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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Quinn
    But I can see the value of the work in today's society, especially when we sanitize death so much.
    Yes, we do this too much, and I agree there is much to be gained from a greater acceptance of dead bodies as part of everyday life.

    I'm not sure this is the way to do it, precisely because of the dissonance I feel between the dead body and the 'pose' (unnatural).

    Dead bodies need to be photographed in a way that does not rely only upon shock value - which can't be denied here.

    I see too much manipulation, in more ways than one, for it to be a helpful image in terms of reducing the stigma about death.

    Cate
    Last edited by catem; 08-19-2006 at 05:29 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: missed out a word

  2. #22

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    Please explain "sanatize death"

    I am afraid I do not understand the statement.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  3. #23

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    Sanitize death - pretend it's not there, don't talk about it, don't see it, don't deal with dead bodies, sweep the whole subject under the carpet.

    e.g. we don't tend to keep the bodies of loved ones at home (when death occurs at hom) - they are whisked away to the morgue. We don't tend to have wakes with the body in the coffin at home any more.

    Death isn't such an omnipresent part of life in the way it used to be - well, it is, but people live longer, survive illnesses better....if we could we'd pretend it didn't exixt..

    BUT I'm not sure that this sort of image helps an acceptance of death, if that is a reason or justification. I think for a lot of people it would do the opposite.

    And, of course, the idea of 'sanitizing death' is very culture-driven. For many people in the world death and dead bodies is unfortunately an unavoidable part of everyday life. Only some of us have the luxury of appearing to avoid it's reality...

    Cate

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stargazer

    It's not the dead 'being' who's doing the expressing, it's the photographer, expressing his own fears, confronting his own devils, possibly wanting to foist them upon us....the 'legs' (etc.) are just props. Propping up his own ideas.

    So - I wonder - is it acceptable to reduce dead people to the level of props?

    Is what he has to say - whatever it is - worth it? If the answer is 'no' then I think in this case his transgression (transgressing itself is not necessarily a bad thing) is unnacceptable.

    Cate
    Interesting questions.

    I would ask the same question about another subject matter. In a photograph of a tree at dawn, who is doing the expressing? Is it the tree or is it the photographer? Would the tree have expressed without the participation of the photographer? The photographer could have expressed him/her self in other ways and with other subject matter, it seems to me. Is it wrong to use the prop of the tree, in this instance, to express what the photographer wishes to express?

    It seems to me that Witkin's work evokes immediate visceral responses from most people who see it. Does that make it bad? Perhaps he is holding aspects of our life before us and causes us to confront that which we would rather escape...or at least not think of.

    I can well imagine that those who think of "art" and "beauty" in the same context would have a bit of problem with these depictions. But is art necessarily about beauty? And if not than whose problem is the response, is that the fault of Witkin or is it a problem that resides in the psyche of the viewer?
    Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.

    Visit my website at http://www.donaldmillerphotography.com

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Miller
    Interesting questions.

    In a photograph of a tree at dawn, who is doing the expressing? Is it the tree or is it the photographer? Would the tree have expressed without the participation of the photographer? The photographer could have expressed him/her self in other ways and with other subject matter, it seems to me. Is it wrong to use the prop of the tree, in this instance, to express what the photographer wishes to express?
    In my view a tree does not express anything. Expression is fundamentally a human attribute. A person can find a tree 'expressive' but the tree... is just a tree.

    The difference is - a tree is not and has never been a person. Also - it's not that I have a problem with images of dead people - he's by no means the only photographer to do this - it's the manner in which he has chosen to do it, in which I feel the presence of his ego too much for my liking.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Miller
    It seems to me that Witkin's work evokes immediate visceral responses from most people who see it. Does that make it bad? Perhaps he is holding aspects of our life before us and causes us to confront that which we would rather escape...or at least not think of.
    .

    Indeed he is doing this, which in itself is perfectly laudable. The question is, is he doing it in an acceptable way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Miller
    I can well imagine that those who think of "art" and "beauty" in the same context would have a bit of problem with these depictions. But is art necessarily about beauty? And if not than whose problem is the response, is that the fault of Witkin or is it a problem that resides in the psyche of the viewer?
    I think that's letting him off the hook..... And laying far too much at the viewer's door, in this particular case.
    Cate

  6. #26
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    I think it's only the most beautiful, useful and fascinating images in art that are deeply troubling... and I think it's very important for people to be confronted by the 'difficult'... morally, politically or otherwise.

    To me, images like those of Ansel Adams that just affirm values are ultimately meaningless and valueless. Real growth is impossible without the asking of difficult questions.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky
    I think it's only the most beautiful, useful and fascinating images in art that are deeply troubling... and I think it's very important for people to be confronted by the 'difficult'... morally, politically or otherwise.

    To me, images like those of Ansel Adams that just affirm values are ultimately meaningless and valueless. Real growth is impossible without the asking of difficult questions.
    I appreciate being confronted by difficult or thought provoking images, but I often find that art or photography that is too much about the artist, ultimately unsatisfying. Witkin's art is shocking, yes... but, perhaps, only about HIS own fear of death. There's more to art than self expression, and I'd rather be confronted by an artist's work when they express ideas that go beyond the boudaries of their own ego.

    Deja vu... didn't we have this argument??

  8. #28

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    Suzanne you said it better than I ever could have.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  9. #29

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    Or me - even though I was trying

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzanne Revy
    I appreciate being confronted by difficult or thought provoking images, but I often find that art or photography that is too much about the artist, ultimately unsatisfying. Witkin's art is shocking, yes... but, perhaps, only about HIS own fear of death. There's more to art than self expression, and I'd rather be confronted by an artist's work when they express ideas that go beyond the boudaries of their own ego.

    Deja vu... didn't we have this argument??
    But when their work disturbs us, whose ego is involved at that juncture?
    Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.

    Visit my website at http://www.donaldmillerphotography.com

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