the point of describing an art

Each medium has its special qualities and uses. All types of medium, be they visual or oral, written or acted, and all different languages within a medium, can complement each other. Taken together they make a fuller understanding possible.


No perception is raw. All media interpret the raw material, which they represent in their own way. Think about that.

Does a photograph, which is a very accurate representation of what it saw through the lens of a camera, tell the whole story? Never, the image was selected, framed and composed. In the act of photographing an object, it was separated from its context and so transformed from raw data into something with a purpose. Even a photograph has been looked for and as such overlaid with intentions. The story it tells is limited in time and size.

A drawing selects even more and even translates the image from textures and surfaces and the play of light and dark and colour into that of pencil lead. Words provide the most abstract dimensions of that understanding because they give the ability to compare forms and movements to explain functions and to dress events.


Descriptions with words or drawn lines, photographs, film, or computer generated images all infuse an object with a special value specific to the medium. They do this by selecting and emphasising particular aspects of an object or phenomenon and leaving others out altogether. They re-create the object described in their own medium.


Describing objects or events is a way of recreating (re-creating!) an object in the way you understand it, to what you find special or useful about it. Drawing an object with your own hands, or describing it in your own words makes you re-create that object in terms of your own purpose within the confines of your ability to see.


Why is a picture of a building not enough? A picture is not enough because a picture cannot explain significance by itself. It is too rich in possibilities for that. Pictures need to be supplemented and given direction by an explanation. Words can help bring into focus the important points in that picture. If you do not help your reader to bring his attention to what is significant in a picture, the significance of that picture will be lost.