Taking a stand...

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by per volquartz, Oct 11, 2010.

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  1. per volquartz

    per volquartz Member

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    Digital prints...

    We talk about this subject matter all the time - yet do nothing about it.
    I have decided to take a stand, even if it hurts in my pocket!


    Therefore:

    From January 2011 I will no longer be part of exhibits where digital prints are shown.

    For years I have thought about this and have finally come to the conclusion that digital prints lower the value of photography in general.
    They also tend to bring down the prices of hand made prints.

    Like Ralph Gibson, a well known American photographer in New York, I believe that digital imaging has not yet produced any unique master pieces.
    Until then - in my mind at least - digital prints are irrelevant and are only suited for graphic arts and for less serious photography.
    Therefore - from January of next year - my photographs will only show in exhibits featuring hand made processes.

    For me I believe this is the right decision at the present time.


    Per Volquartz
     
  2. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Good for you Per, I hope that it works out well for you and I suspect that it will. Your prints are very beautiful and your compositions are masterful. Keep teaching and providing fine examples!

    But... I note that some of your analogue prints are derived from digital images... do you see any inconsistency? Or will you be working henceforth entirely from film-derived images?
     
  3. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    My policy has always been (since c. 1990) not to co-exhibit in mixed-media or traditional brush media exhibitions, nor in any gallery seeking higher than 40% commission (some now charge 60%). All of my photography to date has been produced to the Ilfochrome process or RC/FB Ilford papers (for B&W work). I recently experimented with digital (giclée) prints from Provia 100F (scan/print) transparency and the result has been very good to ultra-high quality print media; this will now form an ongoing observational experiment as to the archival stability of framed giclée prints.

    You might be careful with the claim from Ralph Gibson. Annie Leibovitz embraced digital and digi-blending, producing some profound images (such as the striking digi-blend of QEII against a brooding, stormy English sky) and they're selling for many thousands. They're either skillfully produced masterpieces built on a well-honed traditional photography skillbase, or collectable kitsch. What will it be?
     
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  4. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

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    I wish you the best of luck, even though I think digital photography is just a valid form of photography as analog. I've seen some good and bad analog and digital prints (and made some of each myself, mostly bad ones, though :D ). One of my photography instructors who taught at the community college I recently graduated from made some of the best digital prints I've seen, and I find them just as beautiful as prints made from a darkroom (Ive seen some of his "real" black and white prints he made years ago, and they're great as well).

    Digital prints might lower the value of photography, but I've always been under the assumption that people sell digital prints for less because there's less hands-on time with them. You just tweak them to your liking on the computer and have them printed by someone else who ships them to your doorstep. It's less intimate than making your own analog prints (I know some people do their on digital printing, but it's so much more convenient to have someone else do it). I think if digital photographers valued their digital prints as much as analog photographers valued theirs, the digital prints might sell for more and not devalue the analog prints. (This paragraph has only been my personal experience with people I've went to school with and spoken to about digital photography. I've done no real research on the matter, nor do i intend to, so this may be a slightly educated babbling :smile: )

    I think this is just a difference in opinion thing, and I hope this doesnt start a digital bashing fest, or an Existing Light bashing fest.

    I really do wish you the best of luck

    BTW, I dont have a digital camera anymore. I sold mine a while back on the auction site because I never used it
     
  5. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

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    I don't think it would matter to me if the digital prints were labelled as such. Other than that I might have mixed feelings. BTW this thread is probably going to blow up into a D vs A flame fest and end up in the soapbox..
     
  6. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Your opening sentence, Per, mentions "subject matter".

    I would say that is far, far more important than the medium.
    So i will continue to go to see images and not care about how they were put to paper.
     
  7. clayne

    clayne Member

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    On one side I can see your point of view. On the other side I can see caring about the materials and the process and how that plays out for the future.

    Digital does cheapen things and prior history has shown that to be true - images are now completely commodified.
     
  8. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    Are such isolationist approaches productive? I'm sorry, but my initial thought was simply 'then fewer will see your work and be exposed to what film can do'.

    I don't see any value in condemning digital photography. Arguing that it hasn't produced any masterpieces seems as useless as arguing any form of art hasn't produced any. It also dismisses the work of many very talented artist. I imagine painters had similar opinions of photographers in the past. Each is an art form which will find its own following.

    Edit: Digital photography and the ability to digitalize images seem to be grouped together. As soon as people had the ability to make an image digital - be it by scanning a print or taking a digital photo - that work was a commodity. The ability to copy work has nothing to do with digital photography vs traditional photography, only with the format to which either can be converted and distributed.
     
  9. clayne

    clayne Member

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    That's all good in theory - but in practice digital has shown itself to be the great commodifier. I don't know if you've noticed, but since the flood gates of "photography" have been unleashed by digital SLRs, we're now awash in a sea of crap - much more so than before.
     
  10. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I applaud your decision and admire your integrity.
     
  11. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    This is an issue that's divisive. Comments like "I believe that digital imaging has not yet produced any unique master pieces." may say more about personal tastes and what exhibitions, books etc have been visited/seen rather than the reality of what's out there Internationally.

    I've seen a lot of superb digital work and my own view is it's purely another medium alongside B&W, Colour, Polaroid (& other instant films). John Goto, an Internationally renowned artist/photographer, has produced many unique master pieces that could only be created digitally. Who are any of us to deride his work because it's Digital?

    My own work is both film and digital (stills & video), as it happens I choose to only exhibit fully analog work at the moment but plan to go down a hybrid route for Platinum/Palladium prints.

    I'm rather ambivalent on taking a stand like this, where I can choose who I show work alongside then I've chosen to do so with other analog photographers but most of my exhibitions are solo work so there's no issues. However I have no problem showing work alongside digital in larger group shows and have done so since the late 1980's.

    On balance I think it's better to get analog work seen in as many places as possible, making sure that it's promoted/displayed as such.

    Ian
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Personally, I would worry more about blending conceptually with the work of the group of which I was a part (Isn't that what usually makes it a "group" in a well-curated show that is worth being a part of?), but if you feel that what you are doing makes a difference, have at it.

    I don't like having my work up alongside cheap inferior trash either, but I see just as much cheap analog trash as cheap digital trash. There are no cheap trashy artistic media that alone devalue any other art based solely on its medium, but there are cheap trashy artists who devalue art in general. I'd worry more about being seen next to these types of artists than I'd worry about being seen next to any sort of specific art medium.

    If you feel that the art of those around you devalues your own art, then do not participate in the show for that reason. Saying that it is for technical reasons alone is an easy way out of confronting the real issue, which is that you do not want to be devalued by being shown alongside those who you view as bad artists. Just come out and say it; you think your art is better, and/or you think that the curator is doing a bad job of selecting work that fits together in a group. Don't hide behind technique; you think your medium is better. One will sound arrogant either way, so might as well just speak the truth of the matter.
     
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  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    2F/2F makes a far more important point that it's the quality of the work you show alongside not the medium.

    Ian
     
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  15. mhanc

    mhanc Member

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    Not by design really but more out of interest, I seem to only go to exhibits displaying traditional prints.
     
  16. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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  17. Casey Kidwell

    Casey Kidwell Member

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    On one hand I think that digital work and it's subsequent presentation is just another aesthetic with a lot of possibilities. This is the argument I've always made for preserving film processes to people who don't know any better or to those that do know better and are just to lazy to work with traditional processes. On the other hand, if Mr. Volquartz could receive a lot of press on his opinion, it could go a long way toward education consumers of photographic materials and patrons and keeping "choices" open for us. Get this man some interviews!
     
  18. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    I certainly applaud Mr. Volquarz for making a stand and believing in what is right for him. On the other hand, I don't see it that way. If anything, I would take it on as a challenge. To be displayed alongside digital prints may not be a bad thing if someone is secure of his/her work and committed to display the fact that traditional prints are far better than digital in every respect. After all, if it so blatantly obvious, the viewer should be able to discern that and appreciate the artist/medium even more. Just my 2c.
     
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  19. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Go Per.
     
  20. deisenlord

    deisenlord Member

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    whatever
     
  21. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I greatly admire the resolve expressed in Mr. Volquarz's post. I also think he's helping provide value. Those loud voices such as his will help keep diversity and keep eyes open. There are plenty of lay persons (perhaps the majority of all art buyers) to whom the distinction between photography and digital media is not clear; digital media were slowly set out to be considered 'the same thing as before, just more modern' rather than a fundamentally different medium. There is always the risk of newer media pushing the older completely out and that needs to be fought against. New media should add diversity and choices to the marketplace, not remove diversity and choice by crowding out the old technologies completely.

    I disagree with the apparently conceptual framework behind his statement "I believe that digital imaging has not yet produced any unique master pieces." To me, that's an irrelevant judgment; I feel that the important part is that even if there were unique digital imaging masterpieces, they would by definition be masterpieces of digital imaging, and not necessarily masterpieces of (traditional) photography. To make the distinction between media is necessary and valuable; judgments about the relative merits of different media are worthless and hollow, although everyone is entitled to his opinion and I certainly have my own about digital media.
     
  22. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Sorry but I see this as self-regarding and narcissistic. Communication matters more than technique. If anything, this insistence on non-digital technique looks like a crutch or, at worst, a simple gimmick.
     
  23. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    Exactly. Who determines what is a masterpiece anyway? A viewer/buyer and it is purely subjective. If one presents a truly successful image, the way it was printed may be secondary. The creator may want to make that distinction based on personal preference/beliefs but the buyer/viewer may not be concerned with that at all. When I look at some of Ralph Gibson's images online, I would buy them if they were printed on toilet paper with an inkjet. The images, to me, stand on their own regardless of how they were printed and that's the bottom line. To say that digital imaging "cheapens" the craft of darkroom printing is total BS. Like I've said before, if anything, it should be shown alongside to demonstrate its superiority, if it is indeed so obvious. But, at the end of the day, another boring landscape is just that, regardless of how it was printed. It may be a beautiful print but would anyone buy it? How does one measure "success" to support one's unshakeable beliefs?
     
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  24. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    oh...and Ralph Gibson should re-phrase his statement to "I don't believe that digital PHOTOGRAPHY has yet produced an artist of my caliber and vision". The problem is elsewhere and not in the final print.
     
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  25. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i could never do this ...
    but i am glad someone can ...

    best of luck !

    john
     
  26. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I do appreciate the OP's skills and talent, but I think that sort of isolationism is tilting at windmills. The long term view is that we want analog to survive along side digital. It's not a war, it's a medium, and plenty of people like both.

    It should be the other way around. Digital folks should be saying, "I don't want to exhibit where old handmade analog images are sold", mimicking the photosecessionalists and their disdain for comparison to traditionally accepted art.

    I think analog compares well with digital on a wall. I recently put a 100% analog cyanotype in to a fundraising exhibit of all digital photos. As humble as I tend to be, I think it looked realllllllly nice on the wall in comparison. Not many of images sold even though the prices were low. Most of the sold images had a little blank colored sticker beside them to indicate they were sold. Mine had a sticker with someone's name on it, so apparently someone wanted to make sure someone else didn't take the only handmade image at the event.
     
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