Week-8-Coursework-Responses&Responsibilities

 

An Agent for change:

I don’t think photography can provoke change. Negative events have been shown since the days of Daguerre and nothing has changed. Ingrid Sischy in states in Good Intentions:  “In the history of photography, there are many who have tried to use photojournalism to change the world, as well as capture it, and a few have had some effect. Others have been naive – even deluded.”  

I think that shocking material should be censored, as we do become less sensitive to it. (a stimulus after a while, is no longer a stimulus) so the media escalates it, as our feelings become dull. They do it by making the content more shocking and more brutal.  I have become very sensitive to this type of material as I get older and stopped watching television over 19 years ago because of it. (and do admit, avoidance is not the answer to it either) I prefer sites like Amazon and Youtube  where choices can be made by me as viewer. However, it’s very difficult to avoid spectacle and I still find myself being caught up in the melodrama and the propaganda once in a while.  

This video presentation is very disturbing and attempted to avoid looking at these images. However, I noticed I could watch the image of the infant drowned (Alyan Kurdi) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.  more easily than I could of the Iraqi soldier being burned. I felt more empathy for the 3 year old boy because he did not have a choice. I saw the disturbing image at an exhibition (Refugee) at the Annenburg Space for Photography in LA, 2016. I remember seeing it and thinking: ‘this is the saddest picture I have ever seen in my life.’ I still feel this way about it. As Ian Jack in the Guardian mentions:  “Shocking pictures, like that of the body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi from Syria, can alter perceptions. But we pick and choose what will horrify us.”

Refugee: (link below)  Claimed to have been made by five international “artists.”  They are all parasites, like flies around blood, that contribute to the consumption of this type of imagery.  The big white hunter syndrome disturbs me. Nothing is done for these individuals except exploit their misfortune.

The problem has become worse for the wear. Since the introduction of the digital image, the entire world has become imbibed with imagery. Maybe it is a form of digital drug addiction or electronic alcoholism, a way for the masses to become image dipsomaniacs.  In an article about ethics in photography, Nasim Mansorov writes:  “When the first digital camera was invented, little did the inventors know that it would later revolutionize the world of photography and media in general.”

It’s known as unintended consequences and this is only the beginning.

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Good Intentions:

The main argument Sischy promotes about Salgado’s work is: That it’s not art. It’s fundamentally  “Schmaltzy” “Button Pushing” and something from a “Whodunnit Movie” Whether she refers it directly, or indirectly through his work, or through the works of Eugene Smith or Edward Steichen, Sischy does not respect Salgado’s work. She  also says this in an underhanded way: “Salgado’s work has appeared in postcard form. As yet they have not been produced as greeting card stuff. But who knows? Presumably that anyone’s work that appears on greeting or post card, does not deserve the title of ‘Art’  

I agree with her point of view, because button pushing by means of subject matter or photographic technique is not enough to constitute a photographer as an artist. Photography as an art form is difficult at best, why meretricate it with cheap shots and tugging at heart strings.  Art exists because there is some kind of mystery to the image, either in form and/or content and Salgado has neither.  His work connotes nothing, only denotes peoples suffering and misery and this is easy to make any human with a heart to feel guilty.

Issued raised that apply to my practice. I am very concerned with this in my own practice, and by the time I do my first exhibition, I want to make sure that it falls directly into the arms or art, and have learned this much, the image has to connote, not denote.  Denote=commercial. Connote=art. 

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Aesthetic or Anaesthetic?

In 1955 Ed Steichen, the director of MOMA, curated a series of images titled “The Family of Man” It sourced at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, then travelled around the world for 8 years and was seen by many peoples from all countries around the globe. Steichen said of the work: ” The people looked at the pictures and the people in the pictures looked back at them. They recognized each other.”

FOM.jpg

Family of Man Exhibition.  Government Pavilion,  Johannesburg.  1958. Photo Credit: MOMA.

I looked at some of the phototograhs of the exhibit and did not recognize anyone, and wonder where that statement came from. I get annoyed by the level of propaganda employed by these exhibitions, exploiting these individuals, mostly poor and underemployed for mu$eum gains. Once again the hunter $noops around with the camera, capitalizing in ego and dollars from these individuals’ misery.  Salgado is another photo-clansman who leaches off misery as well.  “With Salgado, there is no Tony Curtis or Kirk Douglas images” as stated by Ingrid Sischy (New Yorker -199)  Steichen takes it a step further, he makes Salgado look like the Red Cross.

The exhibition circumnavigated the globe, touring 37 countries and 6 continents. Of the 270 photographers, a 160 were American. Another superficial culturally sanctioned method of whose in control, taking place. And, it also starts off in the US. The exhibition,in all these cities, Towery Lehman writes: “received heavier press coverage than any comparable æartistic’ event in our history.”

There is not a single image of the Mellon’s or Guggenheim types sipping Napoleon Brandy on their front lawn estates in this exhibition. Maybe those images would not sit too well between the images of Robert McDaniels, lynched. April 13, 1937 and  Family on the way to California. Maybe someone can explain What family of Man he’s referring to? Are there not Woman families too?

This is why I prefer abstract photography, as my mode of practice. There is no capitalization off ‘someones’ misery or success, or “someone’s” beauty or ugliness.  Abstraction deals with what’s in the image alone, the ‘someone’ is gone.  The abstract renders what is, not what it ought to be politically, historically, or geographically, ethically or morally.  It’s art for art sake, not some suedo Family of Man, Genesis or Nat Geo.  Photraping (photography+raping) “someone’s” under the guise of humanity. The Family of Man should be torn down, destroyed, and buried with the Berlin Wall.

 

Robert_McDaniels.jpg

Robert McDaniels. Photo Credit: Moma

Rocketfelle1.png

The Rocketfella’s

migrant-mother-in-shelter.jpgOn the Way to California: Dorothea Lange. Photo Credit:  allthatsinteresting.com

 

References:

Dorothea Lang: Link (Links to an external site.)

On the way to California: Link (Links to an external site.)

Family of Man Johannesburg: Link (Links to an external site.)

Family of Man appraisal: Link (Links to an external site.)

Sischy, Ingrid. (1991). Good Intentions. The New Yorker.

Votes out the Lynching Bill;  House Brings Gavagan Measure to Floor for Debate Today”. New York Times. 13 Apr 1937.

References:

Week-6-Coursework-A Sea of Images

Ordinary images:

I use my i-phone for ordinary images, and by ordinary I mean any photograph that I make to record an event, a thing to remember, or a person I know doing something. My audience is 1. Myself, 2. A family member or friend.  I do not make ordinary images for strangers.

Mass existence vs unique existence:

If this is looked at in terms of value, mass existence allows a ‘one of a kind’ to reside with everyone. If I like Malevich’s Black Cross,  I can go and look at it (which I have/Tate Modern)  I can also photograph it, buy a copy of it, or create my own, as to have a ‘piece of it’ in some way. Therefore mass existence has value in those terms for me. As a practitioner though, I am very interested in unique and making one of a kind (unique existence, and I am tailoring my practice towards that end. I would very much like to create ‘one off’ pieces. In this respect unique existence interests me, and would like to achieve this by aesthetic means.

This thought is now being challenged by this tutorial, because it shows, through works of artists like Andy Warhol,  (Thirty are better than One) that a work of art does not need to be unique, or one of a kind, to become ‘valuable’  Even if a piece is mass produced, the aesthetics, culture and society can determine and create a new value, monetarily or otherwise.

Photo courtesy of: Christies.com Thirty Better Than One. Andy Warhol.

Is it possible to be original?

This is a question that haunts any artist who is interested in producing novel and new works of art in any form, be it photography, painting, or any of the plastic arts.

At some point in ones career, one hits a brick wall, and the realization that there is nothing more that one can do. Many artists resort to all types of trickery, appropriation, intertextuality and fancy to be original and unique. All they land up being, is a bad carbon copy of the greats at best.

There is only ‘one’ Kazimir Malevich, ‘one’ Paul Klee, ‘one’ Ansel Adams. All the rest are phonies, copycats, and conjurers.   Lizette Model talks about this: “There are great artists in every era, who are so new and so different, that nobody can understand them. The ears and the eyes are not used to it. They are the ones, who really contribute to the medium. But at the same time, there are other artists, they work in a non-understandable kind of a way, nobody could understand what they are doing. They are phonies, and they are working with illusions and fantasies, and this kind of difference, is extremely important to understand.”

I came to understand this and know this well. I have battled this part of myself for a very long time. One knows deep down which one of the two one is, and I could never be the latter and wouldn’t even try, I would rather face the brick wall until that moment of revelation and true inspiration comes. I have never felt comfortable with my art-work. . . I can always see a trace, glimpse, of someone else in there, and I have never been able to accept that. There is always that dark lurking shadow, maybe I have no talent, no genius, and will pass on into the yonder as the rest of all time has done, nameless and unknown and never achieve the works of Malevich, Kandinsky or Maholy Nagy.  However, I do have faith, even thought it may be weak at the moment.  It’s not all up to me. There is a Transcendent Other involved in the process, and just have to wait patiently until the creature and the True Creator meet.

I think that any serious artist is aware of this and wrestles with it every time they make a work of art. Is it possible to be original? Yes most definitely, in fact it is pretty common.  Is it possible to be a great contributor to the medium? Yes, to this as well, however, these artists are very few and far between, maybe a handful in a century, spread across all domains.

 

Lizette Model: https://youtu.be/Q_0sQI90kYI

Week-5-Coursework-Gazing at Photograph.

My Gaze is attracted to the abstract, and the no-objective. There are some representational photographs that I do like, however, in my own work and to inform my own work, I like to look at images that are ‘one of a kind’ unusual, unique and or novel.

This is a result of the ubiquitous nature of the image to-day. How many times more can I see an image of Yosemite?  Ansel Adams was the best at that particular subject matter in my opinion, because of the format he used (8×10) the development of the Zone system, which maintained good shadow detail in the shadow regions of the image as well as the highlights, the image has good focus from foreground to background. Ansel printed his own images and had a tight control how they looked and were consumed. His subject dealt with the ‘Beauty of the American West’ and made me realize that we are in dangers of losing it to pollution, acid rain and environmental destruction due to the consuming of natural  resources.

However, I can see many images that are made by similar photographers, who are clones of Ansel, and I am not interested in that type of photography in my own practice.

I have always found that painters are ahead of the curve, so I like to reference their works The best at abstraction in my opinion is Kasimir Malevich (Black Square) He removed everything visual that is objective (representational) out of his images, which I find very attractive. I also like the work of Paul Klee, who attracted the representational down to basic forms, so there may be a few hints of the objective (representational) in is images which I also enjoy.

In my practice, I have been working towards this end, and so-far this module, I have managed to abstract my subject matter of fences down to images that a fence is barely perceptible. The subject has changed from images and function of ‘Fences’ to metaphors of what fences connote: namely, separation, division, fear,challenge and the like.

The pleasure of the gaze is a biological function. We see to survive and procreate. In order to survive we are attracted to things of beauty. I presume this is why the female sex is made beautiful to look at. Males get attracted, good things happen, and the species survives. If women were not attractive, men would not get attracted, and the species would have died out eons ago. I can presume this extends on to the arts so some degree as well.

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The Body and Land:

As far as Adam’s ‘never’ having people in his images, I disagree with that. He did not have images of people in his landscapes, but did have people in his lesser known works, like his photography he did at the Japanese interment camp at Manzanar during the second world war.

” Although a majority of the more than 200 photographs are portraits, the images also include views of daily life, agricultural scenes, and sports and leisure activities.”

As human beings we have a direct connection with the land: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

There are many great artists, who create by looking at nature and the land for inspiration. For me the land and the contents of the land are one and the same. If I look at the works for Edward Weston.  Famous for his Nudes, Pepper series, and landscapes. Weston was preoccupied with the female form, so whether it was a rock, a toilet, a pepper, or a seashell, he always managed to get more out of the image than the subject matter alone. I think this is clear in one of his quotes: “This then: to photograph a rock, have it look like a rock, but be more than a rock.  Significant representations – not interpretation.”

Just Giving: (these ads really annoy me)

All ads have a positive and a negative side. The Mencap ads are no different. I think the fake intentions are good, however, a lot of these companies finance their own needs out of the pockets of donators. Of your two pounds that you donate, maybe a half a crown or less might go in the direction of children’s education, and the rest will go to finance the cars, houses, girlfriends, and drugs of the CEO’s.

Are these children other?  I would have to say yes, and I think the problem with the world today is that all boundaries, are attempting to be erased, and with dire consequences.  The caption on the bottom of the second ad. “More of an education will give Kevin, more of a future.”  More? what exactly does that mean? It’s such an abstract, it’s not even funny. No matter what education Keven gets, he will never be able to hold a job of any significance. I think it’s time to stop bluffing, and put the money where it should rightly go, and that’s towards a home of some nature where these children can be taken care of for the rest of their lives, and a place that they can be encouraged to learn and play but not make the rest of the world that with a little more education, Kevin can be a rocket scientist. It will never happen. These children need civil-rights equality more than educational equality.  Basically it all boils down to I.Q.  individuals with an I.Q. of 80 cannot fold a piece of paper to fit in an envelope. No amount of education or training will enable them to do it with confidence, much more than an education or training will enable my cat (or even myself for that matter) to play the violin. It will never happen. I do feel pity for these individuals, greatly, but I would not donate because I am being manipulated. Dorfman says: “They are other.”  The photographic image allows as to stare, study, gawk, and it satisfies our innate nature to look at the other in a way we could not in actual life. We try out or respect for the ‘other’ to avert out gaze as not to hurt their feelings, but I think they are aware that we are consciously averting the look, and as a result, feel excluded. The question is how do we look and not look at the other so as not to exclude but include. Not out of pity, but from a civil right that every individual, ‘other,’ or not, deserves.

I had a friend, many years ago, if he met anyone with a disability, he would immediately walk up to them an ask what happened to their leg or their arm?  They would tell him and it would be over. Neither he, nor the other, found it difficult to be in each others company. I asked him why he did that? He replied to get it out of the way right from the start, and after knowing, would not have to stare, or steal stares any longer.  I always thought that a very positive way to surmount difficult “other” situations.

“Most people go through their lives fearing they will have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma, they’ve already passed their test in life.”  – Diane Arbus.

References:

Ansel Adams.  Manzanar: https://www.loc.gov/collections/ansel-adams-manzanar/about-this-collection/

Dust to dust: http://bible.oremus.org/?version=av&passage=Genesis+3%3A19&fnote=no&show_ref=no&show_adj=no&omithidden=yes

Edward Weston: https://www.photoquotes.com/showquotes.aspx?id=51&name=Weston,Edward

Week-4-Coursework: Into The Image World

Looking at the Southern Comfort ad, I would say it is geared to-wards the independent female sex. Southern Comfort is a drink women favor, so that’s the first sign for me.

The second indicator is that he is carrying all the packages and has a ball and chain around his ankle: (and, only one ball at that, insinuating he has been castrated) this all connotes that he is a slave as well as a eunuch.

He is also walking on the left, an inferior position.  He is on the inside, a position reserved for the female, who is normally is protected street side, by her male ‘protector.’  He is out numbered  3 to 1, (females to males in the image). Plus, he has the light on his face, a position of weakness.  The dominant, is always in the shadow!  She is also very muscular, look at her legs, square shoulders, and triceps. Her left hand is ‘pulling’ him along like a mule, her hand is high up for that reason, (a lover would hold way down low, close to the wrist.)

Southern Comfort connotes geographical slave territory.   (The Old South: with places like Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky, was slave town.) The slogan: “Your ‘Free’ time may have changed… ” another hint at slavery.  His blue shirt/gray pants is another indicator: The Union was known as the ‘Blues’ and fought they Gray’s (Confederates) against slavery. An external signifier of his internal conflict. The Blue were in the North, on top, that why his shirt is Blue (on top) and not Gray (below) They have also just stepped over a demarcation on the ground. North/South dividing line? The North was not entirely free of slavery, some of the industrialists bought slaves from the South. The parallel lines on the ground look like plough sheer cuts in the ground, prepped for planting cotton, the primary job of the slave, he’s moving from one form of slavery to the next. This whole ad is showing who is in control.

They should have dressed her in a black business suit with boots and a riding crop, to go full bore. And, he should be pushing a pink baby carriage to top it off.

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Here is an old ad that I like: Suntory Whisky. It’s simple and to the point. No hidden gender role manipulation, no humiliating anyone, female or male. It’s all about the product, and who the product appeals to, which is men, because whisky is a drink men prefer.   The ad does appeal to a one’s vices, but I think we understand this going in.

 (Links to an external site.)Photo credit: Sammy David Jr. Suntory Ad, Youtube.

Simple and to the point.

1. Whisky (on the rocks)

2. Cool Music

3. A good Smoke.

90% home. What more could one want to know about, experience, or enjoyment of a product.

A dominant for me.

 

Suntory ad:  1974 – Suntory Whisky, ‘Sammy Davis Jr ad libs (Links to an external site.)

I am in agreement with Roland Barthes statement: “Photography is a kind of primitive theatre, a kind of Tableau Vivant. . . ”  He says further: “. . . revealing what was so well hidden, that the actor himself, was unaware or unconscious of it.” I have to say, that this goes as far as the viewer as well. Advertising or brainwashing is so powerful.  Every second of the day, we are brainwashed what to buy, how to think, what to say, where to be, or what to wear. The internet, as marvelous as it is, has it’s price. Ad watch time creeping up a second at a time on youtube for example, so it’s now 6 seconds before you can skip it, has already increased it’s skip time by 100%, ads creeping up from the bottom of the screen, the top, the side, not allowing you to watch it unless you sign up. Challenging times.

Barthes, R. (1981). Camera lucida: Reflections on photography (1st American ed.). New York: Hill and Wang.

Week-3-Coursework: Constructed Realties.

Tasks: Video One, Constructed Realities:

Task: As you watch this video take note of:

  • How many photographs you have seen today.
  • The contexts in which you saw them.
  • Whether you read them as records or recognised their artifice.
  • How you balance fact and fiction in your own work.

I looked at 5 images:

  1. Skoglund: “Revenge of  the Goldfish.” Arts image context. Artifice, (undoubted)
  2. Erwin Wurm: “One minute Sculptures.” Arts image context. Artifice
  3. Joan Fontuberta:”Solenoglypha Polypodida from fauna.”  Documentary Context. Artifice. (Thought record till researched. Discovered to be a fiction)
  4. Calvin Klein: Advertising context. Artifice.
  5. Donald Trump: Twitter: Photojournalism context. Artifice.

My practice for the MA is fine art. In this context, I presume most viewers will have the understanding that my practice is part fact, part fiction.

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This week so far, I have taken an extended look into some works of photographers listed in this weeks video: Constructed Realities. Art Wolf, Sandy Skoglund and Miriam Backstrom.

I found it interesting that Wolf had added images of to his photograph, as at first I did not know this, and in the context of his work I expected to see what I was getting as actual, truthful and not constructed ij the way he did it by adding flamingoes to the final image. So, I have to admit I find myself cheated here. If I had never been informed, he would have got away with it and I would have been none the wiser. The problem I have with it is that basically the skill or luck to get a truly unique image is gone. It can all be recreated in photoshop, which is in the hands of another creative individual other than the photographer. In essence the photographer of to-day is the tea-boy. They bring the beverage, and some-one else sweetens it up. So with this work, I expected it as record, when in fact it is artifice. In the context of Wolf as a ‘wild life’ photographer I expect record. However on closer inspection of him, I read him described as: ‘best known for color images of landscapes, wildlife, and native cultures.’ I guess this says it all, now understand why his images are constructed.

Sandy Skoglund (born September 11, 1946) is an American photographer and installation artist. Skoglund’s work is particularly interesting to me. I enjoy the esthetics of the images and find the concept of her work very inventive and creative. Her work is constructed, and immediately apparent, therefore the moment I set eyes on her pieces I know it’s artifice and do not need to question that part of it any longer. This allows me to enjoy her work from a truly creative perspective.

Miriam Backstrom was born in 1967, Stockholm.  She studied history of art at the University of Stockholm before enrolling at Stockholm’s Academy of Photography in 1994. “She photographs her subjects straightforward, without touching anything and using only existing light.” *  When seeing her work, the fact that it’s artifice is not immediately apparent, however, in her work, there is always something “off” in her images, something does not seem to set right. Of course as one discovers, these images are made in places like Ikea. Her work from the get go alludes to artifice, which is conformed with a little investigation. I like the fact that I have to do some research into her work, and make ‘discovery’ which gives the work an added demotion.

Balancing fact and fiction in my own work is pretty easy. I lean towards the abstract, so it is a given that the image in manipulated and constructed  I am content with that. The advantage of ‘art’ photography over advertising photography for examples: art photography stimulates contemplation. Commercial / advertising photography is manipulative, controlling and deceitful, I have done it, however, I do not like it for these reasons, among others.

 

References:

Art Wolfe: University of Washington, Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering, Accessed April 2013.

Sandy Skoglund:  Charles Hagen (September 23, 1994). “Art in Review”. dagbladet. Retrieved 2010-07-22.

* Miriam Backstrom: https://the-artists.org/miriam-backstrom/

Week-2-Coursework: INDEX&ICON

THE INDEX AND THE ICON.

Key ideas raised by Snyder, Allen and  the presentations:  Both critics and laypeople, have had their opinions about the photographic image and whether there are differences between it and other visual arts. Many questions are raised about the domain.  Is it superior or inferior, subjective or objective, do photographers create?

It is not Snyder nor Allen’s aim or intent to show that answers presented by different groups, as being correct or incorrect; or there is nothing to capitalize  from by the differentiation of the photographic and other forms of visual art, but to put forth an appreciation of what modern critics and laypeople believe about the medium in comparison to critics of the past. Snyder and Allen will do this by going back in time, to delve into a different era to see what the domain was appreciated or criticized for, back then.

Peter Henry Emerson [1889] believed that pictures served to inform, which he called  ‘scientific division’ and to provide aesthetic pleasure he called the ‘art division’ Emerson believed in naturalism. To give the photograph the same cognitive impression as a viewer would experience at the position the camera was placed to make the image. One of the principle differences, is that photography approached objectivity in a way painters could not. A machine produced the image for photography; the hand and the brush produced the image for painting. Photographs were not regarded as representations, but realizations or objectifications of the actual.

It is possible, individuals of the day, believed what they saw produced by the camera, because in the early days, line and form were machine made. No human hand interfered in the making of the image. This is of course different in today’s practice. The hand, has once again touched or interfered with the image making process, with programs like Lightroom, Photoshop. Some in collusion with tablets like Wacom, using the stylus as the interstellar-age paintbrush.  In essence going back, once again, into subjectivity of painting, which was overcome by Niepce and Daguerre, at the beginning of the photographic revolution.

If I may say, I am not against these advances, in fact, quite the opposite, I am an advocate. (just not in my practice) However, I am for it in other domains.  As we approach, this fringe of time, where the brain is no longer capable of processing fast enough (the computing power of the human mind is lagging) This advance by machine other, is the indication of this fact, because the mind is putting forth, and projecting realizations, through the hand and external machines, which it, of itself, is not capable of actualizing as yet, under it’s own cognitive power, but can predict it.  However this lagging, will not be for long, once liquid memory/or spongiform memory is perfected and integrated into us. These kinds of advances will be second nature, and creativity on this level, be available, by mere thought alone.

See image below: by a PhotoShop artist I know.  J. Withers. Ad for Volvo Before/After

See image below: by a Photo-Shop artist I know.  J. Withers. Ad for Volvo Before/After

Volvo Ad. Before. Courtesy of J. Withers ©
Volvo Ad. After. Courtesy of J. Withers ©

Task: Vision and Representation: The battle between photography and other forms of representation continues to rage in Photography,Vision and Representation.

Let me start off by saying by talking about creation and creative, because this word is used a lot, without being fully understood,  and thrown about, like dice, and hoping each throw will be a 7.   If the absolute definition of creating is adhered to, no-one is a creator, other than the Transcendental Divine Other, for at the absolute, the definition of creating is: The bringing into being or forming something out of nothing.” Therefore as creatures, are un-able to create, only transform, because, everything  made, is made from something. Anything and everything a human or animal makes, is made from something already in existence. All, is made from Prima Materia except the Primal Material itself, which is created by the Transcendental Divine Other. The closest one can come to creating, is to approach it, by obtaining the ‘essence’ of the Primal Material.

Is there anything that sets photography apart from other modes of picture making methods?  And, as such does photography need any special ways to evaluate what the image represented is?

One of the primary differences between photography and other representative art forms like painting and sculpture is: Sculpture and painted images are made in the light, and photographic images are made in the dark. From this standpoint alone, a photographer has to able to see in the dark. . .  the inside, where the true essence resides. The camera is very much like the human head. It has an eye, a brain and is able to register images in its memory, whether analogue or digital, which can be stored and retrieved immediately or at a later date. Paintings and photographs are made in different ways. Both require an instrument.  Paintings are created slowly over time whereas the photographic image is made almost instantaneously. The painting is built and the the photographic image is harnessed.  In the end, both disciplines produce an image which is a representation of what is seen by the eyes, or by the mind. Both mediums realize  internal and external cognitive experiences in the form of a tangible object, which can be touched, looked at and contemplated upon. Ideas and experiences, transformed into material. Alchemy at its best.  The result of it’s  actions are the same. A actualized  image or object to gaze and contemplate upon.  The methods of getting there, is the only difference.

When it comes to this question, “What is photography”  Here is my answer:  It is a mechanical medium for recording and reproducing images. Is it art? It can be. In the hands of an artist, out comes Rhein II. In the hands of a mechanic, out comes a passport photo, that has to be made again, because the first one was too dark. There! I have just answered two questions, that have been argued about since the inception of photography. I put those questions to bed at age 6, when I held my first camera, in a dusty mining town in Africa. Already I knew, with this machine, anything is possible, I also knew, long, long, would be the journey of discovery.

Here is the two most challenging questions: ‘What is art?” and ‘What is the purpose of art?’ (Photography, painting, music, sculpture, film, poetry, it does not matter, it applies to all.)  I have searched for these answers for over 4 decades and traveled to some of the farthest, highest and most exotic places on earth. Every person that wants to be an artist must search for this essential Primal Material themselves.  This, is what makes a Malevich, Kandinsky, Klee, Gursky, Bach, Blake, Siskind and the like.  They found ‘their’ Stone. What serves me as an answer will not serve you, you have to find your own.

Tasks: Question of Authenticity:

Response to the statement of Barthes:  ‘In the Photograph, the power of authentication exceeds the power of representation’. Camera Lucida (1980: 89)

My understanding is that Barthes regards a photograph as provenance of something’s existence. He may have been correct or at least understood back in 1980, but not to-day. Photography has changed. We all know photoshop can do anything, image manipulation is imperceptible.  Barthe says: “Painting can feign reality without having seen it. Contrary to these imitations, I can never deny that the thing has been there.”  In todays world an image can be created from digitally from 1’s and 0’s to look as real as any actual object or subject it represents. Dead actors are well on their way to being digitally revived.

Digital awareness has caused society not to accept a photograph as an authentication, without questioning it. By definition, authentication is proof; representation is portrayal. Therefore the former is in the realm of the actual and latter in the realm of the real. These signifiers are used interchangeably, as if they mean the same thing, when they do not.

As a practitioner,  I am interested (at present) in constructing images that convey an idea or a concept. My project “Fences” is used as a metaphor about control.  So, manipulation of the image comes into play on many levels.  However this type of image construction, is understood by the viewer as a means of expression and the means is accepted.

Compare this to a product shot:  A glass of Cola topped with ice. The ice you see, is not ice, but acrylic cubes made to look like ice. The Cola may be some other liquid made to look like Cola, but may be burnt transmission fluid or the like. This is what the average viewer/consumer is not aware of. This is one of the reasons I prefer creative over commercial photography.  Not that it’s innocent, but done for different reasons.

 

 

Week-1-Coursework: THE SHAPESHIFTER.

THE SHAPE-SHIFTER

Photography:  The Shapeshifter. This week we dealt with the opinions of Shore, Szarkowski and Squires. I am in agreement with Szarkowski who says that narrative in photography has never been successful.

Continue reading Week-1-Coursework: THE SHAPESHIFTER.