"Really, I'm so bored with photography that I cannot tell you!"

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Davec101, Feb 19, 2006.

  1. Davec101

    Davec101 Member

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    I will be doing a presentation on Duane Michals and came across these comments that I thought were so true about much of the photography I saw at Photo London and Photo Paris last year and I assume it will be the same when I visit this year. Michals does generalise but there is a lot of truth in what he says IMO except that I am not bored with photography :smile:
    (http://www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws/scripts/printIt.cfm?ref=1889)

    "Really, I'm so bored with photography that I cannot tell you! And I'm so bored with new photographers because it's just old photography, except it's bigger and more boring and in color and much more expensive. No new ground has been broken in photography in ages. All those German photographers are just doing very large photographs of parking lots in Tokyo. Richard Avedon knows that the next five books he's going to do will look like the last five: people standing in front of [seamless backdrops] staring at you. [...] I don't know what I'll be doing five years from now. That's what I love. Creativity comes from not knowing what the hell you're going to do."

    The art world and photography :

    "In the art world, galleries are the only game in town, the only place to show your work. The art world is so corrupt. When I first became a photographer, I thought photography wouldn't be corrupt because there was no money in it. But now there's money and the more money involved, the more the work becomes corrupted. Now that photography has gone into the realm of $250,000 for a photo, it's lost its virginity in the worst possible way. When somebody does a photograph that is so large that it can only be fit into a museum, you know it's all over. The power of photography is that a Cartier-Bresson print doesn't need to be 10-feet tall to move you. When the only value or new thing about a work is that it's enormous, photography has really gone down a slippery slope."

    Other interesting comments :

    "If you are afraid to fail, forget it, you're never going to be a creative person. You learn more from your failures that you will from your successes. And if you find yourself saying, 'I don't have enough time,' that's bullshit. You make time for what you want to do. Or, 'I don't have enough money.' Bullshit. Paper doesn't cost anything. If you find yourself making excuses, then stop jacking yourself off, because that's whatit amounts to. If you really want to do something, if you really have the passion to do something, to find your bliss, then you do it. You do it regardless."
     
  2. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    I love it. So true. I've met Duane Michaels a couple times and he is one of the more insightful, outspoken and funny people I've had the pleasure of meeting in this "business".

    Bill
     
  3. BWKate

    BWKate Member

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    I'm not bored with photography either but I do agree with Mr. Michals comments about people making bigger photos and how its so valued by the art world because of the size. Some photos can look amazing bigger like Burteynsky but not many people can pull it off.
    I also agree that if you want to make work just do it and quit making excuses. I work almost full time, have a 10 year old son, volunteer at an artist run center , maintain a cooperative darkroom, and still manage to do some work. I also have friends that are understanding if I'm late coming over because I might be developing some film I shot while my son was in school. If I didn't make photographs I would be very unhappy. It's my little piece of bliss that I have to have.
    It's funny when I pick my son up from school, smelling like fixer and looking like I slept in my clothes everyone knows, oh yah, it's just Kate the crazy B&W photographer!

    BWKate
     
  4. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Agree very much that fear of failure is an artist's worst enemy. Very much disagree that big-bucks selling prices are a sign of artistic prostitution - I have personally starved in a garret, and it sucks!

    Stating you are bored with photography is rather pointless attitudinizing - if you are bored, do something new. If you can't think of something new to do, try a radically different approach - if you normally work very slowly and meticulously with LF, work fast and without thinking with 35 mm. If that doesn't work, stop for a while. And if that doesn't work, stop indefinitely until you feel an irresistible urge to start again!
     
  5. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    What exactly constitutes "failure".

    In every endeavor we as humans do, there is a learning curve. Being in the middle of that learning curve is not "failure".



    Michael
     
  6. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    David

    While I can fully sympathize with Mr. Michaels' observations - and fully understand where he's coming from (and agree in part with them)... I just wanted to say I think you've once again hit the nail on the head. Thank you so much for your consistently grounded and insightful comments...! You're definitely an asset to this place.

    Jonathan
     
  7. rhphoto

    rhphoto Member

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    These quotes are delicious! It really takes photographers on the "inside", those who have reputations beyond dispute, to cast these kinds of stones at the growing photographic "establishment". What was once an art form of the people is becoming just as elitist as the SOHO gallery scene with it's darlings of the moment.

    Robert Bly, the poet, wrote that he was dismayed by the growing lack of criticism in poetry and literature. And by the time desktop publishing became a reality, all semblance of a barometer on what was or was not good poetry was gone, what with thousands of new poetry books being published every year. Same with photography. Michals is making us think, look, be discerning. And I think more of the top ranking photographers should speak out about where they think the medium is headed.
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    This topic is controversial, but it isn't stupid enough for The Soap Box, so I've moved it to "Ethics and Philosophy," and if it gets stupid we can move it back to The Soap Box.
     
  9. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    I bet if you ask those selling the huge prints to museums that they would have a different opinon.....Then again, here is a guy making a nice living out of fine art photography critizing the same galleries which sell his prints (I guess he sells prints, I have never heard of this person). I guess we must do as he says not as he does..... :confused:
     
  10. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Michaels comes out of the 60s reactionary movement to established art norms. He is known for his photo series which could consist of 6 to eight shots as sort of a mini-movie shown as stills, applying text directly to his images and various forms of collage and combinations. Ther is an image at the Art Institute of Chicago that from a reasonable distance is a large portrait which IIRC is about 3'x4'. When you get close it is actually made up of a collage of hundreds of B&W common everyday snapshots, (3x4s and smaler) fitted together, not trimed or cut but laid on top of each other to provide the tonality to make the larger portrait. I think that was done by Michaels. It is very cool.

    He is sort of a later day Man Ray or Moholy-Nagy, trying to take the medium beyond the typical straight Adams/ Weston approach.
     
  11. wilhelm

    wilhelm Member

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    Not getting across the idea you wanted, or not making the statement you wanted, or not making any statement, or not having any idea of what you want to say, or on a simpler note, not producing something that makes you happy, or that you yourself like. It's really easy to feel like a failure in those cases. And when one gets into one of those periods, it can be hard to get over it - "oh, I won't bother, I'm producing nothing but crap anyway." I know I've had times like that, and I'm sure a lot of other people on this site have had 'em too.

    There's an interesting book I've recently read called "Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking" (ISBN 0961454733) that talks about this. At least one of the authors, if not both, is a photographer.

    Will
     
  12. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    But a non depressed person would just call that growing pains.

    Remember the old line, we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes.

    Probably true.

    Anyway, I know what failure is, but in reality, it's just a plateau on our way up. Because if we look at it in a linear fashion, even when we think we've failed we are usually still farther ahead than we were a month, or a year ago.

    I remember when I was starting out in photography I would see someone's work and think, man, I'm nowhere near that good. But the beauty of it is you can wake up the next morning and start to go after it again.


    Michael
     
  13. cao

    cao Member

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    I could not in any way be thought of as living in a McMansion, but why not lots of little art? Seems one could fit quite a range of nice framed 8x10 and 11x14 prints in such spaces. It's probably a dumb question.
     
  14. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Well, just now I reckon that pretty much makes me the most creative person on the planet...
     
  15. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Member

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    One of my photogrpahy instructors often quoted (I don't know who is being quoted)

    "If you can't make it good, make it big. If you can't make big, make it red."

    :smile:
     
  16. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I wonder where that leaves me; I like big pictures. :D My favorite size is 20x24. The first time I saw one of my images blown up to 30x40, I just fell over - I love that print. :smile:
     
  17. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I know what you mean. Most of my prints are 20x24. There is something definitely different about a print that is 20x24 and one that is 8x10. The are not the same print. So I think that women are right, size does matter.

    It may have to do with how a picture is viewed. An 8x10 is usually viewed at about 4-5 feet away and a 20x24 at about 6-10 feet away. Perhaps there is a stronger impression because of the size and the viewing distance.

    I'm also cognisant of the line that "if you can't make it good, make it big" but a bad picture in 8x10 rarely gets much better in 20x24.


    Michael
     
  18. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    What Duane Michals says is so true. But I must say I made some prints for a show that were 30x40 and gee they looked nice. But then again they looked good as 8x10's as well.

    It makes me sad when I see people from our community slamming other participants when they post photos taken with "toy" cameras. Finally someone is doing something new, and all they get is abuse.
     
  19. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I nearly fell out of my chair at the "if you can't make it good, make it big..." line! Priceless, and too often too true!

    However, I can't agree with a broad brushed condemnation of all things big. I mainly print 8x10 and rarely any bigger for a variety of reasons (mainly practical ones), but I know this much: a bad 8x10 will be a HORRIBLE 20x-anything. It takes a good photo to actually stand up to being "exposed" to such minute visual inspection.
    And perhaps that is what Mr Michaels meant: you can't just blow up anything at all in hopes of making it more impactful through sheer size. I did not understand it as a condemnation fo all things larger than 8x10.
    Also, even 30x30 prints do not "require a gallery" as is mentioned in the quote. That is another point that I think moves beyond size itself and into the realm of questioning wehter the artist actually has anything to say if he is making his audience so extremely narrow as to include only those who have access to a gallery. Its a matter of exclusion of potential viewers rather than a discussion of size as an artistic merit in and of itself.

    Just my take on it - I am no artist,

    Peter.
     
  20. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Is not that just like D Michels..he is so bored with photography that he can not explain it and then use verbal multiple exposure to illustrate his boredom.

    If he is so bored with photography that he can not explain it he should have just said so and stopped.
     
  21. JustK

    JustK Member

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    Just a FYI - there is a small Duane Michals exhibit now at the Smith College Art Museum in Northampton, MA, I saw it this past weekend, and enjoyed it thoroughly, the photos and storylines were really well done, I enjoyed that bit of text with an image ...