"No new photographs until the old ones have been used up!"
Yes. A longtime favorite motto of mine to ignore. It's no news that our modern interneted world is over-saturated with visual information... (but I'm not sure there's anything we can do about it. I've heard speculation about the feasibility of putting advertising on huge satellites, the face of the moon, etc. Does anybody actually think that's a good idea?)
"The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, "See, this is new"? It has been already in the ages before us."
This is a problem for the artist, especially the Christian artist who knows that the creative impulse is reflection of God's own character, yet is also concerned with communicating Truth. Truth is not new, truth cannot be created. It's timeless and outside of our control, we cannot do anything about it but align ourselves to it. Nothing creative about Truth. Is this why Christian art is, as a rule, completely terrible?
One of my "Notebooks of Brilliance" from several years back:
"I write and write, then stop writing. Derivative! Derivative! There is nothing new under the sun, but is there, even more so, nothing new under the Son? Isn't there one unique Christian thought for me to think?"
I have a tendency to feel unconcerned with the "gospel message." It is, of course, of the utmost importance, and cannot be ignored. A good deal of the Bible is devoted toward it, and it is real and true and difficult and wonderful. But... aren't there enough great minds living and dead that have dedicated every brain cell to understanding and communicating it? Am I wrong to focus my efforts on other aspects of God's creation? Isn't there more to God than his relationship with us? Aren't we a little self-centered if, having realized the truth of the gospel as it related to our salvation, and entering into a real relationship with God, the God (just think about that, what that really means!) we are never moved to praise Him for anything but that He loves us and has saved us from our unworthiness and corruption?
If Christian artists could move themselves to praise God for all of His attributes, for all of His being (even if we can only see the most minute tip of His infinite iceberg), perhaps we would make truly good art. Perhaps we could again Create. But we are stuck on painting diluted crucifixes (would we hang a realistic scene of Christ on the cross in our church foyer?) and singing about God's love for us in the most romantic and shallow ways. He is greater than that. Have we loved the gift more than the Giver? I want to enjoy God because He Is, not only because He has assured my salvation, not only because He patiently works in me toward perfection for His glory.
Well! That's not what I meant to write about, but it is something that's been mixing in my brain for a while, so maybe putting it into words will help me sort it out. Here's what I wanted to write about: I took a photo at Luxembourg Palace while in Paris last summer. Here it is:
It's not an uncommon scene there in the gardens. It seems you visit Luxembourg to do one of two things: Doze in the the sun with Le Monde or jog along the tree-shaded paths with a dog. It's not an unusual sight then, the man in my photo, but I like it pretty well, especially in the context of my project, which was focusing on the relationship between sight-seeing, the act of photographing, and living-in-the-moment.
And then this crazy dude (I don't know him and he's probably not really crazy) Craig Cutler comes along and also finds somebody relaxing in a chair at the palace is interesting. So he takes this photo:
These are two very different photographs. The moods are different, the compositions are different, Craig includes one of the many statues of French royal women found there, mine's better, etc.. Yet there is enough overlap to be frustrating. At their very core, the subject matter is identical. As single images, they are practically redundant. (A search for images of the gardens will result in a lot of similar photos.) These images only have value within the context of whatever series of photographs they are a part of. Still, that's not very much value compared to the amount of time and energy we have devoted to taking these photos. Isn't one enough? Anyone other than the photographer would be pleased with pretty much whichever well-made photograph of the subject they could get their hands on, because for anyone but the photographer, the main purpose of a photograph is to describe something otherwise inaccessible.