Huffpost Arts
Liaquat Ali Khan Headshot

Deleting Creative Work

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Marti went to discover a part of the cosmos that hasn't been seen before. She was a photographer. She had a real camera and a tripod. She took hundreds of pictures -- some she thought were gorgeous, some showing minutest details, some broad shots of the rainbow, some ugly.

She had them all on the iPod. She wanted to show them to her family, friends, clowns, and strangers. She didn't. She erased all photographs, all before and all after, each one of them, not one by one, but with one digital stroke.

She has no photos to share. She is a photographer without photos. She needs no affirmation to know she is a photographer.

Marti's Ruminations

Marti knows what her coworkers will say. "They will be confused and furious. Some will talk about the funds that supported my expedition, arguing wastage. Photographers trample each other for funds, much like Black Friday's hooligans, as if money can buy creativity. Some seek grants to fight boredom. Some go on voyages without purpose. Many successful photo-takers own not a single strand of creativity in their being. The pictures they take are dreary for their eye is not trained to see novelty. Some squander their talents."

Marti is certain that she is a creative artist. "Photography is the art of discovery. I need not go to a part of the cosmos that hasn't been seen before to be creative. That's just a ruse. I can go to the most dismal places and take incredible pictures. Creativity is not out there, it is in here. Only a creative mind can know another creative mind. I have a subjective view of creativity. I do not deny the existence of objectivity but objects are not creative, the photographer is."

Marti believes that the academy rebuffs creativity. "By academy I mean other photographers, media, and awards. The academy suppresses creativity. They want me to take a thousand pictures of Obama -- smiling, stern, defending drone attacks. The academy won't allow me to take pictures of Osama -- smiling, stern, defending airplane attacks. Some fellas will have me arrested if I dared say in my pictures that Osama, not Obama, is a more intriguing object for creative photography."

Author's Notes

It is unclear why Marti chose to delete the entire portfolio. We would never know. Marti has been proud of her pictures. Some pictures she says were gorgeous, some ugly. If she were unsatisfied with the quality of some pictures she would not delete them all. Even the ugly pictures were technically perfect and she thought them ugly because they captured ugly events. Writers delete poor sentences, artists scrap poor paintings, and children erase wrong answers but obliteration of an entire work is peculiar. It appears that Marti, a seasoned photographer, has more profound reasons to delete the portfolio.

There is evidence that Marti is seeking freedom from her identity as a photographer. She knows that photography has become her dominant identity while she is a much more complex person. She has many identities. Photography has devoured her identities as a mother, pianist, yogi, catholic, cook, and numerous others. By deleting the portfolio, Marti has thrown away the crutch, medication, and professional disguise, a trilateral godhead that shrouds her byzantine persona. She has discarded the academic veil to come to terms with her unsheathed ego.

Marti has conflicted views over intellectual property. The monetization of mind offends Marti, the artist, but she entertains the notion that artists should be able to make a living by licensing their creative products. Marti's photography is indeed intellectual property. But so what? A person may throw away clothes and other pieces of property, as many do every week, week after week, and feel relieved when trash tubs are lifted and emptied into the garbage truck. Marti has every right to send her photos to the recycle bin and empty the bin. Ever since deletion, though, a thought has been fluttering through her mind that artists have social responsibility to preserve their creative works and share with others, with or without compensation.

Marti is not depressed. After deleting the portfolio, she invited family, friends, clowns, and strangers over dinner and had a blast. The dinner guests were divided over her decision, though, they all admired her valor. The guests noticed that her eyes were sparkling with joy, her lips were moist, hands free and dancing in the air as she talked. The tripod with the camera hooked on its top was idling in a corner of her study.