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  1. #1
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Film and the bobo ethos

    So we like independent movies on a giant flatscreen TV, buy whole grain organic cereals at the supermarket, and drink fair trade coffee in a multinational-cum-bookstore like Starbucks. We have successfully capitalized on the guilt of consumerism, and we have created an elite of egalitarians, all in the name of bleeding authenticity.

    Will there be, or is there already a Starbucks of film? A shop where you can delect yourself with HCB monographs and buy the latest Efke products, debate the aesthetics of Soviet photography while fondling the new Leica? Will there be a mass-market production of black and white film for that "authentic" and vintage look? Would that even be a problem?

    I think the civilized consensus of APUG is that we like film. We also like it for a variety of other reasons, but the whole point of using film is that it is unique, something the modern daguerreotypists or wet-plate collodion practicioners also say about their medium.

    But have you seen somewhere in magazines, in stores, or in the people's general attitudes toward film something that may indicate that an educated form of coopting is developing along the lines of gentrification and Starbucksization or Ben & Jerryfication of consumer products? Is film and film equipment already a token of one's status towards authenticity and consumerism?

    Yeah, I know I've been reading "Bobos in Paradise" and I'm rather late to the debate, but I can't help asking...
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  2. #2
    David Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv View Post
    But have you seen somewhere in magazines, in stores, or in the people's general attitudes toward film something that may indicate that an educated form of coopting is developing along the lines of gentrification and Starbucksization or Ben & Jerryfication of consumer products?
    God, I hope not! It'll only drive up prices of materials. :rolleyes:
    David
    Taking pictures is easy. Making photographs is hard.

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  3. #3
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Here's something I got in my inbox today from the MIT press newsletter:

    "Analogue
    Photographs by Zoe Leonard

    The photographs in Zoe Leonard's Analogue trace the "layered, frayed, and quirky" beauty of a fading way of life. Zoe Leonard documents the vanishing face and texture of twentieth-century urban life, as seen in the shop windows of mom-and-pop stores. Lacking the glamour of the shopping mall and the digitally manipulated perfection of mail order catalogs, these fading objects tenaciously hold on to their disappearing place on city streets. Recognizing that digital technology has transformed traditional photography just as chain stores and multinational corporations have changed the face of urban life, Leonard attempts to preserve the photographic realm of the analogic--the photograph's distinct ability to record physical data into a corresponding image. Analogue is a testament both to vanishing city storefronts and to the endangered status of photography itself."

    http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item...11241&mlid=639

    Hm, anti-glamour, prestigious publisher, mom-and-pop urbanization model, analog hip, there's something in there...
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  4. #4
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    It's art-school-cool run amok!

  5. #5
    jd callow's Avatar
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    The use and linking of a medium in decline being analogues to the decline of mom and pop's and therefore important and justified is marketing poof. The idea that there is something organic and authentic about mom and pops and choosing a medium that works well with the imagery and is maybe in someway physically linked ( “painted in the morning as they opened the shop and the light was just so and the time limited nature of the illustration was so like the urgency of the morning routine...”) might have similar marking value plus actual substance that might be felt in the finished product. As it is the mind and or heart doesn't say "barber shop shot on film: like ham and eggs" as the image is viewed as a halftone representation on the printed page.

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  6. #6
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Upon reflection, the LOMOgraphic Society strikes me as a particularly Bobo type of photographic ethos: "experience the thrilling authenticity of unabashed creativity given by the chaos of cheap re-badged Russian gear and cross-processed film." At the price they sell their creative cameras, there's a strong correlation with the rest of the bobo ethos.

    Regarding the "Analogue" book I am going to look for it when it's published, because that strikes me as exactly the hip, urban equivalent of the cowboy portraiture done on tintype. Dying way of life => nostalgic medium.

    It appeals to the same values of authenticity, anti-corporatism, strong individual ethos, and bleeding heart teaming with the minority that go hand in hand with gentrification. The cowboy photographers may not have the exact same urban goals in mind, and probably do not cater to the same audience, but my point is that authenticity is in fact a very regulated and contrived notion.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  7. #7

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    What???

  8. #8
    jd callow's Avatar
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    Dying way of life => nostalgic medium is to me forced sentimentality. Is it the death or the uniqueness that is being captured? It may make visual sense to use a medium that has 'passed' to record something that is passing, but it doesn't describe the cowboy. The same doesn’t apply to the mom and pops as our minds don’t equate film to passing (assuming we are talking about today’s films). Using film because it is passing to depict the mom and pops and the motif is the passing of mom and pops is a contrivance. You have to have it drawn out for you because it would not be readily apparent. Very few if any will look at a photograph and first have their mind analyze the source (film or sensor). Film is not so unique as to be recognized and its iconic/symbolic value or meaning is far different to a tintype . If the images are printed in a book the medium becomes even less of a factor.


    I'm not familiar with the Bobo ethos and so I'll leave it at that.

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  9. #9
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Well, I agree that film does not have as much of a recognizable presence on page than the tintype does, however, the artist's insistence on its use forces the equation of dying way of life/minority medium. I think in both cases there is an idealization of the past because of a presumed stronger sense of authenticity therein.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  10. #10

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    I see a lot of film edges added to photos in magazines and a lot of B&W stuff added to make things stand out. We are told film is obsolete, yet the film presence is still there in advertising as if to make it all valid.

    Sorry, I can't find my beret and bongo set...

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