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Author Topic: A Disturbing Trend  (Read 27712 times)

Colorado David

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #40 on: August 11, 2016, 10:44:37 am »

Humility is an admirable trait, but an overabundance of it can and will lead to self-doubt.  I suffer from this condition.  I sometimes see work that photographers display and think why is that worthy of any attention.  Then I think, well, they might think that of my work too.  People write me checks to shoot photographs and video, but self-doubt has probably limited my ability to market my work. Someone commented on an image I'd posted elsewhere the other day. I looked at their work and it had hundreds of thousands of views to my mere thousands.  I think part of the wall of text issue might have been born of the need to attract search engines in the age of internet art. Photographers who are able to write to attract search engines and enhance their search rankings get more views and more views mean more commercial success.

pearlstreet

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #41 on: August 11, 2016, 11:25:01 am »

I remember reading once some very candid comments by people who win juried contests and get their work in galleries around the country and are well known in certain circles. They win contests but their work doesn't sell. One lady said she had spent thousands of dollars traveling to her different exhibits and didn't make a dime in sales...Another guy had won numerous awards - zero sales. They were refreshingly honest about the whole process.

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Alan Smallbone

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #42 on: August 11, 2016, 02:48:03 pm »

Well it may be a trend to have more written content, but I do not see it as disturbing. I don't have to read it, I can just look at the image, if I so desire, or if it is not something that appeals to me, I can ignore the whole thing. So why is it disturbing? It is because it does not fit your way of looking at art or photography or the world? I get it, and maybe it is not disturbing to me because I am not pushing 70, only pushing 60. I try to look at all of it, and find something that is likable and/or enjoyable and to change my view perspective to see what I may be missing.

I think one of the reasons there is more text, is that society today is extremely visual, everything is in your face so to speak. You are pounded with visuals all the time, so maybe the trend is make them more interesting by providing a means of explanation or maybe a way of stimulating the imagination in a way that is not possible with just visuals. The concept of text and writing is fast becoming lost, most youngsters cannot spell with a damn because they are so used to texting and taking shortcuts with words and messages. There is a degree of impatience that is just becoming so pronounced. It seems that few take the time to enjoy, rather they are always trying to be fast and impatient.

So I see the trends now as a fad, to be replaced by other trends and then more old farts will come along and say how it was when they were young, "oh we had it rough then, the youth of today just don't understand....." (humor-vague reference to MP skit). Maybe as we get older we fear change more, maybe it makes us uncomfortable, outside of the box we have drawn and chosen to live inside.

I see it not as good and bad, just something different, and we are able to choose to look or not look, or I guess to criticize it if that is your desire.

Alan

As a side note; interesting how many posters in this thread have very few forum posts. I know my post count is not all that high but I have been here for a long time, just an interesting observation.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2016, 04:27:59 pm by Alan Smallbone »
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TomFrerichs

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #43 on: August 11, 2016, 02:50:47 pm »

Tom Wolfe wrote a short book (100 pages) in 1975 on this precise subject, The Painted Word.
It is a truly timeless must-read for anyone who interfaces with the "Art World".
 You could think of it as a mental vaccination
against the infection of useless verbosity surrounding any artwork.
It lifts the covers, removes the scales, cleans the windshield, etc., etc., etc.......
Professional art critics and gallery owners hate this book with a passion.
It is still available from Amazon, $13. I cant recommend it enough!
My copy is old and falling apart from being read so many times over the years.
I often exhibit my work without any labels whatsoever and I definitely think
an image should be able to offer a visual reward without text, otherwise it is lacking.
best to you.....

I bought the book for my Nook, and I second your appreciation. I enjoyed it enough that I grabbed the sequel on architecture, From Bauhaus to Our House.
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TomFrerichs

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #44 on: August 11, 2016, 03:07:51 pm »

...

You are pounded with visuals all the time, so maybe the trend is make them more interesting by providing a means of explanation or maybe a way of stimulating the imagination in a way that is not possible with just visuals.

...

... and then more old farts will come along and say how it was when they were young...

...

I'm one of those old farts (just past sixty), and I'm tempted at times to follow your suggested path.  Then I blush, remembering the sins of my youth, and shut up.

I'll agree that added text can enhance a presentation--the way the story's told. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men would be ungenitured* if Agee's text were removed, even though Frank's photographs are fascinating. This sort of text adds to a complete presentation.

What I don't like is text that explains allegory. "I chose to deliberately mis-focus to demonstrate societies' failure to consider the plight of the winged water pigeon," is the kind of text that I detest. If a photographer has to explain their technique for me to understand their work, then I figure that the effort is a failure.

Tom

*I'm told that "ungenitured" is a nonce word created by Willie Shakespeare and has few, if any, other uses in text. Now that I've used it, perhaps it will gain a tick in usage counts on Google. :D
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Colorado David

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #45 on: August 11, 2016, 07:10:16 pm »

In addition to studying photography, I have a degree in music. In music when you give a composition a descriptive title or include descriptive text it's called program music. Think of Peter and the Wolf that has narration throughout or Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn which simply has a desriptive title. I find these to be perfectly acceptable and useful for the listener. I think what is disturbing is the inflated, self-aggrandizement and huge volume of big, arty words thown at perfectly capable viewers in an effort to justify a work as art.

stamper

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #46 on: August 12, 2016, 04:30:13 am »

I find it is hard to understand, to put it politely, most photography I see hung at galleries in Southern Ontario. Most are technically unworthy of presentation. Content is often confused, complicated or simply unfocused or purposeless. What I don't get is that how commercial establishments that need to sell these photographs for a profit are surviving? What do the buying public, collectors see in these forgettable works?

That is a subjective opinion which might not be agreed on by someone standing next to you and viewing the same photographs. Your unworthy view might be someone else's worthy view and that is why they sell.

David S

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #47 on: August 12, 2016, 03:41:15 pm »

Quote
"That is a subjective opinion which might not be agreed on by someone standing next to you and viewing the same photographs. Your unworthy view might be someone else's worthy view and that is why they sell."

Yes the subjective opinion is key here. Years ago, I went to a local photography club with a friend and we both liked the rejected shots and disliked the ones given prizes. Ultimately this only means that one persons choice isn't necessarily always anothers.

Dave S
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Hawkwood

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #48 on: August 13, 2016, 12:19:05 am »

Dear Neal -
I was so happy to read your editorial! I've felt the same way since I graduated from college 35 years ago and chose to get a Masters and teach at the community college level rather than get a PhD and subject myself to the inbred nonsense of academia. I loved the actual literature I read in college, and despised much of the critical theory about it. From what I could tell, doctoral students had to study critical theories about critical theories about literature, not literature itself. Ugh. I see the same disease at most Art department faculty shows at the university level - strange assemblies of non-art held together by extensive explanations of the "discourse" it was engaging in. Hey buddy, if you want to discourse, use your mouth or your word processor...it ain't art if you have to explain it.

As James Joyce wrote, any art or language dedicated to creating a specific response in the audience/viewers is pornography, not art. Think about it.

I do believe that some aesthetic theory is important, however, as a tool to help us recognize and clarify our artistic vision. Jay Maisel's book "Light, Gesture, and Color" helped me begin to articulate my own aesthetic goals and values, which I currently call "Light, Gesture, and Implication." Light, color, shape, composition, and "something else" seem to me to be the essence of good photographs. A lot of photographers get "pretty" pictures with the first four qualities, but if there's no mystery or story or surprise, it's a dead image (or just a documentary image).

Thank you for pointing out the Emperor's new clothing!

Paul Hawkwood

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marton

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #49 on: August 13, 2016, 03:04:34 am »

Great article.

Having graduated at the end of 2015 with an honors in photography, I read this article with great interest. I agree with its sentiment, having had to write my own thesis combined with practical work. I did quite well, and gave masters some serious thought to the point where I wrote a proposal, but ultimately decided against it sending it. I find the current climate in universities where photography and other visual art is concerned, constrained to a narrow band of what might be considered accepted thinking. It's not necessarily the student's fault either, it's the hoops they're made to jump through to get the degree.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2016, 05:00:49 am by marton »
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Peter McLennan

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #50 on: August 13, 2016, 11:39:39 am »

..it ain't art if you have to explain it.

any art or language dedicated to creating a specific response in the audience/viewers is pornography, not art. Think about it.

if there's no mystery or story or surprise, it's a dead image (or just a documentary image).

Paul Hawkwood

Excellent points. Inarguable, all of them.

I'd humbly add to Mr Joyce's comment that, in addition to pornography, it could be advertising - a medium perhaps not quite so ubiquitous in his time.
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Moynihan

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #51 on: August 13, 2016, 03:33:58 pm »

I liked  Orleans, MA and Georgia Kudzu 2015, and thought it was consistent with the New Topographics "movement". I also liked Buffalo, NY; a nice color-form study.

cosinaphile

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #52 on: August 14, 2016, 11:17:09 pm »

[/img]i find that most people, intelligent  and otherwise  frequently miss the point about what makes a formal creation of any type... a photograph
a drawing  a piece of music  or dance meaningful  and ultimately valuable

clive bell wrote several  essays in the early part of the 20 c  that would be a place for the average uninitiate  to begin their journey across the bridge from just looking....  to seeing 

an excellent discussion of a widespread problen so thanks
« Last Edit: August 14, 2016, 11:23:52 pm by cosinaphile »
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luxborealis

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #53 on: August 15, 2016, 07:47:53 am »

Wonderfully stated Rob even if don't agree with your conclusion.  In many ways I think today is the golden age of photography, that more good work (and bad) is being produced by more people than ever before. 

It's a big tent and there's room for everyone, always has been.

+1 - Great response, Rob.
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Otto Phocus

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #54 on: August 15, 2016, 11:12:31 am »

Quote
"That is a subjective opinion which might not be agreed on by someone standing next to you and viewing the same photographs. Your unworthy view might be someone else's worthy view and that is why they sell."

Yes the subjective opinion is key here. Years ago, I went to a local photography club with a friend and we both liked the rejected shots and disliked the ones given prizes. Ultimately this only means that one persons choice isn't necessarily always anothers.

Dave S

That is one of the reasons I don't quite understand the concept of a photography competition... or any type of art competition.
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awolf

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #55 on: August 29, 2016, 11:45:32 am »

Facts check – Dresden booming.
Your point is well taken but ironically, I am not sure that you would wish to end the article with falsified information. Not to take anything away form the horror of war (but was that quote really necessary?), Dresden booming estimated deaths are ~25,000, certainly not “in the hundreds of thousands”. German government ordered its press to publish a falsified casualty figure of 200,000 for the Dresden raids, were city authorities at the time estimated no more than 25,000 victims – no need to carry on falsified information, we get plenty of that (and bad photos) on a regular basis.
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Beakhammer

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #56 on: September 07, 2016, 02:46:53 pm »

I would tend to agree with the general notion that a lot of art is disappointing, and that verbose intellectualization frequently fails to compensate for the disappointing quality of the work.  On the other hand, I hate to generalize; there are plenty of exceptions out there proving the rule.  Each artist needs to be considered on their own merits.

I think that that past trends toward reducing the role of things like craft and beauty in art was partly due to a particular variety of snobbishness that tries to distance itself from these qualities to ensure that only elites will appreciate the work.  In this view of creative work, craft might be seen as too blue-collar, and beauty too populist or old-fashioned, so it is safer to simply reduce or eliminate the influence of these considerations in favor of opaque intellectual constructions.  These intellectual constructions may or may not be interesting in themselves, either way, they may also serve as an additional barrier to entry, maintaining the exclusive nature of the artwork.  There is a typical historical irony here, because many artists were initially drawn to the stripped-down qualities of modern art movements partly as a reaction against previous elites.  Plenty of crumby art has been made in the name of craftsmanship and beauty too.

I am not sure modern technological advancements makes it easier to make great images.  It certainly makes it easier to make polished-looking images, and it makes it possible to make them much more rapidly, but working faster does not necessarily mean working better, if you know what I mean.
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baxterimaging

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #57 on: September 07, 2016, 03:38:59 pm »

Neal,

I just saw this, so I'm joining the conversation late. Thanks for sharing your insight and I agree with your assessment of the current standard of quality. Whenever I speak to aspiring photographers, I make a point to emphasize the importance of mastering the technical side of photography (as well as the business side). I suggest that the better a photographer's technical knowledge, the greater his or her ability becomes to capture their vision. My impression has been that the technical, problem-solving side of the industry is not heavily taught, likely because it is not as fun. Most professional photographers run into at least one or two technical or logistical challenges on every shoot. Some mid-level photographers find themselves involved in projects that they may not be qualified for, from a technical standpoint.

Years ago, I was asked to bid on a project for an architecture firm. After perusing their portfolio, I determined that I would be unable to produce the level of quality they were accustomed to. I regretfully passed on the project, in the efforts to maintain a positive relationship with this client. Years later, I was able to produce the level of quality they wanted. In some case, waiting for greater technical experience pays off.

I recently shared my views with Juliette Wolf-Robin (National Executive Director American Photographic Artists). Her response was very positive and specific as to the efforts she is making to seek out qualified judges and photographers for future APA photo contests. "Qualified" in the context of our exchange referred to quality-minded professionals, who are qualified to judge what makes an image technically and artistically good. I find the "quality" issue is a recurring issue in the industry, and I don't know of a solution beyond educating both new art buyers and aspiring photographers, to strive for excellence.

Mike Baxter | Baxter Imaging LLC
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petermfiore

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #58 on: September 07, 2016, 04:18:45 pm »

When Monet was painting Olympia he was quite disreputable, not to mention Lautrec hanging out in the Can-Can palaces and brothels, as did Henry Miller many years later.

Hi GrahmBy, I'm sure you made a typo...It was Manet that painted Olympia, not Monet. It's only one letter, but a world of difference.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 07:55:01 am by petermfiore »
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bellimages

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #59 on: September 07, 2016, 10:24:46 pm »

In very few words, this article does an excellent job summing up my feelings. I couldn't have said it better!

It is so discouraging to see low quality work and poor compositions on display at top notch galleries and museums, while quality photography gets brushed aside. With this said, I feel honored to have received the Michael Riechmann grant earlier this year. I promise that my resulting photos will live up to your standards Michael. I only wish that you had lived long enough to have seen them.
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