To me, the most interesting part of the article is the following:
“And this is where the philosophical implications get interesting. Is photography closer to music and theater, or to painting? A painting is what it is, and copies of it are not the same. Music and theater exist through their variety of interpretations. Mr. Hill makes the music argument, not surprisingly.”
I have always assumed that the analogy for photography (as limited by the above) was the painting. The artist creates a distinct work, the final print, that is an object in and of itself. It is the final expression of the artists intent. Under this argument, the medium is crucial to the work itself. Hence, a silver copy made from a platinum print “is not the same thing”. This seems to be in line with Aggie’s argument above.
In my mind, one of the things that separates a photographer from a GWC is that the photographer takes responsibility for the final object. That responsibility begins with choice of film and camera, continues with the choices that go into exposure and development, and end ultimately with either making the final print or overseeing its creation. A GWC, on the other hand, buys whatever film is on sale or that the GWC used last time, rarely overrides the program mode and accepts the print given as “final“.
On the other hand, I drag out the tired, old chestnut: AA’s comment on the negative as the score and the print as the performance. This would seem to advance the musical nature of photography. But, I still think there is a difference with a Bach score. AA alone printed his negatives during his life. He may have interpreted the negative differently over the course of his life, but they were all AA prints. If I buy an AA print, I expect it to be AA’s expression (performance) of the negative.
The issue gets more complicated, however, when you look at the prints made by Alan Ross from AA negatives. Alan states that his prints are his own interpretation of the negatives. To some extent, this is a matter of necessity as materials change. But, those prints are still controlled to an extent. On the back of each print it states, “Printed by Alan Ross from Ansel Adams’ original negative to his exacting specifications under the supervision of The Ansel Adams Gallery and The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust.”
Photographers sell and display photographs--prints. They do not in normal course sell their negatives to be printed by others. They sign final prints, not negatives.
So, what should we make of this new interpretation of Evan’s photographs?
Before getting to my answer, I think we need to separate out the digitalization argument. If the info is in the original negative, then it could probably be put on paper in a traditional darkroom as well as with digital. It may be easier with digital. Would people think differently of this exhibit if the large prints were done by enlarging his original negatives to poster size, as opposed to doing it digitally? If no mention was made in the article that these prints were done digitally, would it change how you feel about it?
I guess that I don’t think the fact that it was done digitally in this case is very important. I read most of the article on the process as digital hype. The real issue is what do we think of the negative being interpreted differently from the way Evan’s interpreted it?
My initial take on it is that Evan’s prints were his expression of the work. To change it now, with or without digital means, creates a new work that is “not the same.” Is the new work better or worse? That is for each of us to decide, but it is certainly different.
And the fact that these are not Evan’s work needs to be made known to viewers, just as the prints made of AA’s negatives are stamped as being printed by Ross. Perhaps this is where the photography and painting analogy diverge--there is usually only one original painting, or certainly a very limited number such as with “The Scream.” But with photographs, where they can be produced in large numbers and in varying size (think “Moonrise”), the sheer multiplicity of final prints clouds the issue of latter interpretations.
With the loss of copyright, all works of art are eventually open to reinterpretation. Think of how many Mona Lisa rip offs there have been. Maybe Edwards was right in burning his negatives.
Just my rambling thoughts over the lunch hour.
I fear that we are only seeing the beginning of the cheapening of the art and craft of photography. Every time some yahoo with Photoshop knowledge starts screwing around with an existing icon, we see further erosion of the value of all art. What is most disturbing is that most people could care less.
When the Congress had hearings years ago concerning the colorization of films, someone presented reproductions of Ansel Adams' photographs that had been colorized. Their purpose was to show Congress that you shouldn't mess with original artwork. I remember one of those duly elected low wattage lightbulbs commented how he liked the colorized photographs better. Gives new meaning to art critism. Great, Congressman. Go out and buy yourself a box of Crayolas and knock yourself out!
[QUOTE=Your argument however is not true across the board. As an example take the works of Marcel Duchamp. His bicycle wheel exhibed as art. Where is the honed craft? Where is the planned composition? Where is color and "hands-on committment to craftsmanship? Well there is none. The bicycle placed in a museum started a new art form, "ready mades"... Some people have trouble with this I know, but the result has been a great debate over what art "is" or "should be". Personally I believe that art should have no limitation and can be whatever it needs to be in order to create universal feelings. As long it does not create physical pain...[/QUOTE]
My argument was not intended to be true across the board, but defined as it relates to the art of seeing and making photographs. And how the processes associated to it are integrally linked to its expression as an Art form.
Your Duchamp example pushed the bounds of Art as seen and intelectualized. It may (even) have questioned the idea of physical process or craft in the realization of Art. (Although someone still had to design and craft the bicycle wheel). This is all fine and intriquing.
But it is not using photography as a medium of expression. Nor does it claim to be imitative of photography or representative of the ideas of another artist. (As digital imaging tends to be in many, but not all cases). Its interesting that some can associate feeling to ready mades. I find them to be much more intelectually interesting than emotionally stimulating. But then thats just my personal preference.
Its a sad situation. Although I don't feel Art is just for Artists....its probably better we keep the congressman way from it.
Originally Posted by Lee Shively
Lee, you made my day!!! LOL...
"one of those duly elected low wattage lightbulbs commented how he liked the colorized photographs better. Gives new meaning to art critism. Great, Congressman. Go out and buy yourself a box of Crayolas and knock yourself out!"
This statement is a gem.
Perhaps one day there will be a forum for "APUG Classics" - if so this should be there - day one!
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Good afternoon Allen,
Originally Posted by Allen Friday
Absolutely I think that making larger than originally intended or expected prints, by any method, would not truly reflect the thoughts behind the images. We might imagine that if Walker Evans ever expected his images to become giant sized prints, perhaps his approach, methods, or set-up would have been different.
There was an article about a now famous photographer from Africa and an exhibit not very long ago. Seems there were some issues about who had the true rights to make prints, and some family legal matters, but those were secondary issues. The original portraits were done using medium format and large format cameras. The exhibit at issue featured huge wall size prints, which if I recall correctly were actual photographic prints, not lithos, and I think prior to large inkjet ever being used for exhibits. The photographer, whose name escapes me at the moment, ran a portrait studio, and never did prints much larger than near 16" by 20". So to suddenly make huge prints was not true to how the photographer originally approached those images. My preference would be to size the original sizes, and I would enjoy that more than seeing giant prints.
A G Studio
Walker Evans and ink prints... Just funny people do not see fun in it. Must be someone is doing business in try to make some money.
Never beleive to digital images, no mater what they are about. They proved it again and again. Am. commercialism has no end. Just ignore...
Good one, George!
Originally Posted by copake_ham
Funny thing is I would almost welcome digital reproductions for exhibition of work by famous photographers such as Edward Weston. At least then I could actually see the picture in good light as opposed to the very low lighting (due to conservators concerns) used in most major museum exhibitions.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
Originally Posted by Jim Chinn
That's what books (photgraphic essays) are for....
It's amazing how in the span of just a few years we are "advancing" to the point of dumping original art for the sake of digital convenience....
I really think there is no hope at all anymore - the arts are lost.