Living in a post-photographic age, interview with Robert Burley

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by adelorenzo, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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  2. Eugen Mezei

    Eugen Mezei Member

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    I agree with him that photography [1] is quasi dissapearing, but I very much disagree with what he thinks the reason for this is.
    In my opinion it is not that Kodak closes, film dissapears and not even that every cellphone gets a camera. Perhaps the last one has an indirect influence.

    The problem is that nothing new appears. Maybe it is a consequence that almost anything was photographed, but even this is not the real, exclusive reason. I think the reason is that no revolution is happening. Nobody comes up with something really "art-shaking". I see only thousands of variations of the same "streetphotography" that's considered "cool" but mostly saying nothing, industrial where the more trash the better and if you put a model in some dirty or motoroiled clothes in the picture than it is considered perfect (but unfortunately it was presented the same way thousands of times, maybe the first time it was somewhat innovative), social photography where the goal seem to be to find people in the most desolate environments, portraits, fashion all the same endless variations of what we have seen also thousands of times, etc, etc. Nothing really revolutionary nor in the ideea nor in the realisation. So at least photography is stagnating for a long time now. Without revolution it can't exist art, even evolution is not enough.

    [1] I don't men technical photography, of course.
     
  3. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    I think the revolution is in motion imagery, that's the issue, it's moved away from still, the next step past that is fully digital renderings that aren't at all photographs but graphical 3D modeling that you can "snap" with your camera that takes a 3D sonar image and you can then create the colors as you see fit (or some such thing like that) this is the issue, I don't mean to sound down about film, I love film, the reality is that us film shooters are the ones who haven't evolved, we're stuck on film and anti-digital, but that's where photography has gone and we refused to change, and so we die... (there was a term used and I forget it now) for the portrait painters in Europe who fought hard against the idea of photography that it wasn't really art and all the new photography portraits that were taking their business away because it wasn't "really art" there was a term for them. Photographers who remain in film and claim that digital isn't really art, they are the same. You can't really make any NEW film, it's already been done, the new images are going to come from some other technology. Don't get me wrong I LOVE my film, it gives me a different sense of framing and imagery, forces me to think, just as the painters took hours and days to paint a portrait, I take minutes to compose and set up a shot rather than 10 seconds to snap 10 digital shots and edit and crop in post on a computer. Perhaps photography in the future will be in the form or image extraction from our own mind's eye of memory of an experience and how we saw it, and that will be displayed for the world. Right now it's through twitter and instagram and Pheed and Facebook and Tumblr and all the others... there are tons of photographers who NEVER make a print and only sell their work digitally to someone who likes to look at them on their computer ... and that is the new photography, we are the old way, we are the Neanderthals.

    I have NOT read the above link YET... simply responding to the poster, I WILL read (or watch etc.) sometime tomorrow night most likely.

    Please don't be angry with my comment, I am a big supporter of film as an art, but I only speak the truth as I see it.

    ~Stone
     
  4. h.v.

    h.v. Member

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    Interesting...I actually saw some of the photos included in his book, very well done and very emotional I think. While I can understand his point of view and can even agree with certain points, I wouldn't be so dramatic as to call our age the "post-photographic age." Like the interviewer said, we're still taking photos, be it analogue or digital, perhaps mostly digital, we're just doing it in a different way. We're still documenting our lives, arguably more so than 10 or 15 years ago, we're just going about it in a different way. We may be in a new photographic age, that much is clear, but it isn't a post-photographic age, that's for sure. I agree with StoneNYC, for better or worse, we're the dinosaurs, not the Instagrammers and DSLR users.
     
  5. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    For me what was really interesting were his comments about how fast things are changing in the past 5-10 years. We're kind of in the middle of it now and it will be interesting to see what 'photography' is in the next 5-10 years.
     
  6. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    i'm also a film neanderthal, but I'm looking forward to photoshop supplying choices of models and allowing me to set the studio lights, so i don't even need a digital camera anymore. that's where the next generationofphotographymust be going to provide something new. after that, it's off to the hollow deck mr. spok.beam me up scotty.
     
  7. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    :munch: :smile:


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  8. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Why should it? I think of analogue photography as similar to the classic car movement - it keeps alive machinery, processes etc that are no longer mainstream. e.g. nobody goes to a classic event to see the latest, greatest, fastest etc, and yet they are incredibly popular. It is a revelation to some to see how advanced old machinery actually was. Surely this is part of the satisfaction with using a camera from say the 50's or 60's and coming home and creating really nice images - there's an element of showmanship and personal satisfaction in NOT being mainstream. Fiddling with manually controlled exposure settings to try and get the best image when the latest equipment automates everything is no different to tweaking the mixture and timing to get that old engine running sweet when the latest vehicles have it all done by black-box.
     
  9. sdotkling

    sdotkling Member

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    Bingo. That says it perfectly. It's rather depressing from the point of the Neanderthal, though, isn't it?

    The problem is that I'm a Neanderthal myself. I worked with moving images for many years but never really liked it: it was a group effort, requiring many specialists (I was an art director making commercials), so the "hands on" part---the part I liked---ended with my storyboards. Then it was all up to the production people who actually got to touch the cameras.

    I bought video equipment and tried that part myself, but quickly found that the technology required becomes overwhelming. Editing platforms change constantly, as do the basic formats: Standard def became high def, tape became chips, 2D became 3D, and now High Frame Rate, each requiring entirely new (and very expensive) equipment. All this to merely appear "up to date" and compete with the new kid around the corner. Then there's the basic strategic flaw in making moving images as "art": no one has the time to watch it, so competition for screen time is fierce. Check out a local video store (if one still exists) and count the documentaries you've never ever heard of. Quite depressing for the nascent filmmaker.

    Black & white analog photography is much more manageable. Simple equipment. Easy processes. It's quite inexpensive, still. Beautiful cameras. Enough gizmos to amuse and beguile without overwhelming the whole purpose. Pretty results. Appreciative viewers who always like to see photos of themselves or people they know or places they've heard about. Much better.

    The fact that its antique and out of step and stagnant in a way is immaterial, ultimately. You never hear people say fine woodworking is a stagnant art, even though every chair has already been built, do you?
     
  10. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    The software is already here as can be seen by the works of Pixar and Dreamworks - Not quite Photoshop or affordable by Joe Average, but the technology is here, and prices will come down.

    Using a lens from the 1890's, a (LF) camera from the 1950's, and film made within the last year (all be it with 1980's technology) is a statement to the effect that the craft spans three centuries and it still produces results. For me, it is as much about producing images that are noticeably different from the plethora of humdrum digital prints in their over manipulated gore..... That and it scares the hell out of the natives when confronted by a real big camera :laugh:
     
  11. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I think that the approachable surreal aspect of photograph, namely black and white, will always hold a fascination for people.

    It ebbs and flows in it's popularity, but it still seems the most dramatic, impactful due to its "cutting to the chase" aesthetic, and to it's humanity. What I mean is, it still feels real, although we don't see the world in black and white, but it strips away all the extraneous and leaves us with the essence or the importance or the subject.

    It's still approachable but surreal at the same time. It's still our world but not quite. Much like a great song. We don't talk in song but yet for 3 minutes it's able to compress our feelings into a more memorable and moving presentation. So it's part of us yet apart at the same time.

    As the evolution of the digital age progresses and the utter swamping of images in the different media, I don't have a clue where "photography" is heading. Granted people do like novelty of the newest toys but still love and appreciate the perfection of a black and white analog or digital print that can move them.

    I can't see that ever changing.
     
  12. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    For sure, I didn't mean to post this as another 'film is dead' thread. I just thought this was provocative and very interesting. It had me thinking of something like Ray Kurzweils Law of Accelerating Returns in terms of where photography is going next.
     
  13. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Photography has actually found its place in serving a universal social function - the reason we don't see anything radically new then is that photographers have stopped searching for the 'meaning' of the medium. We've found it. And it wasn't artists who found it, but ordinary people.

    You can look at Harry Callahan as someone who experimented with every facet of photographic seeing, but miss the point that the strength of his work depends on how reflective it is of his ordinary life experience. He photographed his family and his immediate surroundings, just better than everyone else. 'New' in photography can be seen as new subjective concerns or new ways of seeing the same old crap. Isn't the latter responsible for most movements? Isn't it happening all the time, with every new photographer who picks up a camera? New things are being created all the time, they just don't stay new for very long. This isn't a problem with photography, but how small the world has become.

    Because photography has found its function amongst the masses, a game changing revolution might only ever happen again in tandem with some kind of global shift in awareness, as the result of a cataclysmic event, because most people are intellectually and creatively average and uninspired. It's people now, rather than artists, who are responsible for photography's real momentum and social influence and I guess it will only ever move in gentle waves. Nobody wants to sail on rough seas!

    Nothing radically new in a technological sense will happen with photography so long as Canon, Nikon and friends continue indefinitely playing this slow, cautious game of tech chess.
     
  14. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I think/hope future generations may view analog photography in the same way we now view painting, as a medium with initial truthful physical integrity.
     
  15. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I think the camera-in-every-phone aspect is quite important, as part of a trend that's been in progress since the birth of photography: the drift of the technology "downward" into more casual/vernacular uses. That effect has been widely observed across the history of analog photography---wet plates to dry plates to sheetfilm to rollfilm to 35mm to autoexposure to autofocus to p&s compacts, each stage prioritizing convenience and accessibility rather than absolute artistic control and image quality.

    Which, you might argue, intrinsically makes the photographer less of a special snowflake, because the trend is for photography to become ever more of an "anyone can do this" art. IMHO, different capture media aren't a very interesting aspect of this curve, except inasmuch as they remove the need for darkroom technique (but so did Polaroid)---different form factors in the camera, however, are very interesting. A camera that fits in your pocket, is always with you, and auto-does everything, including distributing the image for people to look at? You know, you push the button and it does the rest? I've heard that slogan somewhere before. :smile:

    Maybe, but I tend to think this is one of those things that everyone believes about their own era. It's pretty hard to tell what's revolutionary until you have the benefit of hindsight. The ridiculous omnipresence of photography via mobile phones is a change, certainly, and I'm not confident that we won't look back on it in a few decades and find something "art-shaking" in the blurring of the lines between personal, art, and documentary photography.

    Heck, I see more revolution than that just in the gallery here, and I'm not even very assiduous about checking it. There are a lot of technically good landscapes (which I tend to like) and nudes (which I don't), neither of which really represents groundbreaking photography; there's a certain amount of the "generic street grit" style you're describing; but then there's a lot of stuff that I'd describe as "the extraordinary in the ordinary"---semi-abstractions of familiar views reframed as unfamiliar---as well as process experiments, strong portraiture work, minimalism, classic-styled street candids without the dirt...

    I'm talking through my hat as usual, but maybe we in the film world are in a bit the same role as the Pre-Raphaelites, in our belief (held to varying degrees, to be sure) that the modern conventions and techniques of photography tend to distract from the "soul" or artistic strength of the image. (Should we be calling ourselves the Pre-Sassonite Brotherhood? :smile: That's a reactive rather than a purely creative position, but IMHO it's a constructive part of the development of an art; sometimes there need to be periods of retrenchment and rediscovery, and they feed into the same artistic mill as everything else.

    -NT
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I was at a workshop last night at my local photo club. The workshop presenter was a photographer named Aura McKay. Aura is quite talented, and an excellent presenter as well.

    Her workshop title was "Composition and Creativity", and her central theme was essentially that a photographer can use photography to the greatest effect when they use it to help discover and show a different and interesting view of the world.

    That isn't particularly new, but it also isn't out of date either.

    I'm still discovering new things with photography, and I see others who appear to be doing the same as well.

    Aura started out with training in film, and has recently transitioned to digital, but I don't think the medium matters much on whether photography is relevant. It just effects how omni-present it is.
     
  17. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Actually, I like the shot Leonard Nimoy took of his mom and dad...
     
  18. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I meant to comment on the recording...

    Thanks adelorenzo, It was fun listening to a local piece. Too bad it was only 6 minutes, I could have listened to him talk for an hour.
     
  19. shutterlight

    shutterlight Member

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    I think often about how art photography fits into the future of photography in general. As an art photo student, I don't really have anything to do with the commercial side of photography and don't do it on the side (not that I have an issue with those that do). I photograph people because I want to do that and I'm sort of figuring out what I really want out of my work. Many of my fellow art photographers occupy an odd space. We make work with much different intent and (hopefully) vision than most other photographers, and technological changes affect us differently. Instagram and cellphone photos in general and just about everything else exists in an almost parallel universe in a way. Some of the photographs taken there are terrific, even if not shot with a particular artistic vision. Much of the rest is just noise, however interesting it can be sometimes. I think of Instagram as being the equivalent of 35mm cameras in the 1970s and 1980s. The picture quality is almost identical now (I refer to the quality most amateurs and snapshooters got, not professionals and high quality amateurs using the same cameras), and the only difference is that prints were common in those days and are rare now from cellphones.

    For me as an art photographer, all I really want is to be able to use film to photograph people in a way of my choosing. I'm not sure how many more art photographers (actual and potential) there are now vs. a generation ago. There are probably more, given the advent of digital to allow people to experiment and gradually figure things out more cheaply, but at the same time, I think stylized photography that quickly turns into fodder for the usual places is much more common.

    For people living in the small world I spend a lot of my time in, the changes both affect us a lot and not much at all. Film is still commonplace, some people use processes that were old at the beginning of the 20th century, and generally speaking, photographs and bodies of work are made with some kind of artistic intent, however loose it can be sometimes. Is our community so small, even taken altogether, that we don't even show up as a blip on the photographic radar? A "yes" answer to that wouldn't surprise me. Just sort of asking in general :smile:.
     
  20. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    "I wish that more people felt that photography was an adventure the same as life itself and felt that their individual feelings were worth expressing. To me, that makes photography more exciting."
    -- Harry Callahan

    This Christmas I received a new pen. This pen has something different: a camera and 4Gb flash storage. Have we move into a post-photographic age? I think that we have moved into a hyper-photographic age. There is that Kickstarter project for a wearable camera that makes a snapshot every 30 seconds. Record the moments of your life! For no really good reason. Upload them for all to see! For no really good reason. Because you have a gadget, and it goes blink blink blink.

    Is life an adventure because your moments are recorded with a camera? I could wander around for 90 minutes at a time, recording 640x480 at 15fps. Oh, my, I walked down to the store, bought some stuff, and walked back. Did I express myself by recording every movement? I read a book. Oooh, how operatic! Or maybe not.

    Hanna Arendt used the phrase, "banality of evil," in her thesis, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Here I have the banality of every day life. I don't think that life is dramatized simply because it is photographed. It simply is. Yeah, sure, there may be dramatic moments in life. Perhaps there may be an interesting vignette. But 24/7, on the average, life is not a major drama.

    So anything other than the banal has to be carefully collected. Sure, I can make a snapshot with the pen whenever I feel like it. But just because I clicked the pen doesn't mean that the moment is special. I have to make the determination to curate the present. I must always figure out which little moment, which scene, is actually special and worth saving. Perhaps saving it for someone else, or just for me.

    So, no, we don't live in anything like a post-photographic age. We now live in an age where photography has moved into an even faster speed. How many images are shared on a daily basis? Through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, whatever. And there are new services every month. More ideas on how to connect people in a manner that they want to be connected.

    Information as banal as walking down the street.

    Welcome to the banality of the present.
     
  21. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    This reminds me more of the surrogate effect, living and experiencing through recorded images rather than viewing ourselves in person. Soon we will stay at home and experience life throughout brain stimuli from a computer :smile:


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  22. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    Like video games, but it's just life as we know it. Vicarious virtual reality. There was a science fiction story a while back, and one of the elements was that virtual reality was the norm. You could also do things like rent time on a roving robot, instead getting on a plane and going to the Louvre yourself to see the paintings. One of the characters did that, expecting to see a crowd of people there. He was disappointed to see that the place was full of the same roving robots, and nobody was physically in the building to see the artwork!

    Actually, that makes the role of the purposeful photographer even more imporant. If more and more people stay home, then it's really up to the few who go out and photograph to bring back what is poignant within the banal.
     
  23. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    I was in that movie, it's called "Surrogates" with Bruce Willis :smile:


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  24. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    No, that's not it. That movie was based on a comic book, but the one I'm thinking about was a novel. Part of the plot involved hacking to the surrogate network. When someone died, for a short while their surrogate identity could be picked up and reassigned. One of the protagonists was from a poor neighborhood, and paid someone to do this for him. Unfortunately for this fellow, the ID that was hacked was someone who had been murdered, and the murderer then thought that they hadn't done the job right. And of course throw in the police, who knew they had a body, yet the ID was still active, and of course things get interesting.

    I remember that the description of the hacker was an old fellow who only used a keyboard and monitor to interact with the network, and scoffed at using the VR and robots. Who knows, maybe he also used film... :wink: