Originally Posted by Michael R 1974
This "as though I were standing there" I hear often and I can only say, perhaps you should get out more! I have the same fantasies looking at holiday brochures.
For me this is the defeatist attitude of contemporary photography and harks back to Atget and his 'documents for painters'. The difference is that these modern survey images are supported by art speak. Photographers become their own personal critics, defending their 'documents as art' like a curator might speak of Atget's. If the photographs strike you because they are of a time and place, then their true value is nostalgia. This is what art snobs will tell you is the only value of any photograph, but they are just as ignorant as the photographers making these images. In a family photo album nostalgia is fine, but in a gallery, first and foremost I expect the visual arts to be visually stimulating.
If we all had the same tastes the world would be a very boring place, but I feel this kind of work and those who defend it are ignorant of photography's power to transcend illustration, through transforming subject matter, and revealing something of the world that we wouldn't have seen, had we been stood there. I also think there's something to be said about the perceived ease with which the images are made appealing to unskilled amateurs, who might then pursue such an approach and get overly defensive about it, taking an elitist position. When you're aware of this, I find it's too painful to make or appreciate banal illustrations. As somebody who was once enticed by this contemporary aesthetic, I can say photographing empty parking lots feels like such an intellectually cold and joyless procedure, knowing what is really possible with a camera.
I agree about the 'pushing boundaries', but these photographers never seem to get very far. As far as I can see it's the prolific auteurs with conservative, safe and constant visions who are seen as mature artists, regardless of content. If you make the same bland image over and over again, at some point you will get the press.
Last edited by batwister; 03-10-2012 at 03:14 PM. Click to view previous post history.