Backcountry skiing, exploring the Root Glacier, with Stairway Icefall in the background. Springtime brings melt, opening a small pool of water on the glacier’s surface. Cross country skiing, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.
I think art involves exploration, the process of stepping into the unknown, and taking a journey of sorts. In this way, I think we might relate the idea of art to the idea of “icon photography” discussed earlier. Seeking out the new is a vital fragment of making art, in my opinion.
At some point, we delineate art from craft. Art, to me, involves a greater element of the unknown, while craft is more a process of refinement and control. One hones one’s craft, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case with art. Art might simply involve turning a new direction with each step (though maybe it doesn’t have to do so). We don’t have to refine anything.
On a trek through the mountains, I enjoy the exploration, the wander itself. Though I guide hikes in places I’m obviously familiar with, I make an effort to reserve at least a trip or 2 each season as an exploratory hike. This summer, for example, we’re heading to the Arrigetch Peaks in Gates of the Arctic National Park, a park I’ve visited once, my very first remote hike in Alaska (wow, what a great memory that is). Venturing into the unknown is an artful process; a game of chance. I don’t know what we’ll find on the trip, and that itself is motivation for the undertaking; to simply experience that gift of the hidden.
Jazz musicians understand this, every time they step to the mic to improvise a solo they do exactly this. That’s the beauty of jazz. That’s also the beauty of art. The other is artifact. Continue reading →