Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Process, The Practice

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the fast pace of technological advancements that we forget there are many things, older technologies, that have been with us for a long time that are still valued. Of course, you and I value many of the technologies we grew up with that today seem to so many well out dated. But I'm finding that more and more younger people are placing considerable value on many older technologies. And I'm seeing this especially in the arts.

I have a few friends who teach at the various art schools here in the City. The age of the students range from 8 to 22 years old. I hear stories of how many of the students demonstrate a great enthusiasm for the learning and practice of a "process." Sometimes it's painting and drawing or working with clay or glass or metal. And sometimes it's wet photography.

Recently, a group of university students here in San Francisco fought to preserve the introductory course in black and white photography that was about to be scrapped by the administration in favor of a completely digital program. The students wanted more time in the darkroom. They expressed the desire to more deeply explore a specific creative process.

That's what photography is: a unique creative process. Traditional wet photography and digital photography are two completely different animals. The end result or "product" of these two processes may be very similar or almost identical, but the processes themselves are extremely different.

These two processes rely on two vastly different technologies. Both are valid means with which to create images. Both processes require the mastery of certain fundamentals and a dedicated creative effort to be successful. But they are different. They are valued processes and there are many people eager to master the craft and practice the art of both. And that's what it's about, the practice. It doesn't matter if it's old or new technology. It's about the practice of a process. It's through the practice that one learns and grows. That's something people will always crave: the need to learn and grow. There will always be the need to practice. That's art.

Photo: ©2008 Anna L. Conti

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Topic David, i'm in full agreement. I get asked alot about my technique from beginners on flickr. I always tell them that shooting film and working in the darkroom is important. Certain things cannot be understood unless one has this experience. Still there are artists that are rewriting the book exclusively in digital, and of course that's OK. Still, i believe to get the full sensibility you have to experience film and printing. Glad to here there are alot of young people that are into it.