I'm very much used to musing at other places, but I've decided to use that bit of musing here on dA instead as an attempt to get more involved with the community here. XD
So I've been reading Gary Faigin recently in order to start mastering my facial expression skills and stripping myself away from "anime-ishness". In the first few pages, he has described how consistently we have often focused on expressions in our art because it may make or break the entire mood of the painting. That's because, throughout our entire artistic history, regardless of the style of painting, artists have often strived to capture the "Movement of the Soul" — we honed our skills for thousands of years to be good at it, but we never seemed to reach perfection. And this quote by Leon Battista Alberti seems to perfectly encapsulate this phenomenon.
"Thus all the movements of the body should be closely observed by the painter. These he may well learn from nature, even though it is difficult to imitate the many movements of the soul. Who would ever believe who has not tried it how difficult it is to attempt to paint a laughing face only to have it elude you so that you make it more weeping than happy?"
It's fascinating to remember that the only reason artistic theories are so advanced today is because artists did not have a crutch initially. It took thousands of years to advance our drawing capabilities to its effectiveness, trying to achieve the near-impossible task of imitating the "movement of the soul", and the moment our technological advancement helped develop photography that does exactly what art has been striving for all along, art was starting to die... until folks like Picasso, Cezanne and Kandinsky came into the picture.
Imagine if we were smart enough to build a camera sometime in 200 AD, and by 400 AD everyone had smartphones.
Would we still have "The Martyrdom of St Lawrence"? Would we still have Michaelangelo?
Just some food for thought.
Even so, art hasn't died today. Perhaps because, as we've reached the digital age, all of the exploration that the giants of the past have made in every field can now be accessed at our fingertips. The various styles, ranging from Neo-Classicism to Romanticism to Cubism and Post-Modernism, can all now be blended in to produce the desired effect we need. This is something that Photography cannot do on its own, and instead takes inspiration from illustrators and artists themselves.