Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Definition of Genre  (Read 422 times)

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 23053
Definition of Genre
« on: December 10, 2019, 02:03:40 pm »

As we seem fated to fnd it impossible to define art, I think it suitable to celebrate the fact that someone has actually managed to define genre. At least, I find this one convincing.

It's penned by Max Kozloff, writing in the Steidl book Saul Leiter, Early Black and White, 1. Interior
where he states:

"A genre in photography is identified by the unfolding of subject interest through formulaic exposition."

I think that says quite enough to identify it when we see it.

Rob

RSL

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 13439
    • http://www.russ-lewis.com
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2019, 04:10:10 pm »

Absolutely! That should clear up any residual misunderstanding.
Logged
Russ Lewis  www.russ-lewis.com.

KLaban

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1914
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2019, 04:14:46 pm »

I've always thought of formulaic as a pejorative term, particularly when I see it in my own work.

But I do understand that we'll never see eye to eye on genre.
Logged

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 23053
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2019, 06:00:20 pm »

I think - hope - that Kazloff wasn't using formulaic in the sense that I think you may be using it here: indicating something produced to a pre-set kind of formula; a conscious effort to produce something in a given style. In other words, as I used to attempt to ape Van Gogh, thinking it sufficient to apply thick paint in rough manner and on "childish" subjects. (One reason why I quickly gave that up for photos!)

I think perhaps he (Kozloff) meant formulaic to mean the style and subject matter that becomes a person's handwriting simply because it represents his/her interests and natural way to see and produce. In other words, a person's artistic identity.

In that sense, I would say HC-B was formulaic in his work because of the way he shot what he shot. That's not to imply he found a style that he could consciously repeat, but just that what he did he did because it was, simply, what he did. I don't expect he had much of a conscious say at all, just followed his instincts. I think it's when people allow themselves to be sidetracked into trying to be somebody else, thay they blow it: you have to be you or be nobody. All the rôle models have been invented, and of the living ones available, why would anyone want a substitute?

I was just watching a repeat on BBC2 of the last episode of the current Rick Stein France trip; two things: it must be a lovely way to be in photography; I could weep with impotence seeing all that glorious food and having none of the ability, even though many of the ingredients are to hand, to make it for myself.

Actually, where I live, it seems impossible to find anything like it. Even the French-owned and run place I go to in summer doesn't produce similar food; it is mainly "international" stuff done with good flavours and some care. The problem, as Stein points out, is that it takes time, skill and money. And people aren't usually able or prepared regularly to pay a realistic price for what the product would have to cost. And I can understand both sides of that coin. Sure, pay big for a treat, but when you depend on a supply of not only tourists, but daily regulars, people such as I, then this ain't the town to do it. I guess you need a place near a banking centre or something that has high-roller citizens going out for lunch every day.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2019, 06:03:23 pm by Rob C »
Logged

KLaban

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1914
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2019, 03:58:43 am »

I think - hope - that Kazloff wasn't using formulaic in the sense that I think you may be using it here: indicating something produced to a pre-set kind of formula; a conscious effort to produce something in a given style. In other words, as I used to attempt to ape Van Gogh, thinking it sufficient to apply thick paint in rough manner and on "childish" subjects. (One reason why I quickly gave that up for photos!)

I think perhaps he (Kozloff) meant formulaic to mean the style and subject matter that becomes a person's handwriting simply because it represents his/her interests and natural way to see and produce. In other words, a person's artistic identity.

In that sense, I would say HC-B was formulaic in his work because of the way he shot what he shot. That's not to imply he found a style that he could consciously repeat, but just that what he did he did because it was, simply, what he did. I don't expect he had much of a conscious say at all, just followed his instincts. I think it's when people allow themselves to be sidetracked into trying to be somebody else, thay they blow it: you have to be you or be nobody. All the rôle models have been invented, and of the living ones available, why would anyone want a substitute?

I was just watching a repeat on BBC2 of the last episode of the current Rick Stein France trip; two things: it must be a lovely way to be in photography; I could weep with impotence seeing all that glorious food and having none of the ability, even though many of the ingredients are to hand, to make it for myself.

Actually, where I live, it seems impossible to find anything like it. Even the French-owned and run place I go to in summer doesn't produce similar food; it is mainly "international" stuff done with good flavours and some care. The problem, as Stein points out, is that it takes time, skill and money. And people aren't usually able or prepared regularly to pay a realistic price for what the product would have to cost. And I can understand both sides of that coin. Sure, pay big for a treat, but when you depend on a supply of not only tourists, but daily regulars, people such as I, then this ain't the town to do it. I guess you need a place near a banking centre or something that has high-roller citizens going out for lunch every day.

I would see that as the best way to avoid being pigeonholed.

;-)
Logged

petermfiore

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2419
    • Peter Fiore Fine Art
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2019, 08:20:20 am »

This deserves a meeting of minds at a round table in a comfortable setting with a drink of choice. Mine would be espresso. A warm fire would be nice.


Peter
« Last Edit: December 11, 2019, 08:38:25 am by petermfiore »
Logged

RSL

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 13439
    • http://www.russ-lewis.com
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2019, 08:37:52 am »

I'll click your espresso cup with my Perfect Manhattan glass, Peter.
Logged
Russ Lewis  www.russ-lewis.com.

KLaban

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1914
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2019, 09:13:24 am »

This deserves a meeting of minds at a round table in a comfortable setting with a drink of choice. Mine would be espresso. A warm fire would be nice.


Peter

Make mine an Irish coffee please, Peter, purely to keep out the cold, you understand.

 :)
Logged

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 23053
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2019, 09:30:40 am »

I would see that as the best way to avoid being pigeonholed.

;-)

You're losing me: if your identity is reflected in what you do, and you do what you do because it's your bag, as it were, isn't that your genre, your particular pigeonhole? And if it is, why would you want to be defined as a "generalist" instead? I see no shame in doing what you enjoy if it's legal, and if you already know what you enjoy, isn't that a road good enough to follow? Pigeonholes are nothing of which to be ashamed. On the contrary, if one does it well enough, they often define one as something of an expert in a given field; it may even garner one some additional birdseed of a cold morn! I never did fancy the idea of being the local photographic GP: a wander around the 60s High Streets would have told you why at once.

I can't bring myself to think along the lines that having a special desire for something specific is a way of avoiding the pigeon's dormitory; seems a total contradiction.

;-)

KLaban

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1914
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2019, 10:06:27 am »

You're losing me: if your identity is reflected in what you do, and you do what you do because it's your bag, as it were, isn't that your genre, your particular pigeonhole? And if it is, why would you want to be defined as a "generalist" instead? I see no shame in doing what you enjoy if it's legal, and if you already know what you enjoy, isn't that a road good enough to follow? Pigeonholes are nothing of which to be ashamed. On the contrary, if one does it well enough, they often define one as something of an expert in a given field; it may even garner one some additional birdseed of a cold morn! I never did fancy the idea of being the local photographic GP: a wander around the 60s High Streets would have told you why at once.

I can't bring myself to think along the lines that having a special desire for something specific is a way of avoiding the pigeon's dormitory; seems a total contradiction.

;-)

I've had a varied career as a painter, illustrator and photographer. I'd hate to be limited to, or thought of as belonging in one bag.

I'm not a pigeonholer, I'll leave the pigeonholing to those who have the need.

;-)
Logged

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 23053
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2019, 02:13:08 pm »

I've had a varied career as a painter, illustrator and photographer. I'd hate to be limited to, or thought of as belonging in one bag.

I'm not a pigeonholer, I'll leave the pigeonholing to those who have the need.

;-)


Okay, from that perspective you are quite right. However, that is a slightly different argument, Keith, because it refers to the job/function/career choices a person makes, or is even able to make, which by itself places you into a different pigeonhole social position to most of us stuck with but one major skill by which to earn our living.

Returning the argument more closely to what was its genesis, genre is concerned with the kind of things we do (in photography, in being a novelist or as a musician, for example) and not so much with what we do in the sense of specific work space. I mean, it concerns itself more with what and how we photograph, not with the fact that we do photograph.

This is difficult to articulate simply and concisely with cold fingers and feet! I need some of those hot drinks that have been proposed.

:-)

KLaban

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1914
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2019, 02:37:42 pm »

I've had a varied career as a painter, illustrator and photographer. I'd hate to be limited to, or thought of as belonging in one bag.

I'm not a pigeonholer, I'll leave the pigeonholing to those who have the need.

;-)


Okay, from that perspective you are quite right. However, that is a slightly different argument, Keith, because it refers to the job/function/career choices a person makes, or is even able to make, which by itself places you into a different pigeonhole social position to most of us stuck with but one major skill by which to earn our living.

Returning the argument more closely to what was its genesis, genre is concerned with the kind of things we do (in photography, in being a novelist or as a musician, for example) and not so much with what we do in the sense of specific work space. I mean, it concerns itself more with what and how we photograph, not with the fact that we do photograph.

This is difficult to articulate simply and concisely with cold fingers and feet! I need some of those hot drinks that have been proposed.

:-)


OK, I've had a varied career as a photographer. I wouldn't feel comfortable having that career or the post-career period defined by one genre or for that matter any combination of genres and I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable applying genre to others.

As far as the taxman was concerned I was an image maker and that still stands.
Logged

petermfiore

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2419
    • Peter Fiore Fine Art
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2019, 05:39:53 pm »

Make mine an Irish coffee please, Peter, purely to keep out the cold, you understand.

 :)

Of course...Keith, whatever you say...

Peter

Ivo_B

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1000
    • www.ivophoto.be
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2019, 12:03:36 pm »

I prefer to keep the wonder in what I see, I prefer that above the illusion to know what I see. Not mentioning I don’t want to be told what I have to see.

I will gladly join the Lula round table summit, with a Turkish Espresso, then at the end of the powwow, we can reed the true definition of genre in the coffee ground.

Logged

Rob C

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 23053
Re: Definition of Genre
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2019, 12:15:45 pm »

I prefer to keep the wonder in what I see, I prefer that above the illusion to know what I see. Not mentioning I don’t want to be told what I have to see.

I will gladly join the Lula round table summit, with a Turkish Espresso, then at the end of the powwow, we can reed the true definition of genre in the coffee ground.


No, no, no! Coffee is unreliable: gotta use rolling bones!

But hey, genre has absolutely no say over what you choose to photograph: all it does is supply a simple, easily understood description of the kind of thing you like to photograph.

And its generosity is even more bountiful: you are permitted to have as many genres as you like!

:-)
Pages: [1]   Go Up