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  1. #61

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    From Charis Wilson's Through Another Lens
    Edward [Weston] had no illusions about the general public's appreciation of his photographs. Many viewers responded enthusiastically but only rarely with the kind of comprehension that told him that there was a person who spoke his language...
    Edward responded that is was a rock fragment with a beautiful form, and he had photographed it not to make a pun about something it might be thought to resemble but to reveal the essential structure and beauty of this particular rock...
    The real difference between the two views, as far as Edward and Walter [Arensberg] were concerned, was that it enriched the picture for Walter to see a pun for a torso in a Point Lobos rock, but it diminished it for Edward because his purpose was to capture the essence of the thing in itself. For him any connotations detracted from the image.
    We abstract from an object to get to its essence. Like peeling a fruit, we remove the superficial layers - color, for example - to get to a core ( if its an artichoke, we enjoy the peeling). A well-done portrait doesn't try to include the entire head & shoulders, but narrows in to get the essence of the person. If an abstraction goes beyond capturing the essence of the subject , it becomes adrift & open to interpretations.
    As to knowing what is in our psychological makeup that attracts us to a particular subject, such self-analysis may be useful especially if we had been inhibited from that subject matter. But to me as a viewer, a print is a print -it has to appeal to me on its own "worth".
    van Huyck Photo
    "Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"

  2. #62
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Miller
    Quote Originally Posted by doughowk
    ... someone tries to "explain" the deeper meaning of the painting. Such an analysis may be valid - the artist may have included symbolic concepts or hidden messages, consciously or unconsciously, during the creation process. Later, a curator, gallery owner, etc., can try to discover the symbolism as part of attempting to come to a deeper understanding of the painting and the artist - ...Does such an analysis increase the visual "worth" to the viewer of that painting - maybe but as an acquired taste?
    Can photography, especially when of abstract images, benefit from such an analysis; and when is the symbolic interpretation or deeper meaning manifested?
    ... To answer your first question as I understand it, I would respond by saying "certainly". Anything that can enhance the total experience of observing the work is worth pursuing...I would assume that would fit within your category of "worth" The matter of acquired taste, I addressed in an earlier post. On your second point, I don't see that it is the photography that can benefit...but "I" sure as the world can benefit from analysis as I have proven in my experience.
    ...
    The aesthetic value that you speak of does not become involved within my choice of images...

    In addition, I would add again, that everyone that engages in photography, no matter what the level, should do what fits. This happens to fit for me.
    Clipped extensively - for brevity. I HOPE (a bunch!!) that I am not giving a wrong impression by removing things from context.

    *CAN* the "value" be improved by a "deeper understanding" of the symbolism and factors leading to the creation of the photograph? - Certainly!!
    *Will* it INVARIABLY be improved? I am equally as certain that it will not - not invariably and without question.
    This begs the age old question: "Does/ Should the work `stand on its own merits' or is it beneficial (- necessary? - even, permissable? -) to have an "explanation" accompany it?
    My initial reaction to art is emotional. The way *I* "feel" about it - and that precludes intellectualization - will be - and remain most important to me. It *CAN* be that a further "explanation" - a "deeper understanding" - will cause me to look at the work from a different point of view - and alter that emotional response.
    IMHO - *some* things are better "left unsaid". To dissect and explain and
    --- oh I don't know - "make sense" or "justify" photographs on an intellectual plane would only serve to discharge the "mystery energy". It can - and with me it usually IS - much more fulfilling to continue to wonder - and maintain the "awestruck" feeling.
    We *could* perform a microscopic analysis of a photograph. We can measure (read "understand") all of its characteristics in a purely objective framework ... grain size, contrast ratios, conformance to "rules of composition", - we can even go further: paper texture, chemical makeup of the emulsion and base - reflectivity, color ... ad infinitum ... but ... the "emotional content", as biased and dependent on *my* mindset and "being" is still, by far, the most important - to ME.

    There is a very simple little poem, written by Lois Wyse, In "I'm So Glad You Married Me" ... I possibly could write a few volumes to explain and describe it - to make sure that EVERYONE understands it exactly the way I do ... but there is NO way that I could even hope to "improve" it:

    LOVE 101

    Love doesn't solve everything
    I just think it does.



    My scribblings from the back of an envelope...

    Comments are Welcome.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  3. #63

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    Interesting viewpoints...I will try to respond from "my perspective" in the body of the post so that the reponse will be properly attributed. The bold font is only to separate the response from the earlier post.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Sukach
    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Miller
    Quote Originally Posted by doughowk
    ... someone tries to "explain" the deeper meaning of the painting. Such an analysis may be valid - the artist may have included symbolic concepts or hidden messages, consciously or unconsciously, during the creation process. Later, a curator, gallery owner, etc., can try to discover the symbolism as part of attempting to come to a deeper understanding of the painting and the artist - ...Does such an analysis increase the visual "worth" to the viewer of that painting - maybe but as an acquired taste?
    Can photography, especially when of abstract images, benefit from such an analysis; and when is the symbolic interpretation or deeper meaning manifested?
    ... To answer your first question as I understand it, I would respond by saying "certainly". Anything that can enhance the total experience of observing the work is worth pursuing...I would assume that would fit within your category of "worth" The matter of acquired taste, I addressed in an earlier post. On your second point, I don't see that it is the photography that can benefit...but "I" sure as the world can benefit from analysis as I have proven in my experience.
    ...
    The aesthetic value that you speak of does not become involved within my choice of images...

    In addition, I would add again, that everyone that engages in photography, no matter what the level, should do what fits. This happens to fit for me.
    Clipped extensively - for brevity. I HOPE (a bunch!!) that I am not giving a wrong impression by removing things from context.

    *CAN* the "value" be improved by a "deeper understanding" of the symbolism and factors leading to the creation of the photograph? - Certainly!!
    *Will* it INVARIABLY be improved? I am equally as certain that it will not - not invariably and without question.

    I assume that you are saying this from the position of your perspective and I will acknowledge that this is undoubtedly based on your personal views. I can just as invariably say the for my work and my involvement in the creation of that work that the experience of that work is INVARIABLY improved. Now this leaves us with two distinct possibilities. A. That you are "right" and I am "wrong"..or B. That I am "right" and you are "wrong"...or C. That we are both correct from the point of our individual experience. Taking my example of the three blind men and the elephant that I quoted earlier in response to Andre, I would choose to believe C. I wonder about the choice of your final two words above. That seems to be a very rigid viewpoint...however you are entitled to whatever viewpoint that you choose.


    This begs the age old question: "Does/ Should the work `stand on its own merits' or is it beneficial (- necessary? - even, permissable? -) to have an "explanation" accompany it?

    I believe that I stated before, perhaps not clearly enough, that my view toward symbolism in my images was only for my benefit. My explanations regarding my images were to indicate that a symbolic meaning or language could be drawn from imagery. It was not to give the explanation that another must choose or should choose anothers explanation or meaning. Only that this characteristic could be involved in photographic images. I indicated this by not engaging with Andre in his interpertation as opposed to my interpertation on my Doorways image. I stated that it was to each viewer to decide. Perhaps you failed to draw this from the posts to this thread. I felt that message had been repeated several times. I would ask why the heck it should be "permissable" to have any particular experience of an image or for that matter who the "permission grantor" is? The reason that I ask is that I absolutely do not understand that parameter.

    My initial reaction to art is emotional. The way *I* "feel" about it - and that precludes intellectualization - will be - and remain most important to me. It *CAN* be that a further "explanation" - a "deeper understanding" - will cause me to look at the work from a different point of view - and alter that emotional response.

    I would agree that the first response for most of us is emotional. It can be left at that. Or it can be taken a step beyond that initial experience. I am not saying that one should take it that step beyond or that they should only experience it in any "one" way. I am only indicating that the possibility exists.

    IMHO - *some* things are better "left unsaid". To dissect and explain and
    --- oh I don't know - "make sense" or "justify" photographs on an intellectual plane would only serve to discharge the "mystery energy". It can - and with me it usually IS - much more fulfilling to continue to wonder - and maintain the "awestruck" feeling.

    That may be true to you in your experience. You are entitled to that viewpoint. From my perspective, it enriches my experience to examine one of my images from a later viewpoint and see that my unconscious was communicating to me. That this is what it was saying. This is how and why I will be enriched by this understanding.

    We *could* perform a microscopic analysis of a photograph. We can measure (read "understand") all of its characteristics in a purely objective framework ... grain size, contrast ratios, conformance to "rules of composition", - we can even go further: paper texture, chemical makeup of the emulsion and base - reflectivity, color ... ad infinitum ... but ... the "emotional content", as biased and dependent on *my* mindset and "being" is still, by far, the most important - to ME.

    It seems to me that you are taking this to a step entirely beyond what this thread has addressed. To the best of my knowledge, the matters dealing with technical concerns such as "grain size, reflectivity" (to name a couple) have not been raised. To raise them at this time seems only to cloud the matter. It seems to me that you have the impression that I analyze the image "before" the exposure. That is not what I am saying here. I sometimes open myself to what my images say from a later viewpoint. Not all of my images have messages that I understand. Not all of them have messages.

    I have no disagreement that "being" is all there really is.


    There is a very simple little poem, written by Lois Wyse, In "I'm So Glad You Married Me" ... I possibly could write a few volumes to explain and describe it - to make sure that EVERYONE understands it exactly the way I do ... but there is NO way that I could even hope to "improve" it:

    LOVE 101

    Love doesn't solve everything
    I just think it does.



    My scribblings from the back of an envelope...

    Comments are Welcome.

  4. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by doughowk
    From Charis Wilson's Through Another Lens
    Edward [Weston] had no illusions about the general public's appreciation of his photographs. Many viewers responded enthusiastically but only rarely with the kind of comprehension that told him that there was a person who spoke his language...
    Edward responded that is was a rock fragment with a beautiful form, and he had photographed it not to make a pun about something it might be thought to resemble but to reveal the essential structure and beauty of this particular rock...
    The real difference between the two views, as far as Edward and Walter [Arensberg] were concerned, was that it enriched the picture for Walter to see a pun for a torso in a Point Lobos rock, but it diminished it for Edward because his purpose was to capture the essence of the thing in itself. For him any connotations detracted from the image.
    We abstract from an object to get to its essence. Like peeling a fruit, we remove the superficial layers - color, for example - to get to a core ( if its an artichoke, we enjoy the peeling). A well-done portrait doesn't try to include the entire head & shoulders, but narrows in to get the essence of the person. If an abstraction goes beyond capturing the essence of the subject , it becomes adrift & open to interpretations.
    As to knowing what is in our psychological makeup that attracts us to a particular subject, such self-analysis may be useful especially if we had been inhibited from that subject matter. But to me as a viewer, a print is a print -it has to appeal to me on its own "worth".
    Doug,

    The way that I would explain this in a way that makes sense to me is as follows:

    In meaningful photographic images the photographer is skilled in the ability to merge the objective (the seen world with individual "things") with an allusion to the abstract (the unseen).

    Your illustration of a portrait does not directly explain this, in my opinion, since it still deals only with the objective...a person in this case. We might be left with the desire to learn more about the person but it is still only about a person.

    When we engage the abstract, we are asking much deeper questions. Such as what is life? what is energy? From where does knowledge arise? In eastern terms this might be in the form of Koans such as "what is the sound of one hand clapping"? What is it that sees but does not see itself"? The understanding that comes to those arises from a place apart from human (ego originating) intellect.

    Photographs of "things" themselves are IMHO empty and devoid of emotion because images of things themselves do not, for the most part, address this invisible componant.

    My thoughts are that the reason that those succesful images are engaging our conscious state is that inherent in every man, woman, and child are the inherent questions Who am I? What am I doing here? Where am I going? What is the purpose of this life? The attempt to unravel the abstract in an image is part and parcel of that quest, in my opinion.


    What are your thoughts on this?

  5. #65
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    To Donald Miller... I neglected to use the "quote" feature -

    Geeesh!! Take it easy! I'm only trying to express my viewpoint, not refute yours.

    I realize what I'm saying ... essentially that, *AT TIMES* it DOES pay to be ignorant ... can be hard to take for those who firmly believe that "intellect is everything" ... I'm not gong to even attempt to do anything but suggest -- n.b. *SUGGEST* that there might - possibly - be more to life than that.

    It does prove that we are not all alike ... doesn't it?
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  6. #66
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    I always enjoy "reinforcement" of a veiwpoint - although it doesn't mean "Proof".

    From the photoqoutes.com web site (profuse thanks to Ann):

    "You've got to struggle against the pollution of intelligence in order to become an animal with very sharp instincts - a sort of intuitive medium - so that to photograpah becomes a magical act, and slowly other more suggestive images begin to appear beyond the visible image, for which the photographer cannot be held responsible."

    - Robert Doisneau


    Sound a little bit like what I've been saying?
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  7. #67

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Sukach
    I always enjoy "reinforcement" of a veiwpoint - although it doesn't mean "Proof".

    From the photoqoutes.com web site (profuse thanks to Ann):

    "You've got to struggle against the pollution of intelligence in order to become an animal with very sharp instincts - a sort of intuitive medium - so that to photograpah becomes a magical act, and slowly other more suggestive images begin to appear beyond the visible image, for which the photographer cannot be held responsible."

    - Robert Doisneau


    Sound a little bit like what I've been saying?
    Ed,

    Thank you for sharing this quote.

    It seems to me and to others that have messaged me offpost that you seem to have taken it upon yourself to project another meaning to my posts on the subject of the objective and the abstract. That by literal interpertation of your posts on this subject it seems that you are indicating that I have intellectualized this matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. It seems that those who have contacted me privately have no difficulty in understanding what I have said. That leaves me to wonder why it is that you have difficulty in understanding what I have said.

    Would you have me utter sounds like "duh", or "but", or "geez" and try to communicate in that manner?

    It might be interesting for you to reread what this thread has indicated with an impartial and open mind.

    Good luck.

  8. #68

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    Eastern philosophy supposedly can't be communicated thru words, but possibly thru riddles, seemingly contradictory ideas, etc.. Can photography, as one abstracts from the subject, create a visual koan? This may be a worthwhile reason for pursueing photography - a tool in the pursuit of life's important questions.

    Is an Ed Weston pepper an image of the ideal? Since I find Socrates far more palatable than Plato, Weston's abstraction, when successful as with #30, visualizes to me the essence of that particular pepper, not an ideal. Does this pursuit of the essence of the subject, as an unintended consequence, also aid in developing a philosophy? Possibly for the creator of the image, and also for the viewer if it resonates. Sympathetic resonation - a goal that doesn't necessarily require abstraction to the point that the subject is unknown, rather, it requires the peeling or removal of the visual veils that obscure the object/subject.
    van Huyck Photo
    "Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"

  9. #69

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    Come on guys! As my friend Freud said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

  10. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by doughowk
    Eastern philosophy supposedly can't be communicated thru words, but possibly thru riddles, seemingly contradictory ideas, etc.. Can photography, as one abstracts from the subject, create a visual koan? This may be a worthwhile reason for pursueing photography - a tool in the pursuit of life's important questions.

    Is an Ed Weston pepper an image of the ideal? Since I find Socrates far more palatable than Plato, Weston's abstraction, when successful as with #30, visualizes to me the essence of that particular pepper, not an ideal. Does this pursuit of the essence of the subject, as an unintended consequence, also aid in developing a philosophy? Possibly for the creator of the image, and also for the viewer if it resonates. Sympathetic resonation - a goal that doesn't necessarily require abstraction to the point that the subject is unknown, rather, it requires the peeling or removal of the visual veils that obscure the object/subject.
    Doug,

    I find your considerations to be thoughtful. The basis for Koans in pursuit of eastern philosophy/religion is that they are not capable of being solved through ego constructed intellect as we humans observe and utilize it. It is by allowing the intellect to run itself out with the full ongoing awareness that a knowledge for the conundrum exists that the ego is transcended. When the ego is transcended, the basis for our life changes quite drastically, in my understanding. This is the point at which one ceases to exist solely on the basis of objective reality and incorporates the "unseen" into a more prominant awareness in their conscious awareness.

    Edward Weston was and is acknowledged as standing apart from the masses. His pursuit of photography was somewhat along the same lines in that he was trying to strip away all that was extraneous. His goal, as I understand it, was to capture the true essence of the object itself. That was certainly a notable and worthwhile pursuit. However, it seems to me that he was still occupied with portraying objective reality first and foremost.

    When I speak of the abstract in terms of the "unseen" I speak of the "life force" as the essence that pervades all things. It would be simple if one could simply produce images of this force. Unfortunately that seems to be impossible. Thus it seems that in order to approach this "unseen" aspect we must either produce images based in symbolism (such as Jerry Uelsmann and others) or images that portray the objective in such a way that one alludes to the abstract or the "unseen".

    Can these images produce "visual koans"? I think that this is a wonderful question that you have posed. I really don't know. I would guess that of the work with which I am aware that Jerry Uelsmann's, even though very symbolic, comes most near to that ideal. But if this were possible the art thus produced would certainly stand apart from the greatest majority.

    Would the production of a work of this type "resonate"? I don't think that this would occur for the most part since most people are simply not prepared to deal with the frustrating aspects of attempting to decipher this conundrum with the conscious mind. Perhaps work of this type would have a broader appeal in those regions that would have been exposed to a greater extent on this method of approaching the "totality of the unseen".

    If it is important, I see the possibility of symbolic images as resonating with a broader group of people since in symbolic depiction one can impart a knowledge apart from intellect. Whereas in a Koan a unsolvable question is posed to the ego awareness in order for the knowledge to arise of itself.

    Thanks for your well thought response and dialogue.

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