Yes I think I can understand your perspective. I started out as a big fan of Impressionism, and I wanted to be an impressionist painter. I had certain ideas I wanted to communicate but needed to acquire the technical skills to be able to do it.
But in learning to draw and paint, and wanting to improve, I necessarily ended up admiring technical skill in and of itself. I think it’s a very difficult philosophy to grapple with however. On the one side, I want to improve as an artist, and I don’t like the shoddiness of some of my efforts. On the other hand, is my only goal to become some human version of a camera?
I think artistic skills give you the freedom to express yourself. But on the other hand, trying to be excessively realistic can stifle artistic freedom – or it feels like it for a lot of people – as if you have to live up to an impossible standard – unless you really have the right skill set to pull it off.
I also agree that first and foremost an art work should convey emotion or move you in some way. There are very realistic paintings which do this and there are others that don’t. However, I have to say that even if a very realistic artwork shows no sign of real imagination or compositional awareness, I still have to grant it some respect based solely on technical considerations.
I think this is a peculiarity of art, that there are really two things on offer at the same time: technical excellence and emotional effect. Conversely with something like literature or music I can’t imagine myself ever admiring a work for being technically good but compositionally meaningless. I’ve never finished a bad book or a listened to a tedious piece of music and thought ‘well, emotional impact aside, I can’t believe that a human being actually did that?’
In regards to a thread on hyperrealism vs photo-realism vs representationalism: I’m not sure I would have the savoir-faire to do it. However I am about to do another post that I think really gets to the heart of the matter. It concerns the difference between small artworks and large artworks.
I will go into this in more detail soon, but basically, 97% of the artwork that you see where you think ‘oh my God, that looks like a photo’ is actually of paintings so large, that when they are shrunk to the size of a thumbnail, they look very realistic.
In fact only about 2-3% of artworks that have the ‘it looks like a photo’ wow factor, are truly of that kind. They are small works with incredibly high resolutions. In reality there are only a handful of artists in the world who operate in this fashion.