Thinking about other work and how your own might stand next to it is hardly art criticism. Though, it might be a little delusional and yes, pretentious. But everyone and everything is pretentious at the moment, it's certainly an overused word and mostly a reactionary one. Of course, being objective about other work as a means to develop your own is bound to be somewhat sterile, as opposed to sentimental poetry about the experience. Yes, being moved by images is great and I frequently am, as a viewer. As a photographer, don't you think some detached analysis of composition, treatment and contents is beneficial for the development of your craft, eye and perhaps - dare I say it... concepts? Do you think Edward Weston always wore his heart on his sleave and let his emotions gush through the ground glass, searching for his Juliet, in the form of rocks? There's more that went into his images than romanticism and being moved. Not to compare myself in any way shape or form, but I'm sure he was called a pompous arse once upon a time too.
Originally Posted by Ian David
Your life and photography obviously took you in a different direction, antipathetic to thinking too much, photographically. Perhaps mine will too, but should I just accept that now and give up? I feel 'pontificating', if that's what it is in your mind, only helps my photography - I certainly see the impact of this thinking in my results. Perhaps you never did. Horses for courses. Though I don't appreciate trying to be stifled. When I've heard that photography groups kill an ambitious photographer, I can see where they are coming from in this regard.
Originally Posted by Ian David
I don't prescribe to this idea of seeing the prints - as a photographer - because the presentation is concerned with impact and immediacy of evocation, for the benefit of the buyer. I believe great images work in any presentation format, which only makes seeing them in person more exciting. Though I don't think it's the be all and end all of seeing work, only the end goal of an artist's presentation, with the intention of interesting buyers. I certainly don't have any haste in exhibiting my own for that reason. As I've said, I'm concerned with images and the making of them, which doesn't require me to see prints - though I occasionally do, as a lover of photography and there are many I would like to see, just for the experience - to finalise my knowledge of their work. Why would anyone think though, that an hour stood up in a gallery, with twenty people stood around you is the best way to spend time with images? Poring over well sequenced books (preferably by the photographer himself) in the comfort of your own home, without any social distraction, in your own time, perhaps making notes, is without question the best way to absorb, be moved by and analyse images. I know a great expressionist painter who rarely goes to exhibitions. Would you suggest that they need to see Munch's work in person before they know what they're talking about or painting? What about a filmmaker? Do they have to see an original print of Ingmar Bergman's before they can have an understanding or appreciation of the films? Are you telling me I have to see a Robert Adams exhibition before I can understand or appreciate his work? I'm in the UK for a start, where would I see his prints in my photographically skeptical and ignorant country?
Galleries are more experiential in my mind, social and in the interest of commerce, which some people obviously thrive on. Why are people so warped about the importance of seeing and making the 'fine print'? I'm starting to think it's just a 'healthy' excuse for materialism. Even if the fine art print community is a conscious reaction to contemporary photography, both concerns seem to run counter to the making of great photographs. They are both extremes, idealism. It's nice, sometimes moving, to see a fine traditional print, but it doesn't have any more impact on me as a photographer than a good reproduction. I maintain that ambitious practicing photographers should be concerned with images, not objects on walls. Too radical?
I appreciate your sentiment. Though I think as long as people are serious about the creation of art, it will be talked about and pondered from every angle aside from emotional response. Emotional engagement is what gets us going, but thinking about the 'whys', 'hows' and 'what ifs' are what keep us stepping up our game. If the impulses of emotional reactions were all there was, we'd still be living in the dark ages. I enjoy the light.
Originally Posted by Ian David
I traveled the astral plane and remote viewed them. Still not impressed. I also tried peeking through the gallery's window using Google street view, but either the gallery is newer than the street view picture, or else they didn't have much art for sale.
Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
Anybody actually live close to that place (11 Eccleston Street)?
You misunderstand me. I think a great deal about photography, including how to improve and develop my own work. What I try to avoid is approaching a consideration of photography (and art generally) with an inflexible set of preconceived notions.
Originally Posted by batwister
Have a read back through your last post. Pretty strident stuff, in places. I see in another thread that you are 24. With respect, you still have a bit of living ahead of you and, if you allow it to happen, you may find that some of your present intellectual convictions seem less obvious a bit further down the track. But I am certainly not trying to stifle you.
I won't respond to all your rhetorical questions. But I will just point out a couple of things...
You give the term 'emotional response' a very narrow meaning. There is a wide stretch of emotional landscape between cold objectivity and gushing sentimentality.
Your post seems to assume that the only reason anyone makes or shows prints is to appeal to buyers. That is plainly mistaken. In my experience, much can often be gained by looking at a photograph in the form that its maker wants you to see it. You might recognise a great image in a decent reproduction. But then again you might not. Go and sit in the Rothko Room at the Tate Modern, if you haven't already done so. There is simply no comparison between a coffee table book showing Rothko's paintings, and the real thing in full scale and true colour. The same can also be true of photographs.
By all means praise an image if it amazes you in the comfort of your living room. But you will sometimes miss out on some interesting and subtle stuff, and perhaps do some photographer an injustice, if you choose to deride or ignore work that doesn't immediately leap out at you in your armchair.
I think what the argument comes down to aside from my bad manners and tone (and apologies), is the difference of value we place on the materials and the image itself. This has always seemed like an impenetrable wall in discussions on APUG.
There is a young woman, younger than me in fact. She lives a couple of towns away and has made quite a name for herself on a certain popular photo sharing site. She's ended up shooting album covers for big name bands and pretty much established herself as international hot property. She doesn't know any of the classical photographers, doesn't go to exhibitions as far as I'm aware and her work, while of a 'high' standard, is visually illiterate in my eyes. Naive and immature, for someone at her level. Yet, she's done incredibly well. She also runs workshops, which have obviously come about through overconfidence in her ability and insight - a result of what I see as the premature praise she has received, for visual gimmicks and being somewhat attractive. My argument - being young and rebelious - would be that the world she is a part of is completely ignorant about the arts and only concerned with their narcissistic, fame oriented motivations. Getting to the top as fast as possible. In the same way some young tennis players are - once on the court with the real greats, the major faults of their game become apparent to everyone. They usually do one thing well and get by on kidding everyone with it, for a while.
But, who are you or I to say she needs to see prints in person, in order to know her craft and influences? Does she have to become familiar with the greats at all even? Considering where she is, maybe this would only be procrastination, setting her back. With that in mind, for me or you to spend a full day of a weekend in a gallery, where would that really get us with our own craft? It would be nice, but you have to understand that I'm talking about photography as more than leisure.
Being well read photographically is beneficial in my mind, but you'll notice how many on this forum and elsewhere could write their own history book, yet how has their photography benefited? What have they truly learnt and applied to their work? It's not just about endlessly seeing work in my mind, but being receptive and understanding what you can take from it. Something that's extremely difficult with five minutes in front of a print in a gallery, regardless of how big and beautiful it is. The presence of the work is what hits me more than anything in a gallery and I find it can warp my judgement. Isn't this why Harry Cory Wright prints 6 footers? He wants you to see that insignificant patch of grass as something overwhelming - not realistically how we would see the subject matter. If it's the reliance on the experiential in modern art that does it for you, then exhibitions of this work are everything. I'm interested in what a photograph is at its bare roots, that special something that materialises on the negative and can be translated into even the smallest print. There's one photographer whose transparencies I would give anything to see. This isn't something that punches you in the face trying to win you over, but through quiet contemplation you can come to understand. In a way, I can understand people who get their camera phones out in galleries. Part of you needs to take it back to your lair, look it at your own leisure and let it hit you at your own level, without distraction.
Wanted to share something also.
I went to this exhibition on Sunday - http://www.manchestergalleries.org/w....php?itemID=91
I was unsure about what was on display, but I was seeing a friend nearby and we went. I genuinely couldn't respond to any of the images. Some intrigued me and perhaps had I seen them in a book, would have moved me. But nuance and level of detail aside, I just couldn't get anything from the work. If anything, it intimidated me into submission. In the next room they were showing contemporary African work - the book of which I considered buying some months ago. Honestly, after seeing the work, I can say I'm no longer interested. If I'd bought the book first however and given the images some time, who's to say I wouldn't have got something from them? At which point, going to that exhibition might have been a great experience.
It seems in my experience (what little I evidently have) exhibitions are a very delicately balanced form of presentation, with many weights in place that can work for or against the viewers experience of the work. There are fewer compromises with a high quality book, not to mention that you are in control of the light you view the work under, the amount of chatterboxes in the room with you and the amount of time you spend with the images. If you're suggesting that Harry Cory Wright's images might be more effective in person, perhaps he shouldn't be presenting the work on a website and in books - how most people will see the work. This comes back to the idea of contemporary art not being concerned with most people, but the priveleged few who can see and buy it. Narrowcasting you might say. There are MANY modes of presentation today and images will be seen more in reproduction than original forms. Reproductions can potentially damage the experience of the work if, at the point of making, the image relies on a singular form of presentation for us to understand it. Photographs, by nature, do not.
Originally Posted by Maris