Concepts of Beauty by Jeannine Cook

It is interesting to follow the often passionate debate in the art world about beauty. Some people almost seem to reject the notion that beauty might be part of the artistic dialogue, while others feel that some form of beauty is an integral part of artistic creation. Even the definition of beauty is fluid, according to different eras and personal concept.

Whilst the art world is seemingly unsure about any hard and fast rules on concepts of beauty, the photographic world and its related media are much more straightforward on the issue. Beautiful photographs, on a myriad subjects, abound and are enthusiastically recognised as such. Perhaps the camera's eye, focusing on something that exists in the world around us, is sufficiently analytical that it allows us, the viewers, to enjoy the image without feeling quite the need for the aesthetic analysis expected of us when viewing a painting or drawing. Whatever the difference, we are all aware that today's photographers are documenting earth's extraordinary beauties in ever more detailed and dramatic fashion. Whether it is animal, bird or plant photography - on a macro or microscopic scale, in colour or black and white - we can sense the power and beauty of the image. Photographs showing glaciers tumbling into the sea, icebergs forming, marine life deep below the sea surface or innumerable other images documenting the world all resonate with us, and no one cavils at their being labelled beautiful.

Photographers can have just as many concepts and messages behind their images as any visual artist. Their profession is just as demanding as that of a painter, often far more so in terms of danger. The difference perhaps lies with us, the viewing public, in our acceptance of what is beautiful, in what form and done by whom. Today, people are more at home with digital images displayed everywhere. Ideally, we should become just as comfortable with forms of visual art being displayed ubiquitously. Perhaps then we can all relax about what is beautiful and just enjoy the enrichment these creations -digital, painted, drawn - bring to our lives.