Cutting Edge

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Aggie, Nov 10, 2005.

  1. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    I don't know if this should go here or in the lounge. It is more about the artistic merts so I put it here.

    I have wondered now for a few days what is really meant by cutting edge photography? Is it a style? Is it a new way of photographing? Is it finding something new and taking a picture of it that one one else has? Is it the way you treat your negatives? Is it designing your shot and taking it, as if you were a painter composing a scene? I want to know what seperates it from the rest of photographic endeavors.

    I also want to know who are the current cutting edge photographers. It has bee mentioned to me that the only ones who are cutting edge are the YOUNG who live in Central America or Eastern Europe. I didn't know there was an age limit or a geographic restriction to it. I also didn't know it had to be akin to the artist Cezzane.

    What are your thoughts, and if you have examples please post them as well. I think this might be a fun thread.
     
  2. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    cutting edge = Different, and somehow hip.
     
  3. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    First there was leading edge, but that wasn't enough so it became cutting edge. Sometime whilst you were sleeping it was decided that bleeding edge was required.

    All simply identify 'the new' and we all know new is inherently better.
     
  4. laz

    laz Member

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    ha ha fun Aggie? Have you been drinking! :smile:

    Anyways, I view cutting edge as anything that is trying to stretch an art form into new areas. It's kinda hard to name the cutting edge without narrowing down the subject. There is a cutting edge of Alt processes I'm sure as well as one for B/W and one for color, and one for every facet of the art.

    Too many people associate the cutting edge only with the latest technology or fad, not true. If someone is changing their art, pushing past the conventional limits they're on the cutting edge.

    Gotta work on comming up with some names.

    -Bob
     
  5. laz

    laz Member

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    back to add that the cutting edge in art is also known as the avant-garde I think cutting edge is a modern techno variation.
     
  6. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    A cutting edge, having seen them in action, is a very uncomfortable place to be.

    But the OTHER problem with the concept of 'cutting edge' is as Heisenberg put it:
    "The more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa."
    More or less, you can't plot the path and the velocity of a particle, or art form, at the same moment. You can't see where art is going, and where it is, at the same time. Observation becomes critical, for "The "path" comes into existence only when we observe it".

    It is, therefore, the observation that determines the 'cutting edge', not the artists. And observation of 'art' is seldom pure, rather observers look to satisfy their own taste, theories, and need. Trend spotters usually need to find the 'next big thing' to bring it first to market.

    So the 'cutting edge' can't exist beyond marketing hyperbole.

    We can only track a trend by looking backward. Picking up on trends, like wearing black and having 2 day stubble, is simply recognizing a budding conventionality.
    .
     
  7. lee

    lee Member

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    guess I better shave I dont look good in Black either



    lee\c
     
  8. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    John,

    Did you know Lorena too?
     
  9. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I wouldn't have a clue Aggie. I'm ususually on the trailing edge of most things. I guess if its confined to Central America or Eastern Europe, we will never see it in Eastern Kansas.
     
  10. jmdavis

    jmdavis Member

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    Basho said, "He treads the sharp edge of the sword."

    Now the haiku of someone dead several hundred years may be out of fashion with the literary glitterati, but it's good enough for me.

    I'm not looking for the cutting edge. I'm looking for quality work and art. It's out there and it isn't all post-modernist mordencage or digital manipulation.

    Mike Davis
     
  11. big_ben_blue

    big_ben_blue Member

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    Many looked at the "cutting edge" during the french revolution - most didn't survive to tell the tale though. Kinda like all those kewl and hip youngsters (with strong forreign accents of course for an amplified effect) shooting xtreme fashion with barbie cams - nobody will remember them in ten years from now.

    Cheers,
    Chris, happily doing retro
     
  12. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Good answer.


    Michael
     
  13. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Cutting edge photographers have a total willingness and ability to COMPLETELY re-examine what a photograph is meant to look like and if necessary abandon some or all of the conventional wisdom on this. There is and cannot be any restrictions of age or geographical location, the only limiting factor may be excessive contact with conventionally-minded workers, which can lead to mental traveling of ruts and blinkered thinking. The same applies to excessive technical knowledge of photography - high conventional skill levels are not necessarily bad, in this age of intelligent (mainly digital) equipment, the most striking images are LIKELY to be made by someone with no formal idea of what they are doing. The acid test of whether work is cutting edge is simple - is it referenced backwards, to what has been done in the past, or forwards, to an attempt to produce something that no one has seen before?
     
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  15. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Andy Warhol's pictures, when he first started with his polaroid things, were cutting edge.

    After they became well known and others started to copy the concept he pioneered, his pictures were no longer cutting edge!

    Mick.
     
  16. laz

    laz Member

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    Excellent, excellent! A perfect definition David.

    Often there is a knee-jerk rejection to any suggestion that the cutting edge is a good thing. The nay-sayers should keep in mind that their gods of "traditional" photography like Ansel Adams was on the cutting edge of his time and genre; the Zone System was cutting edge my friends.

    The cutting edge is not the place for everyone (no place ever is) sometimes I guess it's good thing that so called traditionalists are so dismissive of those who push the boundaries, I suspect it helps inspire them to prove them wrong. They often do and we look back and say they were on the cutting edge.

    Bob
     
  17. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    I saw "cutting edge" or whatever you wish to call it last night in my darkroom. A friend was over doing a different process (for her) for film development. It worked out very well and she was excited with the possibilities now open to her. It was nice to be able to witness this moment in photographic history. tim
     
  18. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    David and Don give excellent observations in my mind. In David's instance I think there tends to be an attempt or tendency to exceed for the sake of excess. Or that the pursuit of new can undermine the results.

    In Don's example people tend to need to put things in a context that is often just a contrivance.

    The pursuit as defined by David, when done consciously, can easily become a contrivance or can become something stunning. To decide today what is legitimate or truly cutting edge is like trying to write about tomorrow's history.

    Cutting edge has an imagery of being cool, young and wearing black, but that confuses popular culture and our tendency toward ageism with a clear fresh visual articulation. Or that if its new its youthfull and theat only the young and hip can be inventive. Saying something in a new way may be enhanced by a lack of exposure to convention or youth, but it isn't dependent upon it. Conversely, the study of convention and the historical can produce newness, by having a better idea of where we've been, what kind of messages, symbols, icons are important and why.

    I suspect I'm rambling.
     
  19. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    "Cutting edge" is a matter of technology, "edgey" a matter of style. Both are far more transitory than the publicists wish to admit. :cool:
     
  20. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    Ummm, my guess is that if it is large, digital, blurry, color and randomly composed it is cutting edge.

    I derive that definition because it is everything my work is not.
     
  21. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Thanks.

    Stole it.

    .
     
  22. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    The object ofTraditional Photography is to make a picture with fresh eyes and emotion, every time.

    That pushes the boundaries every day.

    The only way to do that is to look, and see, and not make any picture refer to a standard or trend or school.

    Conventional Photography, on the other hand, is ALL ABOUT doing what is right, expected, and marketable.

    .
     
  23. Will S

    Will S Member

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    I agree. Labels are for critics and art historians, not artists. I think that Ralph Eugene Meatyard had some good ideas on the subject of originality. I don't have the book in front of me, but I believe he said something along the lines of "try to do something new because anything else is boring and untrue to yourself" but I'm paraphrasing.... And this from a photographer who clearly demonstrates that you can find opportunities to make photographic art just about anywhere.

    Will
     
  24. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    IMO "cutting edge" is that which is designed to either shock you or instantly command your attention, even if after careful examination the viewer decides it is crap. We have to distinguish between "cutting edge" and a fad. For example, back in the 70's and early 80's we had Helmut Newton and Mapplethorpe as examples of cutting edge photography, the early 90's gave us Witkin and at the opposite end of the scale people like David Fokos and Michael Kenna. At the same time we had the fads: selective focusing, negative manipulation, Holga/Diana toned prints, etc, etc.

    Some cutting edge photography became fads, a good example is the long exposure night photography done by Kenna (specially of bodies of water) which then was imitated by a myriad of photographers.

    With digital we now have the confusion between cutting edge and a fad. IMO big huge ink jet prints are a fad, but some consider them cutting edge because it has not been done before.

    Sadly many times cutting edge is confused with sloppy technique and lack of command of the printing medium where the supposed "content" of the print is the main consideration.

    I have two personal considerations. Cutting edge for me is the photography done where the photographer has a fresh new insight and particular style specific to them (something very hard to achieve and which I believe we are all looking for) and the fad which is about 99% of the crap we see in galleries and museums......
     
  25. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    I do like the way you got Heisenberg into the equation. I feel a need to print your post for further reference, being a socalled contemporary artist myself (although not in photography unfortunately).

    I have a strong feeling alt processes will soon (in 5 years or so) be cutting edge, meaning picked up by the trendsetting gallery/museum crowd. And in general my intuition has not failed me over the last 10 years, I can proudly say. Stay put, the time is getting ripe for what is common knowledge here. Have patience & mercy with the poor people in the art world on whose shoulders rests the ungrateful task of foretelling what is avant garde and what not. But beware, once a trend, the lifetime of the interest of the gen. public is limited to the duration of the trend! And that interest can be over in a couple of years.
     
  26. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Most of all the "cutting-edge" people (mostly filmmakers, famous or not) I've met are not really cutting-edge themselves. But they are undoubtly sharp thinkers, and their work reflects their intelligence and personalities that others can see and relate to. They are so focused on what they've been doing and don't care about anything else, and I think that's what matters the most. And that's not something you can label.