[VIEWPOINT]Art as expressed from the middle

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[VIEWPOINT]Art as expressed from the middle

A print can either be a woodcut print or a photograph. Prints come in various forms. Whether they are printed from slide films or negative films, color prints are not permanent.

Color prints, comprising organic colors, lose their colors with time. Colors of negative prints fade especially fast. Digital prints, the latest technology, which has made printing much more simple, are not an exception in that their colors fade easily. Properly processed black-and-white gelatin silver prints, in contrast, have proved to be permanent.

They say the negative films or slides of an artist who makes prints are like a music score. Like a sheet of music that generates different interpretations from musician to musician, these negatives can produce prints that induce different impressions. Therefore, the prints made by artists themselves better express their interpretation than those that are printed by technicians.

If recordings of Mozart's performances of his works existed, musicians would not have much room to interpret his compositions. Fortunately -- at least for most composers -- such recordings do not exist, which allows one pianist to feel perkiness performing a Mozart that may later be interpreted as somber music with blue shades by another artist.

There is no right or wrong in that. There exists only the choice between a favorite interpretation and one that is not liked very much. Different interpretations sound good, but they can work as a booby trap.

A photographer adjusts the exposure when taking pictures, considering the tone that he wants for his work. He can also manipulate the camera, developing chemicals or print paper in a variety of ways to achieve the "tone of photograph" he wants to produce. The job actually is almost sorcery.

From the same negative film different photographs are produced according to the way you manipulate the process. You make a machine do that for you, but what you feel is reflected exactly in the print.

In photographs, especially when it comes to black-and-white ones, half tones make a good-looking picture with detailed representation.

In music, clear and ample middle tones make the entire score sound great. But excessive middle tones or sounds in a photograph or a song result in a flat quality. That is why photographers sometimes use print papers that accentuate the contrast of black and white, or eliminate some peripheral part of the picture by darkening it, or enliven some other part by highlighting it. Ordinary black-and-white film or print paper reacts sensitively to the depth of color. Therefore, the print reproduces various colors in black and white with different shades. There also is a kind of black-and-white print paper that does not produce a gray color. The film produces images in either sheer black or white.

Most quality speakers reproduce mid-range tones very well, but not extremely high or low pitches. Audiophiles thus sometimes add super tweeters or sub woofers, which promise to reproduce sounds that are not audible to the human ear.

When super tweeters and sub woofers are joined with speakers that produce solid and quality mid range sound without crossover, the sound is well extended and sweet to the ear. But if the mid range sounds are week and feeble, two accentuated extreme pitches will make the song nothing but noise.

With music or a photograph, strength in the middle brings quality. The same is true for the world, where the best situation has a lot of middle-class people. But in reality, everything seems to be in the extreme.

Many recent works of art go to the extreme, overlapping with those in the same category. Crossovers with the same attributes can be a smooth expansion. But in other cases, the situation can easily end up as an extreme and dissonant.

Is this because modern artists interpret the world with profound philosophies? Or, is it because they are just like those print papers that can produce only white or black, not gray?


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The writer is a photographer.

by Kang Un-gu

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