I think what the argument comes down to aside from my bad manners and tone (and apologies), is the difference of value we place on the materials and the image itself. This has always seemed like an impenetrable wall in discussions on APUG.
There is a young woman, younger than me in fact. She lives a couple of towns away and has made quite a name for herself on a certain popular photo sharing site. She's ended up shooting album covers for big name bands and pretty much established herself as international hot property. She doesn't know any of the classical photographers, doesn't go to exhibitions as far as I'm aware and her work, while of a 'high' standard, is visually illiterate in my eyes. Naive and immature, for someone at her level. Yet, she's done incredibly well. She also runs workshops, which have obviously come about through overconfidence in her ability and insight - a result of what I see as the premature praise she has received, for visual gimmicks and being somewhat attractive. My argument - being young and rebelious - would be that the world she is a part of is completely ignorant about the arts and only concerned with their narcissistic, fame oriented motivations. Getting to the top as fast as possible. In the same way some young tennis players are - once on the court with the real greats, the major faults of their game become apparent to everyone. They usually do one thing well and get by on kidding everyone with it, for a while.
But, who are you or I to say she needs to see prints in person, in order to know her craft and influences? Does she have to become familiar with the greats at all even? Considering where she is, maybe this would only be procrastination, setting her back. With that in mind, for me or you to spend a full day of a weekend in a gallery, where would that really get us with our own craft? It would be nice, but you have to understand that I'm talking about photography as more than leisure.
Being well read photographically is beneficial in my mind, but you'll notice how many on this forum and elsewhere could write their own history book, yet how has their photography benefited? What have they truly learnt and applied to their work? It's not just about endlessly seeing work in my mind, but being receptive and understanding what you can take from it. Something that's extremely difficult with five minutes in front of a print in a gallery, regardless of how big and beautiful it is. The presence of the work is what hits me more than anything in a gallery and I find it can warp my judgement. Isn't this why Harry Cory Wright prints 6 footers? He wants you to see that insignificant patch of grass as something overwhelming - not realistically how we would see the subject matter. If it's the reliance on the experiential in modern art that does it for you, then exhibitions of this work are everything. I'm interested in what a photograph is at its bare roots, that special something that materialises on the negative and can be translated into even the smallest print. There's one photographer whose transparencies I would give anything to see. This isn't something that punches you in the face trying to win you over, but through quiet contemplation you can come to understand. In a way, I can understand people who get their camera phones out in galleries. Part of you needs to take it back to your lair, look it at your own leisure and let it hit you at your own level, without distraction.
Wanted to share something also.
I went to this exhibition on Sunday - http://www.manchestergalleries.org/w....php?itemID=91
I was unsure about what was on display, but I was seeing a friend nearby and we went. I genuinely couldn't respond to any of the images. Some intrigued me and perhaps had I seen them in a book, would have moved me. But nuance and level of detail aside, I just couldn't get anything from the work. If anything, it intimidated me into submission. In the next room they were showing contemporary African work - the book of which I considered buying some months ago. Honestly, after seeing the work, I can say I'm no longer interested. If I'd bought the book first however and given the images some time, who's to say I wouldn't have got something from them? At which point, going to that exhibition might have been a great experience.
It seems in my experience (what little I evidently have) exhibitions are a very delicately balanced form of presentation, with many weights in place that can work for or against the viewers experience of the work. There are fewer compromises with a high quality book, not to mention that you are in control of the light you view the work under, the amount of chatterboxes in the room with you and the amount of time you spend with the images. If you're suggesting that Harry Cory Wright's images might be more effective in person, perhaps he shouldn't be presenting the work on a website and in books - how most people will see the work. This comes back to the idea of contemporary art not being concerned with most people, but the priveleged few who can see and buy it. Narrowcasting you might say. There are MANY modes of presentation today and images will be seen more in reproduction than original forms. Reproductions can potentially damage the experience of the work if, at the point of making, the image relies on a singular form of presentation for us to understand it. Photographs, by nature, do not.
Last edited by batwister; 06-26-2012 at 02:12 PM. Click to view previous post history.