2017 Week 27: Creating Art From The Ordinary

2017 Still Life: Shining LampUnusual Light
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I once heard an interesting concept about food and cooking: Truly great chefs are not those who create unique fine-dining cuisines with expensive and rare ingredients that are only accessible by the rich. Instead, the really great chefs are those who can make normal everyday dishes taste fantastic and rise above its peers. The reason is because it is easy to make something unique look and taste good. But making the ordinary taste amazing? – That’s the true mark of a superior craftsman. In other words, that chef in his fancy restaurant whipping up hundred-dollar fine-dinging dishes is an inferior cook to that guy in a corner store making fantastic burgers that can draw long queues of waiting, salivating customers day-after-day.

Indeed, the same idea might apply to the art of photography. Anyone can make an interesting subject, well, look interesting. 😉 But making the ordinary look interesting? Now that’s the real challenge!

Stop Sign Close-UpThe Stop Sign
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I have mentioned in an earlier post that art is subjective – but only to a limited extent. Trying to qualify depictions of the ordinary and mundane as works of art could be just a step away from artistic fraud. I firmly disagree that the merit of all works of art is subjective. We the human race possess enough intelligence and clarity of judgement to bring people to the stars. We full well have the ability and right to discern when something is simply different and unfamiliar, or if it is genuinely bad. It is not so different from discerning whether a plate of foreign cuisine on a table is just unfamiliar or it is actually rotten and a health hazard. So too with judging art. Good art deserve to be called good art, and bad art deserve to be called rubbish. A worm-infested rotten apple is a worm-infested rotten apple no matter how you look at it. A bad piece of art is a bad piece of art no matter how you try to dream up imaginary abstractions for it.

Red Chili In White TrayRed Chilli In White Tray
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Therefore this essay could be self-contradictory. To some, these images may appear totally mundane and uninteresting. But to me and hopefully others, there is something unique contained within these images. I considered discarding them, but they somehow evoke a feeling of emotion and thought which stayed my hand. Perhaps I have momentarily wandered onto a similar path taken by William Eggleston with this small selection.

I’m not the type to dwell too much on philosophy or abstractions. Simply because I think that is a waste of my time and effort. Perhaps this is all a fun exercise in artistic creativity from the mundane and ordinary. At the end of the day, I just qualify this small gallery of images by saying that I don’t regret that I did not discard them.

Singapore 2017: City Bridge Among Urban Greenery 2Urban Greenery
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