so is it art and do I care?*

Yesterday morning, as I was drinking my second coffee and checking my email, all relaxed by the public holiday in the middle of the week, I noticed a new commenter. Hmm interesting, I thought. I opened the blog, because I like to read my comments in context, and there it was, the first deliberately unkind comment I've received here.  At the end of the post I wrote about our friend Steve. So I shot off an email;  Yomamma. I'm curious. Why would you go out of your way to comment that someone's photos are crap? Especially on a post where they're writing about a friend dying, and especially after you would have read that another friend just died. It seems like a cruel context in which to make such a comment. To be honest I don't care what you think of my photos. But really, I'm curious why you would write something like that. Please enlighten me. Of course I haven't had a reply (and I realise that there would be nothing to stop a troll using someone elses site name in the comments box) but nonetheless, I am curious.

As I scrolled though the last five posts, I realised that maybe these aren't the best lot of photos I've taken, but I'm more than OK with that. It's a blog, which being diary like in nature, repsonds to life and time and is therefore kind of fleeting and imperfect by it's very nature. Not a coffee table book where every word and image has been laboured over endlessly. Then I started to think about something I read recently about some photos being art and some being just pretty pictures and that if you're churning out the latter, you really shouldn't be representing yourself as an artist. That might be true I suppose, but where do we draw the line? And who gets to draw it? It's very easy when when faced with a great and recognised artwork to say, oh yes that's art. But what about the works the artist made on the way to the great artwork? What about art that is yet to be recognised as great? Is it art if the artist is prolific? And what about art that I don't like, is it art if it's the work of someone reconised as an artist but not if it's from someone unknown? Is blogging an art? Do I really care? I know on some level I do, but I'm a lot less hurt by the comment than I would have expected. It appears that the act of the blogging has made me reform the thick skin I grew in the hurly burly of writing workshops more than a decade ago.That's a good thing.

I love taking photos. Anyone who reads this blog would know that, but what I've come to realise is that I'm a lot more attached to the process of making the picture than I am to the finished result. I like some of the finished results, but once they're done, I just want to go out and take more photos. There's something I really enjoy about looking for the picture. Finding something new to see. Reframing my world. The pictures in this post were taken on the hill around Hobart airport, waiting for a delayed plane. Shan said that the light was all wrong but I dragged him up the hill, saying there's always something. In the end, he thought the tree was the photo and went and collected rubbish and discussed framing and other technical matters. But I liked the ones of the hill without the tree better in the end. He's strictly a film type photographer, but I love the immediacy of digital. And that once you have the camera, it's cheap. But no matter what the process, hanging out with and taking pictures together, that was great. It really was. And I like these pictures, even if I look at them and see some ISO and manual camera issues. Because apart from any minor quibble about technical learning issues, they remind me of the weekend just gone in a sweeter and more sorrowful way than words alone.

If I'm ranting, I guess I'm still in angry mode, not from the comment so much, but from life and loss. It seems to be that every time something sad happens, I travel down that road again; re-visiting old griefs and being mad at myself for feeling like that. It didn't help that work today was extra, extra busy, two days worth of customers and I was keeping all that anger locked inside of me in a tight little ball. Being pleasant and helpful. I suppose that's why people make comments like that, because they have anger inside that has festered. Funnily though, it kind of makes me feel as though I've come of age as a blogger. The trolls are visiting. Pfft.

Anyway, there's two really nice things to look forward to on the weekend. Like really nice, involving fellow bloggers, who I imagine will be really lovely. Actually, I know they will be really lovely. And there will be relaxation and craft. I can't wait. Just one more day at work.

* Yes and Yes/No. If that makes sense.

Updated to add, I've deleted the nasty comment. Meant to before, but have just got around to it. I think the gist of what was said is contained in my response. Which is enough to hold onto.


h&b said...

I got my first one recently too - but they preferred the 'anon' approach, with no fwd'ing email.
I thought it was really odd, as it seemed they were a reader .. but their first outing on a blog they read was to 'have a go', and I thought 'so why are you here then, if I so upset you ?'
Sometimes I 'try out' new blogs.. but.. if they don't appeal, I retreat.
Why would I take time to say something nasty, when after all, it's just individuals talking about their individual lives, loves and whatnots.
You don't like, you move on.
( P.S. - looking forward to tomorrow night ! :)

shula said...

My nasty commenters always leave fake addresses. I don't bother trying to respond anymore.
But congratulations on the coming of age anyway. It's a blooding thing, I guess.
I remember being quite shocked and hurt, though. Like someone taking a dump in your letterbox, or coining your car. Why do they do it? In intention, it's an act of violence.

shula said...

ps. your photos rock. You know that.

Asiya said...

I don't get it, so unnecessary and annoying because you can't help thinking about it. I agree that it's an act of violence.

Lazy Cow said...

I was planning to ask you for tips on your photography taking tonight. Your photos are amazing, and a lot of them I would hang on my wall as art.
Why are people so cruel? I had someone make a derogatory comment about me in the combox of another blog. It hurt for weeks.

Frogdancer said...

Well, if they think your photos suck, I'd hate to read their comments if they ever hopped on my blog and looked at mine....
Some people have no manners.

em said...

i had a troll come by and make an incredibly cruel and hurtful comment about willow with regards to her disability... it was an anon comment (typical).
i think some people like causing a stir by throwing around a few hateful words. pointless waste of energy if you ask me.
ps i love your photos :)

Kris said...

Yeah, I love your photos too, Janet. Art, schmart, just make it look good.

Victoria said...

Far out, I love your photos SO MUCH, and your photos particularly, that I try very hard to restrain myself from mentioning the fact too often because I could quite easily come off as a stalker of your pictures. Hurtful comments, just so strange. But it does mean you've become a bigtime blogger!

daisies said...

i always enjoy your photography and your words and your blog. sorry to hear about the troll, they seem to always hit at the worst times when we are ill equipped to deal with them but like in life, they exist and we move on because it really doesn't matter in the end :)
much love in this difficult time ... i too found that fresh grief opened old wounds ... xox

blue milk said...

First of all, you're not pretentious with your photography, I never get the impression that you're trying to show off, trying to sell us something, commodifying your life.. so I don't know why anyone would be trying to take you down a step or two. Second of all your photography is integral to your story telling and the way you manage to incorporate it seamlessly into that makes it much much much more interesting that the studio photography I see on some photography blogs.
I think your photography is beautiful, clever,absorbing, and honest - that is art.

Carson said...

Hi there,
I just came by your blog via Clementineshoes and couldn't help but be drawn in by your recent stories.
The nasty comment: what gets me is the respond to your personal tragedy like that is just downright cruel.
I think they get off on it, and indeed probably my commenting on it here is just fanning their flames some more, but I just couldn't let it go by.
For the record, I've only just seen them, but I do like your photos.

Susan said...

I love your photos. Just reminding you.

leslie said...

i've been reading your blog for a little while now, just enjoying your honesty and images in silence without commenting. it's appalling to me that someone would take the time to kick you while you're already down and i just wanted to say that i, one out of many, find your blog touching, beautiful and real.

Living is detail said...

I've said it once and I'll say it again... your photography is beautiful, emotive, expressive, experimental...all the good e's and much more. Your storytelling is wonderful and although I usually lurk I wanted to jump out and say it all again.
Ignore that heartless, unhappy soul. I imagine they must be in a very bad way to attack you at such a time (or anytime). Thank you for sharing your beautiful blog.

Miss Eagle said...

I wouldn' even bother mentioning the negative comment and commenter. When you really think about, this sort of stuff along with our griefs and losses and sadnesses goes - with a right attitude - into the great compost heap of life. There things get mixed into some pretty good nutrients - especially if we go to the trouble of adding some really good manure. So what were the scraps and dross of life can come to some pretty good use in the end - but we only come to appreciate it in regeneration and renewal.
Blessings and bliss from The Trad Pad - and I think the photos on this post are cute and I like the question about what happens to all the stuff on the way to becoming good art.

Marjorie said...

That "comment" was from a bully. It's remarkable that a person could see your lovely photos and moving commentary and take the time to try to be cruel.
I "tagged" you for a meme, hoping that you still enjoy them as much as you've mentioned in the past. It was also an excuse for me to come and tell you just how much I enjoy your blog, although I am not a frequent (if ever?) commenter. Take care, and my condolences on your recent losses.

Penni said...

Oh what an insidious worm, what a cruel heart. I can't imagine just going out there spreading virulence. I sit and angst and worry over even nice things I write if I think they might be read with a double meaning. I doubt it was your post or your photos that incited them to do it, I imagine it was a bitter resentment of the outpouring of warmth. Because you are genuine online and people genuinely like you.