15 June 2007

Influence, and Andy Goldsworthy

It seems my comments over on Paul Butzi's blog about a photo I posted here recently triggered a whole discussion about influence between photographers. His post is quite fascinating and worth reading. I do agree that tracing the influence between artists (or writers, philosophers, historians, etc., for that matter) is a tentative science at best. But speculating about possible influence seems like a harmless diversion, unless it is motivated by jealousy or selfishness, which my speculations weren't (despite what the first couple of commenters on his post apparently thought). Anyone who teaches photography, as both Paul and I do, can't possibly have a desire to see others not succeed at it. We are more likely to be pleased when we see our own work influencing others in a good way. I might have been wrong about my speculation that my work could have influenced Paul. I think I was just giddy with delight at the thought of the possibility of it, since I've admired Paul as a better photographer than I for some time. So to hear him (or read him) say he thought my broom photo was better than his, which he said in his aforementioned post on Influence, was very encouraging indeed.

And now for something completely different: a photo in which I was definitely influenced by the same artist who very likely influenced the person who did the artwork in my photo. I came upon this on the ground between my cottage and the neighbors' at Hunterston Farm on Galiano Island. Someone must have done this. Shells don't just end up in a perfect curve on the ground by coincidence. But the artist was nowhere to be found and didn't leave a signature. However the piece reminded me so much of works by Andy Goldsworthy, and there are certain connections between folks on the farm and Andy Goldsworthy (Loren Wilkinson is a big fan of his, and Loren influences just about everyone who comes to the farm), so I am quite certain the artist was influenced by him. And I was influenced by Goldsworthy in wanting to capture this ephemeral work of art in a photograph.

Andy Goldsworthy is a British artist residing in Scotland, who does his work all over the world. He is an environmental sculptor, which means he makes his art with elements from nature, and the process of doing his art includes the inevitable decay or destruction of his works by the forces of nature: ice sculptures melting; chains of leaves in rivers being washed away by the water, etc. Watching how the elements dismantle his painstakingly created sculptures is part of how he learns about the world around him (cf. Paul Butzi on art as a verb). Goldsworthy captures all his work in photographs, because of course the works themselves (with the exception of a few installation pieces like Storm King Wall, an enormous snaking stone wall in the woods of New York State) are all ephemeral.

I first became aware of Andy Goldsworthy through the documentary film about him, "Rivers and Tides". It's absolutely mesmerizing. A couple of clips from the movie can be seen here and here.

Another video clip:
Nature and Nature: Andy Goldsworthy

Some static examples of his work can be seen here, here, here, here, here, and here (this latter is Google Images Search).

Some articles about his work:
Andy Goldsworthy: The Beauty of Creation, 35 Who Made a Difference: Andy Goldsworthy (Smithsonian Magazine), Q & A with Andy Goldsworthy (TIME), Natural Talent (The Observer)

Can you tell I like this artist?! :-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We gave a lot of attention to Goldsworthy in my recent aesthetics class ... and some of my students have plans to make "goldsworthies" this summer ... I must ask them for photographs.


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