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Thread: Foto3 contest and traditional/conceptual divide

  1. #1
    Stephen Willard's Avatar
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    Re: Foto3 - Competition/Website Disclaimer

    [By consideration for the personal situation of the author, I am moving here the discussions that were not directly relevant to the original post of
    http://www.largeformatphotography.in...ad.php?t=37470 Tuan]



    Its worse than you can imagine. It has nothing to do with the creation of a great photograph and everything to with being a professor on a tenure track who needs to have their work published. There is a whole industry built around this to ensure professors are published and all us losers who make pretty trinket art unknowing subsidize this industry with our entry fees for these competitions.

    The art that oozes out from the plastic towers of our great universities is called conceptual art which is a mix of esthetics and content. I can assure you the esthetic part is most likely to be pathetic, and the content part is always small ideas wrapped in big words like a stinking onion. The threshold for making conceptual art is much lower than creating images with esthetics that take your breath away and beyond the capability of most of these professors seeking tenure. Jennifer Little was one of the tenure track "emerging" professors that presented her conceptual art at the landscape forum at photo 3. Many people got up and walked out halfway through her presentation. Her work was exactly what I expected, and as I described above.

    So if you are non tenure trinket art kind of guy who makes esthetically pleasing images then your stuff is thrown into the losers pile. It lacks content and is not worthy. Only professors who must publish and embrace coneptual art get put into the possible winning pile. How big is this industry. Well have you ever wonder why art in public places is so bad? And that is only the beginning. I can assure you if the judges are afffliated with any university you better be a tenure seeking professor to win.

    So when I went up to Steve and asked him if he was going to display the winning photographs at the photo 3 conference he said "NO". Right then a there I new that the overall winner produced "junket" conceptual art and was a professor seeking tenure, and the judge was a professor from some university. If Steve Simmons hung the winning prints at the photo 3 conference, people would have been pissed off and for good reason. They were mislead! I was mislead!

    Steve, if you are reading this, I would like my $109 entry fee for the competition refunded, and my fee I just paid to subscribe to your publication refunded as well.
    Last edited by QT Luong; 20-Jun-2008 at 11:30.

  2. #2

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    Re: Foto3 - Competition/Website Disclaimer

    The Grand Prize winning photo was done by a dentist from Florida and was on the conference program guide that was available at the conference. It was a quick grab shot that he took from a hotel window. He is not a professor anywhere.

    Jennifer is not a great public speaker and she knows it. However, her work is very interesting, it is getting a lot of recognition and it was quite different than some of the other work shown at the conference. View Camera will be showing a series late this year that is quite unique.

    The judges were a professor from CSU and the new Curator of Photography and New Media at the Denver Art Museum.

    Many photos from the contest were displayed in the lounge area off to the side of the trade show. This was done both Sat and Sunday. Many of the attendees also showed their work in this informal gallery.

    steve simmons

  3. #3
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Foto3 - Competition/Website Disclaimer

    The art that oozes out from the plastic towers of our great universities is called conceptual art which is a mix of esthetics and content.
    Stephen,

    I understand your point of view but disagree with how broad you are painting this. It is not that rigid or simple. I am a product of the university art system with an MFA and have taught at two of the top academic art schools, University of New Mexico and the School fo the Art Institute of Chicago for 19 years combined (these schools have been ranked 1&2 in the country for many years). Granted I am not tenure track, but I never wanted to be either. My work is very traditional and I have enjoyed the respect of my "conceptual art" colleagues throughout my career, many of whom I have been invited to show with and who hang my work in their homes. Many university museums have snubbed my work, but quite a few have bought my work for their personal collections too. It is not some evil monolithic conspiracy against traditional work. While it is useful strategically to know the prejudices of juries, you can't take rejection personally. If I did I would have slit my wrists or gone postal along time ago.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  4. #4
    Stephen Willard's Avatar
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    Re: Foto3 - Competition/Website Disclaimer

    Kirk, you are correct I am hurting. Everywhere I turn it seems that tradition art forms are snubbed by the art community at large. Conceptual art is pervasive, and yet in the market place it would not survive.

    Jennifer Little, in another presentation, came out and said this has nothing to do with profit and encouraged people to seek out nonprofit places to exhibit and public places to exhibit. The implication is that they would be more inclined to take work that is not sellable, but "interesting" which for me is a code word for conceptual art. Yes, I know that conceptual artist due achieve national recognition, but only through a highly biased industry, and their work begins to sell at high end galleries. However, at that point you are selling a name and not the work, and if I were to take one of their pieces and put my name on it, then it would never sell for the very reasons I outlined above.

    My work is selling very well in the market place, but ridiculed in the art community. There is a huge contradiction between these two worlds. So where does a guy like me and perhaps a significant number of Steve Simmons readership go where there is a bias for traditional photographic art forms? I suspect there is a very large community of people like myself who are total frustrated with this foolishness. Most, if not all, of the work displayed on the tables at photo 3 conference was traditional in nature and yet conceptual art took the prize. There is something wrong here. If you know of such places, please tell us. I have been unable to find such respectable competitions or even publications. We have been subsidizing these misleading competitions for too long. There are all stacked with crusty university type judges or publishers who only accept "interesting work" and to hell with "great work".

  5. #5
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Foto3 - Competition/Website Disclaimer

    Stephen, You are right in many ways. I hadn't looked at your work for awhile. It is superior, but straight color landscape photography like yours would not be taken seriously in the contemporary art community. But since you know the prejudices, why beat yourself up over it? I never enter competitions, though I judge some, but I do sometimes enter national juried shows (if they are at a good venue). But I always research the jury before I waste my money. If it is party line, leading edge, contemporary, I don't waste my time and money. But I don't waste my piece of mind on them either. Its not personal. They probably don't know me from Adam. They don't like my work. So what? I'm not running a popularity contest. I happen to like contemporary art passionately, but its not what I do.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  6. #6
    Going to Tijuana soon...
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    Re: Foto3 - Competition/Website Disclaimer

    Stephen,
    FWIW I love your colour technique.

  7. #7
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Re: Foto3 - Competition/Website Disclaimer

    Stephen, if you want more recognition for your work, in my opinion you should really think about offering workshops and publishing articles or a book about your darkroom techniques, which are quite unusual. Maybe your style of color landscape photography has its admirers and its detractors, but anyone working in color in any style could benefit from having the kind of control you have over the color negative printing process.

    For those who don't know what I'm talking about, take a look at Stephen's website--

    http://www.stephenwillard.com/home.php?retailid=SAW

    Stephen posted some of these in the APUG galleries, and since he stated that these were from color negatives printed traditionally, I asked him how he was getting such vibrant color without Velvia, digital, or Ilfochrome, and without giving away too many secrets, he mentioned that he was using masking and other techniques. I think there are people who don't necessarily do color landscape and maybe don't even want that particular color palette who would be very interested in those methods.

  8. #8

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    Re: Foto3 - Competition/Website Disclaimer

    I love good landscape photography, both color and B&W, but Mr. Willard's GARISH website images make me want to throw up. Talk about pretentious!
    They belong in the same category as circus posters, and Jesus (or Elvis) on black velvet.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  9. #9
    jetcode
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    Re: Foto3 - Competition/Website Disclaimer

    Stephen,

    I honestly think the reason you are reacting the way you do is due to how you perceive your art and how it is perceived publicly. Rather than claim the art world is out to get you I would take it as a gesture indicating that your work is either a niche market amongst those who appreciate landscapes or that perhaps your vision is short (no amount of saturation can guarantee a climatic perception of a mediocre image).

    I am not saying your work is not good, it appears to be well executed in regards to design and production. I personally think the landscape market is saturated with high quality images and "concept" art is leading edge because it requires the artist to express uniquely in a field that is equally saturated and lusts for individuality.

    Your complaints about being accepted in the "art world" sound just like the words Stieglitz, Coburn, Steichen, and all the old masters of impressionist art like Monet, Van Gogh, etc used when expressing their frustration with the art world.

    Personally I never pay to enter a contest. The chances of winning even if you have a spectacular image are nil. The reality of the decision lies in the judges court and their choice not yours. If you are truly exceptional you will get noticed and this could be beneficial however contests are like lotteries in terms of odds.

  10. #10
    jetcode
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    Re: Foto3 - Competition/Website Disclaimer

    Quote Originally Posted by ASRafferty View Post
    Getting this residue e-mail has been hurtful and sad, particularly in light of the chain of events that ended with Ted's death. Since I have so much documentation about when Ted's involvement ended and why ...
    we all watched this unfold ... if this had happened to someone of less integrity a full out war would have likely erupted between insiders and public perception

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