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Sparky
08-13-2006, 10:35 PM
Gay - you just wrote your piece before then end of Blansky's quote. That's all. It's there. Just italicized. It's all good.

Michel Hardy-Vallée
08-13-2006, 10:39 PM
The critical issues here remind me of the ones around the recent Eggleston photo. On its own, the photo can be a meh, and I would say the second one posted here is a big meh, unless it is seen in a group with the other ones.

To make a music analogy, some photos are chorus and will stick in your mind in a loop, but others are verse. I'm not terribly into photographic serialism because often the series themselves are boring, but the juxtaposition of the Friedlander photos here show that his vision is coherent between the photos, and the common element ("tension") structures them all.

blansky
08-13-2006, 10:41 PM
I think there IS some truth to this statement - but I also think that people tend not to understand the way in which they are constantly being given context for things. Perhaps you're just starting to get interested in photography - and you hear about this cat "ansel adams" and "how great he is"... "a true master". Well, I think you're probably going to bring a whole different set of assumptions to looking at an adams photo with this in mind rather than not. Not only that - but I think that people probably have a whole lot more reverence and reserving of opinion towards images that are constantly foisted on us by what we perceive to be 'authority' than not. There are millions of ways in which we're constantly being 'trained', not just towards visual images, but towards EVERYTHING in our lives. I think that starting to be aware of this fact will make you a far better photographer, among other things.

But by constantly have things jammed down our throats, I think that people actually become cynical and rebellious against what is "good". Your exampe of AA is true, in that a lot of people revere him but almost anybody old enough to form opinions these days, will quickly made a judgement pro or con about not his work, but a given picture.

I don't think we should judge anybody's body of work per se. We should judge a given picture. Just because he's AA, doesn't mean he walks on water. There should be no free passes. Either it can stand alone or not.

If I were an "artist" I wouldn't want my pictures in any type of grouping. Not in a book or a gallery. It lessens the impact of any given picture. Granted there is commerce involved. But I would want every picture to be it's own experience and not something to be compared to something else.

Michael

Gay Larson
08-13-2006, 10:42 PM
Gay - you just wrote your piece before then end of Blansky's quote. That's all. It's there. Just italicized. It's all good.

I wrote it like this one. so I'm going to see if it happens again. Thanks (now I see I wrote it before his name which was the finish. Sorry)

blansky
08-13-2006, 10:44 PM
I don't know why I'm having trouble replying but what I wrote is in the box that should only contain what Blansky wrote. I was replying to his post. This has never happened before??? I had to write it three times before it even posted at all?

Those things happen a lot to people who agree with me.

Something in the software I guess?????

Michael

Sparky
08-13-2006, 10:52 PM
If I were an "artist" I wouldn't want my pictures in any type of grouping. Not in a book or a gallery. It lessens the impact of any given picture. Granted there is commerce involved. But I would want every picture to be it's own experience and not something to be compared to something else.

Well, personally - I don't think you can avoid it. Context is always there. And someone from a different culture is going to see things very differently. I remember seeing some thread on here last year about a guy talking about a photo he sold. He was shocked when he found out the reason the guy who bought it LIKED it so much was because of the dog in the corner of the shot that reminded him of a dog he'd had when he was younger (or something like that). We're all programmed differently. MHV above acknowledged that the series of Friedlander shots actually makes them more interesting than if they stood alone (if I'm not mistaken) - so there's some proof maybe that context CAN strengthen, rather than water down. I think it's simply the responsibility of the artist to take advantage of whatever context they're operating in. That's all.

But we all see things differently - once again. I'm not a huge fan of Friedlander - I have respect for the guy. To me, he's far more masterful than someone like Weston - but then again - he's building on Weston's contributions. So it should be easy.

Soooo... anyway - just curious - does anyone think any of my (early) comments are relevant to the photos? Or if not, how do you think we should talk about Friedlander?

Sparky
08-13-2006, 10:54 PM
I wrote it like this one. so I'm going to see if it happens again. Thanks (now I see I wrote it before his name which was the finish. Sorry)

Gay - that'll happen if you (mistakenly or otherwise) delete the end-quote.

Sparky
08-13-2006, 10:55 PM
[QUOTE=Sparky]Gay - you just wrote your piece before then end of Blansky's quote. That's all. It's there. Just italicized. It's all good.


HERE - I JUST DELETED THE END QUOTE.



hmmm...guess not. I stand corrected on the end-quote thing.

Kino
08-13-2006, 10:59 PM
(snip) But the one thing I think that's VERY important in learning to be a photographer, an artist, a visual person, what-have-you... is to learn FIRST to step outside of your little box, your preconceived notions. I don't think it's possible to pass judgement on ANYTHING until you understand it. "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes", right?

Sparky,

Not to be difficult but...

I could make the argument that, indeed, his photographs are successful in all aspects of his self-crafted aesthetic and his entire work is a cohesive body of work that conforms strictly to that aesthetic and is therefore an unqualified academic success... and argue that it still does nothing for me.

All points would be valid. I can appreciate the effort (for any artist) and not like the results, agreed?

Personally, the image, presented to me in the context of "fine art" conveys elements of either a cynical, reflexive poke at the viewer (do you buy-in or don't you?) and/or a study in data structures and tensions of balance of composition.

Of course, I could be full of sh*t too... ;)

Jim Chinn
08-13-2006, 11:15 PM
Friedlander is a tough one for me. Looking at his work reminds me of when I first saw a Jackson Pollock drip painintg in person and thinking to myself, "I am supposed to like this. Everything I have read tells me how important it is".
It took a few years to realize I liked his work not because of some great new vision or aesthetic he brought to art, but simply because I liked the way some of the pictures made me feel when I seriously looked at them.

So with Friedlander I am in the same boat. I know he is an improtant figure in contemporary photography, but I am not yet to the point where I personally feel any real connection with the work.

However, the neat thing about this forum is it provides me an opportunity to listen to others and take another more critical look at a photographers work.

In the images presented I will admit that there is something interesting about the third image. the desolation, the long shadows and thin gauntness presented by the verticle elements provides an impact to the image.
Someone mentioned meticulous composition. I notice in this one how carefully he made sure almost exact amounts of the posts and shadows are in the image so a certain static balance is there. Of course a photograph freezes time, but that image makes me feel that if I was standing on that corner, time would literally stop. Maybe another analogy for those old enough to remember the show, it looks like it could be the opening shot from an original Twilight Zone episode.

One quick aside. It's kind of funny how recent experience can mold ones thinking. When looking at the third image I noticed the two posts that cross each other. First thing those posts reminded me of was a person. I think that was due to recently being at the Art Institute of Chicago and seeing the Alberto Giacometti sculptures that have a resemblence with thier stick figure style. Go figure.

Sparky
08-13-2006, 11:47 PM
Sparky,
... and argue that it still does nothing for me.

Thanks for the input Kino. But I guess the point that I've been trying to somewhat painfully labor over is that - well, we're photographers, right? Okay - we've established that. Here's a rare chance that we can actually increase our understanding of a visual language. So - okay - let's try not to engage in "i like it" or "i don't like it". That's not the point - and it's just not constructive. It's not going to get us anywhere. But "I don't like it" is GREAT - IF you care to express WHY you think a give image is unsuccessful.

For example - you think that, for example, if the photographer was trying to evoke the "emptiness of contemporary urban life"... then let's have some examples relating to the images of WHY he failed. Or why he didn't.

But I THINK these little sessions (which I think are BY FAR the most valuable thing that we could have on APUG in terms of the service they could be doing) need not to be taken lightly. Imagine if we could put an equivalent amount of progress into our understanding of photographs and analysing them as we do money into our camera collections - or our knowledge of platinum or azo printing, or camera technique...! Don't you agree? At least in principle?

Sparky
08-13-2006, 11:53 PM
Friedlander is a tough one for me. Looking at his work reminds me of when I first saw a Jackson Pollock drip painintg in person and thinking to myself, "I am supposed to like this. Everything I have read tells me how important it is".
It took a few years to realize I liked his work not because of some great new vision or aesthetic he brought to art, but simply because I liked the way some of the pictures made me feel when I seriously looked at them.

So with Friedlander I am in the same boat. I know he is an improtant figure in contemporary photography, but I am not yet to the point where I personally feel any real connection with the work.

However, the neat thing about this forum is it provides me an opportunity to listen to others and take another more critical look at a photographers work.

In the images presented I will admit that there is something interesting about the third image. the desolation, the long shadows and thin gauntness presented by the verticle elements provides an impact to the image.
Someone mentioned meticulous composition. I notice in this one how carefully he made sure almost exact amounts of the posts and shadows are in the image so a certain static balance is there. Of course a photograph freezes time, but that image makes me feel that if I was standing on that corner, time would literally stop. Maybe another analogy for those old enough to remember the show, it looks like it could be the opening shot from an original Twilight Zone episode.

One quick aside. It's kind of funny how recent experience can mold ones thinking. When looking at the third image I noticed the two posts that cross each other. First thing those posts reminded me of was a person. I think that was due to recently being at the Art Institute of Chicago and seeing the Alberto Giacometti sculptures that have a resemblence with thier stick figure style. Go figure.


Jim - thanks so much for that considered look at the photos. I think that your mentioning the reminiscence of a giacometti sculpture is a valuable addition. Is there something that you think that the two may share in common? (the motif in that photo you refer to vs. the giacometti?) For example, Jonathan Green, in his book, American Photography, talks about Aaron Siskind's stone compositions (series of stones balancing on eachother) as being 'about contiguity'. Do you think that in this photograph, it's possible that Friedlander was interested in these Giacometti-like motifs and the way they were expressed?

Sparky
08-13-2006, 11:58 PM
Here's the Siskind print I was talking about.

David H. Bebbington
08-14-2006, 12:08 AM
Responding simply to the Friedlander pictures as pictures, I think the first one (of the fences) is by far the most interesting. Compositionally it reminds me of a Cubist painting, conceptually it seems to encapsulate the mentality of the people who put up the fences, all trying to divide off a little piece of private real estate for themselves. I really enjoy pictures where there are no people but you can very strongly sense the presence of people who have been at the place in question.

Someone posted a picture of doors (in an office building?). Looked hard, couldn't see anything beyond the commonplace.

Yet again, a good choice of images for discussion.

Regards,

David

Sparky
08-14-2006, 12:14 AM
Someone posted a picture of doors (in an office building?). Looked hard, couldn't see anything beyond the commonplace.


Yes, David. That was me. I posted that as an example (granted - it's only one photo) as being emblematic of one of his 'peopled' pictures for the sole point of talking about his 'empty' photos. I'd probably agree with you that that particular image is much more about formality. It's all about composition - I think it's a superb composition - but really seems to lack the depth and feeling of the images presented for discussion. That's sort of interesting in itself, to me.

lee
08-14-2006, 12:16 AM
I suspect that most here are responding to these images as photographers and not as artists. Friedlander and certainly Siskind approched this work trying to solve not photographic problems but ART problems. One of Siskinds best friends was an abstract expressionist in the 50's and 60's and Siskind was often invited to exhibit with this group of artists. In fact, the only one working in photography. I believe that Franz Kline was the abstract expressionist that was Aaron Siskind's friend.

lee\c

Sparky
08-14-2006, 12:21 AM
I suspect that most here are responding to these images as photographers and not as artists. Friedlander and certainly Siskind approched this work trying to solve not photographic problems but ART problems.

Do you think there's any difference - except in the name? Granted, there are different subcultures of each. But don't you think that, in the final analysis, it's just a label?

Kino
08-14-2006, 12:23 AM
Thanks for the input Kino. But I guess the point that I've been trying to somewhat painfully labor over is that - well, we're photographers, right? (snip for space)Don't you agree? At least in principle?

I don't think I really understand your position at all.

OK, so tell me if I am wrong, but your thesis seems to imply a universally acknowledged "ultimate interpretation" of these photos IF you think you can divorce personal aesthetics from dissection of the image itself.

Of course, if you have in excruciating detail a treatise on what the photographer intended, you could do some dry, academic dissection of a photograph that mechanically reinforces the STATED goals of the photographer, but that is nonsensical in light of how the viewer interprets the photograph. How can you tell the viewer, "your interpretation of the image is wrong; here's the real scoop"; if that is the case, the artist should be a pamplet writer, not a photographer.

I thought art and photography was about, among other things, conveying ideas, concepts and feelings via abstractions inherent in the mechanism of the medium. If the means of conveying these constructs fail (by the hand of the artists themselves), shouldn't that be a valid area of study?

I do not know of any situation whereby you purchase a photograph with a legally binding set of rules of interpretation OR why I should be bound by those rules! ;)

Art without pleasure? You post modernist wag! ;)

Yes, I feel it important to discuss visual language, but NOT if it only has room for one interpretation! Regardless of what the artist intended, there is the separate issue of personal interpretation you can hardly divorce from the proceedings.

Maybe I am way off base, but if so, I am totally confused...

lee
08-14-2006, 12:27 AM
Yes, I think there is a difference. What lable? I think Siskind was a painter in photographic clothes. He used photography in a way that had not been done before of at least not by very many before him. His visual language was influenced by painters not photographers. He just used photography to express that visual language. I think!

lee\c

lee
08-14-2006, 12:30 AM
Kino,

that is very funny when you said. "Art without pleasure? You post modernist wag! :)"

lee\c