Hi to Ed, and all of the others that have made the last couple of days fascinating and thought-provoking...
First, just let me say I'm getting kinda confused about who said what, which quote comes from where, and what I've supposedly said in my postings on this topic.
I don't think that at any stage have I said that only critics know what they are talking about, and we should all simply agree with them without any consideration for how a work makes us personally feel. Maybe I did infere this at some stage - and if I did, then I'm sorry - I didn't mean it (honest!).
We've all got horror stories about critics we've disgreed with, judges who didn't know an f stop from a full stop, and artists who have languished too long in oblivion just because some idiot panned them in a review.
I totally agree with you Ed, when you said that...
How on earth can anyone, in good conscience, claim that a photograph by Ansel Adams had a higher value that one by Phillipe Halsman, or Cartier-Bresson, or Imogene Cunningham? We could go to the price records of the market ... but, to me, that is the worst imaginable "judging system", by far.
Couldn't agree more. But you've picked some pretty high powered names there to group together. What about claimimg a higher value for a Cartier-Bresson photo against, say... one of mine!?!
A similar thread in a criticism posting encouraged the writer to critique others work. There were numerous examples of teachers telling students there work was horrible, pointing out numerous mistakes, and the students learning from these comments to become better photographers.
What scares me with the whole "there's no good ar bad" art thing, is the inherent implication that anything is just as good as anything else. That my images are just as good as Cartier-Bressons, simply bacause I say they are. In this scenario, the teacher simply wouldn't bother to point out the flaws within a students work (and I'm sorry, but yes, students do have flaws) - and the student, for their part, simply would not learn.
Am I getting off of the point again? Probably.
I still, however, want to maintain a stance that advocates value judgments about art and photography, that allows for critics (especially the good ones - and we tend to know who the bad one's are), and that places certain canonical works and artists above the rest. These also, you will find, tend to be 'Universally accepted' canons (you've mentioned some pretty good ones yourself in the photography realm Ed), and I can't for the life of me see what is elitist about that?