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Therefore, it is the focus of this essay to answer what extent is infrared photography an artistic endeavor? Specifically, to investigate the extent that photography is a central aspect of the artistic message or a gimmick used to enhance the photograph without artistic merit. Infrared photography emerged in the early 1900s as the Royal Photographic Society published the first infrared photographs in October 1910. The development of infrared film was actually done by the US government during World War I to improve haze penetration in aerial and night photography. Scientifically, infrared films capture the part of the spectrum that is beyond our visibility, called infrared light. The diagram shows the electromagnetic spectrum, infrared has a higher wavelength than visible light. The Electromagnetic Spectrum. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.antonine-education.co.uk/physics_gcse/Unit_1/Topic_5/em_spectrum.jpg The wavelength of infrared photography begins at 700 nanometers and ends at around 1000 nanometers, with visible light only between 390 to 740 nanometers of wavelength. This characteristic gives it the ability to capture images in the dark and create unique photographic effects and colors. Infrared photography really took off commercially in 1930, when the first infrared films were introduced and soon became very popular. Through time, infrared photograph established its irreplaceable place among the various styles of art photography and has continued its journey into the digital age. In investigating the research question, one of the greatest challenges is establishing a working definition of art. Philosophic investigations into the nature of art date to at least Greek antiquity, with Aristotle’s Poetics advancing the notion of mimesis as the central tenant of the art object. With social and technological progress came a change in the nature of artistic expression, such that during the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods the role of the artist changed from one of a craftsman to a Romantic notion of the artist as intellectual or genius. The 20th century experienced a shift from the Modernist to Post-Modernist era and witnessed revolutionary changes in the nature of art. Influenced by the scientific discoveries of Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud, artists such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali used art to explore these new intellectual paradigms of reality; Marcel Duchamp would even call into question the very nature of the art object. It is in this contemporary context that the notion of photography as art emerges. Perhaps the most seminal theorist in this regard was Susan Sontag, who in works such as Against Interpretation and On Photography formulated a number of aesthetic principles. Sontag argued that the nature of art is to capture that which is magical or irrational, and that art must be understood in terms of not only its meaning making content, but along with its formal elements as a comprehensive whole. While such a mode of understanding resists easy definition, for the context of this essay art is defined as the arrangement of formal style with content in a way to enact meaning through affecting the senses or emotions. Artistic photography affects the senses or emotions by selectively presenting aspects of our surroundings or objects in photographic form. Conversely, a gimmick is popularly understood as “a unique or quirky special feature that makes something "stand out" from its contemporaries.” 1 In the case of photography, gimmick is simply the employment of a feature or effect to enhance the picture. While gimmicks meet the formal criteria, they lack the necessary elements of intention and meaning to be considered
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