I'm trying to rationalise what many photographers see as a 'threat' - to their trade or the worthiness of their art. How the influx of images (or, I think more to the point, influx of photographers) challenges those at the top of the heap. It seems to scare most people into reevaluating their ideas about quality. As if an increase of banal photographs and, an increase in banality with it, has re-situated thoughtful work. Is it that, now more people are 'entering the arena', so to speak, 'quality' simply has to be pushed further out of their reach? http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=3dj3Wq-I7tc (note his final comments on elitism).
I'm not convinced that 'those seen as a threat' are reaching for much in the first place or ever will. It takes a very specific type of individual to explore photography deeply and an even more specific person to say something with photography. Accessibility doesn't change the individual. Although there are more images, I truly believe the same fraction - as all photographs produced historically - are of a quality we recognise. The fraction of 'images of interest' we recognise depends on our sensitivities as human beings and our cultural perception.* Since Francis Hodgson is clearly in the Barthes sphere of thinking - the studium has expanded, but the punctum will stay the same, so long as the individual human being does.*
*I think what is perceived as a 'threat' might be a lack of trust in our own judgement of quality, or the judgment of the elite - our framework for understanding 'quality' in photography is precarious, so a sudden rush of images presents a great challenge in cataloguing and classification, when there's no concrete system in place. But it's an irrational fear, driven by the anxiety to need to comprehend, quicker than the information reaches us. I feel as though there is a desperation amongst historians and critics - evident in the linked Francis Hodgson video - to share this burden with photographers, to force us to step up our game, so they don't have to. In essence, they are saying; "make your work better, quickly, so we can more readily discard the constant and ambiguous stream of phone pictures that we can't make sense of." In short, it's their problem. I'm not saying it should be ignored by photographers, but that it shouldn't be a motivator.
*Since our understanding of 'what matters' and quality is defined - in large part - historically and subjectively.
Help me make sense of this?