I have spent the better part of the last 4 days working myself into a fine tizzy. The cause of my state of mind is the goings on over at TOP.
The esteemed host and many of his commenters are dishing out stale and somewhat, iMo, time-worn bromides, re: the state of photography. One in particular, which has stuck in my craw over the past decade or more, is that which declared that "photography has changed." iMo, that a bunch of hooey.
OK. Some things have changed ... each day more pictures are uploaded to the internet than have been made since the dawn of picture making up until the day preceeding that day. It is probable that there are more picture making devices in the hands of people than ever before. And, it also probable that more people are viewing more pictures than ever before.
Even given those changes, I believe that photography, i.e., the act of making pictures, has not changed at all. Correspondingly, I believe that the how, the why, or the what is being picture is the absolute same as it ever was.
•People are making pictures (of all types - snapshots, those with artistic intentions, etc.) because they like to make pictures. Picture makers derive pleasure, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplisment in the pursuit of that activity.
•The overwheming number of those picture makers want their pictures to be seen and, hopefully appreciated or "liked".
•Some of those picture makers want their work to hang on gallery walls and be sold.
•The making of pictures is the same as it ever was - they were made with a device with a light sensitive substrate of one kind or another but the end result is the same, a picture.
•The making of fanciful pictures with the use of apps and software is the same as it ever was - see the work of the early Pictoralists or individual picture makers like Jerry Uelsman.
•Re; the what is being pictured. Any thing and every thing is fodder for picture making, the same as it ever was inasmuch as Kodak solidified that mindset a long time ago when it placed easy to use devices in the hands of an untold number of picture makers who then went out began making pictures of people, places and things of all kinds. And it wsn't long thereafter that "serious" picture makers adopted the same mindset.
Considering the above-and there are many more to consider-what has changed relative to the act of making pictures? iMo, not a damn thing.PS feel free to tell me that I am full of BS.
I recently had to write and artist statement to accompany a submission for a solo gallery exhibition. For some reason it didn't come easy and required quite a few go-arounds in order to arrive at something which filled the bill.
Then, a few days ago, I came across an entry on TOP which contained an artist statement written by Ansel Adams. Quite obviously, it was written tongue-in-cheek and meant as a sendup of academic artspeak artist statements.
That got me to thinking about finding an online artspeak artist statement generator. I found one HERE. This is what it spit out:
*1947, Syracuse NY, United States
I am an artist who mainly works with photography. With a conceptual approach, I create work using creative game tactics, but these are never permissive. Play is a serious matter: during the game, different rules apply than in everyday life and even everyday objects undergo transubstantiation.
My photos are characterised by the use of everyday objects in an atmosphere of middleclass mentality in which recognition plays an important role. By taking daily life as subject matter while commenting on the everyday aesthetic of middle class values, I try to develop forms that do not follow logical criteria, but are based only on subjective associations and formal parallels, which incite the viewer to make new personal associations.
My works directly respond to the surrounding environment and use everyday experiences from the artist as a starting point. Often these are framed instances that would go unnoticed in their original context. By choosing mainly formal solutions, I try to approach a wide scale of subjects in a multi-layered way, like to involve the viewer in a way that is sometimes physical and believe in the idea of function following form in a work.
My works are based on formal associations which open a unique poetic vein. Multilayered images arise in which the fragility and instability of our seemingly certain reality is questioned.
I currently live and work in Au Sable Forks, NY.
While artspeak artist statement generators are meant to create satirical bloviating artist statements-and the above most certainly is-it is also remarkedly spot on, re: my vision and M.O., in a few of its key pronouncements.
That written, I would never use it as is. However, I will keep it on hand for future "inspiration". I will as also print it so I can give it to a few friends and watch them squirm and fiddle around trying to understand itor, quite possibly, wonder if I have gone off the deep end and lost my mind.
Spent the last few days chasing the light around the inside of my house. Although, to be honest and as I have previously written, the light was chasing me. I just happened to be in the right place at an opportune time.
At times I can be a bit dense inasmuch as something, in this case a picture making thing, can be right in front of me and I don't get it until some time has passed.
Case in point, after recently making a couple comparo pictures-same referent with iPhone and µ4/3-it has dawned on me that the HDR function-now the default setting on the iPhone Xs Max-is somewhat of a computational photography miracle. Well ... Ok, not an actual miracle but a damn handy picture making tool.
I confess that, up until quite recently, I have taken for granted the extended range pictures, from shadow to highlight (with some highlight /shadow detail recoverable if needed), that the iPhone spits out with impressive regularity. And it does so without a hint of HDR visual weirdness.
Prior to my use of the iPhone modual as my prime picture making device, I was a RAW shooter without exception. Now, it's hard for me to believe how incredibly satisfied I am with the results I obtain with JPEG files.
CAVEAT: as I previously written, the iPhone is not a perfect picture making device for all of my needs. On those occasions when it is not, I rely on my µ4/3 cameras and will continue to do so. However, that written, if computational photography moves into "traditional" cameras, I won't hesitate for a second to buy into it and drop iPhone picture making like a hot potato. 'Cause, when all is said and done, I prefer the feel of a "real' camera in my hands rather than a phone no matter how competent it might be.
all pictures ~ (embiggenable) • iPhone
I recently read a blog entry on another site which addressed the idea of a one-size-fits-all time-worn picture making adage ... for making good pictures, picture that about which you are passionate. An adage which, for my picture making, is a bunch of hooey.
Getting right to the nub of it, for my picture making, that which I am most passionate about is, quite simply, making pictures. Which is why, when asked, "What kind of photographer are you?", my answer is, "I am a practioner of discursive promiscuity."
discursive: digressing from subject to subject
promiscuity: demonstrating an undiscriminating or unselective approach
That is to write, I am most definitely not passionate about - as in this entry's pictures - trash can lids, propane tanks or dead/dying vegetation or just about any other referent (other than the people in my life). Rather, what I see and seek in such referents are combinations of lines, forms, patterns, colors, tones, et al which works in unison - on the 2D plane of a print - to create a sense of visual energy which invigorates my eye and sensibilities. That written, it would be fair to write that my pictures are about nothing, re: what they depict, but, rather, they are about the visual relationships to one another of the depicted referents.
That written, I guess that I would have to admit to having a passion ... seeing and picturing a sense of order / design in the world around me.
I came across the quote below and it got me a thinkin' ....
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things but their inward significance.” ~ Aristotle.
.... At one time on both of my 2 previous blog incarnations, I wrote extensively regarding photography from the standpoint of the medium and its apparatus - read the word apparatus to mean 1."a complex structure within an organization or system." Do NOT read it to mean 2."the technical equipment or machinery needed for a particular activity or purpose."
In those writings I addressed ideas such as truth and meaning to be had/found in pictures. iMo, I came down on the side that held that a picture has the ability to be a very accurate / true representation of the real world albeit "just" a moment in time from a singular POV (literal and figurative). And fyi, some commenters got all angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin like, re: "true" and "real" world .... a rabbit hole down which I really did not want to venture.
Re; meaning(s) to had in a picture - my position on that idea is that all pictures have meaning(s). However, while a picture maker can attempt to imbue a picture with a specific (or general) meaning(s), it is up to a viewer of a picture to divine what meaning(s) a picture might have, a meaning(s) which is totally dependent upon the mind set / belief system / experiences that a viewer brings to the table, picture viewing wise. In a very real sense a picture is a kind of rorschach test.
So, all of that written, here's my thinkin' re: Mr. Aristole's opinion .... iMo, "the aim of art", art which is meant to be seen as opposed to being heard, read, or felt (in the physcical sense), aka: the visual arts, is to visually represent the outward appearance of something, or, perhaps more accurately, some thing or another. The result of which is to create a physical object which can be seen / viewed.
In the case of photography, that object is a print and that object is a thing, in and of itself, which has its own outward appearance independent of what it depicts. The print's outward appearance, in the best examples thereof, is what incites / influences, in the viewer's mind, the meaning(s) to be had in a picture.
That written, I am by no means certain, that the viewer's perceived meaning(s) devined from a picture can represent / reveal the "inner significance" of anything (or any thing), aka: a depicted referent. I mean, as an example, does a rock have an inner significance? How about a visually interesting Stephen Shore street scene or William Eggleston light bulb on a ceiling? What is their inner significance?
If there is an inner significance to be gleaned from a photographic print (an object with its own outward appearance), I would suggest that it is the inner significance of the picture maker him/herself ....
.... what was it that incited Shore to picture that street? What did he want me to see? Did he intend to imbue the scene with some hidden (or obvious) inner significance / meaning?
My suspicion is that Shore's-and many other picture making greats-motivation for making such a picture was so he could see what the thing looked like photographed, or, as Garry Winogrand opined .....
Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed.
Then again, Shore said ....
It seems to me that a good photographer is a combination of two things: one is interesting perceptions and the other is an understanding of how the world is translated by a camera into a photograph.
Aristotle was pretty smart guy, but I think he got it wrong (think interpration = finding inner significanace) ....
Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art. Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world — in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings. Susan Sontag
Today marks the start of a blisteringly hot week. That written, I and the wife are spending the 4th-7th of July on the West Coast in San Diago.
The upside of the trip is the fact that I rented a Fiat 124 Spider convertible-from a private individual-to tool around in out there. I'll probably have to get one of those hats with an mini umbrella attached in order to keep my brain from frying.
Also, I'll probably make some pictures.
As written many times on this blog, my tendency is to picture those things/referents which prick my eye and sensibilities. In doing so my intention is to illustrate the things/referents in a manner which creates visual energy and therefore, iMo, visual interest.
In no small measure, visual energy is created by a POV which aligns tones, forms, lines and colors in a "pleasing" arrangement across the 2D plane of a print. However, the frame (forget my black borders, the frame is simply the edges of a picture) imposed during the picture making is equally important inasmuch as the visual engery must work in conjunction with the boundaries imposed by the frame. Think of it, in musical terms, as a 2-part harmony.
In the case of the 2 pictures in this entry one picture, discarded flowers, has visual energy which is almost exclusively created by the referent itself. Although, how that visual energy flows within the frame was a deliberate choice imposed by my POV.
The other picture, discarded flowers in situ, gets its visual energy in a very different manner from that in the other picture. To my eye and sensibility, there is visual energy all over the place - of course, the random disarray and colors of the the discarded flowers is present but their visual effect is magnified by their contrast with the grid-like rather rigid geometric pattern of the floor together with the wastebasket and the-some might think-visual irritant of the cupboard corner. In addition, those geometric patterns also stand in stark relief against the brightly colored discarded flowers by the nature of their neutral color palette. And don't ignore the division of the picture, dark side to light side, as added visual energy.
Then there is the frame of the in situ picture. As a viewer's eye, once it leaves the discarded flowers, is drawn to following the line(s) of the geometric pattern, it quickly slams into the frame and is redirected back into the center of the picture. This visual trait differs from that of the other picture inasmuch as there is little to draw the eye away from the discarded flowers.
All of that written, here's the thing ... I am not suggesting that one of these pictures is better than the other. Each picture has plenty of visual energy which pricks (and holds) my eye and sensibilities.
That written, my preference is for the in situ variant because I find it to be harder for my emotions and intellect to digest. When viewing pictures, whether made by me or by others, I like to be attracted by a prick rather than a soothing stroke.