During the socially turbulent 1960s, artists rethought the roles of photographers, photographs, and viewers. Their practice shifted from Modernistic formalism that emphasized compositional and tonal elements of the straight print to a conceptual approach in which ideas took precedence over how subjects were depicted. By rejecting the premise that art had to have a tangible and aesthetic form, conceptual artists argued that process was equally valid as an artistic statement. Also, conceptual art offered a way to circumvent commercialization and formalism and supply a concrete framework for cerebral works of art. Conceptual artists adopted photographs, undervalued by the art establishment, as organizing mechanisms for transmitting cultural messages. Applying aspects of semiotics, feminism, and popular culture, many conceptual artists used the camera as an allegedly neutral recording device. They made deadpan prints that appeared to be aesthetically artless and that bore little resemblance to traditional fine art objects.