'When was this written?' pretty much sums it up.
You have to wonder what Steichen would have thought of someone like Nadav Kander, who is unlike any photographer of his own time and on the cutting edge of ours. Kander's images use the medium of photography to say things like no other medium can, simply put. His photographs play to the established strengths of the medium - to document (as the main mode of communication) and with the visual sense and reference of somebody who has studied the visual arts in general, to provide a rich aesthetic and symbolic experience for the viewer. This is a new kind of photography and much matured from Steichen's time. Photographers now have more of an awareness and have embraced the broader arts, which those concerned with the craft can be blind to - not understanding the visual references or devices, only the technique. Photography is no longer an incestual art form, fastidiously concerned with materials and craft, ignorant to the art world. As craft becomes almost obsolete, focus has shifted 100% to the visual language of photography, which is maturing incredibly fast as a result. I think this is the sole reason traditional craft oriented photographers have such a hard time 'getting it' and end up further regressing.
I think Steichen is talking about the art of photography being bound to the medium, which is a hang up of his time, but I believe the artistry/messages of a photograph can transcend the medium and we've been seeing it happen for the last few years. Like the classic painters, the masterful brush techniques and pleasing compositions were often a lure for the viewer - what makes the work transcendental is the symbolism, from which we derive meaning. Photography is only just about maturing into a similar state, slowly developing a more articulate visual language, using pictorialism as a surface glaze for deeper meaning. Since the New Topographics I think photographers have developed a sense of responsibility to speak for the world, not just other photographers.
It's unfortunate that many seem to be stifled and confined by the medium itself and tend to levitate more towards outdated practice and thinking for this reason. I respect lots of historical literature, but only in its historical context.
Last edited by batwister; 09-09-2012 at 11:45 AM. Click to view previous post history.