Friday, December 11, 2009

Niagara photography - Art (and anything else) though perception

I wanted to write about art, the perception of art, and how perception creates value.

In summary, art is, because you ‘think’ it is.

Seth Godin has written “We believe what we want to believe, and once we believe something, it becomes a self-fulfilling truth.”

Still confused about where I am going? Did you ever hear that story about a shop owner who had some trinkets to sell, but they weren’t selling at all? Before he left for a short while, he told one of his employees to mark down the price by half. The employee misheard him and instead doubled the price. When the shop owner returned, all of the trinkets had been sold.

An interesting article appeared in the Washington Post quite a while ago (April 8, 2007, actually.) It mainly revolved around a sort of social experiment. To summarize that article –

“On a cold January morning in a Washington, DC Metro Station, a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time about two thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

[...]In the end, only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money, but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32. When he finished playing, no one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

The violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell had sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.”

Here’s another example from the same article about the same issue of perception of art forms. Says the senior curator of art at the US National Gallery – “Let’s say I took one of our more abstract masterpieces, say an Ellsworth Kelly, and removed it from its frame, marched it down the 52 steps that people walk up to get to the National Gallery, past the giant columns, and brought it into a restaurant. It’s a $5 million painting. And it’s one of those restaurants where there are pieces of original art for sale, by some industrious kids from the Corcoran School, and I hang that Kelly on the wall with a price tag of $150. No one is going to notice it. An art curator might look up and say: ‘Hey, that looks a little like an Ellsworth Kelly. Please pass the salt.’”

Our perception influences our judgment not just in regards to ‘normal’ art forms. A while ago a bombshell dropped in the wine world when taste maker (and vineyard maker or breaker) Robert Parker blind tasted a group of wines he had previously ranked and said the lowest ranked wine was his favorite (before finding out what it was).

What have you perceived today? Isn’t perception great? Is it really?

My photos are worthless.

My photos are priceless.

The above might be a bit jumbled. Feel free to weight in.

If you would like to read the full Washington Post article, you can do so here. Inspiration and information also borrowed from APhotoEditor

1 comment:

Darren Creighton said...

very interesting article, I agree with you about the price thing. Its crazy but true. seems like sometimes people don't have enough of an opinion of their own as to how much art is worth. they need to be told! Too funny.
great blog and photography