I've had it with our old folder system! . . . and I'm sure you haven't enjoyed it either. So, I created two new folders that need no introduction but maybe some definition: "Abstract" and "Surreal". These are the two categories upon which our group is founded. The old system was based on months and had little to no purpose except to browse newer vs. older images but that ought not matter in a group like this. I'm sure you'll agree this is the better idea. If you find these folders to be too broad, please let me know and I will break them down into more defined categories, i.e. "nonrepresentational", "tight crop" and "motion blur" instead of "abstract". Your suggestions are welcome and will be considered.
Now, to define these categories. I believe this to be necessary because I've noticed many people classifying their work as "surreal" when it is abstract or vice versa. In the simplest terms, abstract is a distortion of visual reality while surrealism is a distortion of physical reality. To blur the view of a tree is abstract, to float the tree in mid air is surreal.
Abstract's subjects are the elements of art (line, shape, value, color, texture, space) in arrangements that utilize the principles of art (contrast, movement, rhythm, balance, pattern, unity) to create meaning that often words cannot describe adequately. To achieve these means in photography, which is inherently dependent on the real world for subject matter, we alter that real world by cropping, moving, blurring, distorting, etc. that subject matter. Research these art movements: nonrepresentational, cubism, American abstract expressionism. Key abstract photographers are Mann Ray and Aaron Siskind.
Surrealism is harder to describe in detail but the movement originated with the intention of visualizing the subconscious mind. Naturally, this too is difficult for a medium dependent on the real world for subject matter, especially with the limits this group places on photo-manipulation, but it is not impossible. I've noticed more submissions labeled as "surreal" that ought be abstract than the other way around. Just because you get a feeling you describe as surreal when looking at an image does not mean you are looking at a surrealist image. If you were to depict that surreal feeling in a new work, expressing it with actors and set designs that are not readily found in the common world, then you would be creating a surrealist image. Though they may be "surreal", images that capture an unedited scene, such as photojournalism, are inherently not surrealIST. Obviously, research surrealism but also look into Dada because it heavily influenced surrealism. Key surrealist photographers are, again, Mann Ray as well as Jerry Uelsmann and Philippe Halsmann.
I realize in today's inclusive culture of art that discourages strict classifications that I've probably written something with which you disagree. PLEASE, tell me what you think. Art is founded on opinion, and I dare say art IS opinion. Much of what I've stated here are my opinions which I've developed through research and academic study, an art in itself that is never finished. I welcome an open conversation on these definitions.
In the mean time, please utilize the new folders for your submissions and please consider carefully which folder to select for your work. As admin, I am still going to review the submissions. If I find a surrealist photograph is submitted for the "abstract" folder, I will notify the artist to refile under the surrealist folder and so goes for the opposite case. If the photograph is neither abstract nor surrealist, I will reject is as it does not belong in this group.
One side advantage of this new system is that you are now allowed to submit two images at a time, one in "abstract" and one in "surrealist", instead of waiting a week to submit a new image. I may or may not find the time to sort out the past monthly folders into these two new ones but I will move a few that express the differences I've exressed in my definitions above.
PHOTO ON, fellow photogs!!