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Science of his project

Posted by Bob on August 09, 2003

In Reply to: Science of his project posted by ESC on August 09, 2003

: : Hi,
: : Being a learner of English as a foreign language, I am always grateful to you guys for your discussions here.
: : This morning, I was reading a short writing about works of Andreas Gursky, a German photographer, and came upon the phrase SCIENCE OF HIS PROJECT. If it was a science talk, I might have understand the meaning easily. But it was a talk about art, and I couldn't quite grasp the exact meaning the writer was trying to convey.

: : Please read the paragraph below (Sorry, it's a little long.) and tell me what the wtiter was trying to say when he said "the science of his project."
: : Many thanks to you all.

: : The para goes:
: : Despite the traditions he invokes both formally and conceptually, Gursky has no pretense to objectivity. He digitally manipulates his images-combining discrete views of the same subject, deleting extraneous details, enhancing colors-to create a kind of "assisted realism." The traders on the floor of the Singapore stock exchange, in Gursky's version, all wear the same shade of red, yellow, or blue jacket. And his epic view of the Stockholm public library, a perfect hemisphere of color-coded books, omits the actual floor, which, in reality, includes an escalator that would have marred the symmetrical beauty of the image. According to art historian Norman Bryson, the critical paradox of Gursky's photography lies in its dual commitment to objectively observing the social strata at work in the world and to aestheticizing empirical reality, an impulse that almost sabotages the science of his project. In this dialectic, the artist provocatively undermines photography's claims for "truth," offering, instead, as Bryson suggests, an inquiry into the subjective dimensions of all representations of the social.

: I haven't had my coffee this morning but I'll give this a try. The "science of his project" or purpose was "objectively observing the social strata at work." But his artist's eye required him to manipulate the images. I think "science" here is little science (a system or method) rather than big Science.

: 4. a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws (Merriam-Webster)

Reality has no place in art. Every artist manipulates what is real. Photography, which can seem realistic, is always a manipulation. (You do have to frame the picture, to choose what is in or out, to begin with.) When Gursky attempts to portray Objective Reality (whatever the viewer may think that is), he (provocatively or playfully or compulsively) exercises his aesthetic standards and erases the escalator in the library. The erasure is clearly part of the Art; the attempt to be an Objective Observer is a mind-set we associate with the ideals of scientific inquiry. No prejudging. No bias. Just record the data. This aspect of Gursky's outlook, or posture, we can label Science, using a fairly informal definition of the term. Note that the author says that this conflict between Art and Science, between manipulation and objectivity, "almost" sabotages the science of the work. It's "almost" because the Art does not defeat the observation; it enhances it.