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Bill Burk
12-01-2012, 07:59 PM
Worrying about whether Group f/64 would take away my card for some of my fuzzy pictures got me to thinking about how their manifesto fits in with what I do.

Also I started to think that the group might have embraced digital. This is asinine you say? But hear me out - digital isn't the main point.

They wanted photography to stand on its own, as photographs being all they can be. Not trying to be painting or drawing. So they rejected the pictorialists (who wanted to emulate other forms of art).

Great so far, and this is something I can subscribe to.

Now we have digital trying to be like photography. Here is where I would say the digital photographers should craft a manifesto of their own. Their work should stand on its own, taking best advantage of what the technology offers.

The new group should reject the work of photographers who, in an echo of the pictorialists before, try to make digital prints that "look like" Platinum, Toned Silver Gelatin or other analog photographic media.

The new group should strive to be all that digital photography can be, standing on its own, without trying to look like traditional photography. They should be breaking new ground.

Now I turn to my own work. I try to make black and white prints that look as good as I can make them with the tools I have chosen, and what I have at hand. I'm not going to go out and buy a Red Dot Artar believing it will make me better fit the original manifesto. And this had me worried, that by accepting less than perfection, I may be somehow missing the point.

Now I believe by doing my best, I am actually in-tune with Group f/64, except for the fuzzy stuff.

Maybe the new group could call themselves Group 64G, and strive to make the highest quality HDR images that they can. Digital photographers should do the best they can to get the most they can of the new media. And they don't have to reject the analog photographers. We didn't reject the painters. But they could reject the cell-phone gang.

Darkroom317
12-01-2012, 08:08 PM
I think that the system of art movements today is broken. I haven't really heard of any movements. Nor I have I heard of any groups writing manifestos. It seems that those things are of a bygone era. Not sure why.

However, you statement is valid. It would be nice of digital photographers to stop trying to make they images look like analog. Though this is happening. Extreme HDR, as much as I dislike it, is digital and does not attempt to look like film.

jp498
12-01-2012, 08:44 PM
They'd have to get rid of photoshop since it's right chock-a-block fulla analog things, like curves, masks, layers, guides, dodge/burn, separations, tints. Instagram would have to go because of vulgar emulation of analog errors. I don't think digital is like photography; it is photography.

I'd wager that pictorialism's ties to the old art were not photography/image related, but rather more so subject/theme related. It had more than it's fair share of hokey and cliche classical/traditional themes while making stunning fresh images.

Rafal Lukawiecki
12-01-2012, 08:56 PM
The new group should strive to be all that digital photography can be, standing on its own, without trying to look like traditional photography. They should be breaking new ground.

Bill, you raised a lot of good points. It will take me a while to think through all of them. With this one, I couldn't agree more. I feel that the need to apply grain to perfect, digital photos, or the trend for adding fake film, or handcoated paper borders, simulation of classic lens aberrations (having just corrected for the new ones) just for the sake of looking antique, polaroid-like framing, toy-shop over-saturation, or even a heavy hand with the all-present vignette—they are all distractions on the way to finding a new expression, that I am sure digital can offer. Those techniques can work in digital, and have a purpose, but I rarely see either.

Most of the time, I feel that those analogue metaphors serve just the purpose of making digital feel more acceptable, warmer to the soul that respects that to err is human. I am concerned, that unadulterated digital might be too cold, and rather brutal with its truth, and for most people, that may be hard to accept. The best of the newest genre, that I see, is very good, but not likable. If film were like that, I am sure we would have tried to soften it more often, but perhaps we just got lucky.

markbarendt
12-01-2012, 09:26 PM
Why in the world would an artist of any stripe, who is simply trying to express an idea, artificially limit their options?

Well for f64 they wanted to differentiate themselves, and IMO it they started a marketing program, and a very successful one at that. That's not an insult. The movement helped photography in general and it helped democratize the craft.

Digital doesn't need that to succeed.

Roger Cole
12-01-2012, 09:40 PM
I always thought both traditional and digital would have been better served if the word "photography" was reserved for film and something else, like the original "imaging" was used for digital. That's not saying one or the other is better, but it is to acknowledge that they are inherently different art forms. They are alike in that an image is formed by a lens on a surface, but from the type of surface on to how the image is viewed or printed if it's printed, they differ. Sure, they can be combined, like enlarged digital negatives (made from analog or digital originals) for traditional contact speed printing processes, or scanning of film for inkjet output or monitor viewing. But the fact that two different things can be combined does not change the fact that they are different.

ambaker
12-01-2012, 09:50 PM
I think that the system of art movements today is broken. I haven't really heard of any movements. Nor I have I heard of any groups writing manifestos. It seems that those things are of a bygone era. Not sure why.

However, you statement is valid. It would be nice of digital photographers to stop trying to make they images look like analog. Though this is happening. Extreme HDR, as much as I dislike it, is digital and does not attempt to look like film.

I think, perhaps the lack of art movements is a symptom of today's society in general. We have come to the era where acceptable is good enough.

We want one of everything, rather than one wonderful thing.

When I was a child, we joined clubs. My children got together with friends to play video games. My grand children play in isolation via the Internet.

Rather than form groups to perfect something, the vast majority googles or utubes a short instruction and settles for "good enough".

I find beautiful monotone B&W work to strike a chord within my soul. My niece finds anything in B&W boring. Light, tone, and texture are nothing to her without vibrant color.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

jnanian
12-01-2012, 10:01 PM
hi bill,

i know what you are saying. digital photographers should exploit and use the digital medium to the fullest.
i think a lot of them are because digital work is often times merged with illustration seamlessly creating beautiful results.
like with masterful photographs, there is a huge learning curve and some are just happy just
wandering down the road with the rest. as for me, i am sure they the f64 people would have rejected me a while ago, at least my personal work,
its funny, i don't even have a lens that has a f64 aperture ...

Darkroom317
12-01-2012, 10:19 PM
I would also say that photography has not be as prone to having movements. I can really only think of the Pictorialists and Group f/64. Surrealist photographers and Dada photographers were part of a larger artistic movements that stretched across all media.

tkamiya
12-01-2012, 10:24 PM
Bill,

I use both form of technology. Film and Digital. I really don't see them to be much different from each other. I am a photographer, not a film photographer or a digital photographer. My goal is to put down my thoughts onto a paper by whatever means using photographic equipment and techniques.

As I go to museums, galleries, etc, no one makes really big distinctions between images made via film or digital. It's perhaps just us, who's making it far more difficult and distinct than they really need to be. A great photograph, a great art, is just that, in my opinion.

Roger Cole
12-01-2012, 10:46 PM
Lots of people feel that way. I don't. They don't make those distinctions but I do. Shrug. I'm a film photographer. At most I make digital snapshots. It's really the process I enjoy - the artifact can be nice, but the process IS the point to me. If I couldn't get analog materials I'd quit, and just roll the money and time and effort into one of my other hobbies that's still rewarding.

MattKing
12-01-2012, 11:04 PM
Worrying about whether Group f/64 would take away my card for some of my fuzzy pictures got me to thinking about how their manifesto fits in with what I do.

Also I started to think that the group might have embraced digital. This is asinine you say? But hear me out - digital isn't the main point.

They wanted photography to stand on its own, as photographs being all they can be. Not trying to be painting or drawing. So they rejected the pictorialists (who wanted to emulate other forms of art).

Great so far, and this is something I can subscribe to.

Now we have digital trying to be like photography. Here is where I would say the digital photographers should craft a manifesto of their own. Their work should stand on its own, taking best advantage of what the technology offers.

The new group should reject the work of photographers who, in an echo of the pictorialists before, try to make digital prints that "look like" Platinum, Toned Silver Gelatin or other analog photographic media.

The new group should strive to be all that digital photography can be, standing on its own, without trying to look like traditional photography. They should be breaking new ground.

Now I turn to my own work. I try to make black and white prints that look as good as I can make them with the tools I have chosen, and what I have at hand. I'm not going to go out and buy a Red Dot Artar believing it will make me better fit the original manifesto. And this had me worried, that by accepting less than perfection, I may be somehow missing the point.

Now I believe by doing my best, I am actually in-tune with Group f/64, except for the fuzzy stuff.

Maybe the new group could call themselves Group 64G, and strive to make the highest quality HDR images that they can. Digital photographers should do the best they can to get the most they can of the new media. And they don't have to reject the analog photographers. We didn't reject the painters. But they could reject the cell-phone gang.

I think that Group f/64 would say something like:

"What the hell is a camera phone?"

or possibly:

"Why can't I get any shallow depth of field out of this thing?"

The members of Group f/64 were essentially people of their time - including the equipment and materials available then. It is awfully difficult to put ourselves completely in their metaphorical "shoes".

Darkroom317
12-01-2012, 11:24 PM
Often materials and techniques used in a piece mean only something to fellow artists. Joseph Albers square paintings are generally dismissed by the public as bad or that their 8 year could paint that. However, they are significant to the art world because of color theory and simultaneous contrast. It is the same with the work of Pollock and the Abstract Expressionists. The same goes for photography, the only people who care about the materials and philosophy behind the image are other artists, curators and art historians.

whowantstoast
12-02-2012, 12:23 AM
I think that it's hard to differentiate between "movements" and "groups." f64 had a battle to fight, so they wrote a manifesto. They were also the underdogs, the revolutionaries. But they were a group. When Magnum formed, it was largely an economic venture, but there were photographic rules. I understand that Cartier-Bresson was adamant about acceptable focal lengths. Both had great impact on photography, and I think both could be considered movements in hindsight. Plus, Magnum fought the economic battle for all photographers, and now we own our photos. There are a lot of groups like Magnum now, might they also be movements? They usually gather around shared principles or styles. Even publisher groups sometimes constitute a movement, like LIGHT & LAND, or CRAFT & VISION. And analog is itself a movement! I think we're pretty well organized and connected - but I wouldn't want a manifesto. Or it could be a one-word manifesto - film. And - prepare to throw things at me now - the lomography crowd actually has a manifesto! Love 'em or hate 'em, they stand for something.

Also, Ansel seemed like a "manifesto" kind of guy, a product of his time. Everyone was writing manifestos about everything back then.

I'm sure that my dip into this pool is pretty shallow, but I think there are movements, but some time is going to pass before we recognize them as such.

Muihlinn
12-02-2012, 02:50 AM
f64 was almost a century ago, it's dead. Everyone who was in it is dead, the things they defended settled and photography as a whole moved on; at least in part. Trying to bring it back to nowaday's world is like getting back to a XIX's romanticism; we have the gothics for that.

Learn from it, admire them, follow your path and like Weston said dare to do what you want to do. The ones who -try to- produce art shouldn't overthink about what they are producing.

my 2C

juan
12-02-2012, 06:50 AM
I always thought both traditional and digital would have been better served if the word "photography" was reserved for film and something else, like the original "imaging" was used for digital.

I like this. I'm going to begin referring to all digital as imaging.
juan

rbeech
12-02-2012, 07:14 AM
Interesting thread.

I think each of us needs to find the type of photography/art that pleases us. It's a constantly moving target. Many of the best known f64 artists started as pictorialists and became disenchanted.

In my case, I'm still looking. I love it all: pin hole-zone plate-lith printing-texture screen fuzzyness to 8x10-f64 super detailed.

Is one required to pick a favorite technique/style/art form in order to be a "real" artist?

JeRuFo
12-02-2012, 08:58 AM
Althoug I think it is true that when you are shooting with digital you have to take advantage of the possibilities it has and have a different mindset when shooting, I don't think they should totally start over on their own.
I like to think that analog photography has not only progressed in the direction that technical downsides has pushed it, but also in the direction that photographers wanted it to go in the last century.
Aesthetics don't totally change because technology has changed. It is a nice opportunity to try out a new language, but you can't fault someone for shooting the analog way on digital.

Bill Burk
12-02-2012, 09:33 AM
When Magnum formed, it was largely an economic venture, but there were photographic rules. I understand that Cartier-Bresson was adamant about acceptable focal lengths. Both had great impact on photography, and I think both could be considered movements in hindsight. Plus, Magnum fought the economic battle for all photographers, and now we own our photos.

Good point bringing in the idea that Magnum also was a movement which defined the qualities expected from its members.

georg16nik
12-02-2012, 09:42 AM
Lots of people feel that way. I don't. They don't make those distinctions but I do. Shrug. I'm a film photographer...

Reminds me of what Wally Pfister said in Side by Side.. "I'm not going to trade my oil paints for a set of crayons"

I intent to leave the delusional digital imaging to the silicone valley fan groups.