The concern with 'rendering power' and photographs as objects...
What strikes me again and again when looking at contemporary art photography - large format colour neg work in particular - is that many photographers seem to have a self-consciousness about the hyper-reality and perhaps optical character of their large format cameras. This is a prime example of what I'm talking about - http://www.harrycorywright.com/photographs.php?catId=2. I won't pass my aesthetic judgement.
Those who value composition, form, tonality, colour relationships and quality of light in the creative photograph are often quite cynical about this type of contemporary work, deeming it banal, detached and cooly objective - smug even. Something that exists simply to allow the elite of the art world to intellectualize. I've certainly felt that way myself for a long time. Recently however, I've started to think that these photographs (like the above images) which have very little concern with any of the ideals or conventions of the art photography that came before, are actually, in quite an innocent way, purely about the simple beauty of the photograph as an object. Is this playing up to the materialistic desires of the art buyer - the photograph giving up on artistic excellence and simply screaming "collect me!" - or is it perhaps an aesthetic embrace of the physical end product of traditional photography? Somehow I feel much of this photography, which consistently receives a great deal of exposure and acclaim (especially amongst hipsters and art students) is a very evident reaction to what appears to be the demise of film. The work strips away any artistic conceit, allowing photographer and viewer alike to directly embrace the medium merely for what it physically is and has been. For anyone who loves photography as photography, is this such a bad thing? Letting go of any artistic ideals, forgetting about how it would stand up next to Paul Strand or Minor White, isn't this fetishisation of the traditional photograph a good thing for the continued interest in film? When the photographer succesfully taps into this popular aesthetic trend it almost seems to get into galleries by default and as a result, the influence on university curriculums, that it's become a very identifiable strand of contemporary photography, means for my money, film will continue to remain in the consciousness of future generations as a viable, even cool way to make photographs.
As a lover of traditional photography, my cynicism about the so called 'banal aesthetic' rife in art photography is starting to wane for this reason. It depends on and for me, celebrates the very essence of traditional photography. Very rarely have I seen digital photographers clearly play to the physicality of images in this way.
Threads about contemporary work don't often appear on APUG, but sometimes I'll see the odd snooty comment - I know I'm guilty of this myself, here and elsewhere.
But anyway, that's my new standpoint on the type of popular contemporary photography linked above... for the consideration of other cynics.
Last edited by batwister; 06-21-2012 at 09:42 PM. Click to view previous post history.