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Thread: Fine Art Status

  1. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by PKM-25 View Post
    First off, if you think that the term "Fine Art Photography" has been swallowed up into the nauseating abyss of amateur online digital work, you would be incorrect and probably spend too much time online. You need to go to good galleries who show good work in towns that have a more cultured approach to representing art and art history, NY, Paris, London, Prague, LA, Sante Fe and even lil' ol' Aspen...
    I've been to exhibits in Manchester UK, which mainly show the work of 'artists as photographers'. See Sarah Lucas. That is, photography that has some credibility and unique value in the context of the traditional art it stands alongside. Its values are bound to the ephemeral nature of photography; 'sketches', throwaway ideas, here today gone tomorrow. This is the kind of photography art scholars and curators like best, because it poses no competition to the 'real' singular, respectable artworks on which they have built their careers and established their authority. Unfortunately, big galleries that only show photography don't exist in the UK, so you might better understand my cynicism about what is shown. Yet, this kind of photography is closer to what I feel is important modern work. John Sexton and the rest of the 'master printers', are something else. Don't get me wrong, I own 'Recollections' by Sexton and it's beautiful, but...

    I believe the 'West coast' school of photography in the US is a tradition that can only exist in a country that truly values its photography heritage. A popular photographic niche from which what we know as 'fine art' photography originates. Unfortunately, in the UK, we can't afford to be nostalgic and procrastinate with out of date ideals. Photography isn't 'comfortable' enough as a medium for expression here. For photography to move forward in the UK, I think the best way to get art photography into public consciousness is to produce memorable, timely and relevant images and forget about the value of the print - which is the photographer's concern. Why burden the viewer with our anxiety about our precious materials? Won't someone PLEASE think about the images! Going on forever about the beauty of the optical print is sidestepping the real issue with photography today. Traditional materials are undoubtedly the best form of presentation, technologically speaking, but this is incidental where the viewer is concerned and so has to be where the photographer is concerned. Shoot film and shut up. I truly believe in that regard that making a point of your media preference (film/optical prints) is a sure sign of a creative inferiority complex for a modern photographer. That is... if he is aware of what is going on in the contemporary art world. If on the other hand he works in a vacuum and only looks at photography pre-1950, then his ideals can't be blamed, he is naive.

    Photography which plays heavily on the virtues (or even aesthetic) of the materials - just like arts and crafts - isn't taken seriously by the art world and holds up better in local galleries, for a fair price. Has Michael Kenna ever had a show at MoMA out of interest? Yet isn't he practically a household name? If we're talking about fine art photography, we should know its place. Michael Kenna is held at a distance, perhaps regretfully for many contemporary photography galleries, because his work relies so heavily on the print and references 'the old masters', the past. This kind of work tends to be decorative and it sells for that reason. It's unfortunate that decorative work is regarded with skepticism in the world of contemporary photography, but this has been the case since at least the New Topographics. Decorative work and the sentimentality about the print are inseparable. I've found this to be unanimous. It's been said many times recently that photography has been moving sideways for a long time, and I believe the traditional photographers still holding onto 20th century ideals about the photograph as a pretty object, are largely to blame. 'Fine art photography' is a nostalgic mentality, rooted in ignorance and an avoidance of modern photographic ideals.

    EDIT: I should also say that I love the physicality of traditional photography, but it's not the sole reason I enter the darkroom. It's an incidental part of the process of making images - which is what the viewer wants to see. If your prints end up in a frame, any suggestion that the physicality of the photographic process matters to the viewer is a contradiction. I've said in the past that the physicality was what I loved about film, but it's a mistake to think this matters to anyone but other photographers trying to gain insight into how the image was crafted. The average viewer better appreciates the unique tonality and depth of the optical print, not the physicality of its making - this is the photographer's fetish.
    Last edited by batwister; 10-16-2012 at 03:41 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
    I believe the traditional photographers still holding onto 20th century ideals about the photograph as a pretty object, are largely to blame. 'Fine art photography' is a nostalgic mentality, rooted in ignorance and an avoidance of modern photographic ideals.
    I don't regard 'Fine art photography' as just pretty objects.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  3. #63

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    In summary, I feel digital photography (with a great deal of further development) will allow photographers to be more innovative than traditional photographers because there will be no poisonous value attachment to the making of the print, which holds 'fine art' photographers back. Only the image matters in digital photography, but the presentation of the digital image is still being wrestled with. I love film and analog cameras and lenses simply because currently, it is the superior technology. But never say never.
    Last edited by batwister; 10-16-2012 at 03:44 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #64

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    Lol, Batwister, for some reason I feel like you are missing the point I made in saying that above all else, the impact of the photograph has to be exceptional, no matter the medium. As for the rest of it, like I or not, digital photography is computer photography, talent being equal, it is going to increasingly come under more wallet driven scrutiny when compared to something that was hand made...that is not a product of what we as image makers say or want, it is a product of what the digital age is doing to perception as a whole...hand made is hand made, digital will never be that.

    And this is simply the way it should be

  5. #65
    Klainmeister's Avatar
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    I think of how many wonderful things machines can produce, like let's say a bicycle wheel, yet the handmade ones still command a higher price although critically aren't as good. Are people idiots or what?!

    PKM, I'd love to come up and see your work some time. I think Aspen is only about 6 hours away. Didn't realize there was such an art scene up there.
    K.S. Klain

  6. #66
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    Rich folks love hand made stuff. Other than photographs, they love hand made cars. These guys go upwards of $300K.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bufori
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

  7. #67

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    Quote Originally Posted by PKM-25 View Post
    As for the rest of it, like I or not, digital photography is computer photography, talent being equal, it is going to increasingly come under more wallet driven scrutiny when compared to something that was hand made...
    When you say 'hand made' you're making photography sound like arts and crafts, which was partly my point. I really don't understand why people like yourself don't just take up pottery! It's an incidental part of making a photograph, which, being the most significant difference between digital and traditional photography, has become emotionally imbued for arguments sake. I'm imagining that scene from 'Ghost' (terrible film, yes) but with the couple in a darkroom, rubbing their hands all over a wet print.

  8. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
    When you say 'hand made' you're making photography sound like arts and crafts, which was partly my point. I really don't understand why people like yourself don't just take up pottery! It's an incidental part of making a photograph, which, being the most significant difference between digital and traditional photography, has become emotionally imbued for arguments sake. I'm imagining that scene from 'Ghost' (terrible film, yes) but with the couple in a darkroom, rubbing their hands all over a wet print.
    It does not even have to do so much with hands as it does in not making computer aided art. If the day comes that I can no longer find the materials to produce my work other than digtal means, I would likely move onto another craft, and this is after using digital for nearly 20 years now. It's not a slam against the medium, I still use it, about to go into a meeting with a commercial client in that we will use it for an ad campaign.

    The cut and dry for me personally is doing great work on film and in wet print when the rest of the world is going bonkers over something I mastered over a decade ago is just a heck of a lot of fun and seems to get nothing but positive reactions in a artsy town like where I live.

    Life is too short to do what everyone else does...

  9. #69
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    If using your hands is the criteria for art why not just pick your nose while you hit the print button on your computer.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  10. #70
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    Hand made art better?

    Quote Originally Posted by blansky View Post
    If using your hands is the criteria for art why not just pick your nose while you hit the print button on your computer.
    I think art is a uniquely human endeavor. One thing that makes it more human is a person making it, not just a machine churning a product. Why do we visit art museums and galleries? Why some prefer to go to concerts while we have stereo systems? Yes there's are that uses technology like the work of Bill Viola that is delivered with a machine. But with work involving materials, art made by an artist is generally more valuable as a collector. There are various reasons for making and consuming art, but my reason for participating in the creation and consumption of art is for me transformative when I make it and when I see other people's art.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang



 

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