I have been catching up on some blog reading during the week and there were at least four of my regular sites where "interpretation" of certain layout aspects and building was discussed in some form or another.
This fact got me thinking as the word interpretation seems to crop up a lot in our hobby for a myriad of reasons and I am certain it has influenced the way I approach or view the hobby ...so following a few days of mulling this over in my mind I thought I would attempt to put my thoughts into writing and at the same time it might give me a better understanding of the phenomena.
I thought of other "artistic" avenues far removed from our hobby where interpretation takes place to attempt a comparison of how it is used and the outcomes it provides and have come up with at least two comparisons
Firstly I examined a "portrait artist" and why it is, that a person would still mix up paint and spend hours if not days and months to achieve a likeness that could be attained in a few seconds via simple and relatively cheap digital camera technology and output to print in a few seconds... indeed if he wanted to embellish or personalise the raw photograph then there is also software available that will allow most things to be achieved with a few clicks of the mouse button.
The sculptor is another example, some still toils for massive amounts of time in clay or bronze to complete a bust that could now be accurately created by computer technology in the form of 3D printing and/or rapid prototyping, all without the need to be judged by some as accurate or not.
It is also interesting how the public perceives or interprets the artist's work. I have seen many famous portraits that to my eye, display ( possibly through lack of understanding ) very little in common with the subject matter. Indeed some of these "prized" works seem almost childlike to me. I do try and find the "key" to it all...but sometimes struggle. The Archibald Portrait competition is a perfect example where some works are derided by some and loved by others...This brings another factor into the equation and that is the link of how the artist views his work versus how the audience then views it....There is an unmistakeable comparison that can be drawn to our hobby here...
I wonder how many artists evaluate and re-evaluate in their minds as to whether they are satisfied with one of their works...or whether they gauge their own success solely on public reaction...and does an artist readily admit that the level of interpretation of the subject of an artwork is actually linked to his or her skill level? It may be that I am over thinking the point and artists are just like most modellers and "do it for fun" Or maybe they see this "interpretation" as their personal slant on reality.
Of course creating a model railway cannot be done in a single session via computer technology...Some of us choose to model a prototype location, take a plethora of photographs and triple check all dimensions and try to replicate this in exact and minute detail...while some of us take a different path and create a fictitious location that includes elements of what we enjoy and combine this to provide a landscape to run our trains through...is this approach the sole meaning of "interpretation"?
I then started to wonder how many of us create a layout based solely on our own wants and needs or whether the perception of how the layout will be viewed and evaluated by others influences the decisions we make?. Do we all strive for perfection and then sometimes offer up the excuse of interpretation in lieu of recognising our overall limitations?.
I am not sure whether the comparisons I have drawn upon to illustrate this post are fair and reasonable...but it was the closest I could come up with for a self explanation.
So what is the point of this post. Well for me the issue does have some personal significance because I have been wondering whether the issues raised here ( and discussed on other blogs ) played some part in my loss of interest in the hobby last year. Was it a fear of failure? and was that fear a personal fear or the fear of being judged to have failed in the eyes of peers and other modellers.
I may incur a bit of a spray for this next comment...but of all the pastimes that I am involved with in life...this hobby does appear to have a rather judgemental nature. To illustrate that point one only has to take a look at Railpage and other such forums where "interpretation" is sometimes viewed as failure and only perfection ( whatever that is ) is acceptable.
Another point that is not lost on me is that a fair proportion of those "critics" are not currently engaged in building a layout...or are active modellers. While I am certainly not saying that the ownership of a layout is the sole pre-requisite of being a critic... It is a reality that it is "easier to judge than to be judged"... I guess we are all guilty of that at some time or another.
For me going forward is a new found interest, inspiration and approach to my layout based solely on MY needs and wants. I certainly will continue to push myself, learn new skills and hone others. I will continue to blog regularly and seek input from other modellers...but the emphasis will be on fun as my spare time is as limited as most of us and I will be utilising that time for creating self enjoyment instead of doubt and worrying about..."interpretation"
Have a great week!!!