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  1. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
    This "as though I were standing there" I hear often and I can only say, perhaps you should get out more! I have the same fantasies looking at holiday brochures.

    For me this is the defeatist attitude of contemporary photography and harks back to Atget and his 'documents for painters'. The difference is that these modern survey images are supported by art speak. Photographers become their own personal critics, defending their 'documents as art' like a curator might speak of Atget's. If the photographs strike you because they are of a time and place, then their true value is nostalgia. This is what art snobs will tell you is the only value of any photograph, but they are just as ignorant as the photographers making these images. In a family photo album nostalgia is fine, but in a gallery, first and foremost I expect the visual arts to be visually stimulating.

    If we all had the same tastes the world would be a very boring place, but I feel this kind of work and those who defend it are ignorant of photography's power to transcend illustration, through transforming subject matter, and revealing something of the world that we wouldn't have seen, had we been stood there. I also think there's something to be said about the perceived ease with which the images are made appealing to unskilled amateurs, who might then pursue such an approach and get overly defensive about it, taking an elitist position. When you're aware of this, I find it's too painful to make or appreciate banal illustrations. As somebody who was once enticed by this contemporary aesthetic, I can say photographing empty parking lots feels like such an intellectually cold and joyless procedure, knowing what is really possible with a camera.

    I agree about the 'pushing boundaries', but these photographers never seem to get very far. As far as I can see it's the prolific auteurs with conservative, safe and constant visions who are seen as mature artists, regardless of content. If you make the same bland image over and over again, at some point you will get the press.
    They don't only strike me because they are about time and place. It is how they are done, and the subject matter. A lot of care and skill goes into them aesthetically and technically. To me when they are well done, they are masterful. They are visually stunning to me, and I never get bored looking at them. It is way more than nostalgia. And that is the point. This is all about taste. Nothing else. I don't make any attempt to convince people the photographs I like are great works of art. And I don't see any need to describe them pretentiously either. I simply like looking at them. That's all that matters to me.

    I don't see how you can argue about how things in galleries should be "visually stimulating". This too is a matter of taste. I am honestly tremendously stimulated visually when I look at photographs by Shore, Tice and others. I wouldn't bother with them if this were not the case. Shore is a photographer I discovered completely by chance, on my own. There were no pretentious curators or writers to sway me. I saw a book at the library and I was mesmerized. As for my own photography, I have always been naturally attracted to the "banal", to empty spaces, to the space around me, to the everyday things most people never notice. There is nothing elitist or pretentious about it. It's simply how I see. And like Shore and others, I try to render these subjects the way I see them, which is usually without fanfare or heightened drama in the print. This would initially seem at odds with your assertion good photographs should necessarily make use of photography's power to transcend illustration, to show something we wouldn't have seen. Regardless of the fact I totally disagree, I think Shore's work actually fits your definition. The entire picture is something the viewer would not have seen had he/she been there, let alone some aspect of it.

    All photographs are illusions, and in the end they all attempt to make something out of nothing. For you, empty parking lots are intellectually cold and boring. For me, decisive moments, portraiture, dismembered old dolls and most of the current arty stuff, alt processes etc are intellectually cold and boring. It's all just personal taste. Granted some tastes are more prevalent than others, and only a relatively small minority of people are interested in the things I like, but who gives a crap anyway?

  2. #32

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    These posts sound to me more about sour grapes that any legitimate opinion. Get over it, some people have different ideas and they have gone out and developed a career doing this. If you want to curate photography, go out and earn that place too.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
    I'm sure I'll come across as an ignorant swine to some serious students of photography here, but I don't believe his ideas about aesthetics have any relevance to our lives as creatives.
    Of course, you have to find your own aesthetic, using your own creative powers. I'd say just guard your creative process, and don't waste a moment thinking about whether your output should or shouldn't be appreciated or curated.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  4. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
    This "as though I were standing there" I hear often and I can only say, perhaps you should get out more! I have the same fantasies looking at holiday brochures.

    For me this is the defeatist attitude of contemporary photography and harks back to Atget and his 'documents for painters'. The difference is that these modern survey images are supported by art speak. Photographers become their own personal critics, defending their 'documents as art' like a curator might speak of Atget's. If the photographs strike you because they are of a time and place, then their true value is nostalgia. This is what art snobs will tell you is the only value of any photograph, but they are just as ignorant as the photographers making these images. In a family photo album nostalgia is fine, but in a gallery, first and foremost I expect the visual arts to be visually stimulating.

    If we all had the same tastes the world would be a very boring place, but I feel this kind of work and those who defend it are ignorant of photography's power to transcend illustration, through transforming subject matter, and revealing something of the world that we wouldn't have seen, had we been stood there. I also think there's something to be said about the perceived ease with which the images are made appealing to unskilled amateurs, who might then pursue such an approach and get overly defensive about it, taking an elitist position. When you're aware of this, I find it's too painful to make or appreciate banal illustrations. As somebody who was once enticed by this contemporary aesthetic, I can say photographing empty parking lots feels like such an intellectually cold and joyless procedure, knowing what is really possible with a camera.

    I agree about the 'pushing boundaries', but these photographers never seem to get very far. As far as I can see it's the prolific auteurs with conservative, safe and constant visions who are seen as mature artists, regardless of content. If you make the same bland image over and over again, at some point you will get the press.

    forgive me for asking this batwister but what kind of photography is it that you believe should be in galleries and museums?
    you seem to paint photography that doesn't belong there with a broad brush ... most everything created with a camera falls
    into the categories you claim are lame ... and your gallery here on apug doesn't give any insights ( shallow dof portrait, and natural clutter )

    art in a gallery is safe, yes ... it is a commodity that the gallery is selling to people who want to buy "that sort of thing" ...
    i wouldn't expect someone who is represented by a gallery to take a drastic turn from where he/she is going because
    the collectors want something, the same thing ...

    if a photographer can't speak of his or her work to defend it or place it in the short tradition of photography,
    then who is --- academia, galleries, curators and museum-people?
    you don't like galleries, you don't like curators, you don't like academia, you don't like museum-folk ...
    Last edited by jnanian; 03-10-2012 at 07:27 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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  5. #35
    eclarke's Avatar
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    This "art" word always spawns massive overthinking...

  6. #36
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    Galleries have financial reasons for hanging work which attracts a broad audience. They pay rent, utilities, employees, and advertising costs. There's no shame in that...

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hikari View Post
    These posts sound to me more about sour grapes that any legitimate opinion. Get over it, some people have different ideas and they have gone out and developed a career doing this. If you want to curate photography, go out and earn that place too.
    Right, because everything mainstream must be accepted as truth, reality, and the way it should be?

    Why be critical of anything...
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  8. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    forgive me for asking this batwister but what kind of photography is it that you believe should be in galleries and museums?
    you seem to paint photography that doesn't belong there with a broad brush ... most everything created with a camera falls
    into the categories you claim are lame ... and your gallery here on apug doesn't give any insights ( shallow dof portrait, and natural clutter )

    art in a gallery is safe, yes ... it is a commodity that the gallery is selling to people who want to buy "that sort of thing" ...
    i wouldn't expect someone who is represented by a gallery to take a drastic turn from where he/she is going because
    the collectors want something, the same thing ...

    if a photographer can't speak of his or her work to defend it or place it in the short tradition of photography,
    then who is --- academia, galleries, curators and museum-people?
    you don't like galleries, you don't like curators, you don't like academia, you don't like museum-folk ...
    First of all, the clutter and shallow DoF images I've been trying to delete since I joined the forum! Don't know what's going on there. Uploaded as an amateur's contributions, not artistic statements. I can only say I've come a long way in the last couple of years. As awful as the images are, your defining the portrait by the aperture used is perhaps more revealing of your own concerns. Although I'd have to agree if you're insinuating that centrally composed portraits at f2.8 are a trademark of the Hasselblad amateur!

    To the point, I'd only hope that photographers aren't tailoring their work for gallery's tastes. I've never believed successful artists when they've said "I don't think about the audience', don't patronise me! Their prints would never leave the house if this was true. But... what I see in contemporary photography are hoards of conformists and it doesn't take a nitpicker to make this observation. Even the pictorialists, f/64 and New Topographics had very definite individual concerns and these were essentially photography cults! What I see today is the cult of fashion, where the individual is ostracized, not only for his sense of aesthetic, but perhaps because he doesn't have an artist's trench coat and haircut.

    Todd Hido, whose work has actually taken a lot from Stephen Shore, is the first contemporary photographer I've seen who has really done something with the 'banal aesthetic' and given it personal depth. His photographs embrace the nostalgia that is sitting just below the surface in a lot of this kind of work. He has dared to strip it of its cooly observed 'appearence' and add some atmosphere. I deeply admire him for making a bold step in moving past the superficial that has plagued photography for so long, in this age of appearences. Neither does he wear designer clothes or speak about his own work like a critic might - he doesn't feel the need to defend it with art speak. http://www.toddhido.com/

    The over-intellectualizing of their own work - words before images - isn't just my own silly observation, and I can only guess you're pretending to be naive for the sake of argument. See this link for a more light hearted take on what I'm getting at - http://www.artybollocks.com/

    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    forgive me for asking this batwister but what kind of photography is it that you believe should be in galleries and museums?
    So in short, personal concerns over the contrived in style and letting the work speak for itself. Quite a manifesto, ey?
    Last edited by batwister; 03-11-2012 at 09:21 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #39
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    I think it's very important to distinguish here between curators and gallery owners. The financial concerns driving them are quite different. The gallery owner needs to hang work that sells, period. A museum curator has a lot more freedom in selecting work to show or acquire for the collections they manage.
    Jim

  10. #40

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    I was talking about curators up until that point, but jnanian put words in my mouth!

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