Friday, February 12, 2010

decisions, decisions

There were two events going on in town last night, or two that I heard about, and I debated all afternoon which to attend: A documentary presentation entitled "To Age or Not to Age?" at the Jane Pickens Theatre or a panel discussion entitled "Is Photography Art?" at the Redwood Library. Both struck me as compelling, if unanswerable, questions. Both are venues I love to visit. So, hmmmm. Which to choose?? A or B??

In the end, we (Mr. Betty and I) picked our way very carefully up the icy sidewalks from home to the Redwood, as a friend was moderating the photography panel, and we figured other friends might be there. And, to be honest, the sheer prospect of sociability seemed preferable to any/all contemplation of aging ...

It turned out to be a lively — lively is good! — quasi-philosophical discussion touching upon issues of "analog vs. digital" and "capture vs. creation" and "density of communication" and the inevitability (in this digital age) of "evaporative art" and even a few musings/accusations relating to artistic snobbery. It might have gone on all night ... but the library director stood up, at just the right moment, and concluded with a diplomatic remark likening the question of "What is Art?" to the question of "What is Pornography?" (as recently debated by the Supreme Court), one potential and oft-cited answer being: "I don't know, but I know it when I see it."

Then we wandered back outside and debated where to have dinner. I said to Mr. Betty and a friend who'd be joining us, "Hmmm, let's think." A woman (a stranger) ahead of us in the crowd muttered, "There's a concept." And I've been wondering ever since: Was she being funny, or had I somehow ruffled her feathers??

Just to be clear: I'm not suggesting for one second that a snapshot of two melting, misshapen snowballs on a hillside constitutes "art" or even "photography." Quite the contrary ... though I did like those snowballs.