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Author Topic: So It Goes  (Read 4549 times)

GrahamBy

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2017, 11:00:14 AM »

Ah, excellent, thank you. So they were both Alfonso?
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OmerV

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2017, 11:33:21 AM »

Yeah, I'm not sure the excuse that eg Dorothea Lange's photos could get by with short captions because everyone knew the story. First of all, not everyone knew the story at the time, that's why they were made. So a test: if I don't give you any info at all about the following photo, does it grab you by the throat anyway?

(Ok, I'll tell you that the photographer was called Alfonso Lannelli... I'd never heard of him, presumably many of you have...)

Great photograph! My initial guess was in the ballpark; either a tenant farmer or coal miner, somewhere in the South.

And you have, in fact, made Neal's point; that is the kind of photography that is seemingly passé in many MFA programs.

amolitor

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #22 on: July 18, 2017, 12:16:59 PM »

We "get" the Iannelli precisely because we've seen its ilk 100s or 1000s of times before, we've read the captions on some of those others, maybe we've read back stories. Many of us have at any rate heard of the FSA/OWI, many are aware of Walker Evans's work. We have a pretty complex set of mental "stuff" we can apply here. It doesn't need text, because it uses a pile of well-understood visual tropes.

Of course pictures like that aren't being made in MFA programs, any more than anyone is slavishly copying Vermeers.

The point of the forefront of Art or of any discipline is not to tread over the same old ground where explanations are  not required.

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Rob C

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #23 on: July 18, 2017, 02:34:46 PM »

We "get" the Iannelli precisely because we've seen its ilk 100s or 1000s of times before, we've read the captions on some of those others, maybe we've read back stories. Many of us have at any rate heard of the FSA/OWI, many are aware of Walker Evans's work. We have a pretty complex set of mental "stuff" we can apply here. It doesn't need text, because it uses a pile of well-understood visual tropes.

Of course pictures like that aren't being made in MFA programs, any more than anyone is slavishly copying Vermeers.

The point of the forefront of Art or of any discipline is not to tread over the same old ground where explanations are  not required.

That's a bit of a sweeping statement!

Outwith the commercial world (and within it if you can), I think the point at the forefront of art should be the enjoyment of whatever you like to do. Breaking new ground isn't any priority - for me - but enjoyment is. That's mirrored in my disinterest in ultra-hip digital cameras: I wouldn't feel drawn to buying even if I had all the money in the world - it's just not where I find pleasure. As a relative babe-in-arms I loved the 'look' of rangefinder Leicas and Nikons (during the end of the 40s/early 50s) but, just because I could afford to buy anything rangefinder, Leica or otherwise, when I was in business when I grew up didn't find me doing putting my money down. Use trumps fame. As, I think, does comfort innovation.

A great life lesson is this: so much seems to improve without getting any better. I think (A)rt is a great example of this notion.

Rob

amolitor

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #24 on: July 18, 2017, 02:59:08 PM »

Art can be whatever you like. The forefront, which is what you'd be expected to be looking at in a graduate program, isn't. It's the forefront, the leading edge, by definition different from what people were doing 80 years ago.

You can have a great deal of enjoyment discovering Euclid. You will not, however, be granted a graduate degree in mathematics for re-doing The Elements.
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Rob C

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #25 on: July 18, 2017, 04:15:39 PM »

Art can be whatever you like. The forefront, which is what you'd be expected to be looking at in a graduate program, isn't. It's the forefront, the leading edge, by definition different from what people were doing 80 years ago.

You can have a great deal of enjoyment discovering Euclid. You will not, however, be granted a graduate degree in mathematics for re-doing The Elements.

False analogy equating art with maths, but then I can't imagine doing maths for fun.

My stance on art "training" couldn't be more different to yours, and I quote myself:

"In all my career, not one client asked to see qualifications other then my portfolio (we didn't call 'em books in those days).

I think a long art education is fine if you want to be a historian, a talker and not a doer. What I think art education should be about is NOT mind-setting, but totally about practical skill and technique. Knowledge of your predecessors should be taken as granted, and part of what led you into an interest in art or whatever you call what you do. Neither you (nor the State) should be spending money for you to do what you can do mostly for free in any library.

I have long held the notion that people should never allow their own identity to become subsumed into anyone else's ideal. That's why I think all this critique stuff so dangerous, even when people think they look for it as nothing more than part of a game they are playing. Be very careful: if you allow anyone to fuck with your head, that's how it remains."

In effect, and bearing in mind that I was responding (above) to something other than your post, I think the sentiment still largely holds. But then my position is not yours, and I find my belief (interest?) centres around what's inside rather than what should be inside, or perhaps what I could be trying to force inside so that it comes back out as something not quite me.

Indeed, as you wrote, art can be whatever you like. Perhaps the confusion lies in your/my definitions of forefront. You seem to be thinking in terms of new and/or different, whereas I think more in the direction of "forefront" implying the being very good at, and successful, in whichever discipline one has espoused.

Cutting-edge was a term stock libraries used to love, and claim for themselves; mainly, it meant really stiff but technically brilliant work, and as far from representing any fresh line of thought as could be. It became popular with the advent of digital: you get the snap - canoes going over Niagara. Or even up Niagara. Mindless pyrotechnics.

I've seen enough "new" stuff to be totally disabused of the merit of most of what I have seen.

Rob
« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 04:23:36 PM by Rob C »
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Telecaster

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #26 on: July 18, 2017, 06:08:18 PM »

I've seen enough "new" stuff to be totally disabused of the merit of most of what I have seen.

Most new stuff in [pick your discipline or creative outlet] is and likely always has been rubbish. Sturgeon's Law (he called it a "Revelation") remains valid.

-Dave-
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OmerV

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #27 on: July 18, 2017, 06:39:23 PM »

We "get" the Iannelli precisely because we've seen its ilk 100s or 1000s of times before, we've read the captions on some of those others, maybe we've read back stories. Many of us have at any rate heard of the FSA/OWI, many are aware of Walker Evans's work. We have a pretty complex set of mental "stuff" we can apply here. It doesn't need text, because it uses a pile of well-understood visual tropes.

Of course pictures like that aren't being made in MFA programs, any more than anyone is slavishly copying Vermeers.

The point of the forefront of Art or of any discipline is not to tread over the same old ground where explanations are  not required.

No serious artist is going to clone Vermeer from his time. But by the time someone leaves school with an MFA they should understand why Rembrandt is still good. The past is gone, and good art will always reflect a current zeitgeist even if it’s done in chiaroscuro. Working towards the forefront is good and I am a big fan of pushing the envelope, but there’s also the reality that schools desperately want preeminence and notoriety.

The thing is, you don't understand how photography can stand on it's own without words, or books. It's the reason you had so much trouble understanding Diane Arbus.

amolitor

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #28 on: July 18, 2017, 06:59:26 PM »

To be honest,  I'm not sure where you got the idea I have any trouble with Arbus. Perhaps you have me confused with someone else?

Regardless, I am happy to agree to disagree.
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GrahamBy

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #29 on: July 19, 2017, 03:12:34 AM »

Art can be whatever you like. The forefront, which is what you'd be expected to be looking at in a graduate program, isn't. It's the forefront, the leading edge, by definition different from what people were doing 80 years ago.

You can have a great deal of enjoyment discovering Euclid. You will not, however, be granted a graduate degree in mathematics for re-doing The Elements.

You could certainly get a graduate degree exploring the notion of "proof" in the Elements.

I can see human drama in the Iannelli photo without knowing that he was a coal miner from Kentucky, just from the assumption of an adult role by a youngish boy, his direct regard to the camera, the cigarette as a symbol of over-throwing normal societal roles. Someone else might not. There must in any case have been a first time someone saw a photo of this style, or a Doisneau to take a softer theme, and Doisneau at least was not in the habit of writing why his photos should interest the viewer.

However the problem may be around originality: art has become obsessed with originality above all else, and has often reduced itself to trivial in-jokes as a result: no matter how shitty, it's new shit.

It may be that this is inevitable, that everything that can be done that is exciting enough to stand on its own has been done and all that remains is the insipid, able to limp to the gallery only with hundreds of words of supporting text. Being inevitable does not prevent it being regrettable.
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Rob C

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #30 on: July 19, 2017, 05:46:17 AM »

Most new stuff in [pick your discipline or creative outlet] is and likely always has been rubbish. Sturgeon's Law (he called it a "Revelation") remains valid.

-Dave-


Thanks for that; hadn't come acros this one before, the only Sturgeon of whom I was aware (apart from the fish, that is), was the one trying to nibble a place in the Scottish history books as ultimate destroyer.

Funny that even within a name there be positives and negatives. So yeah, maybe all is science, in one form or another.

;-)

Rob

amolitor

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #31 on: July 19, 2017, 09:47:40 AM »

A hypothetical alien with a visual apparatus similar to our own, but none of our language or culture, would not make much sense of any of our pictures. Well, so I opine. If you disagree, then there's nothing much to talk about.

If you agree, though, then we're in agreement that some sort of context is necessary to understand a picture, and after that it's just quibbling about how much and in what form.
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GrahamBy

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #32 on: July 19, 2017, 10:32:21 AM »

If you agree, though, then we're in agreement that some sort of context is necessary to understand a picture, and after that it's just quibbling about how much and in what form.

Yes, but the context can be implicit. There may be cultures where it's usual for a late teens male to place himself in a dominant position ahead of an older woman (who I assume to be his mother, without prompting), but it's not European-American. Similar for the signs of material poverty in the building. There is the challenge of his eyes to the camera which may apply even outside of our species.

That would come under "how much and in what form", but that is precisely the subject under discussion!

To come back to the need for novelty, however: it's interesting to think about literature and music. In the 50's, "art" music charged off into a chase after complexity and self-reference, which most people found unlistenable. I'm probably already on the fringes because I like a lot of what Elliot Carter and Boulez wrote, but there was a return to popularity through people like Glass and Reich, plus the mysticists like Gorecki and Pärt. They found a way to return to the visceral appeal of music that didn't amount to simply piling up intellectual conceits. In literature, although there has been some experimentation with narrative form (viz The New Novel of Robbe-Grillet), people are still writing stories about human experiences: sex, relationships, politics, conflicts. The stories are new because of their relationship to society, and because the characters are new... even if they are essentially riffs on ancient greek dramas or the bible, but the form really hasn't changed: they are made from text.

There are of course comics, and photo-books, and electronic music, but there is still a substantial number of composers who are writing for instruments and ensembles that JS Bach would recognise (with a certain jealousy). Writers are using fancy word-processors to generate text. It hasn't become essential to include images or hyperlinks into novels, nor have orchestras been replaced by bizzaroid hyper-theremin synthesisers. So why shouldn't visual arts retain as a core discipline, the creation of images that communicate so far as possible without resorting to other media?
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amolitor

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2017, 12:03:44 PM »

Well, it's not entirely clear to me what Omer's position is, but it sounds like he might be claiming that photographs can be/should be/might be understood context-free.

The comparison with music is, I think, not fully suitable. Music is generally non-representational. Generally we don't "get it" either without some context, but the context is generally just more music. The scales in use today, for instance, would be considered wildly dissonant by JS Bach earlier composers, but we've simply gotten used to them, and like them just fine now. See also music from other cultures. Explaining a fugue in words is, I agree, silly.

Anyways. While explaining a piece of music with words is almost never suitable, I think because it's not representational. Still, consider Peter and the Wolf, which is a perfectly lovely bit of music. It is representational, however, and makes a great deal more sense when someone tells you the story.

Without knowing the story (having the text, that is, in some sense) you would probably get some sense of a developing something with some story-like structure, but no more than that. And you might not even get that,  I have no  way of knowing.

So, to appreciate Peter and the Wolf in the way it was intended, you have to:

1) be steeped in western music, western tonality (cultural context)
2) know the story itself (textual context)
2a) some sense of european/american wildlife (translating it for a member of the Saan people might, for instance, require that you describe the wolf as "dangerous, like a lion") (more cultural context)

My position is that photographs are rather more like Peter and the Wolf (generally, not universally, of course) than they are like, say, Brubeck's Take Five.
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Rob C

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #34 on: July 19, 2017, 12:16:32 PM »

Jo does it perfectly well via sound images.

What more does anyone need - certainly not an iPhone!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paHiAP1_eGY

Rob

OmerV

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #35 on: July 19, 2017, 02:40:12 PM »

Well, it's not entirely clear to me what Omer's position is, but it sounds like he might be claiming that photographs can be/should be/might be understood context-free.

The comparison with music is, I think, not fully suitable. Music is generally non-representational. Generally we don't "get it" either without some context, but the context is generally just more music. The scales in use today, for instance, would be considered wildly dissonant by JS Bach earlier composers, but we've simply gotten used to them, and like them just fine now. See also music from other cultures. Explaining a fugue in words is, I agree, silly.

Anyways. While explaining a piece of music with words is almost never suitable, I think because it's not representational. Still, consider Peter and the Wolf, which is a perfectly lovely bit of music. It is representational, however, and makes a great deal more sense when someone tells you the story.

Without knowing the story (having the text, that is, in some sense) you would probably get some sense of a developing something with some story-like structure, but no more than that. And you might not even get that,  I have no  way of knowing.

So, to appreciate Peter and the Wolf in the way it was intended, you have to:

1) be steeped in western music, western tonality (cultural context)
2) know the story itself (textual context)
2a) some sense of european/american wildlife (translating it for a member of the Saan people might, for instance, require that you describe the wolf as "dangerous, like a lion") (more cultural context)

My position is that photographs are rather more like Peter and the Wolf (generally, not universally, of course) than they are like, say, Brubeck's Take Five.

I’m not sure that anything is context free, but context is variable and inherent. Of course education broadens understanding but who wants pages of explanatory prose included with every book of poetry? Or is poetry also just better when it is a supportive element in a conceptual idea? And if that’s so, then there’s little point to the craft of poetry as well, correct?

I get that great photography can be done with a plastic Diana, or a smartphone, or a Phase One set up. It is imagination that makes the “magic,” but do we really want to talk ourselves out of the fun of mystery?

https://www.moma.org/collection/works/157537?locale=en


I don’t know where this tune came from and it doesn’t matter. It rocks:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxsjtSEmmMg

As somebody said: Women with violins may actually be the highest form of life.

GrahamBy

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #36 on: July 20, 2017, 04:56:02 AM »

False analogy equating art with maths, but then I can't imagine doing maths for fun.

My current coffee table reading is Michel Emery's "Stochastic Calculus on Manifolds"... :)

https://www.amazon.fr/Stochastic-Calculus-Manifolds-Universitext-Michel/dp/3540516646
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Rob C

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #37 on: July 20, 2017, 08:46:22 AM »

My current coffee table reading is Michel Emery's "Stochastic Calculus on Manifolds"... :)

https://www.amazon.fr/Stochastic-Calculus-Manifolds-Universitext-Michel/dp/3540516646

Graham, are you interested in developing race-car engines?

;-)

Rob

Telecaster

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #38 on: July 20, 2017, 04:59:34 PM »

I don’t know where this tune came from and it doesn’t matter. It rocks:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxsjtSEmmMg

Yes, it does rock…to (some/most of) us anyway. Would it rock according to a typical 9th century Viking? According to a 1st century Roman citizen? According to an early member of homo sapiens ~200,000 years ago? Maybe, maybe not. It rocks to us at least in part because we hear it in context. Cab Calloway infamously derided bebop as "Chinese music" due to his lack of ability (or unwillingness) to hear it in the context of "Jazz." A musicmaker of the 1930s failing to hear the music of the 1940s. Maybe all he needed were a few explanatory words before Bird & cohorts launched into their version of "Cherokee" or whatever.  ;)

The attached pic contains its own explanatory words.  ;D

-Dave-
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OmerV

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Re: So It Goes
« Reply #39 on: July 20, 2017, 05:55:39 PM »

Yes, it does rock…to (some/most of) us anyway. Would it rock according to a typical 9th century Viking? According to a 1st century Roman citizen? According to an early member of homo sapiens ~200,000 years ago? Maybe, maybe not. It rocks to us at least in part because we hear it in context. Cab Calloway infamously derided bebop as "Chinese music" due to his lack of ability (or unwillingness) to hear it in the context of "Jazz." A musicmaker of the 1930s failing to hear the music of the 1940s. Maybe all he needed were a few explanatory words before Bird & cohorts launched into their version of "Cherokee" or whatever.  ;)

-Dave-

Would explaining the context to the Viking help? Who knows. Comprehension and understanding will help intellectually but how do you get someone to feel foreign music? Well, I don't think by subsuming it in narrative.
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