram filters if not textures and imperfections we add to make things more “authentic”? VSCO is capitalizing hard-core on the (optionally bearded) (Mumford-and-sons listening) hipster segment (I should know, I tick all the boxes except “lives in Brooklyn”).
Maybe we can draw a parallel with the music industry. I’m old enough that I remember exactly when I listened to a CD for the first time. I’ve seen vinyls go the way of the dodo, only to make a comeback with Kickstarter, I’ve seen stickers proudly proclaiming “remasterisation” of old recordings and stickers shouting “we haven’t touched a thing, hear the scratches”, I’ve lived through the flame wars about the loss of the “intangible” quality of analog vs the clinical cleanliness of digital, devolving into lossless vs lossy compression.
Sounds familiar? It should: Film vs digital, the Megapixel race, then Raw vs JPEG, “Fuji is so good that I can use JPEGs SOOC” …

Ultimately, I agree with most of duChemin’s argument. It’s about the showing of scars, it’s about meaning, it’s about stories. it’s about connections. I just disagree with that one sentence:

[Stirring the heart is] … something, for all the good that digital photography makes possible, that we’ve lost.

I’m not much of an Art Historian (I have a friend who is), but I’d wager that most attempts at art are crap, most of the time and whatever the tools. Even worse, if you really capture that elusive essence of imperfection, it doesn’t automatically make your production good art [1]. Yet that soul-baring seems like a necessary condition, so we keep ever trying:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho[2]


  1. but it most probably makes it pretty creepy  ↩
  2. looking for the exact source, I found this story, which is a great parable into the fate of our art once we let it loose.  ↩

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