As sculpture is to photography

A friend was telling me today that she had seen a well meaning but somewhat mismatched attempt to compare two artists — an exhibit of sculptures of Michelangelo together with photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe. While the photographs were breathtaking, they were bound by the literal nature of photography.

Where photography can only show us the reality of the human condition, sculpture can show us the ideas in our own heads. The space of expression in a constructive medium is vastly larger than can be achieved by a recording medium.

Which leads me to the question of animation. The history of animation has been rather odd, in that this medium of practically limitless expression has for most of its history been relegated to children’s genres. Some of this characterization was due to the enormous success and entrepreneurial abilities of Walt Disney, and some was just the result of historical accident.

The recent experiments of such high powered directors as Robert Zemeckis, Peter Jackson and now James Cameron in combining live action with computer graphics has changed the equation. Suddenly audiences are starting to see the connection between the virtual and the real. And the infinite possibilities of constructed reality, as opposed to captured reality, are beginning to attract wider consideration.

I am looking forward to a day when our most highly talented film actors, such as Meryl Streep or Tom Wilkinson, are regularly appearing in constructed realities, and given a chance to lend their vast talents to these emerging media.

At that point, synthetic worlds on screen may come to bear the same relation to old fashioned movies as, say, sculpture bears to photography.

2 Responses to “As sculpture is to photography”

  1. Alec says:

    Then they are photographers like david lachapelle. His photographs are so hyperreal that they are more like the sculptures you talk about than the photographs.

    And maybe there is also a parallel to animation. Where say a movie by David Lynch with little special effects might still feel more like something sculpted by hands rather than captured with a machine. Whereas a canned computer animation of a building exploding in fire might as well have been the same footage as a real explosion.

  2. admin says:

    Very good point Alec. There is a continuum between the constructed and the captured.

    Even in novels.

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