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View Full Version : The photographic print, Millennials, and "Peak Stuff"



Corran
22-Jan-2016, 15:54
I was listening to NPR this evening and they had a news story about "Peak Stuff." It reminded me about something I've been thinking about a lot lately.

I know there's been numerous discussions about real photographic prints vs. seeing an image on a computer or phone. These are centered around image quality, tactility, etcetera. But what I've wondered about lately is whether or not physical prints are as important as we might think (or want).

I've noticed a trend among my fellow Millennials to slim down and really own very little "stuff." Other than say a bike or car and a few personal items, and clothes, there are many who are eschewing large amounts of clutter in general. Renting a house, getting hand-me-down furniture and giving it away when they move, and other lifestyle choices. The NPR news story was a discussion about whether or not we as a society have reached "Peak Stuff," where people are not wanting to purchase more things. If true, would this not also pertain to art?

While many of my personal acquaintances who live like this are artists of some sort, very few actually own any art, or even keep their own! One friend of mine had a bonfire of most of his paintings he did over the course of a year, if they weren't given away. He keeps nothing. Meanwhile I personally have bought quite a bit of art lately, from friends and colleagues mostly. I've got about 15 pieces, from watercolors to ceramics to photographs, and while I do enjoy them they also present a burden for when I move later this year. So be it, but I admit the completely uncluttered lifestyle is one I envy, and do adhere to in some ways, such as renting and cheap furniture.

Of course here we toil away with our old-school gear making traditional darkroom prints, or at least hybrid, and perhaps we sell or give them away on occasion. Are we contributing to the hordes of "stuff" and clutter that besets our culture? Is the print really that important? Perhaps the mere dissemination of our photographs, if they are enjoyed, is enough? Regardless of the medium in which they are viewed, that is.

I have found that a great many acquaintances on Facebook and online in general tell me, face-to-face or via email, that they really love to see the photographs I post online. They don't want a print (well, sometimes), but simply being told my images were viewed, and enjoyed, is certainly a plus. Regardless of their merit, they definitely are seen by more eyes via the computer, rather than true prints, such as this very forum where I have only met a few of the members in person.

What do you think? Should we demand of ourselves that the real print be the only true way to experience a photograph? I want to hear your thoughts. I don't know what I think really but as I said, I've been thinking a lot about it.

Randy
22-Jan-2016, 16:16
I think about this from time to time. One of my promises to my self is to one day get rid of most of my gear (cameras and lenses) and just keep (what I would consider to be) the bare minimum. I know for a fact that having so many lenses for so many formats, and having so many formats is a huge distraction for me which is a hindrance to my creativity.
But, a character flaw is preventing me from doing what I sincerely believe I need to do...for I am a hoarder of most things photographic. I honestly believe I would be perfectly happy with one camera and one lens - and I honestly believe my creativity would not suffer for it.

As for the end result of any artistic endeavor - the marble sculpture, the oil painting, the photographic print - I could never consider them to be "clutter". I consider the vast amount of stuff a person sorts through every single day upon day on their email and texting machine, to be clutter - clutter of the brain - and that is the worst kind of clutter.

BTW, this past summer when I made my first cyanotype from my first attempt at hand coating my own paper, it almost brought me to tears. It was the first wet print I had made in about 15 years. I was finally home again.

mdm
22-Jan-2016, 16:28
I dont think there is anything wrong with having stuff, and its not better to not have stuff either. Its the motivation that counts. I have lots of stuff because I am richer than you. I have no stuff and I am obviously holier than you. I have lots of stuff and I actually use it enough to make owning it worthwhile. I have no stuff because I borrow other peoples stuff. I have no stuff because I am poor. In general photographers seem very materialistic so having less stuff is probably a good thing.

Its better to pay for art you will look at than art you wont, and its better to pay for art you will look at than cameras and lenses and crap you wont use. I like photo books myself, they are different to electronic images, but written books are all electronic for me if possible.

Jac@stafford.net
22-Jan-2016, 16:56
Bryan: What do you think? Should we demand of ourselves that the real print be the only true way to experience a photograph?

What do you mean 'we'? :)

Print-only narrows the image to in-person presentations which would of course limit the image to fine art photography - eliminating moment-critical photojournalism which is largely facsimile via the screen or newspaper quality prints.

Oren Grad
22-Jan-2016, 17:02
Should we demand of ourselves that the real print be the only true way to experience a photograph?

No, of course not. There's no one right way to do photography, and there's no virtue in insisting that there is and trying to bind oneself and others into a straitjacket.

Prints are what I care about for myself. Having put plenty of effort into both printing and displaying pictures on screen, I've learned from experience that for me the former is satisfying while the latter is... meh, though it certainly comes in handy now and then for various practical purposes.

But if your preferences are different, or you're working for someone else who has different tastes or requirements, more power to you. There's room for all of us. On the other hand, if you find yourself putting effort into things you don't really want to be doing, merely out of a sense of obligation - that's the way it's supposed to be done! - then it's time to re-think.

Denny
22-Jan-2016, 17:14
I don't really care what Millennials or anyone else is buying, I print to please myself because I think that's the best way to experience an image (and I enjoy printing). I'm happy to sell or give away prints, or just hang them on my walls. Real prints are important "stuff" to me.

Just my $.02

Denny

lecarp
22-Jan-2016, 19:45
"I've noticed a trend among my fellow Millennials to slim down and really own very little "stuff." Other than say a bike or car and a few personal items, and clothes, there are many who are eschewing large amounts of clutter in general. Renting a house, getting hand-me-down furniture and giving it away when they move, and other lifestyle choices."

This really is not unique to your generation (Millennial). This has been the norm for people your age most generations, in reality having as much to do with economics as anything despite declarations otherwise. If it is a planned lifestyle choice then they are minimalists, again nothing new, common with many artists. Consider Georgia O'Keeffe and Edward Weston.

Corran
22-Jan-2016, 20:23
Thanks for your comments guys. There is no right answer, so apologies if my questions/comments came across as leading or narrow-minded. Trying to create dialog, but I am a terrible writer.

Just been thinking about this a lot, and specifically how it pertains to "art" prints or experiences.

I am still printing traditionally myself in the darkroom because I like it, and also because I need physical prints for shows and exhibitions. However frankly sometimes I get depressed with the amount of prints I have sitting around already, which I can not hardly give away, due not to the quality (or lack thereof) of the image, but due to the disinterest in physical prints. Or perhaps art in general, at least here locally.

Paul Metcalf
22-Jan-2016, 20:34
Even if you rent, there's a lot of wall space to hang stuff. Why not prints? Sure beats dust.

LabRat
22-Jan-2016, 22:27
With new generations coming up, pendulums swing...

While it seems true that younger people seem less rooted, and might find some of the decadence of the past as excessive/perverse, there are material things that will peak their weaknesses... (Take LP's or "analog" photography for example...) If they are interested, likely anything they find related will be lugged home, and become a treasure... And don't forget that these people are just starting out in life with little, so it's natural that they have little at that stage... But once they settle down (and "nest") and feel better about being rooted somewhere, stuff will filter in over time and fill closets and garages...

Granted, many people think anything they see on the web should be free, (and "own" what they see) so why buy an image or something that is "free" on their phone now??? (Buy a print of it???) Maybe if they really love it, they really connect to it, and is an extension of themselves somehow... (Sadly/probably it has to be about "them" mostly...) And trends will help people "define" themselves... (Remember how Oprah started talking about books, and B/W photographs, and there was a renewed interest???) And remember that many young people think being "creative" means merely doing a 180 on conventional wisdom (or past trend), so things tend to go round and round and round....

I think the two "game changers" for print sales in the future will be if;

-If Bill Gates ever developed that system where panels in the home would put any image on the wall (and room/environment) so a high fidelity image of the Mona Lisa or anything else would appear on your wall on demand... (Seems it could end up like Ray Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles" with the stampede!!!) Better upload your images if this goes huge!!!

-Or I suspect a coming wave of tech that might involve "Total Immersion Cyberspace" where one literally "lives" on line, and creates cyberspace environments, where direct contact to some of the senses is replaced with an interface... So one would "see" the world through heads-up displays, or maybe later through implants... (I heard a story on NPR a while ago about DARPA developing this for the battlefield...) So if you think the cell/text zombies are bad now, this might be coming... (I think that "Google Glass" thing might have been a baby step towards that technology...)

The good news is that pendulums swing, and there would likely be a reaction to the above, so a print on a wall, made by honest "old fashioned" means might be cherished...

Steve K

Randy Moe
22-Jan-2016, 22:44
Idea 2 is coming so fast I may live long enough to get the implant.

Bionic Brain.

tgtaylor
23-Jan-2016, 01:38
Rather than storing prints in a box, I mat the better ones on 4-ply museum board and place in clear bags and "store" them in a print rack in the living room. That way I and guests can enjoy the prints without worrying about them getting dirtied from handling. This also allows me to swap-out with those framed and hanging on the walls.

Thomas

Peter Lewin
23-Jan-2016, 06:11
Two prior posts mentioned finances, which I think has a lot to do with millennials and possessions. Both my daughters fit that category, and neither has the money nor the home to collect art (or much else). Both live in rentals, but typically rentals with one-year leases, so they end up moving frequently, and both split the rent with housemates whose tastes may differ. And in their cases, one already has a Master's (and is using it as a social worker), and the other is finishing hers next May; both had the misfortune to graduate with their respective BAs into the "Great Recession", went back to grad school after working for 6 or more years, and realistically the economy is not that much better now. But both love art, and I'm sure would buy prints and artwork if the situation were different. The older contents herself with a number of my prints on her wall, and the younger (whose Masters is in Art Education, which is another discussion entirely, but who clearly values art) even sells her own on Etsy, so I'm sure she would buy artworks were the situation different.

esearing
23-Jan-2016, 11:01
If your images are only shown online then you have no way to generate income to support your hobby/business. Kind of like when a business will ask you to do a shoot for the "exposure". Print your work, find your audience and the price that makes you both comfortable. Poor people, Fixed income seniors, and millennials living in their parents basement are not your target market.

Most of us reach a point in life where quality is more important than quantity so our "stuff" begins to diminish. But the things we value will still take up space.

Randy Moe
23-Jan-2016, 13:23
Rather than storing prints in a box, I mat the better ones on 4-ply museum board and place in clear bags and "store" them in a print rack in the living room. That way I and guests can enjoy the prints without worrying about them getting dirtied from handling. This also allows me to swap-out with those framed and hanging on the walls.

Thomas

This I will do.

Great idea.

Corran
23-Jan-2016, 13:51
I also have a box of matted and bagged prints in the house, and indeed some have been sold and/or given away to friends when they've been over.

esearing, on a related note, I believe there are avenues for income in the digital space. I believe that one day soon, large flat screen panels will be used as a way to showcase images, hung on the wall. I could foresee high-resolution images sold to be used in a rotating image display screen format. Licensing, copyrights, and digital rights management will be a serious concern of course. I do not think shooting an assignment for "exposure" is even remotely related. Regarding market, that's a tenuous thing. I had an exhibition in 2014 and showcased a large number of what I think was excellent photography, and highly relevant to the community. Record numbers of people viewed the work, according to the gallery. Out of over 40 pieces between me and my partner in the show, we sold 2 pieces. Prints were very reasonably priced (the prices would've been considered obscenely cheap in most places) and included frames and glass. There is no "market" here, even from the well-off part of town. I have almost 20 images stored from the show, equating to a net cost of over $2,000 in film, paper, and framing materials, that will likely be given away or trashed when I move later this year.

Vaughn
23-Jan-2016, 14:03
No one has seen, nor will anyone see any of my prints online...just digital facimilies that can only approximate the experience of holding them and looking. A finished print has characteristics that cannot be fully, and in some cases not at all, represented on a computer screen. So if the print is one's final product...then yes it must be seen, and the screen will be a poor second choice. Fine for sharing the image, with a good idea of contrast and color -- but lacking the total experience one works hard to create for the viewer.

Iluvmyviewcam
23-Jan-2016, 17:17
OP...you make some good points. I'm cutting back on stuff, but I am in my 60's. Too much clutter and not enuf time. Still, if you shoot digital, prints are the next best thing to a neg.

nsfw

https://danielteolijr.wordpress.com/2015/04/10/the-master-print-for-the-digital-photographer-is-what-the-physical-negative-is-for-the-film-photographer/

If peak everything takes hold our society will collapse. Our world is based on expanding consumption. They say robots will take most our jobs in the future. If so, then be ready for a life on the street.

https://danielteolijr.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/richard-gere-and-the-homeless-prank/

Kodachrome25
24-Jan-2016, 00:13
Interesting, this topic made me realize something.

None of my friends of any age who are secure in being themselves have ever referred to themselves by some generational label. Working in the ski industry as much as I do, I know and associate with gobs of 20 & 30 somethings, all very much individuals and none of them feel the need to let the world know what generation they are part of.

Try not to take that wrong, just an observation...

Just be your self and don't worry about some media hype born label, you'll figure out what does or does not belong in your life. As you know from other posts, I live in super tight quarters and may have to for awhile, a sacrifice I have to make for now in order to have the incredible access I do to a life I should never take for granted.

And prints are very important to me because for the most part, they are a finished product that can not be taken out of context by someone doing some web born mashup like a digital image on a screen can be. They are also the future of my career.....come hell or high water.

Iluvmyviewcam
24-Jan-2016, 06:18
Resources are finite, as the world's pop keep growing something has to give.

A lot of our water we drink is recycled toilet water.

https://danielteolijr.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/6035/

As more demands are made on limited resources, the picture is not a bright one.

Corran
24-Jan-2016, 08:09
Dan, I don't really like generational labels and don't consider myself aligned with the traditional "definition" of a Millennial. I'm not sure why you latched onto that. Anyway, I mentioned Millennials as a group as most of the people I see who seem to be adhering to this minimalist culture are in that age range. My GF and I have a lot of philosophical, political, and social discussion and that term (and other generations) are just a definition regarding age groups that we use a lot. Don't overthink it...I am most certainly "secure in being myself" and this post is merely a reflection on materialism.

You do bring up an excellent point about real prints not being "editable." I have had many clients go and add effects and weird stuff to my photos. It really doesn't bother me all that much but I do sometimes ask that they either remove my name from it or add that they edited it, when it's really egregious.

bigdog
24-Jan-2016, 08:43
... common with many artists. Consider Georgia O'Keeffe and Edward Weston.

I've been to Weston's Wildcat Hill. One whole wall of that minimalist cabin he built was cabinets for print storage. :rolleyes:

Stephen Willard
24-Jan-2016, 10:37
It all quite simply. For those who are mesmerize by the virtual world of their cell phones, laptops, or desktops, and who are unaware of their real world surroundings, then viewing your prints in the virtual world is appropriate. For the rest of us who mostly reside in the real world, then viewing our prints framed on the wall or in albums is the appropriate answer.

I fall in the later demographic. I do big landscapes and throughout my home I hang prints that are 35x65 or 45x55 in size. At that size the prints no longer act as decorative wall art, but rather become windows with grand views of the world that I inhabit for many months with my llamas and cameras. My windows allow me to experience the wonder of our natural world right from the interior of my home, and that makes me happy.

Corran
24-Jan-2016, 10:46
For those who are mesmerize by the virtual world of their cell phones, laptops, or desktops, and who are unaware of their real world surroundings, then viewing your prints in the virtual world is appropriate. For the rest of us who mostly reside in the real world, then viewing our prints framed on the wall or in albums is the appropriate answer.

I think that's quite pretentious to say. For the vast majority of people, prints are only seen by local people if they show them, unless they get fairly popular or publish a book, etc. I doubt I'd have seen a single image posted on these forums in person, simply due to location. I can understand if you prefer one or the other but casting everyone who views digital images into some sub-culture of people engrossed in a "virtual world" is rather arrogant.

Corran
24-Jan-2016, 10:59
Let me add some more fuel to the fire here...

As I said before, I think we are fast approaching an age where potentially a large flat-screen monitor will supersede the "framed work of art," whatever that might be - painting, photograph, etc. Just see the trend to digital picture frames for family photos that autoscrolls through images on an SD card. So is a digital image on a monitor, hung up in a home, a "print?"

Just about every art gallery opening we have at the university here has some sort of digital work these days, displayed on a 50" TV. Sometimes animation, or short film, even 3D rendered architecture. Why not a photograph? In fact, I have also seen what I can only call an "enhanced" photograph on display via a monitor - usually what looks like a still photograph but is actually a subtly evolving image. I can certainly understand the allure of certain types of prints, such as carbon, which are more than just a flat 2D image on paper. And of course prints have a future, I am not advocated for an age where nothing is printed onto hard media, just discussing the inclusiveness of different display options.

Sal Santamaura
24-Jan-2016, 11:12
...is a digital image on a monitor, hung up in a home, a "print?"...No. Words have specific meaning.

And that's as far as I'll wade into this discussion. :D

lecarp
24-Jan-2016, 11:14
I've been to Weston's Wildcat Hill. One whole wall of that minimalist cabin he built was cabinets for print storage. :rolleyes:

My point exactly, only make room for the important things.

Corran
24-Jan-2016, 11:17
No. Words have specific meaning.

And that's as far as I'll wade into this discussion. :D

But why not? If you don't want to discuss anything, why bother posting? :)

ic-racer
24-Jan-2016, 11:56
real print be the only true way to experience a photograph?

No such thing as a NON-Real print. It would not exist by definition.

Sal Santamaura
24-Jan-2016, 12:14
No. Words have specific meaning.

And that's as far as I'll wade into this discussion. :D


But why not? If you don't want to discuss anything, why bother posting? :)

I did want to discuss something. Namely, the meaning of the word "print." That's why I posted.

The rest of the controversy borders on "religious" disagreement between opposing sides in the digital-vs-analog war. There's as much chance of accomplishing something useful in that "discussion" as there is of bridging the political divide. After multiple attempts over the course of years, I opt not to waste more time trying.

I feel much better since I gave up hope. :D

Corran
24-Jan-2016, 12:26
I don't think it has anything to do with analog vs. digital, in the capture medium. One could display images on a screen from scanned film just as easily as digital captures.

Regarding the meaning of the word...well words and meaning evolve and change. Why does the word "print" have to entail a physical object?

BetterSense
24-Jan-2016, 12:39
Another factor is that people do not view their houses as places of community like they used to. The house party is all but dead nowadays. Inviting people over for dinner is slightly odd now. Whereas my grandfather was all but expected to invite his boss over for dinner at some point, this would be strange now. You can see the results in people wanting Ikea furniture instead of expensive dining sets, the disappearance of the stereo system, disappearance of the previously obligatory china cabinet. Maybe it's peak stuff, maybe it's people are poor, maybe it's a change in how people socialize, maybe it's the disappearance of the dedicated homemaker, but I see a drop in demand for wall-art as part of this trend.

Ironage
24-Jan-2016, 12:50
I like the large scenic prints being like windows, but large prints are beyond my the means of my space. I also like the concept of exchanging mounted prints into a frame. Thanks guys for your ideas and thoughts.

I am totally there on minimalism. I personally find stuff and clutter uncomfortable, and since moving a couple of months ago I am forced to get rid of stuff which I found fun to accumulate in the past, but can no longer use or even store. It is a good thing to think about objects and their purposes, and what is really needed by us.

Sal Santamaura
24-Jan-2016, 13:16
I don't think it has anything to do with analog vs. digital, in the capture medium. One could display images on a screen from scanned film just as easily as digital captures...The analog vs. digital war is just as intense with respect to output medium as it is in the capture arena.


...Regarding the meaning of the word...well words and meaning evolve and change. Why does the word "print" have to entail a physical object?Because that's what the word means. There's already a noun for the alternative you suggested: "display."

Stephen Willard
24-Jan-2016, 13:38
It all quite simply. For those who are mesmerize by the virtual world of their cell phones, laptops, or desktops, and who are unaware of their real world surroundings, then viewing your prints in the virtual world is appropriate. For the rest of us who mostly reside in the real world, then viewing our prints framed on the wall or in albums is the appropriate answer.



I think that's quite pretentious to say. For the vast majority of people, prints are only seen by local people if they show them, unless they get fairly popular or publish a book, etc. I doubt I'd have seen a single image posted on these forums in person, simply due to location. I can understand if you prefer one or the other but casting everyone who views digital images into some sub-culture of people engrossed in a "virtual world" is rather arrogant.

Corona, You are correct that there was an arrogance on my part, and for that, I would like to apologize. However, from a person who once made a living as a research software engineer in the virtual world, I have very little desire to spend my free time staring at a box. It is my belief that there is a very large demographic of people that have become addicted to living in the virtual world whether it is playing video games or for social and sexual interactions, and I suspect that is not a good thing for ones emotional, social, intellectual, and creative development.

It is my belief that profound art is derived not from the virtual world, but rather from real world experiences. The more time one spends in front of a computer the less time he spends in the real world and the less time he will spend making amazing art. I do believe that the virtual world is a great tool just like the camera, paint brushes, or any other tool, but tools do not create an expressive idea. They are only used to transform the creative thought into something that is real.

Jac@stafford.net
24-Jan-2016, 14:12
Displays via LCD, CRT, LED are backlit. Prints are highly susceptible to ambient lighting. Does the digital display democratize the image? The answer is Yes, But.

I am conflicted largely because I still fuss over the qualities of the paper: its texture, fundamental color (reflectance of ambient light, whiteness or not), all of which give different kinds of depth, all of which are absent on a monitor. "Yes, but" becomes "No"

Peter Lewin
24-Jan-2016, 14:18
A slight digression based on something that happened at a party a week ago: One of my friends (it was his birthday party) brought out some old photographs for nostalgia sake. A younger woman took one print, and laughed, saying that her first instinct was to use her fingers to enlarge the print, the way one does the image on a smartphone or an iPad, but then she realized that she couldn't do that with a photographic print. Being old, I would just bring the print closer, in order to see greater detail; younger generations have different instinctive reactions. This rather feeds into some of Corran's thoughts about the future of photography being on displays, rather than in prints. (In fact, the print the young woman was looking at was one that I had made, so you can tell which camp my loyalties lie, but then since I've mentioned that I have two millennials (or one of those generations denoted "x" or "y") for daughters, I'm clearly in a different age cohort!)

Randy Moe
24-Jan-2016, 14:56
I run my digital images off my drives, through Chromecast to my 48" TV. It randomizes them and is basically a slide show. Intermixed are 'professional' images paid for by Google, all images including mine have the artist name. Makes a good mix and I see images of my own I haven't seen in years and a lot of fantastic landscapes done by Artists.

It's always on for any visitors with low level classical music. I have it running before they get here. They often comment.

I have traditional prints all over my walls, but few are framed and most just pinned up. EU museum style. Some are hard to find.

This conversation gave me the idea, especially 'tgtaylor's' to start treating my prints to a better exhibition.

I will be clearing 30 ft of walls for big frames, which will be hinged so I can easily change prints and have better empty/negative space.

For me this has been a good thread and I will combine 'display' and 'print'. Aesthetic improvement! I just have to find a spot for this 10 ft Whitehall Jr (http://www.gaboats.com/boats/whitehalljr.html) I think it's going on the ceiling of the bathroom. Water world.

A_Tabor
24-Jan-2016, 16:37
Being old, I would just bring the print closer, in order to see greater detail; younger generations have different instinctive reactions.

This kind of plays into the differences in the media and how they work, and that in turn plays into what one can do as an artist. My phone has a screen that is in the range of ~800x1200-1300px, but because it is a live display I can explore detail of nearly unlimited sized images by choosing to zoom in on a specific section. And with Augmented Reality style controls I can move around the image just by moving the whole hand held device around as if it were a small magnifying glass looking at a much larger piece.

I would much rather have massive high detailed prints that could take up an entire table dining room table, and still have a resolution that makes a magnifying glass useful, but I don't really have anywhere to store such art safely at this time, nor do I really want to rob my hobby budget of funds to create or buy such images.

An 8x10 print can only ever show at most an 8x10 image. With a live display you have the benefit of holding it at a comfortable viewing image, and then adjusting what is shown on the display itself to see more detail.

But where things get really interesting with a live display is when you consider what more can be done with it. Art is about sharing thought, emotion, and their expressions, and a live digital display of that opens up entire new realms to explore. But I feel that this line of thinking may be easier for sculptors and such to embrace than many photographers seem willing to consider. With a live and motion tracking display you can let the viewer step into a work, and not only that you can allow them to also interact with the piece in ways that are completely unthinkable in any other medium. Sure, sculptures can be made to have mobile and active components, but as physical things they're still at risk of damage. Plus while they can move their existence is still very much static.

With digital art you can have a far more dynamic creation by allowing colours and shapes within the work to shift over time or change as the viewer moves through it. As an artist you can embed far more 'little secrets' into it, such as standing at a specific location 'in' the piece at the right time will show the viewer something that can't be seen any other time. Or maybe on specific days the work is completely different, or even non-accessible.



As for the subject of 'peak stuff', well we have had minimalists of various kinds all throughout human history. It just becomes a little more obvious and visible in the current times because now we can vlog about it, and tell 'all our friends' (aka, random people we've never met all across the globe) how great life is even if all we own is enough clothes to fill a reasonable suitcase rather than a dozen closets, a few small pieces of furniture, bit of kitchenware, a bike, and some camera gear. A thousand years ago that kind of person probably would have been a monk or something.

But in my personal view modern humans generate a lot of garbage. Useless junk that we don't really need or have any use for, and for some of us most of it comes in the form of gifts from the holidays, because "People have to give gifts!" so part of environmental movements et drawn to trying to counter 'more things', which more often than not simply end up being 'more trash' rather than items which have a useful lasting value. (My mother's desk is solid hardwood that my father and I refinished a decade ago. At this point it might be 100 years old, and probably will stay useful for 100 more, if not longer, if it doesn't get caught in a house fire or something. Compare that to the cheap fibre board desks you can pick up in a flat-pack, which are clearly designed to never be moved and to be thrown out and replaced in a few years.)

jp
24-Jan-2016, 18:27
Technology and life aren't making photography one-or-the-other (print versus digital file). It's sort of like books. You make a new book these days, and it's apt to be both an E-book and print book. Bookshelves and libraries don't go away. My photos live sort of a dual life which are both useful. Some get scanned from negative and go online and are never actually wet printed. Some are wet printed and become a print. Both are useful. Print as a finished product. Digital file as something to disseminate around the world to other photographers or family or as a proof to check my negative making skills.

Sometimes an 8x10 print is the right size print for the image. It may not work as a 4x5 foot print or digital display. It may not work as a cell phone screen image. Other times it can. I'm not going generalize. Advantage goes to the print for an artist who is particular about how the work will display.

I don't think their is "peak stuff". Materialism fluctuates. Priorities fluctuate.

These people who have minimal stuff right now will someday inherit or upcycle or make quality stuff that is meant to stick around, like A_tabor references with furniture.

Corran
24-Jan-2016, 18:48
Yes Sal, perhaps "display" was a better word choice. Like I said, I am not the greatest communicator in written form. I am much better at discussions in person...but regardless, you "display" prints, and so a digital display and a hung print can be compared and contrasted.

A_tabor brings up some interesting ideas. Indeed, digital displays give us different and varied tools to communicate. Very interesting ideas...how about a large cyclorama projection with concurrent phone app to view the image like binoculars, held at arms length and zoom with your fingers wherever you point? Hmm, food for thought.

John Olsen
24-Jan-2016, 18:50
However frankly sometimes I get depressed with the amount of prints I have sitting around already, which I can not hardly give away, due not to the quality (or lack thereof) of the image, but due to the disinterest in physical prints. Or perhaps art in general, at least here locally.

My sculptor friend tells me that my excess inventory is not art, but just a storage problem. I feel the same way as Corran, that a digital version is nice, but it's not real 'til it's printed on paper and mounted. It's an ego thing, I don't want my life's work to disappear when my web site expires. Those framed prints that leave the gallery are really important to me as I approach my own expiration date.

Back in the good 'ol days, I didn't retain too much, but some of it was original art or good reproductions. Everybody's got walls in their apartments, large or small; not putting up art is a failure of spirit.

LabRat
24-Jan-2016, 19:06
A_tabor brings up some interesting ideas. Indeed, digital displays give us different and varied tools to communicate. Very interesting ideas...how about a large cyclorama projection with concurrent phone app to view the image like binoculars, held at arms length and zoom with your fingers wherever you point? Hmm, food for thought.[/QUOTE]

You think they're going to let this get away from them!?!!!!

http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/542991/google-aims-to-make-vr-hardware-irrelevant-before-it-even-gets-going/

Steve K

Corran
24-Jan-2016, 19:12
Oh yeah, Google Cardboard, I had forgotten about that. Well, certainly some type of "augmented reality" will be a prominent feature in future technology. We can of course ignore it as usual or embrace it...

Drew Wiley
25-Jan-2016, 11:59
If you want to be immersed into virtual paintball wars, go to the movies or one of those 3d headpieces, get thrilled, then you forget the whole thing ten minutes later. I'm more interested in images that are like roasting a goat over a fire. Ya gotta gnaw on the meat a long time, but the more you do, the better it tastes.
Otherwise, as far as the next generation goes, I think moving images are going to displace much of the current interest in still photography, since the technology
to do this has become so accessible to the average person. But there will always be a few holdouts. The more novelty something has, the sooner people get bored
with it anyway. I'll continue to do what I do, regardless. I'm not swayed by the latest and greatest marketing madness.

Corran
25-Jan-2016, 12:06
The nice thing about art is we can all do what we want, how we want, obviously.

However, deriding and completely dismissing anything because it's "digital" is folly.

I have been really big into video games since I was young. Back in the 80's it was one of those things that the "kids" did and no one really talked about it. Nowadays it's a multi-billion dollar industry. More importantly, I have played several games that are high art in and of themselves. It's a perfect example of a new medium, and even better, one that combines a multitude of different creative fields into a whole - music, visuals, style, story, etc. Of course, there are many who would say no, video games are not art! And those people are wrong. Same situation with new digital mediums and photography, or any image/video capture and display.

Richard Wasserman
25-Jan-2016, 12:28
I have been really big into video games since I was young. Back in the 80's it was one of those things that the "kids" did and no one really talked about it. Nowadays it's a multi-billion dollar industry. More importantly, I have played several games that are high art in and of themselves. It's a perfect example of a new medium, and even better, one that combines a multitude of different creative fields into a whole - music, visuals, style, story, etc. Of course, there are many who would say no, video games are not art! And those people are wrong. Same situation with new digital mediums and photography, or any image/video capture and display.


Our son is getting a PhD in Games—theory and their possible uses in education. He is primarily interested in board games, which is a very interesting subset, but is certainly conversant in video games. I think he would agree with you.

Michael R
25-Jan-2016, 12:32
Further to Corran's earlier post about large screens, I recall a conversation topic years ago (maybe mid-late 90s or thereabouts) about how Bill Gates was supposedly having big flat screens installed all over his new house which would display whatever art he wanted to have around at any given time. It was a sort of revolutionary and disturbing concept of art viewing at the time. Of course now that would be technologically trivial to do in any home except for the cost of large screens, but the point is that I think this is where we are headed for a few reasons (driven mostly by Millennial trends/ preferences/philosophies):

Perhaps primarily, the evolution to "cloud"-type consumption (ie everything, everywhere, for everyone - which is generally seen as a positive development). Concerning the visual fine arts, photography is a logical target for this since prints are two dimensional anyway - which is a contributing factor (ie the hand of the artist is not obvious) to the precarious position the photographic print has always occupied in the art world.

There are other contributing trends, not entirely unrelated to the above, such as changes in living space. Combining all these trends may help explain some of the de-cluttering. It isn't just art on the walls, it's music, books etc. In the "old days", if you were into anything, you had to collect it. Quite a few of these collections have been rendered unnecessary strictly from the perspective of utility.

Drew Wiley
25-Jan-2016, 12:49
I've never played a video game in my life, nor do I have any interest whatsoever in doing so. My toys growing up were cliffs, caves, and critters, so turning such
things into an aesthetic interest is perfectly natural for me, and it doesn't affect me in the least that certain famous people allegedly defined a rocks n' trees genre long before I was even born. I often tend to see them differently anyway. There's a distinct challenge to creating a still image that is subconsciously complex, and that can reward over the years. If I was young and growing up in the same environment, I might indeed find a different fashion of saying the same thing appealing. Gear options have expanded. And I can appreciate moving images when well done. But I'm pretty much imprinted by now to my own way of seeing, and appropriately geared to print it. But by now, most of you probably realize more than you'd like to, that I don't have much patience with novelty just for the sake of novelty. The one thing I have against digital still displays can be summed up in a single word: "ugly". Cannibal in a tophat scenario.

John Kasaian
25-Jan-2016, 12:54
A loaded question!
Not being possessed by possessions is a desire that goes way back, at the very least to the origins of monasticism.
Like the NPS, millennials neglected to file for the Copyright.:rolleyes:

Peter Lewin
25-Jan-2016, 13:05
I think, understandably, that we are combining two or three separate themes in this thread.

First we have "decluttering." I still think this is largely a function of economics, and those with the funds and housing space will still collect "clutter." But of course clutter is in the eye of the individual. I have ex-bike-racing friends who have fairly sparse homes, except for the number of bicycles they own, many more than they can actually ride. How many of us, if we can afford it, have more lenses and cameras than we really need? I suspect lots of us. Similarly, many of us collect photographic prints, sometimes more than we have wall space for, but we wouldn't consider that clutter. I suspect that we could find a pretty good statistical correlation between income and clutter, that as one goes up, so does the other.

Then we have technology, the subject of our posts about photographic prints versus displays on screens. Photographs are, for the vast majority of people, decoration or memorabilia. If they are purely for memories, they are living more and more on iPhones and hard drives. If they are decoration, it is a function of what one wants on one's walls. I think it is a safe bet that more and more, that decoration will be in the form of screen displays that can change content either by timer, or the will of the owner. Bill Gates's vision of a house populated with large screens will come to pass. The same technology will undoubtedly reduce the "clutter" of books, as more and more are stored on hard drives.

And there is an irony that this discussion is hosted in the LFPF. Almost by definition, we as a group are hanging on to an obsolete technology, actually two: the view camera and film. That makes us a rather bad group to feel comfortable with predictions about changing technologies and the younger generations (apologies to Corran and the relatively small number of "youngsters" reading this).

Corran
25-Jan-2016, 13:07
This reminds me of something - just recently I read someone comment in disdain about viewing photographs "at 72 dpi," referencing computer monitors. Interestingly, that is/was an old Mac standard, and Windows has run at higher DPI for decades, due to text requirements. Most newer computers I believe are at roughly 144 dpi, or at least mine is. Still half or so what supposedly printers are optimized for, but even that is a dubious claim. I believe my Epson claims it actually prints at 2880 dpi or some such, but obviously we don't print at that dpi anyway so I'm not sure how it all really dithers down onto the paper. Newer "Retina" displays (whatever that means) I believe have higher dpi than print.

Aesthetically, I wonder if a backlit framed print and a digital display put side-by-side and brightness matched and made to look like a frame, would compare favorably, or if anyone could tell an obvious difference. I doubt this has been tried?

Peter, excellent point. I apologize for obfuscating two different subjects here - as the thread evolved we certainly seemed to have switched tracks.

John Kasaian
28-Jan-2016, 09:38
Feel free to disagree, but I find there is a tactile quality (energy?) to a hand printed photograph which massed produced pictures and images on a screen do not possess. It is a physical artifact of the person who photographed and made (printed) the image rather than the just image alone and although the image alone can be powerful, the direct physical link to the human maker is far more precious, I find. It's a rare thing in the modern world, and becoming more scarce as traditional photography becomes an even smaller artistic niche. My 2-cents anyway.

Drew Wiley
28-Jan-2016, 09:52
All kinds of analogies. Virtual golf in front of a screen will never replace actual golf for those who enjoy getting out on some real grass and sunshine (though I've
never been a golfer myself, and never will be - seen enough gopher holes in the ground already). A backlit display just reminds somebody of a TV or laptop, and
carries zero sense of something worth coveting or owning. And to me at least, it just looks like a Hamm Beer display in the window of a redneck dive. No different
than collecting vases; nobody wants a virtual one, with virtual flowers in it. Try that option on Valentine's Day and see what kind of response you get !!

Jim Galli
28-Jan-2016, 11:16
If you're going to sell a million dollar potatoe picture, it would have to be a print. Surely. Shirley.

Jim Jones
28-Jan-2016, 11:50
Feel free to disagree, but I find there is a tactile quality (energy?) to a hand printed photograph which massed produced pictures and images on a screen do not possess. It is a physical artifact of the person who photographed and made (printed) the image rather than the just image alone and although the image alone can be powerful, the direct physical link to the human maker is far more precious, I find. It's a rare thing in the modern world, and becoming more scarce as traditional photography becomes an even smaller artistic niche. My 2-cents anyway.

Yes, indeed. However, for us who very rarely get close to original master prints, books, other reproductions and even computer images can be informative and inspirational.

Oren Grad
29-Jan-2016, 10:38
Deleted a bunch of off-topic, Lounge-y, and - toward the bottom - increasingly ill-tempered stuff, to give this thread a chance to get back on track.

Chuck Pere
30-Jan-2016, 08:25
It would seem like the surface quality of a print would be hard to translate to a digital display. For years papers have come with different textures. And people who hand coat papers seem to be fussy about the paper type they use. It must be important to the printer if they spend so much time choosing it. And in other forms of art is surface important? Say in oil painting. I've seen the cheaper digital copies of original oil paintings and they do look different. I suppose you could say art books lack the original surface and we are all fine with that. But I'd still like to see the original as done by the artist.

LabRat
30-Jan-2016, 08:48
Also, due to the very fine distribution of silver (or toners) near the surface of a fine print, a print hung on a wall can often reflect slightly different light/colors over the course of the day, so these subtle changes can slightly change the "vibe" of the print (having a slightly changing personality), and I think that this helps give it a "life" of it's own...

Steve K