Photography As Art Is Dead?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Andy K, Apr 30, 2006.

  1. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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  2. arigram

    arigram Member

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    I am getting tired of the "... is dead" articles.
    Who gives a flying shit about the opinion of a single man on the whole of Art?
     
  3. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I lost interest after about 2 paragraphs and admit that I did not read the entire article. However, I have to agree with the writer's point about manipulation being so easy. Some Soviets were masterfully skilled at manipulating photographs: removing leaders who had fallen from favor from photographs with other leaders, improving the appearance of leaders, etc. Now, most anyone with a computer and a few hours of Photoshop experience can alter a photograph every bit as convincingly. My girlfriend and I discuss fashion and advertising images, debating on the degree to which they have undergone post-exposure manipulation.

    Which all makes me wonder: if this critic is right, could the proliferation of easy to produce and manipulate digitally-enhanced images actually add value and worth to traditional, black and white film images???
     
  4. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    In the end they conclude that digital photography has destroyed the one special thing about photography; the underpinning of reality.
     
  5. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    Andy,
    Coincidentally noted critic AD Coleman is in Australia and gave a talk this afternoon in Sydney where this article, which he had read the day before, was raised. He proceeded to quota Mark Twain ...reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.... In his view we are in "rich times" in terms of photographic processes with some maniacs even returning to wet plates (cf latest issue of View Camera magazine) I think it was Picasso who once said having seen the output of a camera he would retire his brushes. He didn't.

    Having said this I think we are in somewhat of a battle with the broader population with respect to maintaining photography as a fine art and craft when it has been trivialised as a mere accessory in a mobile phone!
     
  6. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    No. Well, at least I hope it isn't. Since I'm going to be spending a good proportion of my time over the summer developing a website to aid in the promotion of and (hopefully) sell my photography.

    Tom.
     
  7. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    This is exactly what digital has done. Not only has it destroyed photography but it is destroying art mediums as well such as paintings. I read the other day this guy bought a watercolor painting on ebay. It ended up being a ink print on watercolor paper with a wash of water color over the top. Pisses me off....

    Digital has made it where photography no longer takes any thought and any idiot can do it. No more waiting for the perfect moment, no more learning how to print just push a button on the computer (auto levels, auto contrast, levels, curves, etc... )., no more learning film characteristics and using them to the fullest, no more metering, no MORE THINKING!

    Modern day way of thinking is, well I will fix it in Photoshop when I get home. This crap just devalues what we do. Digital is not art it is a hoax and I don’t give a stuff what you think!

    And with the onslaught of digital you will see photography become even more devalued.

    Well this just ruined my day…
     
  8. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    In all fairness Kevin, the box brownie allowed 'any idiot' to make photographs. Proliferation of use is not new and not confined to digital cameras. I do agree with you on the point about photoshop auto levels etc. and no thinking.
     
  9. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    True. That is why I love the view camera. Makes your images more personal and in touch with the scene.
     
  10. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    Any medium dies (or falls into relative obscurity) when artists stop using it and this will happen when artists fail to get any opportunity to show their work in that medium, or to see other artists' work in that medium.

    This past year I have seen more shows in Boston area museums of traditional photography than in any year I can remember. In the gallery I run I have had more traditional photographers ask for shows than in any year previous to this one. Our B&W photo classes are filledl every year.

    Even relative obscurity is a fruitful condition for many mediums. I give you Bromoil and wet-plate photography as examples. They are not seen in the numbers that digital prints are, but good examples of images produced in these methods are often strikingly beautiful to viewers who have no understanding of the medium at all.

    I'm reminded of roteagues's reference to an unthinking comment in another thread - to the effect that color photography was just colorful calendar art. Colorful calendar art will always have a place in the home. It is an inexpensive approximation of an artwork. The real artwork is an original, not a reproduction reduced in quality and presence for the sake of economy and popular distribution. In a way, we can thrive as artists because of this bastardization of our work. Any magazine shot, any poster, any web use of our photo is "calendar art." Thank god for it, it pays the bills and lets lots of people see what we can do. It may even inspire other artists. Only a fool considers the (digital) reproduction the artwork.
     
  11. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    The ability to manipulate a photograph and create an alternte reality has always been there since the beginning of photography. Multiple exposures, sandwiching negaitves, selective masking etc. Add to that the ability to fake reality by constructing a scene to fit the photographers vision such as Civil War photographers posing corpses for better compositions.


    The only difference with digital is that the ability to do the above has moved from the hands of skilled darkroom technicians to anyone with a computer and photoshop. Now everyone can present their own version of reality.

    I wonder what "real" photographers thought about all those regular folks buying cheap Japenese and in some cases German 35mm rangefinders and SLRs starting in the early 50s. I bet a lot of them thought it would be the end of the art of photography since people could go out and blast through 24 or 36 exposures without hardly thinking about it. Couple the cheap cameras with the idea of every camera nut being able to now afford enlarging gear for his 35mm frames and you end up with lots of crap elbowing for room with work from "real" photographers.

    But photographic art survived and the formats and processes that many might have felt threatened back then not only survive but thrive today as never before.

    Digital is really no different then analogue when it comes to the art aspect. I have seen truly stunning digital prints. the fact they were so good had nothing to do with the medium but the vision and execution of the idea by the artist. But those works are a small percentage of all the mediocre digital work that is out there, just like analogue. Good work will be recognized, applauded and given its due regardless of medium or process.
     
  12. per volquartz

    per volquartz Member

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    Photography will remain an important art form...

    ...as long as artists use photography to express themselves...
     
  13. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Why should anyone be influenced by a critic?
     
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  15. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, there is a sea of crap out there, but it only really hurts the few who are actually accomplished, and trying to make digital thier medium, and newbie collectors, who don't know what's what.

    Digital market flooding devalues digital photography, and is raising the value of traditional photography... the sea of hacks has gone digital. Good riddance.

    As an aside, traditional photography has recently set several sales records.

    We need a - "Is ????? dead" sub-subforum somewhere.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2006
  16. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    An interesting note, the black and white classes at the local community college have been filled every semester ever since I can remember. The digital class has been cancelled each of the last 3 semesters because of lack of enrollment....
     
  17. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    :D :D :D

    Long may it continue thus...

    Lachlan
     
  18. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    There is this perception that digital is so very easy (the new Nikon Canada commercials for the D50 don't exactly help; "making a masterpiece has never been so easy or so fun!"). The reality is that doing digital well isn't, but you have to get to a certain point of competency with it to know that. The people who would be likely to take an introductory digital photography course probably feel like they don't need any instruction; the camera and computer will do all the work for them.

    Film photography has a certain magic to it; we all know what it felt like to see the first print come up in the developer.
     
  19. Kino

    Kino Member

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    Like Photojim implied, the skills, aptitude and artistic abilities required to make an engaging, thoughtful photograph are the same regardless of medium, only some people confuse ease of use with artistic ability.

    It is like in film school, EVERYONE thinks they are a innately a film director until you hand them a camera and watch them freeze like a deer in the headlights. Just because you are a consumer of images, doesn't make you automatically skilled or expert image maker...

    It is like saying you are an author because you can read.

    Just as it did when video usurped 16mm for "film making" classes, it did NOTHING to help the quality of the image coming out of the schools, it only make the volume of crap jump exponentially higher because it was less expensive to initally capture the images.

    So too does digital video or still images where the image can be "erased" and the media used again and again; nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Film makes you pause, consider the moment, and clarify what you are doing, not just hose down the scenery and hope you wind up with something remotely useable.
     
  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    <yawn>
     
  21. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My socks are a little sweaty.
     
  22. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Exactly.
     
  23. celluloidpropaganda

    celluloidpropaganda Subscriber

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    The article is fairly absurd - my understanding is that the photography market has never been better. Classic photos are setting new records and contemporary work is selling well.

    The trend is toward tiny editions (3-6 prints) in large sizes (which is, of course, easier to pull off in digital printing - a 40" x 40" print from your Epson requires a great deal less work than a 40" square silver gelatin print), and if your work has the backing of a major gallery (read: status, the potential to gain value), the yuppies buying your work don't care if it's archival pigment, a c-print or platinum/palladium.
     
  24. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I spent my time in that transitional period in filmmaking, and I came out with digital video! But I still think 16mm is one format some people like I will love forever.

    The use of video was essential when you ran out of your budget. (At that point you had already maxed out your loans from your and your producer's credit cards!) I had seen and worked on a number of independent feature-length films shot mostly in film but partly on video and put together. They did well in the festival circuits, and mostly cinema lovers didn't seem to mind as long as the stories were good.

    I mean, no one expects first-time filmmakers to be so perfect because they come from different backgrounds with different skills, and they don't have everything in their movies yet.

    But now the video camera quality (and its projection) has gotten pretty decent, so it seems less of a matter.
     
  25. lkorell

    lkorell Member

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    I don't think current trends in photography hurt anyone. Crap is crap and good work stands out over the junk. Art, regardless of the medium, will always be a subjective experience and whatever moves people will sell no matter how it was created. So, regarding the argument that it hurts true creative art, I wouldn't buy into that.

    A true artist chooses a medium which suits their ability to produce their work. It is not necessarily going to influence the audience about their like or dislike of the finished product. We need to get over the resentment of new creative techniques and get on with the business of making pictures to express ourselves.

    Acoustic guitar is a beautiful instrument. Electric guitar is also beautiful. In the hands of a master both produce excellent results. There's also a lot of people out there with electric guitars. But you are not buying all of their records....because not everybody with an electric guitar is good enough to make records.

    Lou
     
  26. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I'm coming in late to a discussion that seems to be over. That happens when you don't do internet for several days at a time. But I'll toss out a few observations anyway.

    The premise of the article seems sound but the writer over-thought his subject. There really are too many images assaulting us from every direction these days. The proliferation of so many photographs is made possible largely by the technology--whether the image is made in traditional means or not, the ability to display, publish and sell photographs has been improved by the internet and digitalization of the image. We are saturated with visual information and this saturation has tended to lessen the value of all visual information.

    Per the article: "The medium's special aptitudes...no longer seem quite so special. Instead, photography has become ubiquitous, frictionless and trivial."

    And: "What is art, after all, but a dream of significance, of some things mattering more than others, a concentration and distillation of the great, formless everything that surrounds us into something more meaningful?"

    A little too wordy and clumsy, perhaps, but also correct. We're bombarded with mediocre images to the point that our special art of photography is becoming insignificant. We can deny it if we wish. I don't think we traditional photographers should worry so much about the discontinuance of film, chemicals, photographic paper and film cameras. What we do could simply become considered irrelevant.