2.24.10 "Art or Industry?"

Perhaps Charles Baudelaire would approve of this image, a 1961 print by Jerry
Uelsmann titled "Symbolic Mutation." With the increasing popularity of photography with the advent of the daguerrotype in the mid 1800's, Baudelaire made his complaints known; he saw photography as a "product of industry," an "impression of reality" that lacked the imagination of painting and only reflected the natural world. Simply put, he feared the death of art and blamed photography for what he saw as the demise of the art world. He saw photography only as a tool to be used in science, claiming that, "If photography is allowed to supplement art in some of its functions, it will soon have supplanted or corrupted it altogether....its true duty..is to be the servant of the sciences and arts." He later stated that, "if [photography] is allowed to encroach upon the domain of the... imaginary, upon anything whose value depends solely upon the addition of something of a man's soul, then it will be so much the worse for us."

I say that Baudelaire might approve of Uelsmann's image because he might not. A microscopic image of a snowflake would be a safer choice, but maybe Baudelaire could see this photo as a medium of creativity. It exhibits a non-realistic approach and is rich in symbolism, suggesting emotions and corresponding actions. Then again, who knows? Only Baudelaire.

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