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philldresser
08-14-2006, 06:26 AM
I looked at all 4 images and they do nothing for me. Infact, if I had managed to take them they would have made it straight to the bin. What is he trying to say?

Phill

reellis67
08-14-2006, 08:59 AM
I don't feel strongly about these images, but I don't think that they are crap either. To me, these selections evoke a kind of urban wasteland feeling, as well as a certain interest in the elements of the objects depicted. I've not seen a lot of this photographers work, but I would not pass on viewing more given the opportunity.

I understand the urge to know what the photographer was trying to do with any given photo, but for me, only documentary photographs really need context to have power. Knowing that these photos are not specificaly documentary, I feel free to evaluate them as any other piece of artwork. I see their lines etc. and they look interesting, but even though I see these elements, I'm not overly moved by them. What moves me more is the suggestion that rather than looking at pretty scenery, this photographer has presented us with a more 'real' vision of our world.

I also found the discussion about whether it is OK to like, or dislike, some art interesting. I've recently had this same conversation with a couple of painters that I know and the results were very similar to those expressed here. I tend to side with the 'I don't have to like it' crowd, but I always try to keep an open mind because I know that I don't know everything, nor will I ever, nor will anyone else. I like or dislike a piece of art for my own reasons, and even after someone explains the piece to me I still have the right to feel the way I do about it. Understanding an artwork does not imply that I will automaticly like it - I can appreciate the piece and still dislike it.

- Randy

Lee Shively
08-14-2006, 09:46 AM
I don't particularly like these photos but....

Friedlander continues the type of honest photography that I admired in Walker Evans. It's modern, it's formal, it's often a mess but it's Friedlander and it doesn't pretend to fit into our preconceptions of what a photograph should show. While I don't think it's necessary to know the context of a phtograph in order to enjoy it, it's helpful to know something about intentions, concepts and ideas. Some photographs are enjoyable based on the old camera club ideals, some are "difficult". Doesn't make them bad, just hard to get your head around. Knowing Friedlander's work helps when seeing Friedlander's photos. The more I know about his work, the more I enjoy seeing it. It's very often a challenge and I still don't always understand it, but I do enjoy it. In the thread on your choice of the four greatest photographers, I placed Friedlander number three.

blansky
08-14-2006, 10:51 AM
OK, so tell me if I am wrong, but your thesis seems to imply a universally acknowledged "ultimate interpretation" of these photos ......

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?


A lot of what is in these sentences is what bothers me about the whole "art thing. People interpreting any type of art. It always seems so highbrow, so "arty intellectual" and so vapid.

"Well here in this picture of these two rocks we have the classic Wysterburgersstein, which is of course yet another in his marvelous style documenting mans inhumanity to man".


"This inspiring picture of a tree is obviously Glatcheststeinholdht telling us how the trials and tribulations of the underclass in post World War One Europe (circa 1928) encouraged the emergence of the decadent 1930 that gave birth to fascism".


This gobbledegoop is what completely turns me off from the "art crowds" claptrap about what they think they know about any given work of art.


Michael

Donald Miller
08-14-2006, 11:10 AM
A lot of what is in these sentences is what bothers me about the whole "art thing. People interpreting any type of art. It always seems so highbrow, so "arty intellectual" and so vapid.

"Well here in this picture of these two rocks we have the classic Wysterburgersstein, which is of course yet another in his marvelous style documenting mans inhumanity to man".


"This inspiring picture of a tree is obviously Glatcheststeinholdht telling us how the trials and tribulations of the underclass in post World War One Europe (circa 1928) encouraged the emergence of the decadent 1930 that gave birth to fascism".


This gobbledegoop is what completely turns me off from the "art crowds" claptrap about what they think they know about any given work of art.


Michael

Michael,

I think that these vapid attempts at interpertation and furthermore to believe that these interpertations have any validiity for others (outside of one's individual consciousness) is akin to attempting to put legs on a snake.

copake_ham
08-14-2006, 11:11 AM
I found the first photo interesting for a couple of reasons.

1) I've taken a number of photos using faded white picket fences in wintertime in the foreground of street scenes so was interested in someone else doing so. Actually, this featured photo looks similar to a street scence I've shot in Lenox, MA.

2) I just learned the other day that the house in the background has what is called a "hipped" roof line. I learned this from a historic plaque on a house in Cooperstown, NY so it helps me "place" the photo to probably from the US Northeast.

The second picture has some interest but the rest do nothing for me.

Donald Miller
08-14-2006, 11:16 AM
My opinion about this series of photographs is that the king has no clothes.

Gerald Koch
08-14-2006, 12:09 PM
In my experience - it can be difficult, if not impossible, to know how to respond to a photograph without understanding the intent of the artist.
???
Do we need to know what Leonardo was thinking in order to appreciate the Mona Lisa? In most cases we have no idea why the photographer felt compelled to make a particular image. We either respond to a photograph or we do not. Our response is often influenced more by our own experience than that of the photographer. Picture #4 appeals to me because it reminds me of things I saw when I first moved to Florida in the early 50's.

Lee Shively
08-14-2006, 04:49 PM
"Do we need to know what Leonardo was thinking in order to appreciate the Mona Lisa?"

No. But there have been lots of people for lots of years wanting to understand more about Leonardo's reasons behind the painting. I dare say most people appreciate the Mona Lisa more because it's an icon.

naturephoto1
08-14-2006, 05:18 PM
I too am not too partial to the selection of the Lee Friedlander photographs. Perhaps I may find others more to my liking.

Rich

Sparky
08-14-2006, 05:46 PM
"This inspiring picture of a tree is obviously Glatcheststeinholdht telling us how the trials and tribulations of the underclass in post World War One Europe (circa 1928) encouraged the emergence of the decadent 1930 that gave birth to fascism".

Blansky. Cease and desist! You leave Glatcheststeinholdht OUT of this!!

bastard...!

Sparky
08-14-2006, 06:01 PM
???
Do we need to know what Leonardo was thinking in order to appreciate the Mona Lisa? In most cases we have no idea why the photographer felt compelled to make a particular image. We either respond to a photograph or we do not. Our response is often influenced more by our own experience than that of the photographer. Picture #4 appeals to me because it reminds me of things I saw when I first moved to Florida in the early 50's.

I used to work for this guy, a photographer/artist (whatever you want to call it). The first time I saw his work, I was left feeling pretty nonplussed. However, as I started working with him, I saw the unbelievable amount of research and care he put into the work. It took him close to a year to make a single photograph, and we'd build elaborate sets, spend all kinds of money, etc... while that in itself is sort of an impressive thing - it's more the carefulness and thinking that went into the work that gave me a whole new understanding and respect for the work. I know that won't help the viewer who's closed off to the work, or who DOESN'T see that. But it completely changed MY perspective.

What if you're looking at a photograph of a naked corpse - and let's say you're jewish - would it not make a difference to find out that it's a picture of a dead nazi vs. an imprisoned jew? Doesn't understanding details external to an image have some sort of meaning?

What about the famous vietnam pic of the girl running down the road covered in napalm? If you didn't know about vietnam - then you're likely to dismiss the picture as something entirely different - yet that photograph was HUGE in shifting the tide of opinion against vietnam. Here, the photo was utterly dependent on this external referent.

I'm not saying every photograph needs explanation. I think too, that images should generally be seductive in their own right. But then if it's actually a QUALITY image - it's got something more to say. So it's got to answer to the viewer on several more levels too. To me, the Friedlanders are pretty successful on their own, without explanation. They're not QUITE for me. Though I would really love to know his thinking behind it. I think it would be great if we allow the artist to give a statement accompanying every image. It should be a basic right - even if not necessary.

But anyway - I think everyone's different and sees different things in an image. For me - the last two are FAR more successful images than the first two. But I'm coming from a purely aesthetic, shallow place in that assertion. I think they're the most interesting images, and are the best composed. I think they're about line, and about atmosphere on the surface.

Sparky
08-14-2006, 06:09 PM
A lot of what is in these sentences is what bothers me about the whole "art thing. People interpreting any type of art. It always seems so highbrow, so "arty intellectual" and so vapid.

This gobbledegoop is what completely turns me off from the "art crowds" claptrap about what they think they know about any given work of art.


Michael - I think the guy was just trying to make a point - not impress us. If anyone's guilty of 'art talk' it's probably me. But the thing is (here's the thing) what you refer to as claptrap - is actually pretty useful language (depending specifically on what you're referring to, of course!) to talk about images. There's a crapload of concepts that are really useful in talking about photographs and we'd be a bit lost without them;

Depth-of-field
negative space
frame, framing
context
subject/object
narrative (between images in a series)
line, form
grain, blur
tone (light vs. dark, also high and low key)
the list goes on...

I don't go jumping on everyone who says 'hasselblad' because I think they're name-dropping. But if there's something that you don't understand, it would probably be good to quote the offending phrase and push for clarity. I don't think that's such a horrible thing, nor do I think it's difficult.

jovo
08-14-2006, 06:14 PM
viz a viz the conundrum of covering war impartially if that can even be done, is this piece from the NY Times this morning regarding journalistic photography:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/14/business/media/14balance.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

blansky
08-14-2006, 07:11 PM
But the thing is (here's the thing) what you refer to as claptrap - is actually pretty useful language (depending specifically on what you're referring to, of course!) to talk about images. There's a crapload of concepts that are really useful in talking about photographs and we'd be a bit lost without them;

Depth-of-field
negative space
frame, framing
context
subject/object
narrative (between images in a series)
line, form
grain, blur
tone (light vs. dark, also high and low key)
the list goes on...



The essence of all the above words would be to me, little more than an autopsy. You've taken a "living" creation and dissected it down to a clinical level in an attempt to
1. impress
2. teach
3. copy
4. you decide...


I'm not talking about you personally at all. But as Mr Cardwell stated in another thread, I think, when he observed the spiral in the picture, he then attached, mystery and a bunch of other attributes that to me, clearly weren't there.

I'm not impressed by images that don't engage me on any number of levels but can be touted as having "great line and form" or wonderful "spacial arrangement" but are essentially dissected cadavers.

An image should be judged by its life, not by photographic archeologists or people wishing to engage in "organ" transplants into their own photographs.


Michael

Sparky
08-14-2006, 07:32 PM
The essence of all the above words would be to me, little more than an autopsy. You've taken a "living" creation and dissected it down to a clinical level in an attempt to
1. impress
2. teach
3. copy
4. you decide...


I'm not talking about you personally at all. But as Mr Cardwell stated in another thread, I think, when he observed the spiral in the picture, he then attached, mystery and a bunch of other attributes that to me, clearly weren't there.

I'm not impressed by images that don't engage me on any number of levels but can be touted as having "great line and form" or wonderful "spacial arrangement" but are essentially dissected cadavers.

An image should be judged by its life, not by photographic archeologists or people wishing to engage in "organ" transplants into their own photographs.

Michael

Michael - I DO, generally speaking, agree with you. I DO think that pictures should create their own merit in a way - but - all I'm trying to SAY - is that I don't see any harm whatsoever in talking about them. Surely nothing but good could come from that. Are you suggesting that this whole 'discuss a photograph' thing should be dropped? I generally enjoy your posts - and are probably one of the most centered individuals here - I appreciate that, to be sure. Just know that I'm NOT trying to jump down your throat or attack you... (and I know you're probably not taking it that way - just wanted to disclaim) I'm just trying to have some lively dialogue.

That being said - are you suggesting that 'dissecting' an image in such a way is damaging?

Or is it that only 'dissecting' images that you don't like is fruitless - and is an attempt to give merit to an image which otherwise wouldn't deserve it (making a sow's ear into a silk purse, as it were)?

inquiring minds want to know.

blansky
08-14-2006, 10:34 PM
Not at all. I love these threads.

I do have problems with Mr Cardwell, Tim and Artur's critiques at times. But I do love to hear them. As I stated in another thread, I'm totally uneducated. I also stated I love the Zen Mind Beginner Mind approach partly because I have no education. I just drink in the image and respond. I have no background to draw from. But is an art history background necessary to enjoy or dismiss a print. I won't say artist because I don't judge artists. Only individual prints.

I do think that dissecting is a great way to learn. But it also can take the life away from a print. As someone who has photographed many hundreds of people I will say that beauty can be dissected. Great eyes, great bones, great lips but that dissection produces a portrait of anatomical features. But someone without those features is often far more beautiful. There are intangibles, auras, life forces, etc that cannot be identified by autopsy. Only as a whole living portrait are they visible.

As a pretty much self taught photographer that pursued his interests, I at one time tried to emulate fashion photographers "poses" of women. Many had that tried and true, hand on the hair (side of the head) look. I pretty much got it down with a few models and I showed one of my pictures to my dear old mother. She responded " it's quite nice dear, but they all look like they have a splitting headache".

So my point is, I guess, that sometimes we get too close, to drawn in the the conventions and too arty for our own good.

So lets keep the debate going, this is the most fun I've had with my clothes on in a long time.

Michael

Sparky
08-14-2006, 10:59 PM
So my point is, I guess, that sometimes we get too close, to drawn in the the conventions and too arty for our own good.


well - I got no problem with trying to keep the lingo as 'street' as possible. I think that would be a good exercise in forcing one to say what one means in as plain a way as possible...

Sparky
08-16-2006, 04:44 AM
Hey Sparky....is there someplace we can see some images you made?

David - I tried to e-mail you - but I guess your e-mail is private. So I couldn't. But I just wanted you to know - that I took up the challenge, scanned some images, and put them in storage on the web. If you want to see 'em - just go here;

http://www.arcfoto.com/vintage/

Though I'm not at all convinced you'll ever get this.

David H. Bebbington
08-16-2006, 05:21 AM
Blansky. Cease and desist! You leave Glatcheststeinholdht OUT of this!!

bastard...!
I agree - no one in this world suffered like Glatcheststeinholdht - not least because of his severe stammer - he could never say his name!