Sour Grapes as Standard Equipment?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Donald Miller, Mar 26, 2007.

  1. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    After having spent time here on Apug and observing behavior on other sites, I have come to a realization. It seems that a "sour grapes attitude" must come as standard equipment with the first camera that someone buys. This errant and caustic behavior seems to become ever more firmly entrenched the longer one snaps a shutter. It eventually reaches the deafening din of a group of "bleeding deacons" who unbeknownst to them are "only preaching to the choir."


    The most recent example of this that I have observed is the discussion about the one million dollar sale of a photograph in Australia. Rather than applauding the good fortune of a fellow photographer who has actually extended the legitimacy of photography as a viable expression of art by virtue of this sale, a sizeable contingent spent time in dessimating the image and diminishing, at least to their way of thinking, it's value.

    Let's face it folks, knocking someone else does not make us any better than we really are. Chances are if our work is not selling for anything approaching this sale then we probably don't know enough to critique.

    Now that I have gotten that off my chest, those of you whom I have offended can go back to your snide commentary... or you can do something that is really different and positive and applaud those who do more than parrot what has gone on before...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2007
  2. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

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    g'day Donald
    are 'they' actually knocking or expressing an opinion?
     
  3. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I would suggest that you read the commentary and determine for yourself what has been expressed. As you read the comments, if you would choose to do so, ask yourself how many comments are positive and uplifting.
     
  4. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

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    i have read the comments Donald, i agree with many of them

    are you suggesting comments should only be "positive and uplifting"?

    can i, or anyone else, not express dislike and contempt?
     
  5. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Don,

    I hadn't looked at this thread for a long while, so your post prompted me to read it again.

    Yes, there are negative comments; positive comments; and thoughts on how any why the picture sold for $1M, and possible alternative ways to spend the money. Some of the negative comments did look like sour grapes; some looked like the standard right-wing "They didn't oughta be allowed to spend our money"; and some looked like intelligent comment.

    To ascribe the whole thread to sour grapes, and then to dump that negative interpretation on everyone here, seems to me to say more about your mind-set than it does about the vast majority of APUG members in general or indeed about that thread in particular. In fact, I'd go so far as to suggest that you are the one saying 'my way or the highway'.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  6. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Dear Roger,

    You are right, completely.

    Cheers,
    John.
     
  7. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Donald.
    I disagree with you. I didn't read the whole thread but in the pages I read there were both positive and negative comments. I didn't see any bashing the seller/photographer or saying that the work was a piece of s...
    I think anyone can express their oppinion about anything and saying that 1mill is overpriced isn't saying that its a bad pic. Ofcource its a good thing for the photographer to get that priced for a piece of s/work :smile: and it's a good thing for the aknowledgement of photography as artmedia but still its one h... lot of money. Whats the problem in thinking that?
    Cheers
    Søren
     
  8. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    I also agree with Roger on this. We all need to express our opinions, negative or positive, to keep the art world alive and vibrant.
    I'ts hard to judge whether this photograph is good, bad or indifferent from the small version posted here.
    I also can't comment on it's monetary worth, I'll leave that to the experts.
    What does please me to no end is the fact that someone has paid $1mill for a PHOTOGRAPH.
    Is this not proof that photography has made the big league in the art world, especially here in OZ.
    Cheers,
    Tony
     
  9. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    ..... but is this not what you yourself are doing by knocking all those who have taken the time to express their opinions???

    Steve
     
  10. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Donald,

    I would imagine that you in part refer to my post and those like it, but cannot be sure of course and take no offense either way. If you do regard my post as one typical of 'sour grapes' let me assure you of no such sentiments. I am rather pleased that the photographer has pulled off such a sale and agree that this is good for photography even if I dont feel that it is indicative of 'good' photography (again my personal opinion). I no not feel that the price tag is commensurate with the merit and have strong feelings about the critcs type of art philosophy as mentioned. Regardless of one's politics, I also suspect that the issue of $1m public funds being spent on it is one of public interest and therefore open for debate.

    I have read the posts and yes people have strong views, which is why the thread is an interesting one. Bland touchy feely comments where everyone is terrified of hurting someones feelings are no use to anyone. How many people have complained both of overly critical and insufficiently direct critiques in the critique gallery?

    When personal opninons are moderated because of worries about others' interpretation they cease to be personal opinions, but bland reflecions of an inoffensive path. One of the great things about forums is that you don't meet in person and can genuinley say what you think, whether sour grapes or not!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2007
  11. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    VERY
    true. The greatest folly is it attempt to make one's candle appear brighter by veiling everyone else's... and that is not restricted to photography, or art.

    Someone bought a burnt cheese sandwich for $18,000. I think it must have been a bizarre decision to make. I'm glad it wasn't mine.

    Let us encourage and inspire. That sounds better to me than whatever else in on the list.

    I'll join with you in the applause.
     
  12. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Sometimes sour grapes make the sweetest wine (or is that whine?). Grin.

    I do remember the thread. Can't remember the exact post I added to the thread - something about getting a good PR firm to promote oneself, or there's about. I still believe that lately much of the 'high end' art photography is about branding and positioning oneself in the market place. Many of the 'artist statements' I've read seem to be written by consultants, not the artists themselves.

    And then I wonder what will these museums and collectors think when their million dollar Duratrans fade from excessive exposure to the lightbox they are mounted in? Do they get another Duratran, or do they pay another million?

    I looked at Jeff Walls work at the Baltimore Museum of Art. I was unmoved. There was so much better work to look at elsewhere in the museum. Didn't give him a second look. Wasn't worth my time. That's not sour grapes. That's my opinion of how he spoke to my heart.
     
  13. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Oh come on.... this is not about squashing others to pump yourself up but about people being able to say what they think without being branded a nasty wasty uncultured thug.

    The world is not all butterflies and bunnies (and because I have seen HSBC adverts I can rehtorically ask does life imitate art or art imitate life (or neither). This forum and its members reflect a pretty healthy cross section of real people, I think. Yes, when witch hunts commence it can be a bit worrying, but they are rare and generally put in their box by consensus pretty quickly. I therefore dont have any concerns to be frank and feel that the thread was in no way vindictive. A bit of controversy borne out of candour makes the debate actually mean something! The opposite is worthless and I would have no interest reading it. The person who commented that they and seen the artists images in person and rated them was just as important as those who are skeptical.

    Encouraging and inspiring is a good thing, but if you dont rate a peice of work you should be able to say so fairly directly. Note that the artist in this case did not post it for criticism and so the post should not be expected to demonstrate the same tact as it would were the person present.

    Sadly the lack of direct (sometimes harsh) words is probably why we have teenage delinquency and 100% pass rates in worthless exams. There is a place for saying what you think and expressing criticism where you feel it appropriate. Encouragement loses all value when it becomes as instinctive and inane as a supermarket meeter and greeters "have a nice day". It has to have a context and actually mean something in a comparative sense.

    As for the notion that you have to be earning big bucks from photography to be able to have valid insight is laughable. How much did many famous artists earn in their lifetimes? How many writers also died in poverty? How many educators do not earn huge amounts by implimenting the subjects they teach to personal gain. When it comes to opinions about the end result (the piece) anyone exposed to it is damn well entitled to entitled to a frank view and it is up to the artist to determine whether they care a stuff or not!
     
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  15. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Art?? It's an odd thing. A display of X blenders containing one goldfish each is considered art though the idea is at least two or three decades old and stealed from a TV program. If the right people says the right things about the work it instantly gains value.
    When artcritics talk I go ????? I simply don't follow them and all that matters to me is whether the work is a piece of art or crap to me. Does it move me or not. Do I feel something when watching it or not. Do I remember it or not. If it needs the support of an artcritic to explain whats going on it has failed.
    You/he may point out reflections or details that has escaped me, yes and thats ok but let people do the interpretation themselves.
    We can't discuss taste cause that is personal some like it and some don't but we can discuss content and whether the message in the work reach us or not. Why is stating one's oppinion suddenly a matter of envy and making one's candle appear brighter by veiling everyone else's...
    If I don't rate something very high I say so. That has nothing to do with what I do myself.
    Cheers
    Søren
     
  16. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Oh, no! I am not going to get entangled in that "context" discussion again. I agree, wholeheartedly that whatever comments are made, they MUST be truthful. Otherwise they are empty platitudes - meaning nothing.

    I don't do "empty platitudes" - why should I? At the same time, I WILL express my views - which are, essentially, my emotional reactions to the work... IF that work does provoke an emotional reaction. Some do not, and I find it equally dishonest to try to say that they do.

    Jackson Pollock once wrote that, in visiting Galleries, he always paid attention to the works he DID NOT "like". His philosophy was that "Someone else DID" - Not that they were dishonest, or trying to foist crap upon the public, but they simply SAW the work differently. THEY liked - were fascinated by - it. That doesn't mean ignorance, or a lack of knowledge of what is "good" or bad" - it merely reaffirms the fact that we are all DIFFERENT - in our personalities, our artistic "sight"; our interpretation of the work. They "saw" it differently - and if he could expand himself to "SEE" it in the same manner, if only for an instant, he grew, immeasurably.

    What do we - or rather, the majority of critics, do? Do they try to "see" the work through the eyes of the photographer, or do they try to bash it into a box of conforminty, with the label of "Only Trying to Help"?
     
  17. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    Support anything an analog photographer does (unless he sets the landscape on fire), say nothing unless you have praise, if you don't "get" something, just stifle yourself.

    Do I have it right?

    Feh.

    My inability to mindlessly embrace or understand the price tag gets me called names?
     
  18. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Ed, I agree with Mr. Pollack and with your sentiments here. I can always learn more about whatever in life that confronts me...whether that is someone else's personal creative expression, someones decision to spend money as they choose or another matter entirely unrelated. Sometimes I choose to learn and sometimes I choose not to learn.

    Someone once told me that opinions are much like rectal orifices...we all have them, that does not, however mean that we need to expose them flagrantly and publically.
     
  19. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Not quite. Say nothing, unless you are being honest. If you don't get something ... it might be a golden opportunity to ask yourself WHY you don't.

    "Stifle" yourself? No ... express yourself through YOUR work. I would suggest that it might be a good idea to never lose sight of the society in which we live ... and be circumspect in what we do and SAY.

    I remember once "counseling" a teen-aged girl whose parents were trying to teach her how to drive. Her parents were brittle, to say the least ... they had the idea that, "We only learn from our mistakes". Every "wrong" move on her part was met by instant crushing, criticism ... "We have to make sure she does not forget her mistakes!!"..
    Her learning came to a standstill. She was terrified to take the wheel.

    I asked her why ... her answer was ... pure TRUTH!:

    "It is awfully hard to learn while you are crying."

    To me, that says it all.
     
  20. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    So discussing the $1mil price tag is just for people that understand and support it. The rest of us should just listen?

    If that's you position then we're in disagreement.

    Mind you, I never discussed the aresthetics. I have zero problem with conceptualism in art thought hat doesn't mean there is no such thing as bullshit. I had a reaction to the price.
     
  21. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    This thread is pretty awful. If you don't like my argument in a thread, make a superior, counter-argument. Engage in debate.

    This tactic of launching a meta-discussion seeking a consensus to marginalize contrary points of view is really, really lame. It's even lamer than the the oft-seen rhetorical ploy of entering a thread and proclaiming it's lameness and cojoling other people to stop having a conversation of which one disaproves. So I won't do that.

    I'll engage in debate and offer my disdain for any such thing as preference for consensus modes of thinking on APUG.

    If there's an APUG Position on anything beyond the terms and contidions for use of this site, I'm disinterested.
     
  22. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    I think I've gained 10 lbs in eating popcorn recently. Where the supersize Coca Cola?

    Regards, Art. (I have lots of negative comments about the cost of popcorn, does that count as a putdown against popcorn workers?)
     
  23. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    Bill, did you happen to notice the title to the thread that we're discussing. The thread was about the pricetag.
     
  24. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I have not read the post in question, but this post does bring to mind discussions about Thomas Kinkaid "Painter of Light" that I see spring up on various forums and blogs. I am always amazed at the venom directed towards Kinkaid and his customers. I think all the animosity towards Kinkaid by other artists has nothing to do with his art (I have seen much worse art defined as brilliant by the curator/academic crowd) and everything to do with the fact that he is the most financially successful artist in history (worth in the 100s of millions of $) and acheived his success by not playing the game by the rules defined by the gallery/academic/curator crowd.

    Am I ever going to plunk down cash for a Kinkaid? No. But bashing him and insulting his customers is the definition of artists sour grapes.


    I remember in the early 80s when I was first really getting into photography and reading articles, essays and reviews in various non-photography art magazines. There was a definite move to dismiss Ansel Adams work as not important other then as pretty post card type images. I look back now and realize that the critisism began about the time his work began to fetch record prices at auction. I think there was more then a little sour grapes and jealousy involved at the time.
     
  25. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Actually the thread was more about how ludicrous it is to pay 1M$ for a seemingly banal back-lit photography, which will fade over time because of the light. It ended up as a blanket, uncritical dismissal of Jeff Wall and whatever he does. To me that's the real problem, not the money discussion.
     
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  26. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    "Sour Grapes as Standard Equipment?"

    ???

    Bill