Flickr’s Virtual Photography: Insulted Categorization

Today, we’re introducing a fourth category, virtual photography, because “screenshots” didn’t quite meet the needs of this creative and growing community.

Leticia Roncero – Community Manager at Flickr

Flickr believes screenshots are not photography

Personally, I am insulted by what Leticia Roncero wrote on the Flickr Blog in regards to the new category (Virtual Photography) that Flickr has set for people uploading images from virtual gaming and virtual worlds. The fact of the matter is in most virtual worlds the only way to produce virtual photography within a virtual environment is to “screenshot” the image. Also a digital camera is a peripheral computer input device. I am not understanding the distinction that Flickr has made between a virtual photograph and a screenshot, they are essentially the same.

As a virtual photographer who has supported Flickr through a Pro subscription in my first and second life off and on for the past 16 years. Let me first say I fell in love with photography outside of my virtual life. I own a digital camera and took several drawing, painting and photography classes in college so in which I consider myself to be a learned amateur artist/photographer. I take pictures of everything, and everyone in my first life and second and enjoy it immensely. However, let it be known that actually photography itself is not a favored child of the art world.

Is photography an art form?

I believe that collectively Flickr and Leticia Roncero are not aware that most critics in the art world do not consider photography to be a legitimate art form.

A camera is a technology, in the same way as a computer is a highly diverse and efficient technology. A photograph is an image captured by a camera. A screenshot is an image that is captured by a computer by way of a display monitor. Commonly both technologies produce images.

Most photographers use digital cameras which captures images and stores them on SD cards which are computer memory cards. Nowadays, film photography is a hobby not a profession anymore. All digital cameras are peripheral input devices for computers they are not stand-alone equipment. The majority of modern photography produces a “screenshot” of one sort or another.

As digital cameras and computer captures images. In a similar way, a painter produces an image using non-technology tools and supplies such as paint, brushes and canvas. However, it is not the tool(s) that determine whether a creative endeavor is art.

Artistic Value

We all know that in our modern culture, art has value. The value of an art is generally determined by a select group of individuals who support it and curate its economy. The artistic value of an art, is the value of an art as art. This value can be monetary, an emotional response, its capacity to be owned, its aesthetics, fame of the artist, sentimental value and such. One major stance to support that photography has no value because it basically captures reality and is just a facsimile of life, a bad carbon copy rather than creating a subjective reality.

Sir Roger Scruton: Representation is Art

Sir Roger Scruton was a philosopher who wrote much about how photography is not art because it does not represent anything in its form. The representation of a photography should communicate ideas originally, in a way. He believed that if photography cannot communicate ideas then it does not represent. Further if it cannot represent than it is not art. As an example, here is a an image of Van Gogh’s Lemons on a Plate.

Van Gogh: Lemons on a Plate

Comparatively, here is a photograph of plate with lemons.

Photo by Studio Naae Lemon on a Plate

The above photograph is basic to what we all would agree is a plate with lemons. A carbon copy of what we encounter in reality without form or function, the subject is lemons. The painting by Van Gogh of lemons we are not concerned that there are lemons like what we encounter in reality in fact his painting is representative of Van Gogh’s representation of lemons. We are impressed by the mood in the paint strokes the color choices, even the symmetry and the ideas it imparts. We search for meaning in the art style used the method and type of paint used. A painting is art because of the representation it communicates. Art captures creativity and imagination, photographs identify just the facts of the subject. Therefore, photography is actual. Art paintings are ideal.

Virtual Photography is ideal photography

Ideal photography is when the photograph itself is not the subject but the things that are photographed which communicate ideas through the image. I believe virtual photograph is ideal photography in that the are not based in reality and are idea-based representation of things. As Leticia Roncero says “screenshots didn’t quite meet the needs of this creative and growing community”. Photography are screenshots and their platform is a curator of collective screenshots. This statement completely supports Sir Roger Scruton and numerous art critic’s systemic belief that photography is not art.

Therefore, Flickr is growing community of non-artists (actual photographers) who are not as creative by common definition as she proclaims. Actual photographers cannot represent art. Actual photographers just provide windows (photographs) to life. However, virtual photography is created by ideal photographers and what they create and communicate with their screenshot techniques is art. It is not a window (actual photograph) in which to see real life. It is a technology that communicates ideas and represents artistic values in many ways. Essentially, virtual photography is digital art.

A virtual world is a creative and complex architecture

Virtual photography is based in staged scenes and character build digital illustrations that are complicated and unique, with much of it hand drawn textures. A virtual world is a creative build that is not natural nor does it occur by chance, but a construction of ideas and processes. A virtual scene is the intricate collage of many digital art forms.

Will Flickr make a separate category for AI Art?

It is interesting is that Flickr has yet to make a category for AI Art which is aggressively taking over digital art online. It only is characterized by a tag (artificialintelligence). However, I see many images categorized and tagged as Virtual Photography is actually AI art.


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