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Photography After Photography? (A Provocation)

Discussion in 'Photo Challenges' started by Boid, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    • Like Like x 1
  2. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    nothing too inflammatory there, I'd have thought ... the first thing that came to my mind was the (possibly apocryphal) response of Chou En Lai to being asked about the significance of the 1789 French Revolution ... "... it's too soon to say" ...
     
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  3. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I think it's a real question, at least for me. Some days I think "what's the point of shooting" when I see the excellent, prolific work of so many good shooters that can be grabbed off the internet so easily. I don't have nearly the eye many of these folks do, and there's so MANY it's hard to find your "personal niche." So, right now I'm mainly just taking pictures of my family, because that's the one thing I can shoot, that no one else does.

    But what I'm doing with photography is no different that what was done years ago. Where will it go next? If photgraphy liberated art from depicting the real, then what liberates photography from photographs? It's not just creating new composite images in Photoshop. It has to be something else.

    On a related note -- this is something akin, IMO, to what Steve Jobs did for computers in the last 7-10 years. I don't need a new/better iPad or MacBook, I want to know what's NEXT. What's the thing I don't know about. Jobs did this with the iPod and the iPad. Who will do that for photography?

    Lytro, as one example, is an attempt at that, but I don't think it's right. There's something else. The kind of thing I'm not personally good at identifying.

    Thanks for the link and read. It was thought provoking to me at least.
     
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  4. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    I saw that article and I really enjoy his blog. Very interesting, and it really got me thinking. How else to leverage the art of photography... I would agree that within the photographic world it would be nice to different things being done, some creativity applied to the medium.

    Still, for me anyway, photography is more than just the picture. I enjoy seeing, I enjoy getting out and looking, and I enjoy the process of taking pictures, reviewing and processing, and seeing again what ended up in the picture. And perhaps what else to do with them.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    well, one problem is that the first part of that question is highly questionable as a premiss ... it assumes late 19th and then 20th and 21st century art was "liberated" in some sense by photography .... which is a very large claim to make for photography, and isn't really borne out if we examine the history of art over the past couple of thousand years

    photography is an extremely immature medium, it's been going less than 150 years and since the advent of digital technology, it's been liberated into every purse, pocket and hand ... as an inherently technological medium, and in a world where technology churn is so fast, who knows where it'll be in ten years time ... let alone a hundred years time ...

    this discussion always takes place, in every medium, all the time, and so it should, but I found it difficult to take what he said as much more than commonplace, and slightly naive to boot ...

    what's next for photography? perhaps something that we wouldn't recognise as "photography" ... that would indeed liberate photography from photographs ...
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I think pontificating on the necessity of the arts to evolve and become something more than they are already are is an endgame in itself. Innovators or visionaries will emerge in due time, but suggesting that the work of the curator is no longer necessary because all the great photos have been taken is ridiculous. Should we close the orchestra halls because all the great symphonies have been written? Surely the jazz clubs are no longer needed, the soloists are still merely parroting back Bird and Trane. Let's close the book stores as well....all the words that make up the great books are contained in the dictionary.

    I would suggest that the role of pontificator be retired as well.....surely others have railed more passionately about the death of an artform before.
     
    • Like Like x 6
  7. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    very nicely put Mr. L

    I just noticed that this has been posted in the "Weekly Challenge" forum ... a good place for it!
     
  8. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    Daggummit. And here I thought I was posting it at the Watering Hole, but come to think of it, it would indeed make for an interesting weekly challenge.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    You've picked a great analogy that proves just what the author is trying to say. Look at the way music has progressed, evolved and is constantly evolving. New technology, the Amen break, home studios, all resulting in new exciting sounds and energy. It's just not the same with photography. Graphic design, film-making, etc has certainly progressed along nicely (not arguing the merits of the direction of change here) but photography seems to wallow in a nostalgia, and is borderline... boring. Not to say that there hasn't been technological advancement in photography, heck far from it. But where's the art? All we got was bad HDR and Instagram.
     
  10. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I would say that "The Amen Break" is really more akin to excellent Photoshop manipulators (and I'm not putting down either). The author would say that isn't moving the medium forward, I might argue it the other way. Regardless, I'm just not sold that the current state of photography is all about nostalgia and just using old "forms". I have seen some photography exhibits where I'm not even sure what I'm viewing should be called photography. Perhaps the author just needs to get out a bit more ;)
     
  11. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    Here's an example of what I mean about the future aesthetic of film and music. This is Die Antwoord with their video "I fink u freeky".

    [video=youtube;8Uee_mcxvrw]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Uee_mcxvrw[/video]
     
  12. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    Would love to see some examples of what you mean if you could point me to some websites on the net. I feel constantly starved of inspiration and would really appreciate it.
     
  13. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Ok some questions then ...

    where isn't the art ? Uta Barth or Andreas Gursky or David Batchelor aren't producing art?

    What criteria are being used to measure "progress" in graphic design, film-making etc?

    How do you want to measure the health or otherwise of photography? Would we want to measure it by the same criteria as oil painting? acrylic painting? concrete scuplture? Literature? TV?

    If we "liberate photography from the photograph" does it remain photography? If I liberate omelette from eggs (perhaps I make it using dogmeat) does it remain an omelette , an evolved omelette or not an omelette at all?

    I'm not saying this doesn't warrant discussion, far from it ... but this is complicated stuff, and warrants a more sophisticated and better informed approach than Mr. Colberg has applied in his short article.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    that's an interesting example Boid, because to me that looks like an aesthetic informed by 1970s advertising - very much in the Hugh Hudson or Ridley Scott mode - so in itself backwards-looking rather than forwards
     
  15. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    This is not my strongest intellectual area (the meaning, history or future of art), but this video doesn't seem revolutionary to me. It's an example of an aesthetic, but it's not reinventing the genre at all, IMO. Vs. perhaps what happened in the 19th century in art with pointillism, cubism, etc.
     
  16. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Without passing artistic judgment on the "I fink u freeky" music video, it is neither advancing film-making nor music. There are even parts of it that I quite enjoy, but it is still using the tools and language of the medium itself. And therein lies the crux of the discussion. How to "say" new things using the intrinsic language. I mean photography by its' nature uses a camera, right? How many things can be done with a camera that haven't been tried? When I see contemporary photographs in a gallery, sometimes they are echoes of the past, and sometimes, they are cutting edge. Whether one is "the future" of photography matters not a whit to me. To me, I look at them to see if they say anything to me. Does it tell a story? Does it instill an emotion? Or is it just a cold, clinical exercise? All of these are valid and there are many more varied reactions as well. I just don't think that because 99% of what Mr. Colberg sees doesn't move the medium forward doesn't mean the entire medium is in quicksand. By photography's very democratization (I'm looking at you cell phone), there's bound to be infinitely more pablum than profundity.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    Oh I completely agree. It addresses an idea far outside the scope of a small blog post.

    What is art and what isn't is being debated quite heatedly in the courts in Britain. Maybe the court decides what is art and what isn't?
    Artquest / Artlaw / Copyright / Protecting copyright / What is Sculpture?

    Suddenly Banksy's graffiti, the epitome of dissent, is being protected by the Government? The government in fact hires artists to "touch up" his work attacked by his rivals!
    Council adds its own touch to a Banksy - News - Evening Standard

    Art it turns out, is much like a shared understanding of what is good. Much like notions of a marriage. It's seems like society wakes up, crosses a critical threshold (in empathy perhaps) and declares it as such. That, or the courts decide. We live in strange times.

    I am personally not that interested in classifications or issues of identity (identity issues were what my thesis project was about many years ago) and it's a topic best left to hindsight and historians. The separation across time lends greater clarity to understand underlying structure of a linear past. We are programmed to understand and interpret symbols more easily than concepts. So the word "photography" must mean very different things to different people.

    To me, for example, everything is a photograph. The surface of a piece of paper is constantly being bombarded by light and is capturing it, absorbing minute quantities of it in the process. Some minute part of the structure of all surfaces are constantly being rearranged when light hits it. Film was sensitive enough to capture the changes in light and make it visible to humans. But everything around us is taking photographs all the time. We just don't have the technology to extract information from those surfaces yet. So not only is every 'surface' a photographer, they are (it is) a far more persistent and involved a photographer than anyone with a camera. Just imagine layers upon layers of perfectly sharp full hi-definition video being captured for all time on all surfaces surrounding us.

    That is as far as definitions go.

    So that leaves us with the 'act' of pressing a shutter release. Which if we look at critically, in its simplest form, is a tool for communication. Communication with either one's future self, or to other people as a shared experience.
     
  18. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I think "what is art" is a different discussion than how photography can change/reinvent itself.

    edit: re-read the bottom part of your post. I think I understand a bit more of your meaning, where "photography" and "Painting" are irrelevant labels??
     
  19. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    There are a couple of things that really stood out for me in the video. The use of kids almost as adults, the treatment, and most importantly the demographic its targeted towards. There are a lot of cuss words in there. The music is too simplistic to appeal to teens/tweens, an almost repetitive chant "I fink u freeky". I'm horrified that this video might be manufactured to cater to a much younger audience. That's my principal fascination with it I think. I do think this is the beginning of a lot more of these. Here's another one by them, quite violent towards the end -

    [video=youtube;HcXNPI-IPPM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcXNPI-IPPM[/video]
     
  20. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    Kind of. What I mean is, maybe, everything just boils down to a form of communication. Like language