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Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by bjorke, Jun 6, 2007.
Read the comments too
It is a community and therefore a product of the photographers taking part. Whatever than means. In essence it is I think. It is in part about producing photographs that 'are' in their own right, without the sterile barren perfection of d******. The culture we have here I think is largely about the art, print and photographer being indivisible....if I am making sense. The Analogue Trinity!
"its all about the ‘critical discourse’ surrounding issues of representation and how the work relates to Rosalind Krauss’s ’sculpture in the expanded field’ essay. or so i’ve heard." Oh, that sounds so impressive...but what did he say????
I can't translate that but I can translate what you just said. You said:
"I haven't any idea what's in Rosalind Krauss' essay and I'm not going to read it in order to find out if the statement would be perfectly clear to me if I did. I'm just going to ridicule the artsy-fartsy talk because that's easier."
Oh thanks for that, that was funny. The fellow who buries his photographs... to cure them? Of what, though, I wonder. Reminds me of an acquaintance of mine back in Canada who used to grow high-grade marijuana. When his crop was harvested and cured, he'd bury it over the winter in his back yard. Said it did wonders for the aroma and taste!
My latest, new policy: Ignore art-bashing posts in art threads since the art-bashers won't ignore art threads.
I think this is an important and valid point to be mentioned in contemporary photography and art in general. I do think some of people here are consciously or unconsciously dealing with this issue of physicality.
I think there are two fundamentally different issues at stake.
One is the issue of sterile-ness in contemporary images which, I think, has a lot to do with having an ultimate control over image-making as one person pointed out in the comments. It has to do with photographers' self-consciousness and not "letting other things happen." I cannot quite articulate it, but photographs used to carry more poignant feeling because it was more spontaneous and transient. If you remember what Fredrick Sommer said in an interview on a radio, you know what I mean. It lacks depth because it can only go as far as a photographer can consciously think of.
We see these images regardless of digital or analogue. Certainly staying or going back to analogue does not guarantee otherwise at all.
The other issue is about physical properties of photographs- photographs as objects. I think more and more we are exposed to images without physical forms whether it is on a computer screen or TV crossing different media without any respect to the inherent properties. I think people are feeling a little empty or at least nostalgic about the way we used to interact with images. I mean what is the point of having a self-rotating LCD picture frame? We are giving up a quite lot for these things, which you will only appreciate when they are completely gone.
For this using analogue will certainly help and develop a sense of tactility and physicality in things around us which we are replacing with mechanical, chemicals, as well as electrical experiences.
I think, though, ultimately a good photograph is supported by good form.
There is a definite striving for physicality on APUG. Witness the postcard and print exchanges. One of my favorite things about the postcard exchange beyond the pure substance of a concrete object in my hands is the realities of the object. Which side is "up?" What's on the back? What happened to the photograph in transit? Where did it travel from?
If the image itself was all that mattered we'd be satisfied with the galleries.
We are not.
Much as I am averse to theoretical discussions of the "angels and pinhead" variety, there seem to be 2 questions here:
1) APUG and physicality. The main strength of an electronic bulletin board is that it provides a platform for ideas, whether verbal or as images, for anyone who wants to join in from all over the world. This does not exclude any physicality in the form of exchanges of actual prints etc. but this activity must surely come (and does come, in my view) a very distant second. If your main interest is in physically handling images, you need to find, for example, postal portfolios running in your own country.
2) Bjorke posts a link to a photographer bewailing the sterility of his [digital] work. Call me an old curmudgeon, but if a photographer is producing what he/she feels are "sterile" images, the most likely reason by far is the emotional emptiness of the said photographer's mind. To blame the sterility on the characteristics of the technical process being used seems grossly mistaken. Paper manufacturers have toiled day and night without rest to produce digital papers which offer a more tactile experience than glossy, but these will not help if photographers are merely making images by the score (or hundred) with their minds in neutral. A little thought and some exploration will reveal, for example, that it is possible to photograph people in a way other than standing staring expressionlessly full-face into the camera, arms by their sides, and that urban landscapes do not need to be photographed empty of people in flat lighting (although to judge by so much contemporary work, this is a very well-kept secret).
I got through about as many comments as I could before ADD started to hit!
To answer your thread query - I do not think APUG is about "physicality" or "tactile photography" per se. I do think it is a meeting place for those who believe that tactile photography is the "purpose" of the art.
We here use "digital techniques" to both show and discuss our work - with the belief that we do so as a convenient "compromise" to how we would prefer to share our product.
I think most here would prefer to sit alongside each other and show our photos in their printed glory (or our physical chromes projected via light onto a screen).
Alas, we cannot do that here. But at the same time, we can reach so many more with our "compromised" virtual photographs and hope to preserve the "tactile photograph" as opposed to the "digital image".
I don't know "PUNK" "DO YOU FEEL LUCKY?" "WELL DO YOU?"
I am not unnecessarily talking about physicality in terms of handling prints or exchanging them as Michael is making a comment on.
What I meant is that some photographers try to incorporate physicality into their work and constantly figuring out how to do it in a meaningful way. Using historical processes is one instance where photographer can influence how actual prints come into being.
Of course APUG is not about physicality per se. But I think it has a lot to do with it, and this notion comes to the surfaces, especially when people try to articulate what it is that they like about analogue processes.
Also as for your #2, while it is true as to photographers have a lot to do with what kind of images they make, yet to me where there are technical implications, there are aesthetic implications.
What do you think?
I think the real world interaction that comes from this site is the real attraction of APUG as compared with other online photo discussion sites--print exchanges, postcard exchanges, the Traveling Portfolios, regional formal and informal gatherings, the APUG Conference, etc. The reason for this is that the emphasis in discussion is on photographs and prints, and not "images" taken abstractly in the sense that the medium is not important and that an image on a screen is the same as a traditional print is the same as a reproduction in a magazine. The physical medium is part of the content and the meaning of the work, and I think many APUG participants recognize that.
damn right! Sounds like that spot in woody allan's movie where a young girl is interpreting a very dark painting in a gallery and woody asks her what she is doing Saturday night and she says "committing suicide" and he then asks "what about friday?"
An alternative view - or, who needs tactile?
RE: physicality and tactile qualities...
I've participated on and off in a discussion on fredmiranda.com about what creates the almost 3D look in some photographs.
A lot of people there really believe it's 99% from their choice of lens. And typically these are people who have adapted Leica and Contax lenses to their digital cameras.
I've come to the realization that while lens factors, like microcontrast and sharpness can help, so much of it is compositional. Choosing lighting that highlights surface textures, choosing compositions that emphasize perspective convergence or foreground-middleground-background relationships, choosing a depth of field that creates isolation from a background. Certainly lens factors and format factors can help, but a lot of this comes from creating the right kind of photo in concept.
So I think that a tactile quality is possible in a print or even on a web image even without cutting it up, hammering nails through it, or burying it in the ground. The concept and execution are what really bring photos to life in a tactile, tangible way.
Paul, my carbon prints have a raised relief...I guess that gives them a tactile quality.
Other than that, and the qualities you mentioned, I have no need to turn my photographs into scuptural pieces to get any message across...tho I certainly don't mind others doing so -- whatever works.
The concept of burying ones photographs, then digging them up later is an interesting concept. I find conceptual art interesting -- it is just that somtimes I think many can just as well stay conceptual and not be actualized. A good example is the fellow who had the concept of stringing bras across the Grand Canyon...a great idea, but one that fortunately did not get actually done. (being turned down by the Park Service was an important part of the art piece!)
Seeing David Goldfarb give a conference on culturally untranslatable Polish dolls as they relate to an avant-garde writer of the early 20th century? Priceless!
In a secondary sense, yes.
Does a lazer cut Ikea cabinet bought in Vancouver (which is identical to one bought in Chicago) resonate 'character' like a hand made Amish, Mexican, or Indonesian cabinet? Of course not, and photographs resonate with the hands of the photographer that produced them as well. Ultimately though, it's the clarity and purposefulness of the artists message that wins in the end.
Oh, and community!!!
Umm, Alec Soth shoots 8x10.
For better or worse, I have never heard of Alec Soth and merely drew what I felt (and still feel) was a logical conclusion from his blog article:
>>One of my frustrations with contemporary photographic technique, mine included, is the feeling of sterility. Digital processes have become so sophisticated that nearly every picture you see is dusted and anti-scratched to a state of frozen perfection. After awhile it all feels so airless.<<
However, the question of what Alec Soth shoots on, I feel, does not invalidate the point I made that sterile images are the product of vacuous photographers. I also find the suggestion bizarre that the presence of dust and scratches (which for a pro are merely evidence of incompetence) should in any way make work less sterile and more vital.
It would interest me if Bjorke could tell us what he means by physicality and how a bulletin board like APUG could actually have this quality.
If APUG were about physicality, hand-coated processes should be venerated here.
They very much are as long as they don't involve digital intermediates, but that's another thread.
Are they not?
But also it does not have to be hand-coated process or photo-sculpture either.
I think the key is imperfection and inconsistency of the finished product regardless it is intentional or not. Think of old daguerreotype or tintype you find at a garage sale.