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Thread: Why it may good that photography isn't a fine art

  1. #21

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    Why it may good that photography isn't a fine art

    Though it wasn't nearly as much fun as the food thing.

  2. #22
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Why it may good that photography isn't a fine art

    i don't think the ratio of good critics to bad critics is much different from the ratio of good photographers to bad ones.

    grim, but still worth looking.

  3. #23

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    Why it may good that photography isn't a fine art

    Fair enough, Paul. But at least some photographers speak english.

  4. #24
    tim atherton's Avatar
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    Why it may good that photography isn't a fine art

    I was reading some transcribed talks and lectures by Wlaker Evans yesterday

    "Do you have anything on The One True Faith?"

    that would be what he said about Atget - he compares him to Blake as being almost unique. The only way he could describe what either of them did was to say they were like mediums, conveying to the rest of us something else only they could see.

    (and on the rest of us, inlcuding himself, a photograph works when it transcends, when we know there is a wonderful secret in a certain place and only we, at that moment, can find and capture it. That's what he called having faith in our own work and vision - oh, and it doesn't come until you are at least 50...)

    One other thing he says is that he couldn't have got by without the few generous people - some friends, some he barely knew, who at the right time saw and understood what he was doing and supported his work. Thankfully usually there at the most discouraging times. That seemed very apropos, as having just read that, I got one of John Szarkowsky's very encouraging and generous notes. That kind of thing at the right time will help carry you a fair way in my experience.
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

    www.photo-muse.blogspot.com blog

  5. #25

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    Why it may good that photography isn't a fine art

    Tim,

    I don't boubt W. Evans was able to benifit from an itellectual perspective. I always figured that he was way smarter than I will ever be. As a mere mortal, alas I don't do as well.

  6. #26

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    Why it may good that photography isn't a fine art

    doubt, too

  7. #27
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Why it may good that photography isn't a fine art

    "But at least some photographers speak english"

    ever read Robert Adams? John Szarkowsky? A.D. Coleman?

    "I don't boubt W. Evans was able to benifit from an itellectual perspective. I always figured that he was way smarter than I will ever be. As a mere mortal, alas I don't do as well."

    I actually think that the best criticism does something better than give an intellectual perspective. It can illuminate something for you, not so that you get it in an abstract sense, but so you really see it and feel it on a whole different level than you did before. It can be a kind of experience where you say "Of Course! It was right there in front of me all this time!"

    The value isn't that they told you what a work was about, or gave you a new theory to bore your friends with ... it's more akin to them flipping on the light, so suddenly you see more. And if you internalize what you just learned, which you probably will, then you'll carry that light with you from that point forward.

    It's a pleasure when someone can illuminate someone else's work; it's amazing when someone can illuminate your own for you. I've had a small handful of these experiences,--someone saying exactly what i needed to hear at exactly the right time--sometimes flattering, sometimes painful, but always forwarding.

    Like Tim, one of them was with Szarkowsky. I had a message on my answering machine from him that i kept until the machine broke. It helped me see a little deeper, and gave a little inspiration on some late nights when hitting the play button was the closest source of hope.

  8. #28

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    Why it may good that photography isn't a fine art

    It's John Berger. In 1968.

    A major social campaigner writing at the high water mark of photojournalism? And he doesn't think much of studio still lives? Blow me down with a feather.

    I love the way he morphs "I have decided that seeing this is worth recording" into "The degree to which I believe this is worth looking at can be judged by all that I am willingly not showing because it is contained within it." and then immediately goes on to complain about obfuscation of everyday experience.

    Things were better back then. I knew where I stood.

  9. #29

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    Why it may good that photography isn't a fine art

    Here's a quote I read recently that sums up the opposite view:

    Blankness is not emptiness; we may skate upon an intense radiance we do not see because we see nothing else. And in fact there is a colour, a quiet but tireless goodness that things at rest, like a brick wall or a small stone, seem to affirm.
    Both are right. Just not exclusively so.

  10. #30

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    Why it may good that photography isn't a fine art

    Although I consider “Ways of Seeing” one of the most fascinating yet simple essays on image, Berger’s words here on “Understanding Photography” have no firm ground. Stating photography is not art because it can be reproduced “infinitely” is the dumbest thing I’ve heard/read from a critic/intellectual in a long time. He instantly kills Fluxus, Serial Art, Joseph Beuys and hell, he even kills Duchamp - who could have signed thousands of urinals. What about etchings, silkscreens, wood block prints and other multiple techniques used from the XVI century onwards?
    So, the object might be reproducible x times, but definitely not the subject (“that unique moment of time”), which is what we are interested in. On the other hand, it is true artists limit their copies just to make the subject (and the object) more exclusive… and to keep market prices up.
    Just some thoughts…
    I’m sure Berger has never photographed for/with pleasure yet alone play with an 8x10”, but that’s a different story…

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