It is bromoil a blind stream of todays photography?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Juraj Kovacik, Jan 9, 2005.

  1. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Member

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    It is bromoil a blind stream of todays photography or it is a logical step after the fall of the modernism believe in brain and after horror of emptiness of the postmodern smirks? I don’t know. I was taught and grown in belief in modernism. My teacher is a conceptual artist and my more admired photographer, Jozef Sudek, he is one of them who define modern photography. And it is not so hard start to feel that going on the bromoil way, the way I stepped out impulsively few months ago, is a betray.

    The biggest fear of every true modernist is to be accused of producing kitsch. I strongly believe, and there is less then a few I can do with it, that you can do in art what you want or need or have to, unless the producing a kitsch. Of course, the definition of what is kitsch can be crucial. But we can try to hold things simple and say, that kitsch is equivalent of fake. To make up in Photoshop a dramatic landscape from a moody shoot is a fake. Maybe no everybody would agree with the next, but in my opinion the same for make up in darkroom a perfect picture from a moody shoot, that is a fake too.

    It is obvious that to say that a bromoil is kitsch looks to be in line with previous steps. There is only one exception, only one way how to avoid this fear and this accusation. At first one have to produce the best silver print he can. He has to take picture of something he really loves, he is really interesting in, he is living with for days and days, something he knows and understand and he has to wait for the right time and the right light. The in the darkroom or on the computer he has to produce the print he can put on the wall, the print he can consider as a part of his portfolio, his work. It must be so good print that he has to hesitate to bleach it; he has to take it as a sacrifice. And after that he may to try to push picture father by inking it as a bromoil.

    Sorry to be too long but I cant say it shorter. Every reaction, opinion, comments, every impulse will be welcome.
     
  2. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    Jurak

    Your post is a little hard to follow but I think I get what you are saying. To me a good picture is a good picture that conveys a message to me, regardless of how it was made. I agree that nobody wants to produce kitch whether it be modern or not, but I disagree with your slant that a 'perfect picture' cant be made in the darkroom. Is that not postvisualization?

    Phill
     
  3. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The very successful Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum defines himself as a kitsch painter. I believe this was originally to avoid others accusing him of the same, but he does have a point. Most kitsch paintings show a technical mastery which is sadly lacking in much of the works of "modernists", and is probably a better "role model" for someone who builds on the works of Rembrandt and Caravaggio.

    What I'm trying to say, I think, is that "kitsch" is not bad in itself. It also happens to be very saleable...
     
  4. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    i too find this thread hard to follow.

    What i do know is that i am going to be doing some bromoils this year, just for fun and as an additional learning experiences. Is this "kitsch", don't know, and really don't care , it is just my plan.

    my .02 cents worth.
     
  5. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Member

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    hups, I hope my pictures are more understandable then my writing...

    Phill, about postvisualization - if you know that articles from UK B&W about darkroom tips and trics, here burn 1/3 stop and here dodge 1/2 stop etc etc - so that is something I never ever done in dark. But is my opinion only, of course.
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    That is something I almost always do in the darkroom - and more often 2 stops than 1/2. That I happen to disagree with how the "master printers" in UK B&W do it is just a matter of taste - I can think of one single case where I would have done similar adjustments.

    That I often manipulate heavily in the darkroom doesn't make my pictures any more or less "fake", and certainly not kitsch. The simple act of ignoring all colour from a scene is the start that gives me "license" to do whatever I want to get the picture I want from a scene.
     
  7. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Surely the inking process in bromoil can produce similar results to burning and dodging in the darkroom. I've attended workshops in the UK given by some excellent bromoil makers and they demonstrate how to lay on more ink to darken and removal of ink in various ways to brighten the highlight and increase contrast. Are you saying that to do this in bromoil is also fake and if so what is not fake?
     
  8. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Member

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    That's the point, Les. Inking bromoil is the same as manipulate the picture in photoshop. Only you are using brush, not computer. I don't say there is something wrong about it, I wanted only share some doubts about my personal feelings from my work. Starting with bromoil I have crossed some borders I was taught and believe it as a measure what is photography as an art medium about. And I'm not sure and maybe this is the big step in the wrong direction. I have to rethink things and talking about them is a way.
     
  9. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Simple respnse:
    with art, it is a matter of taste.

    More considered response:
    If anything, the modernists and post modernists have taught us that artistic expression is not defined by the medium. Just as great works of poetry have been written in every language known to mankind, great works in the visual arts have been expressed in every meduim imaginiable -- from classical oil on canvas to welded scrap automotive parts. Artistic expression cannot be confined to, and is not defined by the medium of expression. I don't think that we can discount a work of art simply because the artist has chosen to express his vision in a different language/medium than ours.
     
  10. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    How true. I think you have summed up the whole debate. Too many people place more credance on the process than the image.
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've seen some historic bromoils, and the process seems to be capable of producing quite a wide range of effects. Whether it becomes kitsch or not depends on the vision of the printer, as with any process.
     
  12. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Member

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    I agree whit every word you wrote except art as a matter of taste. We should be able to say this is good art and this is a fake. Maybe my rules for this "classification" are different yours, that absolutely OK, but we cant pretened that we are without these rules.

    The problem is that one should be consistent with his own rules. Of course one should be able to change them / it is natural to do it as one is developing/, but at least it not harm to think about them.

    Les, I can't to think about image without thinking about process. When I wanted to say what I want, it limits the tools I can use. And when I do something, the tools I use are cruical for the result.

    Maybe there is an answer - if bromoil process fit to what I want to say, then it is suitable to use it. Hm, maybe sometimes my prejudices dimed my view a bit.
     
  13. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    As the old saying goes, if you can't stand the bleat, stay out of kitschin'. :wink:

    While bromoil holds virtually no artistic appeal for me personally, I wouldn't venture to call any application of the technique as kitsch, let alone include the obligatory raised eyebrow or derogatory upward glance while doing so.

    To each his/her own, I'd suggest. Whether the public responds positively or negatively to the effort matters only within the context of the practitioner's motivation for creating the work.
     
  14. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Member

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    nice :smile:
     
  15. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    Juraj, we are all prisioners of our prejudices, each in his own way.

    As for the ability/goal to make a print with the least amount of manipulation, I can understand it perfectly. But you must not carry that over to a different medium, for the rules change as the setting changes. If you had started photography with bromoils, and been a purist of that medium, silver printing might seem like cheating as well (after all, contrast and print tonality can be changed with mere changes in developing time). But if manipulation is to be avoided, them you must ask what is the "standard" that you are manipulating. Should all your prints be made at grade 5, 20 seconds at f/22? Or is it grade 2, 8 seconds at f/8? How do we arrive at such values?

    We must remember that the act of photography is "fake" in and of itself. We limit the colors of the things we shoot (be it color or B&W, for color film imposes limitations as well), we impose boundaries by the edges of the frames (where in reality one may turn his head), we impose limits on time, by freezing a moment or compressing several minutes into one single instant, to be repeated forever. (It must be said that this paragraph has been heavily influenced my Albert Camus' The Rebel, particularly by the chapter Rebellion and Art)

    What is the standard by which manipulation is held? Is the purity of the negative, and it's record of the scene, the goal for which to strive in printing? If so, is manipulation before the printing acceptable (such as gradient filters, film developing and developer choice, and for that matter, film choice)? It must only be acceptable if it's printing counterparts are acceptable as well, after all the end result is the same, and acts themselves are for the most part directly interchangeable. The main difference is that darkroom manipulation is safer, for the limitations on space and time have been imposed, and several tries may be attempted without the risk of losing the shot. That is, if in camera manipulation is acceptable, darkroom manipulation must be acceptable as well, unless the standard by which we stand is the photographers talent and luck (for achieving a perfectly exposed negative, in relation to his printing process) when he presses the shutter (which becomes luck for the most part for documentary or other fast paced photographers).

    And if it is acceptable for silver printers to chose papers, films, and developers (not to mention toners), it is acceptable for bromoil, and pt/pd for that matter, to make the corrensponding choices for their mediums. And given the manipulatory nature of such mediums, it follows that further manipulations may follow (or we must ask where the line is drawn). And to be honest, we must remember that silver printing was once hand mixed and coated as well. Industrialization may have led to the standardization of the coating process, but has not done away with the nature of the medium (not completely anyway, unless we go into digital and what it all means).

    I hope I made some sense here,

    André
    p.s. I don't want to sound as if i'm giving an absolute answer, just my attempt at solving this problem.
     
  16. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Member

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    You have made a lot of sense here, Andre. Maybe the most important question is not how he/she is doing his/her pictures but why he/she is doing them. What are he/she looking for, what is his/her work about, what does he/she want to say. And only through answers these question we can distinguish art and fake.
     
  17. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    Juraj,

    the problem I face is that once these questions are answered, how do we go about classifying the answers and the work?

    Let's take my Sertão series as an example:

    I made the photographs for a variety of reasons, which include my desire to learn more about the world and the people I photograph (and the use of photography as an excuse to explore), my passion for photography (and above all, MY photography), and the good feeling I have everytime I print a new frame and see how well it works (which has become an addiction, and I feel very bad when I can't print, or have run out of work to print).

    I'm not sure what I'm looking for, but part of it is understanding of life (in general). There's a lot I don't undertand and would like to sometime before I die. Actually, the sooner the better. I think that that's the reason I regard Philosophy and Photography much in the same way. Both are means to the same end, and each has its own rewards.

    As for what I want to say, you got me there. I think that some of my work is meant to be a slap in the face of its viewers, and some may be a cry for equality and understanding. But I can't say for sure, since I haven't shot a single frame with those goals in mind. Most of the time, there's a feeling of compassion and comradeship to those I photograph. Sometimes I feel guilt.

    But what do those answers mean? How do we classify them into art or fake? What are the standards by which we judge?

    I ask not to be stubborn, but because I have struggled with the word "art" for quite some time, and have given up on it. I don't use it, and tend to dismiss statements that do. I see that as a flaw on my part.
     
  18. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Member

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    It is very interesting to read about the background of your photography a I believe you - it is in the line with your best works. And that is why your work is not a fake.

    Maybe we'd open one day a new thread with title what is the idea behind your pictures?

    Thank Andre, for your participation, thanks all for your opinions, comments or suggestions. It was very helpful, from my point of view.

    I think, it is better to try to discuss things then to cut your ear, isn't it?
     
  19. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    Juraj, first of all, thanks!

    Secondly, I'm glad I made some sense...

    I think you should give your bromoils more time. You are very good with your silver prints, and perhaps it's unfair to compare them to your bromoils, which you are still learning. Give your self some more time, and maybe start shooting negatives exclusively for bromoil (different compositions, maybe different developing, I don't know).

    By the way, I'm sorry if I started to go out of topic on my last post... but I think if you stop and think about why you are making your prints, you will find plenty of good reasons to keep on doing it. I hope you do, anyway.

    Take care, man.

    André
     
  20. MSchuler

    MSchuler Subscriber

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    If I understand correctly from your post, you like modernist work and want to continue working in that vein. My understanding of modernist art is that it is in part about using a medium to stress what unique to it - a purist approach. If so, as long as you are exploring what makes a bromoil a bromoil, you don't have any problems. If you start doing faux 19th century images, that would be different.

    Since most antiquarian techniques like bromoil lost popularity before modernist photography got big, I would think that there's lots of area for innovative modernist art using old techniques.
     
  21. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Member

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    Thank you, that is another interesting point. And it is an optimistic and encouraging point of view.