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Author Topic: A Disturbing Trend  (Read 27677 times)

Otto2

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #60 on: September 08, 2016, 01:55:12 pm »

I agree it is a disturbing trend. But for many years we have seen the same in conceptual arts. Uninvolving or uninteresting work pretentiously presented with a long text to explain how thoughtful it is, and why it is therefore worth your deep attention - and "understanding".   

I just came back from Berlin (Germany) where I saw a video interview with Berenice Abbott (do the young know her work..?). At one moment she said something like - quoting from memory - If it is worth photographing then photograph it. If not, then write about it...  !

Otto2

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tvalleau

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #61 on: September 08, 2016, 04:47:40 pm »

I too will be 70 in a couple of months. I started shooting when I was 10, (which is when, out of necessity, I built my first darkroom.) About 8 months ago, I gave a lecture at The Center for Photographic Art (Carmel, CA) on this very subject. The lecture was an expanded version of what you covered. It missed some of your points, and included others you didn't. It begins with some history of art and photography; carries on thru that 20th century, and into (my personal devil) postmodernism. Then it concludes with some of my thoughts on how to look at fine art (not conceptual) photography.



The talk was well received (there were some famous names in the audience that night) and resulted in several requests for the text of the talk, so a month or so ago, I put it in a PDF.

it may be downloaded here: Yeah, but is it Art?

It's nice to see that I'm not alone in my opinion, and yours was very well expressed.
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Ellis Vener

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #62 on: September 09, 2016, 05:55:46 pm »

I blame higher education being forced to justify  how money is spent  . The only way they can do do this is to follow the "publish or perish" model . That has now filtered down to be pressure on students to justify their wok i the same way.  The majority of educators are and always have been muddling dunderheads whose thinking is no less muddy than the Mississippi River.  That should not surprise or shock anyone as it is true of all groups of humans you care to look at.
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Rob C

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #63 on: September 10, 2016, 04:02:26 am »

I blame higher education being forced to justify  how money is spent  . The only way they can do do this is to follow the "publish or perish" model . That has now filtered down to be pressure on students to justify their wok i the same way.  The majority of educators are and always have been muddling dunderheads whose thinking is no less muddy than the Mississippi River.  That should not surprise or shock anyone as it is true of all groups of humans you care to look at.


A self-perpetuating situation, then?

Muddled "educators" (hate that word - job description) must inevitably produce muddled graduates...

I always thought that the only muddle-headed amongst us were the third-tier-and-below snappers; had no idea that the rest of humanity was also plagued with failures! I no longer wish to fly.

;-)

Rob

GrahamBy

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #64 on: September 10, 2016, 08:50:02 am »



it may be downloaded here: Yeah, but is it Art?

It's nice to see that I'm not alone in my opinion, and yours was very well expressed.

Wonderful!

Of course I disagree with a couple of details: I think Barthes and Foucault (in that order) were wonderfully analytical thinkers about the mechanism of social construction of values: they encouraged that the questions be asked, but I don't think they bought into the facile universal response that was post-modernism. Similarly, while Philip Glass and Jackson Pollock questioned the prevailing codes, they certainly weren't trying to say there was no possible evaluation of art. I'm reading Glass's autobiography and he's a man very sure of his objective merit!
The irony is that by demonstrating that parts of society that have always relied on useful myths (religion, social hierarchies, psychological norms, the gatekeepers of art) they opened the door to attacks on the most securely objective aspects, ie the physical sciences and the worst irrationality (Lacanian psychiatry).

Now the economic hierarchies and religions are resurgent, but 40% of the French population believe that vaccines are dangerous. But they still trot down to the chemist who sells them homeopathic cures, and a leading US politician can say that he doesn't care about facts, it's what people feel that counts. And the art "system" is far more elite than it ever was, since the criteria for entry are now completely arbitrary. I guess it was supposed to become a lottery, which is a valid system in which there is no individuality, but it reverted to intellectual nepotism.

You could say that post-modernism demonstrates the fact that simply destroying a moral order you like typically leads to it being replaced with one that is even less desirable.
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GrahamBy

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #65 on: September 10, 2016, 09:02:29 am »

"Since photos are treated like words, they represent an intellectual concept, albeit one with recognition instead of thought. As with postmodernism, it is the act or subject within the image that carries the artistic importance, while the actual quality and skill with which
the image itself is created is still irrelevant and without  aesthetic value"
-Tracy Valleau

Hence Andy Warhol's definition of a good photo: "in focus and with someone famous in it"
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GrahamBy

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #66 on: September 12, 2016, 09:27:46 am »

Just thinking a little more on this, the "craft" criterion may be part of what is underlying the move back to film, particularly MF, by trendy young photographers: a statement that "I choose to use film because it demands more skill," regardless of whether it is better or even different to what might be achievable with digital.

Shades of JFK:

"We choose to use film in this decade and to do the developing, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept"
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Rob C

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #67 on: September 12, 2016, 12:18:52 pm »

"Since photos are treated like words, they represent an intellectual concept, albeit one with recognition instead of thought. As with postmodernism, it is the act or subject within the image that carries the artistic importance, while the actual quality and skill with which
the image itself is created is still irrelevant and without  aesthetic value"
-Tracy Valleau

Hence Andy Warhol's definition of a good photo: "in focus and with someone famous in it"


That's as true today as it was yesterday.

It's just another natural barrier standing in the way of everybody trying to get somewhere in pro photography.

If you can't work with the "right" models and expose yourself in the required magazines, then your chances of climbing that ladder are pretty slim. I suppose it's why some people work with people they can't stand: they have to associate to exist.

I really wonder what Mr Warhol thought about his factory hands. Guess I shall never know.

Rob

Rob C

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #68 on: September 12, 2016, 01:05:13 pm »

Just thinking a little more on this, the "craft" criterion may be part of what is underlying the move back to film, particularly MF, by trendy young photographers: a statement that "I choose to use film because it demands more skill," regardless of whether it is better or even different to what might be achievable with digital.

Shades of JFK:

"We choose to use film in this decade and to do the developing, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept"


On the face of it, this could appear to ring true, but for one thing: film was not difficult. It was just another thing to learn, and a pretty simple task at that; hell, I learned how to do it!

I'd venture to suggest that, from my personal point of view, it is far more difficult (and boring) to have to pick up Photoshop techniques. I find that I learn - and remember - as much as I really, really need to know for everyday processing, and whenever I have a special need, then I look it up or ask for help here, and somebody (my Jim Dandy often lives in Chicago) comes to my rescue.

However, those rare events/needs, or rather their solutions/ways to handle them are almost instantly forgotten and, should they arise again, I have to hunt back through pages of e-mails to rediscover what to do. In other words, I find contemporary photography to be anything but intuitive, and its ways highly unwilling to stay within my useable memory bands.

With film photography as with its route to paper, there was little to learn; what you did require was the ability to grasp its intuitive nature and ride with your feelings: from knowing when/what not to shoot, right down to making a print, you had to decide early on what was worth bothering yourself with and spending your money on, too.

Perhaps those last few required choices were what made the difference: you edited on the spot in your head, and not in the camera or on the contact sheets; the contact sheets let you decide which good shot was the right one for the task. That's why pro shooters' contact sheets led uninformed observers to think they were all the same shot: no, they were not - they were versions of the same one, build-ups, choices that were made after the concept had been understood.

I have little idea of how the amateur film shooter worked pre-digital. My amateur days were spent trying to get into the pro side of it rather than much else; in fact, I shot very little other than a few young women, an experience that made me realise that it was going to be all about rapport. I wasted time messing about changing developers and films, not realising that you had to standardise to learn anything about either the film or the processing of it. Seems so obvious now, but it wasn't then. Only when I did break into it and get a photography job did I discover that the reality was that everything was made as standard as possible, which is partly why all of those guys in the photo-unit taught me so much: get good with one or two things; that covers pretty much all you'll ever need. Then, work at it - which as a job was not a choice to avoid if one wanted to stay employed!

I guess it comes down to familiarity with the process; film was simple where digital is endlessly complex, and expensive in unforseen ways.

Rob

GrahamBy

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #69 on: September 12, 2016, 04:05:24 pm »

It's sufficient that it looks hard... :) Using some old Russian 6x7 with a shutter that sounds like the slamming of a Lada door helps the perception...
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GrahamBy

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #70 on: September 14, 2016, 11:47:49 am »

So if film isn't hard enough, how about instant lithography?

https://media.giphy.com/media/x8Xr9E2XfBmIo/giphy.gif
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Rob C

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #71 on: September 16, 2016, 05:22:12 am »

So if film isn't hard enough, how about instant lithography?

https://media.giphy.com/media/x8Xr9E2XfBmIo/giphy.gif


Is there any cachet in it, though?

Walking backwards for Christmas is difficult enough to do, if difficulty is key, but alas, no kudos to be found in that endeavour.

Rob

GrahamBy

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #72 on: September 16, 2016, 05:47:03 am »

It seems there is some, at least at the "feel good about yourself and make a little money." I can't help thinking that few would pay for these prints if they came out of an inkjet:

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2016/09/print-offer-two-beautiful-original-platinum-prints-by-carl-weese.html

(Carl, if you're reading I'm sorry, personal opinion and all that).

On the other hand, it's all pert of the battle that Bob Carlos Clarke described:

 "After 30 years as a photographer I can say this business has got harder, more callous, less open and much more competitive. In the 1960s, photographers ranked just behind rock stars in terms of image. Now they’re way down the list, behind brawling footballers and provincial DJs."

I quite admire Sally Mann's photos, and I suspect I'd like them just as much if she'd shot them on digital or 35mm film... but maybe the fact they were on wet collodion got her over the potential barrier and into galleries... and otherwise we'd never have heard of her?
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Rob C

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #73 on: September 16, 2016, 08:37:54 am »

It seems there is some, at least at the "feel good about yourself and make a little money." I can't help thinking that few would pay for these prints if they came out of an inkjet:

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2016/09/print-offer-two-beautiful-original-platinum-prints-by-carl-weese.html

(Carl, if you're reading I'm sorry, personal opinion and all that).

On the other hand, it's all pert of the battle that Bob Carlos Clarke described:

 "After 30 years as a photographer I can say this business has got harder, more callous, less open and much more competitive. In the 1960s, photographers ranked just behind rock stars in terms of image. Now they’re way down the list, behind brawling footballers and provincial DJs."

I quite admire Sally Mann's photos, and I suspect I'd like them just as much if she'd shot them on digital or 35mm film... but maybe the fact they were on wet collodion got her over the potential barrier and into galleries... and otherwise we'd never have heard of her?


Regarding the prints: I don't get a thrill out of the subject matter, so regardless how well produced, shot by anyone I already admire, it wouldn't ring my bells.

Bob CC: have you read the Simon Garfield biography? A bit newspaperish in execution, but quite a few interesting marital interviews thrown in.

Sally M: I could be mistaken, but weren't her original images all printed the traditional darkroom way, the 'antique' method coming along later?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EiW9KIZy-c

The above offers what I find an interesting video about her work. You may already know it, in which case apologies!

Rob

Theodoros Papageorgiou

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #74 on: October 14, 2016, 05:10:22 pm »

Thanks Mr. Rantoul for the great article!

Here is a quote from Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), one of the most popular photographers on the web:

"A lot of the quality in my content comes from the caption. The most popular photos are, meh, average. I messed them up. But then afterwards I’ll be having a conversation with a person and they’ll give me a great line. A great quote can really carry a bad photo."

Theodoros Papageorgiou

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #75 on: October 14, 2016, 05:25:53 pm »

The talk was well received (there were some famous names in the audience that night) and resulted in several requests for the text of the talk, so a month or so ago, I put it in a PDF.

it may be downloaded here: Yeah, but is it Art?

This has been a very useful reading for me. Thank you Mr. Valleau!

stamper

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #76 on: October 18, 2016, 03:59:25 am »

Thanks Mr. Rantoul for the great article!

Here is a quote from Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), one of the most popular photographers on the web:

"A lot of the quality in my content comes from the caption. The most popular photos are, meh, average. I messed them up. But then afterwards I’ll be having a conversation with a person and they’ll give me a great line. A great quote can really carry a bad photo."

And if you look only at the photo and don't read the quote then you can only judge the quality of the photo by what you see within the photo?

BobDavid

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Re: A Disturbing Trend
« Reply #77 on: November 29, 2016, 11:10:44 am »

My academic background included a healthy dose of liberal arts and science before enrolling in art school (1978-82), where I earned a BFA in studio art. If it hadn't been for a couple of exceptional instructors, I'd have succumbed to the pseudo intellectual clap trap propagated by the fine art faculty. ... I eventually attended an excellent institute of technology where I earned an MS in visual studies. Upon completing my studies, I mostly held jobs involving the fusion of commercial art and technology

I took a twenty-five-year break from making fine art. I lost interest in art as a vehicle for exploring experiential reality. I didn't miss it.

It wasn't until health issues forced me into early retirement that I began taking pictures purely for the sake of art. When I look at my student work, I see a lot of the DNA that is in my current work.

Disturbing trends are as old as humanity. There are hacks and their are masters in the arts, sciences, business, and the trades. It is inspiring to seek out the masters and disregard the hacks.
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