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Thread: next photograph

  1. #21
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lee
    Lee said this, "Spoken like the engineer he is!" For me it is all right brain and left brain. Some got one and some got the other. One ain't more right than the other.

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    You got me Lee!
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  2. #22

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    Jay,
    If the only intinsic value of a pot/cup is that it holds a substance, drink your coffee out of a styro-foam cup; and if the only intrinsic value of a fine art print is wall decoration/documentation or whatever, then hang a digital print. And yes, there is more than enough room within confines of traditional photography for creative expression. Many photographers in art schools seem compelled to discover "new" aspects while denigrating the past; but, except for digital manipulation, there is nothing new under the light. This is not a shortcoming of traditional photography just as with any other medium of expression for working within the confines of whatever medium enables you to explore its expressive potential. Combining mediums such as computer aided graphic arts & digital image capture may lead to new areas of creativity, but the newness of the medium is no guarantee of such an outcome.
    van Huyck Photo
    "Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"

  3. #23
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doughowk
    Jay,
    Combining mediums such as computer aided graphic arts & digital image capture may lead to new areas of creativity, but the newness of the medium is no guarantee of such an outcome.
    That reminds me of a digitali I know. He's going nuts with his digital stuff and is convinced his work is in the spirit of Andy Warhol. I don't know how much money he has spent having 16x20s and 20x24s printed up and offering them for sale, but I doubt if he's recouping any costs. I always compliment him though because he's having fun.
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  4. #24
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Moore
    Instead he championed a phenomenological approach to art where the focus was on the content and art lied in its ability to let the artist investigate, disect, discover, and amaze at the thing (their subject) itself. This is very much in-line with the artistic approach (note: artistic approach does not equate to technical approach nor subject matter) of Edward Weston and is exemplified today (in my opinion) in Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee's approach to photography .
    Michael has written (see Letter to a Young Photographer in the Writings section of his website) that what makes a piece art (and the only thing that makes it art) is the form. Content without form is not art to him. He and Paula hammer this pretty hard in their workshops.
    Jim

  5. #25
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    Jeremy,
    I am very interested in your thoughts on "idea-impregnated" photography. In your example you wrote:

    "In my opinion a photograph is unsuccessful if it needs further explanation"
    That is a very subjective position. What might require further explaination for one, might be immediately obvious to another. Do you think that an aversion to ideas could lead to a dumbing-down, or lowest common denominator mentality? Why should ideas, even esoteric ones, be avoided by any artist? Do you think it's possible to be passionate about an idea? Is mass appeal an important standard for an artist to aspire to? Does an idea automatically portend an agenda?

    There is no reason that a photograph can't have further explanation, but it is when the photograph needs further explanation to further the idea. The link I posted was an example, but here's an extreme fictional one:

    On the wall is hung a straight, un-manipulated photo from a disposable camera of two people looking directly into the lens standing in front of a department store. You then look at the placard next to the photo which tells you the photo is a symbol of the delusioned Western consumer who buys products made at sweat shops in Taiwan.

    Here the photograph has nothing to do with the idea and nothing related could be gleaned from it. I put this in the same category as many modern paintings which have nothing to do with the idea behind them. There is nothing wrong with having an idea associated with the photo, or even the basis of the photo. There are a number of documentary photographers whose work is based mostly in part on humanitarian concerns. I would classify a lot of the work by James Nachtwey as art--look at one of his images and it pulls at your heartstrings. This image in my opinion is VERY successful. It is met with a visceral response in line with his aim, that your response will drive you to take notice of the plight (his idea), but if you don't take notice, but it makes you think of other things I still consider it successful. The image of the smiling people has immediate appeal to the masses, but aimless wandering follows. For some people it may make them think, but for the majority it is just another snapshot. There is a photographer who actually photographs the banal and tries to get this response on purpose--from an artistic standpoint I would say that these are also successful.

    Also take our own Thomas Sauerwein, his work evokes feeling and contemplative thought, but I sure don't understand his ideas behind it. I actively create my own ideas for his work from my own experiences so I consider them successful. I guess my point is a lot of what I see today is basically just a manifesto of elementary philosophy with photographic accompaniment--many do consider this art and who am I to gainsay them, but I just don't find it appealing, I find it more of a dead-end.


    "...he championed a phenomenological approach to art where the focus was on the content and art lied in its ability to let the artist investigate, disect, discover, and amaze at the thing (their subject) itself. This is very much in-line with the artistic approach (note: artistic approach does not equate to technical approach nor subject matter) of Edward Weston and is exemplified today (in my opinion) in Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee's approach to photography..."

    Mike Smith has repeatedly stated that he does not photograph "things", while Edward Weston often did. In what ways do you see their respective approaches as similar, and how do they relate to the phenomenological approach that you reference?

    I think "thing" was the wrong word to use, stemming from the phenomenological calling card of "to the things themselves." I believe Michael Smith once said that photography was about seeing photographically, which is what I am talking about. Photography in its purest form should be a reason unto itself--thinking of Winogrand who said he photographed things to see what they looked like when photographed (paraphrasing here). The problem with this is that I personally find pure photography to sometimes be stale (as in the case of many of Ansel Adams' photos) so a mixture of idea is essential to me. I don't know if this is because of the mass of photos now in circulation or personal bias.

    I will call it quits for now as I feel like I am just rambling at the moment.
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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  6. #26
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdef
    Mike Smith has repeatedly stated that he does not photograph "things", while Edward Weston often did. In what ways do you see their respective approaches as similar, and how do they relate to the phenomenological approach that you reference?
    Jay, the difference between Smith and Weston may be mostly in semantics. Weston was the single large influence that inspired Mike Smith to be a photographer. Mike is now one the most knowledgeable persons about Weston, evidenced by the book he recently published on Weston's life. From the trifle I've seen of Weston's work it appears he was most interested in form also, but he may have termed it as "things".

    When I met Michael and Paula last spring, they had some sample prints of Japanese Bonsai trees they had been working on for an arbitrarium (I think that's the right word) in Philadelphia. I remember Michael remarking that it was the first time he had worked with such a subject. But, the emphasis on the form presented by the Bonsai trees was quite evident.
    Last edited by Alex Hawley; 10-31-2004 at 04:53 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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  7. #27
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Moore
    You then look at the placard next to the photo which tells you the photo is a symbol of the delusioned Western consumer who buys products made at sweat shops in Taiwan.
    That's another example of that art school stuff I was talking about.
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  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by c6h6o3
    Michael has written (see Letter to a Young Photographer in the Writings section of his website) that what makes a piece art (and the only thing that makes it art) is the form. Content without form is not art to him. He and Paula hammer this pretty hard in their workshops.
    I may have short-changed Ortega in my summary. In my understanding, he would have agreed with Michael, but he would also argue that form without content is arrogant (and sometimes narcissistic) posturing--I would even go so far as to say that form without content and content without form usually lead to images that look remarkably similar in their lack of je ne sais quoi. Additionally, I find that many art students (people I know personally at university) practice both, form without content and vice versa, as an artistic masturbation.
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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  9. #29
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Hawley
    arbitrarium (I think that's the right word) in Philadelphia.
    The word you're groping for is arboretum, although I really like your word. It would have a definition like: "A place where people go to make decisions based on the personal prejudices of others, or in certain cases, a roll of the dice. A place where the arbitrary holds sway."

    The pictures Michael and Paula did were made at Longwood Gardens, near Philadelphia.
    Jim

  10. #30
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Moore
    I believe Michael Smith once said that photography was about seeing photographically, which is what I am talking about. Photography in its purest form should be a reason unto itself--thinking of Winogrand who said he photographed things to see what they looked like when photographed (paraphrasing here).
    I can't think of a photographer (such as he was) more antithetical to Michael's approach than Gary Winogrand. I don't think he saw photographically at all.

    He died young in life, and yet left more than a million negatives behind. That's nearly 4 (3.8 something, actually) 36 exposure rolls of film a day for 20 years (including weekends). How well considered can they be? He was more the beneficiary of the lucky accident than the careful composer. Note the contrast between him and Cartier-Bresson, who saw only photographically.
    Jim

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