Quote Originally Posted by Eugen Mezei View Post
I agree with him that photography [1] is quasi dissapearing, but I very much disagree with what he thinks the reason for this is.
In my opinion it is not that Kodak closes, film dissapears and not even that every cellphone gets a camera. Perhaps the last one has an indirect influence.
I think the camera-in-every-phone aspect is quite important, as part of a trend that's been in progress since the birth of photography: the drift of the technology "downward" into more casual/vernacular uses. That effect has been widely observed across the history of analog photography---wet plates to dry plates to sheetfilm to rollfilm to 35mm to autoexposure to autofocus to p&s compacts, each stage prioritizing convenience and accessibility rather than absolute artistic control and image quality.

Which, you might argue, intrinsically makes the photographer less of a special snowflake, because the trend is for photography to become ever more of an "anyone can do this" art. IMHO, different capture media aren't a very interesting aspect of this curve, except inasmuch as they remove the need for darkroom technique (but so did Polaroid)---different form factors in the camera, however, are very interesting. A camera that fits in your pocket, is always with you, and auto-does everything, including distributing the image for people to look at? You know, you push the button and it does the rest? I've heard that slogan somewhere before. :-)

The problem is that nothing new appears. Maybe it is a consequence that almost anything was photographed, but even this is not the real, exclusive reason. I think the reason is that no revolution is happening. Nobody comes up with something really "art-shaking".
Maybe, but I tend to think this is one of those things that everyone believes about their own era. It's pretty hard to tell what's revolutionary until you have the benefit of hindsight. The ridiculous omnipresence of photography via mobile phones is a change, certainly, and I'm not confident that we won't look back on it in a few decades and find something "art-shaking" in the blurring of the lines between personal, art, and documentary photography.

I see only thousands of variations of the same "streetphotography" that's considered "cool" but mostly saying nothing, industrial where the more trash the better and if you put a model in some dirty or motoroiled clothes in the picture than it is considered perfect (but unfortunately it was presented the same way thousands of times, maybe the first time it was somewhat innovative), social photography where the goal seem to be to find people in the most desolate environments, portraits, fashion all the same endless variations of what we have seen also thousands of times, etc, etc. Nothing really revolutionary nor in the ideea nor in the realisation.
Heck, I see more revolution than that just in the gallery here, and I'm not even very assiduous about checking it. There are a lot of technically good landscapes (which I tend to like) and nudes (which I don't), neither of which really represents groundbreaking photography; there's a certain amount of the "generic street grit" style you're describing; but then there's a lot of stuff that I'd describe as "the extraordinary in the ordinary"---semi-abstractions of familiar views reframed as unfamiliar---as well as process experiments, strong portraiture work, minimalism, classic-styled street candids without the dirt...

I'm talking through my hat as usual, but maybe we in the film world are in a bit the same role as the Pre-Raphaelites, in our belief (held to varying degrees, to be sure) that the modern conventions and techniques of photography tend to distract from the "soul" or artistic strength of the image. (Should we be calling ourselves the Pre-Sassonite Brotherhood? :-) That's a reactive rather than a purely creative position, but IMHO it's a constructive part of the development of an art; sometimes there need to be periods of retrenchment and rediscovery, and they feed into the same artistic mill as everything else.

-NT