Conceptual Artists

As I was sitting in my History of Photography class the other day my professor brought up the topic of artists who use the camera but do not consider themselves to be photographers; rather they are grouped into the category of conceptual artists. What exactly is a conceptual artist you say? Essentially it is an artist that uses one or many different mediums to get an idea across rather than focus on the technique of their aesthetic or material concerns. Examples of conceptual artists include the Dada movement, Cindy Sherman, Matthew Barney, Barbra Kruger and my favorite conceptual artist of all time, Marcel Duchamp. 

Marcel Duchamp, Sixteen Miles of String, 1942
(part of his installation for the First Papers of Surrealsim exhibition in NY)

Marcel Duchamp fascinates me so much because he completely underminded the way we thought of art and literally flipped it on it's head when he put an upside down men's urnial in the gallery and called it a 'ready-made' sculpture. The galleries were appaled, critiques disgusted and artists intrigued. What is art? Does something have to be made with skill to be art? Does it have to depict beauty in some way or another? Can art be a milk crate if put into the gallery and looked at from an architectural point of view? Can art be two clocks ticking in unison together and over time falling out of unison, representing a human relationship? Can art be paint poured straight onto a canvas if it elicits an emotion? Can art be other peoples photographs cut and collaged to make a new image? Can art be the way that we dress ourselves? Can it be as simple as the way that we move?

Eadweard Muybridge sequence series
I am probably most interested in the conceptual artists more than any other group of artists because if I had to categorize myself it would be that of the conceptual group. Although I generally use photography and clothing as my mediums of expression I also enjoy to perform in a model-like capacity, collage and write. Whatever medium I use it is all based around a certain idea or theme within my work and it is the idea and process that is really more important than the technical correct-ness of the final result. That is why I find the blog to be most efficient way to express myself because it is a way to collect my writings, inspiration, photography, outfits and various other art projects. 

I am kind of wrapped up with the Art Nouveau philosophy of making your life into a work of art. The way you dress, the design of your room, the lamp next to your bed, the way you write; all of these have the potential to be a medium of artistic and creative expression that can represent something larger than itself. This blog is a collection of the many different things that make up me but are also larger than just me; they are the bits and pieces of other worlds that get mixed together into the alchemy of my own little world. To me that is astounding and could be considered the most democratized form of art obtainable in our day to day life. There is no institution involved, no monetary value, no consumerism or commercialism mixed into it;just a pure expression of the self with no concern to anyone but the artist. For me making my life into a work of art is in the way that I dress, the photos that I take and the things that I write. For others it could be different and that should be explored through every facet possible. I think it is so silly when I hear people say that someone can not be a photographer and a painter, you have to be one or the other. We shouldn't limit ourselves that way and conceptual art has opened the doors to make that a realistic possibility. 

A recent self portrait I created.