civilized ku # 3677-79 ~ we are all investigators now

Shore Jeresy Shore ~ (embiggenable) • µ4/3

didn’t notice the birds ‘til I got closer ~ South Jersey Shore (embiggenable) • iPhone

There was a time, shortly after the upstart medium of photography emerged onto the scene, that the art world, especially the world of painting, began to feel threatened by the new medium. The poet, Charles Baudelaire, wrote (c. 1859):

"“If photography is allowed to supplement art in some of its functions, it will soon supplant or corrupt it altogether, thanks to the stupidity of the multitude which is its natural ally."

That sentiment and many others like it was instrumental in art institutions of that era-London Royal Academy of Art / (French) Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, et al-to declare in their many proclamations, re: what qualifies as art, that the hand of the artist must be apparent in works of art.

Up until that point all art was "handmade" art. While this declaration re-enforced the status quo, it also disavowed photography-a mere mechanical craft, aka: pictures made by a machine-as an art form. As a reaction from the photography world, the practice of Pictorialism emerged. A practice where the hand of the artist was very visible.

That was then, this is now and the medium of photography and its apparatus have come along way, baby. Photography has established its niche in the art world (although not all photography is art) and many photographers are considered to artists who are making art.

That written, over a decade or two ago, there has been the emergence of the PhD photographer, a crowd who are members of what I refer to as The Academic Lunatic Fringe School of Photography. Needless to write, as my nomenclature implies, I am not a fan of the pictures they make, pictures that are always accompanied by the requisite artspeak, pyschoanalytical and pure flapdoodle-ish artist statement.

One of things in those artist statements that annoy me no end is the ever-present use of phrases which describe what they profess to be doing. Phrases such as, examining the fundamental search for, or, the use of intuitive process and various reinterpreted psychodramatic methods to examine, or, a method to investigate.

Apparently, the medium of photography and its apparatus is, for them, not about making pictures but rather a tool for "examining" or "investigating" one arcane art theory or another, or, very frequently, a navel gazing pursuit of highly personal identity or personal life issues.

What I find most annoying about the ALFSoP is the fact that they denigrate the idea that a photographic print is a thing in and of itself, a thing that can stand on its own without the need for a 1000 word essay about what it means. But, of course, the ALFSoP is all about content, aka: meaning, and little, if any thing at all, about form. Which, FYI, is why I don't like very many of their "investigations".

Apparently, we (picture makers) are all investigators and/or examiners now. So, be prepared. When asked what you are making a picture of / why you took a picture, the correct answer should be, "I am not taking a picture. I am examining and investigating the physical and psychological boundaries of simulacra and simulation."