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Author Topic: What isn't "photography"?  (Read 33712 times)
daws
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« Reply #40 on: May 30, 2009, 12:11:26 AM »
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Quote from: RSL
Walter, Well said, but I have to tell you that after 30 years in computer science I could write an expository paragraph using technical language that few on this forum would understand. I think the point is that in order for the specialized art community to be intelligible to their audience they need to use terms their audience can understand. If they think their audience is themselves, as is the case with the people involved in modern poetry, then what they're doing is hunky dory. But don't expect the people who normally enjoy and buy art to understand.
Point well taken. However to Walter's point, the chances are good that the majority of 16 year old schoolboys in the US would comprehend 'way more of your computer science paragraph than an equivalent paragraph about fine art. The US public elementary and secondary school system is currently turning out its second -- some would argue third -- generation of art illiterates. Fine art studies are not only unfunded, they're not even on the radar.
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eleanorbrown
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« Reply #41 on: May 30, 2009, 09:41:04 AM »
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Agree with you Chuck.   You make some excellent points here.  Also you have some incredible images on your site.  My kind of stuff!! Eleanor

Quote from: ckimmerle
I'm stealing this topic from the latter pages of the "cropping" thread as it deserves its own discussion.

What is (and is not) photography?

While I disagree with Russ and some of the others about finding new names for images created using digital processes, I do have my limits. For instance, I was attending a presentation by a photographic educator recently where some previous Guggenheim application portfolios (finalists!) were shown. One of those portfolios caused me great grief and I was unable to prevent myself from making a statement and derailing a goodly portion of the intended presentation. In this particular "photographic" portfolio were scans of historical photographs, which were duly claimed by the presenter to be original and creative photography. These were not parts of other images, but were presented as stand-alone photographs in the portfolio. I was stunned. In my eyes, this was no more creative than photocopying a list of address, yet the presenter and many in the audience argued the merits of these unaltered scans. I was, as far as I could tell, the lone voice of dissent although, in reality, I probably had my backers. I was the only one brazen enough, though, to make this sort of comment during an art museum presentation.

Remember, I'm not talking about some random grant application, this was a Guggenheim FINALIST! (I do not know if it received the grant, or not)

To me, photography - especially fine art photography - is about exploring the world (people or rocks) through our own individual and unique vision, providing viewers with images that are much more emotionally valuable than the actual scene. It's a relationship between the photographer and the viewer, in which the image takes the place of words or emotions. How can this special relationship happen when the image in question is an identical copy of that of another photographer?

I realize that some people use a scanners unique attributes to create unique and compelling images, and with this rant I am not including them. I would even call them photographers....I think. My problem is with the literal and exact duplication of the works of others, under the banner of "photography", and the recognition these artists receive for it.
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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #42 on: May 30, 2009, 11:32:09 AM »
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Art is the production of a two or three dimensional representation of a 3 dimensional original - 2d from 2d (or, if done mechanically or by scanning, 3d from 3d) is copying.

So a 2d photograph of a single 2D picture is a copy, not a work of art.

What you produce with a camera is a photograph, what you produce with a photo-copier or a scanner is a copy... but if you have a suitable camera you can copy a photograph with a camera.

There is, of course the technique of restoration, but this is re-creation of the a picture... is it art? ...is it photography?

Painters often do little more that trace over a photograph... and claim that the painting is their work.
If the photographer produced a 2d image from a 3d subject, and the painter traced it - who is the artist - the photographer or the painter?
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RSL
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« Reply #43 on: May 30, 2009, 11:33:01 AM »
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Quote from: daws
Point well taken. However to Walter's point, the chances are good that the majority of 16 year old schoolboys in the US would comprehend 'way more of your computer science paragraph than an equivalent paragraph about fine art. The US public elementary and secondary school system is currently turning out its second -- some would argue third -- generation of art illiterates. Fine art studies are not only unfunded, they're not even on the radar.

Yes, yes, yes! And I can't think of any way to change it. If there were some way for the US to infuse some of Western Europe's aesthetic values without at the same time infusing Western Europe's sclerotic economies, I think we could solve the problem. But I'm surely not going to see that in the rest of my lifetime. All I can do is hope that things will improve for my grandkids and greats.
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Rob C
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« Reply #44 on: May 30, 2009, 03:45:38 PM »
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Quote from: walter.sk
You said, "Why not use terminology which is clear so that the rest of the world can understand it?"

!



Walter, it´s not clear to me whether you are attributing that line to me; I simply quoted it from "inisila"´s post in my reply to it...

Rob C
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walter.sk
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« Reply #45 on: May 30, 2009, 07:08:55 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Walter, it´s not clear to me whether you are attributing that line to me; I simply quoted it from "inisila"´s post in my reply to it...

Rob C
Sorry about that...I deleted one too many Quote codes.  I realize you were quoting another person...
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dalethorn
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« Reply #46 on: May 31, 2009, 12:16:38 AM »
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Quote from: RSL
If there were some way for the US to infuse some of Western Europe's aesthetic values.....
All I can do is hope that things will improve for my grandkids and greats.

Never gonna happen. The U.S. has seen a steady decline on all fronts. We're the world's police, not the world's leading thinkers. Think MTV, Beavis & Butthead, Dumb and Dumber. That's the future.
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Rob C
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« Reply #47 on: May 31, 2009, 02:12:03 AM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
Never gonna happen. The U.S. has seen a steady decline on all fronts. We're the world's police, not the world's leading thinkers. Think MTV, Beavis & Butthead, Dumb and Dumber. That's the future.


For once, I find myself unable to argue a point. It´s a future that´s already here, and being perpetuated from within the halls of academe. Sadly, I know school teachers who opine that alright is a word, and with such tiny breaches do floods begin.

Rob C
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« Reply #48 on: May 31, 2009, 11:22:41 AM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
Never gonna happen. The U.S. has seen a steady decline on all fronts. We're the world's police, not the world's leading thinkers. Think MTV, Beavis & Butthead, Dumb and Dumber. That's the future.

Quote
For once, I find myself unable to argue a point. It´s a future that´s already here, and being perpetuated from within the halls of academe. Sadly, I know school teachers who opine that alright is a word, and with such tiny breaches do floods begin.

Rob C

I can argue the point,and I will.

I agree that MTV, Beavis, and Dumb as well as "alright" demonstrate an aesthetic and educational wasteland in the liberal arts, though I wouldn't exactly call it a decline. I've been around since 1930 and I don't seem to recall an aesthetic or educational golden age during those years. But a decline "on all fronts?" We're "not the world's leading thinkers?" Most of the world's advances in science and medicine still take place in the United States. In all the rest of the world there's nothing like Microsoft, Intel, or WalMart. You can knock WalMart if you want to, but it's one hell of a successful business. The only aircraft manufacturer in the world that can compete with Boeing is a ward of the state and is supported by European taxpayers. There are plenty of other examples. At the moment the United States is going through some rough times, and it's clear we'll continue to go through them for at least another four years, but we're not as bad off as the rest of the "developed" world. Someone once asked J.P. Morgan, "Mr. Morgan, what will the market do?" J.P. replied, "The market will fluctuate." Economies do the same thing. Our economy will bounce back. So will the economies of the rest of the world.

But the most important indicator of the future is demographics. The United States is the only country in the developed world that has at least a replacement birth rate. The native population of Western Europe is plummeting, and unless that changes soon, Europe, as we know it, is going to disappear and become an extension of the Middle East. That's the truly scary thought. Allah help us if it comes to pass.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #49 on: May 31, 2009, 02:06:07 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
IBut the most important indicator of the future is demographics. The United States is the only country in the developed world that has at least a replacement birth rate. The native population of Western Europe is plummeting, and unless that changes soon, Europe, as we know it, is going to disappear and become an extension of the Middle East. That's the truly scary thought. Allah help us if it comes to pass.

I just have to take issue with that, seeing as how it could be construed as racist.
Islamic math/science/culture was light-years ahead of "advanced" Western Europe for, oh, about 400 years or so. I always liked the response to a question posed to Zho En Lai by a Western journalist, asking him how he felt about Western civilization: "Too early to say". Things change.
Furthermore, I think a very solid case can be made that Europe's current zero population growth is the key to some kind of future for humanity on this planet. Combine a rapacious and absurdly wasteful economic system here in America with unfettered population growth, and it's gonna be goodbye biosphere. The fifth (or sixth) great wave of extinctions is happening right before our eyes, and we are the cause.
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Rob C
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« Reply #50 on: May 31, 2009, 02:26:59 PM »
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I hope nobody took me to mean that I imagine the States, specifically and uniquely, to be in terminal decline out on their own; I know very little, first-hand, about the country, but I obviously do know something about the UK and the northern region in particular. In my view, it has already missed the boat to the future, both because of the decline in indigenous population, but perhaps even more due to its mindset: rabid left.

As I see it, all those battles were decided generations ago - at the latest by the end of WW2. But what happened? As with the rest of the country, civil liberties were extended to include the liberty to self-destruct. Led by men who were power hungry, fairly dumb but eloquent enough rabble-rousers, the country was led into destroying its own industrial base. Too late, we produced a single politician, a women but the best man of them all, who fought a great battle against the tide with the same result as olde Canute: took a bath. Perhaps, had she had some loyalty from her officers, she might have turned that tide after all, but self-interest, ego and pride led them to revolution and eventual consignment to the scrap heap for a seriously long period of time, a period long enough to allow the new power the time for the betrayal of the national good, the loss of lives in a falsely started war and, also, the building up of a lowest common denominator block so large that it would seem almost impossible to outvote it. When you develop an enormous dependency subculture, how in heaven do you get it to start thinking? Thinking, in the direction of positive change.

No wonder I live somewhere very else; but nothing remains safe - change here is also accelerating and island unemployment of over 60%  gives rise to doubts of a peaceful future...

But we still have photography!

Rob C
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RSL
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« Reply #51 on: May 31, 2009, 02:30:39 PM »
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Quote from: Geoff Wittig
I just have to take issue with that, seeing as how it could be construed as racist.
Islamic math/science/culture was light-years ahead of "advanced" Western Europe for, oh, about 400 years or so. I always liked the response to a question posed to Zho En Lai by a Western journalist, asking him how he felt about Western civilization: "Too early to say". Things change.
Furthermore, I think a very solid case can be made that Europe's current zero population growth is the key to some kind of future for humanity on this planet. Combine a rapacious and absurdly wasteful economic system here in America with unfettered population growth, and it's gonna be goodbye biosphere. The fifth (or sixth) great wave of extinctions is happening right before our eyes, and we are the cause.

Goeff, You're quite right that the Islamic world saved what was left of Western culture during the Dark Ages. They also invented zero, a huge boon to humanity. Now, having made that point can you honestly look at Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc., and tell me that you'd like to see Europe adopt their milieu?

But where did you pick up the thoroughly exploded Malthusian idea that zero population growth is the key to humanity's future? I'd hardly call our population growth, which is barely above replacement, "unfettered." And to what, exactly, are you referring when you say that the fifth or sixth great wave of extinctions is happening and we are the cause? Have you actually swallowed the global warming myth? Recently, it seems, we're back where we were when I was at University of Michigan in 1950 -- looking at a new ice age on its way. By the way, what's wasteful about an economic system that's given the United States the highest standard of living in the world?
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Rob C
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« Reply #52 on: May 31, 2009, 02:56:22 PM »
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Quote from: Geoff Wittig
I just have to take issue with that, seeing as how it could be construed as racist.
Islamic math/science/culture was light-years ahead of "advanced" Western Europe for, oh, about 400 years or so. I always liked the response to a question posed to Zho En Lai by a Western journalist, asking him how he felt about Western civilization: "Too early to say". Things change.
Furthermore, I think a very solid case can be made that Europe's current zero population growth is the key to some kind of future for humanity on this planet. Combine a rapacious and absurdly wasteful economic system here in America with unfettered population growth, and it's gonna be goodbye biosphere. The fifth (or sixth) great wave of extinctions is happening right before our eyes, and we are the cause.


Geoff

One of the problems we face today is right there in your first sentence. We live in a time of sacred/holy cows and matters that are vitally important have been skilfully put beyond criticism or inquiry by that clever, deflect-all piece of armour: the accusation of racism.  Good old Catch 22, no less.

As for the notion that the currently developing third world is somehow going to do less harm to the environment than a declining first world - how do you deduce that one? Put all those zillions of Chinese and Indian and possibly Middle Eastern peoples into cars, which they surely will have, and the pollution problem only expands. The argument that future motive power will be clean has no certainty; if it does, then the benefit would apply to the European and American populations too. And the power stations? What will fuel their ever increasing number as they fill the needs of their burgeoning populations?

That earlier generations of Islamic minds created much culture is not in question; what is surprising is the turn downhill that the same culture took, resulting in states with no technological merits today, other than those imported and developed by non-Arabic or North African people. That modern failure is part of the ethos that drives some of those countries into the hatred that stems from a sense of shame, bewilderment and powerlessness in the face of the contemporary state of backwardness that confronts many of them when they know so well of the fine history they allowed to escape.  Self-reproach is very difficult to handle. I have been there; I know.

Rob C
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kikashi
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« Reply #53 on: June 01, 2009, 02:35:11 AM »
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Quote from: Geoff Wittig
Islamic math/science/culture was light-years ahead of "advanced" Western Europe for, oh, about 400 years or so. I always liked the response to a question posed to Zho En Lai by a Western journalist, asking him how he felt about Western civilization: "Too early to say".
Actually, that was Mao, when asked about the French Revolution.

It is said to have been Gandhi who was asked what he thought of Western civilisation; he replied that he thought it would be a very good idea. Sir Thomas Beecham (I think) is rumoured to have given the same answer when asked what he thought of Stainer's "Crucifixion".

Jeremy
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RSL
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« Reply #54 on: June 01, 2009, 08:50:39 PM »
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Quote from: Geoff Wittig
...seeing as how it could be construed as racist.

Wow! ROTFL!
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dalethorn
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« Reply #55 on: June 02, 2009, 07:34:36 AM »
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Quote from: RSL
can you honestly look at Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc., and tell me that you'd like to see Europe adopt their milieu?

But where did you pick up the thoroughly exploded Malthusian idea that zero population growth is the key to humanity's future?

you say that the fifth or sixth great wave of extinctions is happening and we are the cause?

we're back where we were when I was at University of Michigan in 1950 -- looking at a new ice age on its way.

By the way, what's wasteful about an economic system that's given the United States the highest standard of living in the world?

Truly profound ignorance on a global scale.
1. The Arabs are in reaction to colonization. Give them time to recover from Western "civility".
2. Malthusian may apply when they come and take your children. Not happening yet.
3. We are the cause because we're doing it deliberately and frankly, we don't give a damn.
4. Ice age caused by Sun, fatal warming caused by humans. Runaway greenhouse not caused by Sun.
5. Nothing wasteful there? This is mind-boggling. A total disregard for reason and logic. Strip-mining mentality on a rampage.
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« Reply #56 on: June 02, 2009, 10:17:26 AM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
Truly profound ignorance on a global scale.
1. The Arabs are in reaction to colonization. Give them time to recover from Western "civility".
2. Malthusian may apply when they come and take your children. Not happening yet.
3. We are the cause because we're doing it deliberately and frankly, we don't give a damn.
4. Ice age caused by Sun, fatal warming caused by humans. Runaway greenhouse not caused by Sun.
5. Nothing wasteful there? This is mind-boggling. A total disregard for reason and logic. Strip-mining mentality on a rampage.

Thanks, Dale, for clearing all that up. I'm sure most of the other people on the forum will be as impressed with your grasp of history, climatology, and economics as I am.
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daws
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« Reply #57 on: June 02, 2009, 09:37:00 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
By the way, what's wasteful about an economic system that's given the United States the highest standard of living in the world?
Meaning no offense, are you asking that as a serious question? Or is it tongue in cheek and I'm simply not seeing the joke?
« Last Edit: June 02, 2009, 09:40:31 PM by daws » Logged
Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #58 on: June 02, 2009, 09:37:54 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Thanks, Dale, for clearing all that up. I'm sure most of the other people on the forum will be as impressed with your grasp of history, climatology, and economics as I am.

But Russ: Think of it this way. Dale has certainly kept to this thread's premise quite faithfully. I think we can agree that all of his points are "not photography."
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« Reply #59 on: June 03, 2009, 10:46:54 AM »
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> …I do have my limits. For instance, I was attending a presentation by a photographic educator recently where some previous Guggenheim application portfolios (finalists!) were shown. One of those portfolios caused me great grief and I was unable to prevent myself from making a statement and derailing a goodly portion of the intended presentation. In this particular "photographic" portfolio were scans of historical photographs, which were duly claimed by the presenter to be original and creative photography. These were not parts of other images, but were presented as stand-alone photographs in the portfolio.

Not that I doubt your word, but without seeing the work its hard to draw the same conclusion you have, or any conclusion for that matter. If these were truly finalists in a valid competition, there had to have merit to at least the judges and probably many others.
 
Art is largely a confluence of technical skill and aesthetic preference. Technical skill is fairly easy to discern, but aesthetics is a topic that has evaded being reduced to simple rules throughout recorded history. Aesthetics is a core issue of what is and is not considered art.

> To me, photography - especially fine art photography - is about exploring … through our own individual and unique vision, providing viewers with images that are much more emotionally valuable than the actual scene

This is a rational comment and serves the concept of art as reality idealized or beautified. The concept of art has been debated since at least Plato’s Republic, where they argued that beauty and art are largely motivated by love. It was an imperfect conclusion. Nearly 2 millennia later, philosophers such as Kant claimed that beauty in art is objective, innate and universal. Freud furthered the concept of what is “universal” and he suggested that art combines fantasy with beauty in the pursuit of pleasure. This is much like the comment made by the OP (above), and “emotionally valuable” becomes nearly interchangeable with “pleasurable.”

So going one step back, to ask "what is photography?" A rational answer would be the use of the media for the purpose of giving pleasure. Going back to the original example, by being finalists in competition, clearly the works provided pleasure for at least the judges and likely a series of others who helped make it possible for the works to be considered by the Guggenheim.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2009, 10:47:19 AM by Justan » Logged

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