I try to avoid determinations of probable cause from, say...lab technicians.
The original poster referred to Sturges as "internationally known". If my memory is correct, he actually was a very obscure San Francisco-area dance photographer at the time of his encounter with the legal system, and it was that event that brought him to the attention of the international art world. The photographs that created the stir were some color snapshots that he had done in a naturist resort in Northern California as "studies" for his large format monochrome work.
I like Sturges' work a lot - I am amazed at the naturalness that he is able to achieve under highly unnatural circumstances (the large camera, not the nudity of the subjects), and I think his work is beautiful.
But there are two questions that I have always wondered about. The first is would we have ever known about Jock Sturges if the experience with that legendary lab technician had not occurred?
The other question is can the man make photographs of anything other than nude figures in the environment? I have nothing against nude figures in the environment, but it seems to me that if he is the consummate photographer that he would like us to believe that he is, he would have a broader body of work.
So the paradox that I struggle with is that while I like Jock Stuges and his work, I have this nagging feeling that he is an opportunist who is exploiting the unfortunate experience he had in 1990. And had that event not occurred, we would never have heard of him. I would be very disappointed if that were the case.
And as far as the lab technician is concerned - he was a technician and his role was to process film. Society also asked him to sound an alarm if he saw things that suggested depicted inappropriate activities. He was not expected to investigate the background and make judgements about what he found - his role was merely to observe and report, and that's what he did.
Instead, my issue with the rigid government bureaucrats who chose to be blind to the difference between an abusive situation and artistic depiction of a healthy but unconventional life style, and who were arbitrarily overzealous in persecuting Sturges simply because they didn't like what they saw in his work. That's the same kind of narrow minded extremist thinking that we've seen with John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, and its dangerous.
What do you think if I told you that one very celebrated modern greek poet has written a multi-tome epic that depicts constantly graphic sexual scenes with very young girls? Or that other great greek poets, including nobel prized Elytis, often mention nubible nude young girls dancing around carelessly and sometimes describing vividly their charms in their poems?
I guess it should be ok because its just text and unlike photography, no actual model took part in the creation, but then again books have been banned for their content and authors held responsible.
We might live under different societies, but can't see many being mature and well behaved enough that Nobokov couldn't be held responsible the actions of his readers...
Real photographs, created in camera, 100% organic,
no digital additives and shit
Sorry, but I find this statement ridiculous. A complete assumption on your part.
Originally Posted by Monophoto
Last edited by billschwab; 11-22-2006 at 09:53 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Well, he has yet to post to the APUG gallerie. If nobody knew who he was, or had ever seen his pphotographs, what would the reaction be? What of Edward's photo of Neil?
Originally Posted by WarEaglemtn
Last edited by JBrunner; 11-22-2006 at 12:15 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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I too have a problem with this statement.
Originally Posted by Monophoto
It seems you define greatness as being a "consumate" photographer. I guess meaning that he should shoot, what, weddings, flowers, landscapes, Amish colonies.
Not to be too flippant but having a narrow "focus" on what a photographer likes to shoot, and is good at, seems to me to be justifyable criteria for greatness. I'm not saying that Sturges is great or not but why can a "specialist" be as highly regarded as someone who covers the gamit.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
I'd love to see the reactions on APUG to an unknown Sally Mann, unknown Diane Arbus, unknown Robert Mapplethorpe...or even, to take provocative subject matter off the table, an unknown Man Ray.
You know what I think, I think there are some excellent photographers contributing to the galleries on APUG and more than a few poor ones. Many of the poor ones are people with limited skills working hard to improve. Some of them will and some of them have something unique and interesting to offer. Some of the poor ones are skillful but have nothing at all to say, visually. Some of those people are entirely absorbed in the mechanics of photography because that's all they've got. All this artsy-fartsy navel gazing goes right over their heads. Some of these philistines couldn't open their minds far enough to get their heads around some of these concepts if we brought in the jaws of life.
To some people, I'm a poor photographer with no skill and/or nothing to say. You know what? My skin is thick enough to hear that. You know why? Because I know the difference between a community that is hostile to me (and this community isn't) and the opinions of a few individuals. If I post to the critique gallery then I am asking for feedback. I have little to say about the form of that feedback. Sometimes the feedback will be uninformed and if I recognize that, how much weight do I give it? Sometimes it will be clumsy or rude. I may or may not choose to glean any wisdom wrapped in the rudeness depending on my tolerance for the abuse but I'm sure not going to let someone else's lack of courtesy or inability to treat people or work with respect affect *my* self-esteem.
The little kerfuffle that's been going on lately is so familiar to any of us that have spent any time in on-line communities. The meta-dynamics are not unique to APUG or any photography forums. This noise is archetypal on the Intertubes. They're not worth fighting over. People will get huffy and leave...often they will be people we wish would stay...sometimes they will speechify before they go...some will advise them not to let the "front door hit them on the backside." Nothing will cancel that series. It's in permanent syndication.
What is worth fighting about...or at least having a continual, civil dialogue about, is what kind of boundaries and what kinds of tools are desirable and undesirable in a commons where people with divergent frames of reference and contexts of various breadths wish to come together to talk about a common, yet broad range of related subjects.
I side with those that advocate more tools so that those that wish to protect themselves from that which they wish to avoid may do so...and with those that advocate for fewer rules so that those that wish to decide for themselves what's tolerable and what is not may do so.
Last edited by jstraw; 11-22-2006 at 03:28 PM. Click to view previous post history.
It just so happens that Jock HAS done some very high quality work that isnt nudes. His work on school children of Ireland comes to mind, and its pretty damn good.
As to whether the lab tech was deciding that Sturges work was pornographic, since I cant read his mind I'll give him the benefit of the doubt (whether he deserves it or not). Perhaps the tech didnt have the benefit of seeing it in the context of Sturges body of work. Perhaps he didnt know whether the photographer was taking advantage of children or not and decided not to take the chance.
I was preparing to answer the same thing before I read your post, Bill.
Originally Posted by billschwab
How about an unknown Joel-Peter Witkin ??? Hahahaha! This would be a feast...
Originally Posted by jstraw