This week, I have been doing some more research on Japanese photographers. This time I looked at the work of Daido Moriyama again from a contextual standpoint. I saw some work of his before, I think it was at the Tate, could have been Pompidou, it’s all a blur. I was impressed by the grainy, contrasty, mood of his images. As I looked at the work of Masahisa Fukase, I noticed a very similar kind of feel to the mood of his work. Could it be a cultural thing, or lack of technical mastery? What ever it is, I like it!
I have always been attracted to this kind of look, maybe it’s a mirror of my own imperfection, and I refer to it as ‘dirty photography’ (no pun regarding images shown intended) Dirty, has more than one meaning depending on whether one reads it as a noun or a verb!
Somehow this look or mood evokes a type of emotion to the forefront of the work, which I like. I am working in B+W analogue for this module (and may do it for the rest of the MA, again, have learned to use the word may, with caution, because I’ve run the gamut so far) and have decided to implement more dirt into my work. . . Time to get dirty – very dirty!
Somehow, by looking at the work of these artists, I feel it is okay to be ‘dirty’ that they have paved the way in this arena already. Their way of being dirty and my way are different for sure, so I am not concerned about appropriation as I once was, because there is not only one kind of dirty. There is for example by playing in the sand, or by playing in the oil fields, two ways in a hundred. Figuring where to get dirty is the creative part of form, as is it’s opposite, getting clean, and again, both have their merits, it’s just that I feel like playing in the dirt right now, maybe it’s a pang for my childhood days of art in the sand box, but that is a whole other issue.
In the US, everything is sterile and clean, or cleaned up, like some other places in the world as well, the US is not mutually exclusive in this regard, but let’s just use it for illustrative purposes, because I reside here and am experienced with it’s cultural cleanliness. For example, even the pulp is removed from orange juice here. Think: Sunny Delight. It’s so sterile it’s like drinking embalming fluid. This is the way I feel about photography in the digital age. Everything good about (analogue) has been removed in digital. Grain, scratches, silver clumping, the list goes on. Funnily enough, it can be put back, in digital form, but it’s a pale horse compared to the real thing. Like actual meat compared to vegetarian “fake” meat. It looks somewhat the same, but it’s not, and with every bite, you know it, and feel cheated, that I’m paying $20 for some glued together, dyed brown mushed up soy-beans, which costs less than a nickel on the open market. In the same vane, analogue photography to digital photography is like being with an actual woman compared to a blow up doll. Blow up doll people have no idea what they are missing.
Form is part of the image making process, content is what makes the photographer unique, well. . . maybe it’s form and content. Personally, I like one of a kind. Unique, the novel, or however one defines it. For me it is one of the elements that adds ‘value’ to an image, something I work for, whatever emotion the term ‘value’ invokes, which are many.
Masahisa Fukase image: http://www.mackbooks.co.uk/books/1169-Ravens.html