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Author Topic: No!  (Read 6014 times)
RSL
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No!
« on: May 09, 2011, 06:56:54 PM »
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Anyone interested in this question needs to read Brooks Jensen's editorial in the current LensWork. Like anyone who writes a lot Brooks occasionally can be boring and irrelevant, but he also can be brilliant and right on the money. This is one of those times.

Here's a quote from Brooks:

"...the responsibility we photographers have to ensure that our invitation to Look at this is worthy of the viewer's time and attention. In fact, a great deal of my criticism of much of contemporary photography is based on this simple observation: The things that photographers seduce me to look at have such limited value, such banal insight, such insipid inspiration. or such poorly executed revelation that I become frustrated with the piffle they (or their galleries) have thrust upon the world."

As I said, sometimes Brooks can be brilliant and right on the money.
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2011, 10:57:30 AM »
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I read his essay several times, and came away with an understanding of that which he had concluded from a photographic lifetime of asking of himself , "What is art [photography]?" and liked where he was trying to go in expessing it. Toward the end when he moves to Buddhist thought (Buddhist meditators "eternal now" ) he comes the closest I think to that which he is trying to express until he states "freeze its image".  He was almost there, and I know from his last page, "The Audience", that he knows what he senses to be true of the possible answer...but left unsaid...the struggle is to retain in the  current moment its life, flow..   meditat...ing, see...ing... His last two paragraphs are invaluable if you are in a place in your photographic life to hear them.  When the "look at this" happens it cannot really be so because we willed it or captured "it" or froze a moment of life (ripped it from its flow) but rather in the meditative rapture of the moment prepared for really being in life, a captivating trace remaining photographically to reveal to the viewer [depth] of "meaning, understanding, insight, or revelation"

An essay worthy of assimilating and then,
"You should let go and make yourself empty and quiet, clear and calm."   ___Ying-An
« Last Edit: May 10, 2011, 11:10:06 AM by Patricia Sheley » Logged

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Rob C
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2011, 02:52:48 PM »
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Difficult to give a really valid response because I don't read the magazine nor any others anymore.

But, for what it's worth, the quotations raise my hackles: I sense curator-speak and something to sell. There's no need in this life and culture to make reference to exotic others; for me, it devalues the argument when folks depart from simple terms that don't require extensive 'higher' reading of philosophy or religion; pretention comes to mind.

Art is simple; it's visceral and everyone who is open to it understands what it's about regardless of whether they can or can not define it; where it becomes opaque is probably where none (art) exists but plenty of artifice does.

Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2011, 04:48:57 PM »
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Rob, if, as you said, "art is simple", galleries would include a mix of subject matter, from portraits to landscapes to abstracts to street. However, that is not the case. Galleries are chalk full of anonymous, in-your-face, all-too-tight, bleached-eye portraits, Holga fuzz, and out of focus composites, but are almost completely devoid of landscapes or nature. Why is that? It is because photographic art has become an academic popularity contest with prizes and accolades for those who are content to re-create what has already been successful. I mean really, if I see one more Diane Arbus rip-off of a stoic set of twins, or a 20-minute exposure of an ocean shoreline, I'm going to rip it off the wall and urinate all over the thing. At least THEN it'll be unique.

Many photographers, especially those in BFA or MFA programs, are programmed to photograph only what is expected, in a manner which is expected. Personal vision is valid only if it conforms to a narrowly defined criteria of contemporary "standards". Such myoptic criteria for "art", enforced by academics, publishers, curators and gallery owners, dumbs down photography. Reduces it to banal, meaningless images created for the sole, irrelevant purpose of gaining peer acceptance.

I cannot speak for Brooks but am assuming that some of this is what he is referring to, and I think he's correct. To be honest, I wish he had gone a bit further, been a bit more critical. Photography (any art, for that matter) needs to be meaningful for both the creator and the viewer, and it much of what I see today, I simple don't see much of that. Instead, I see of lot of photographers trying to impress other photographers.
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« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2011, 04:53:10 PM »
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What Chuck said -- in spades!
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« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2011, 11:25:26 PM »
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I mean really, if I see one more Diane Arbus rip-off of a stoic set of twins, or a 20-minute exposure of an ocean shoreline, I'm going to rip it off the wall and urinate all over the thing. At least THEN it'll be unique.
Sorry, Chuck, but I think it's been done already.

Eric
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2011, 11:11:27 AM »
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Sorry, Chuck, but I think it's been done already.

<sigh>
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2011, 02:17:01 PM »
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"Rob, if, as you said, "art is simple", galleries would include a mix of subject matter, from portraits to landscapes to abstracts to street. However, that is not the case. Galleries are chalk full of anonymous, in-your-face, all-too-tight, bleached-eye portraits, Holga fuzz, and out of focus composites, but are almost completely devoid of landscapes or nature. Why is that? It is because photographic art has become an academic popularity contest with prizes and accolades for those who are content to re-create what has already been successful. I mean really, if I see one more Diane Arbus rip-off of a stoic set of twins, or a 20-minute exposure of an ocean shoreline, I'm going to rip it off the wall and urinate all over the thing. At least THEN it'll be unique."




Chuck, we are saying the thing. My belief that art is simple is because it is exactly not what you have described as the gallery fodder currently masqueradig as the real thing. Art never needed to find interpreters, to have interested third parties expound on its behalf; that's why it is essentially a simple, democratic state of being that some works inhabit. I think there is much validity in the scorned, simplistic statement that some make: I know it when I see it. I think those folks have it right: that's what it is - an essentially obvious thing that either has or has not appeal to some inner sensitivity of the viewer, and failure to incite a favourable response to the stimulation may well be the benchmark of its validity as art. And that doesn't imply all must like the same things, only that it must have some common denominator that people can react with, that marks it as worth the space it occupies.

Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2011, 03:04:30 PM »
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"Instead, I see of lot of photographers trying to impress other photographers."


Yes, and though slightly crabwise regarding threads, it's why I often suggest that folks not follow leaders, but just use them to learn the use of the tools and then wave them (the leaders) bye bye as quickly as possible!

Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2011, 10:55:29 AM »
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...we are saying the thing...

Then leave Brooks Jensen alone  Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2011, 03:27:13 PM »
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Then leave Brooks Jensen alone  Smiley


I think I did; he never crosses my consciousness and certanly not in this thread. If anthing, I read the quotation and didn't think it needed a 'name' to say it to lend it gravitas; many of us have always had the same idea about the circus anyway. It's all Maharishi.

;-)

Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2011, 04:51:24 PM »
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Rob,

I think you misunderstood the original quote that Russ posted (from Brooks).

Eric
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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2011, 08:39:35 PM »
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I loved the essay. Especially the "...our invitation to look at this is worthy of the viewers time". For me it was an ingenious insight that answered many of the same questions I have been struggling with over the years.  I find Brooks to always be engaging. The talent of the man is enormous encompassing both the art side and the business side with equal facility. If you haven't heard about Lenswork and the related Lenswork Extended (on DVD) it would pay you to Google it.
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« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2011, 02:20:55 AM »
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Rob,

I think you misunderstood the original quote that Russ posted (from Brooks).

Eric



How so, Eric? I think I've been saying that I agree with the sentiment that it's mostly bullshit out there, and I go on to suggest that it hardly needed somebody of 'name' (Brooks) to utter the words for it to be patently obvious, that folk's natural instincts already allow them to guess which is art and which not, even if they can't exactly articulated how they make the call.

That's why I was amazed to read Chuck think I was attacking Brooks J. I neither attack nor defend him; he plays no rôle in my life either way.

Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2011, 08:30:31 AM »
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Difficult to give a really valid response because I don't read the magazine nor any others anymore.

But, for what it's worth, the quotations raise my hackles: I sense curator-speak and something to sell. There's no need in this life and culture to make reference to exotic others; for me, it devalues the argument when folks depart from simple terms that don't require extensive 'higher' reading of philosophy or religion; pretention comes to mind.

Art is simple; it's visceral and everyone who is open to it understands what it's about regardless of whether they can or can not define it; where it becomes opaque is probably where none (art) exists but plenty of artifice does.

Rob C
Rob,

The middle paragraph in your original response certainly suggested to me (and perhaps to others) that the quote from Brooks 'raise(s) your hackles' and you seem to be accusing him of 'curator-speak' when that is just what he is deploring.

Maybe you can tell us which 'quotations' you were referring to if not Brooks's?

Eric
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« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2011, 10:44:05 AM »
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To barge in, I fail to see why what Rob is saying is difficult to understand. 

My understanding is that he's saying "If you see something and know that it's junk, it's junk to you.  You don't need someone of authority to tell you exactly why it is junk and/or why no one should pay heed to it."  If you need someone to tell you that, or you feel that your reaction to the junk is vindicated by such words of authority, then how different is that from having a gallery telling you what you *should* be looking at and appreciating?
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« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2011, 02:02:59 PM »
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To barge in, I fail to see why what Rob is saying is difficult to understand.  

My understanding is that he's saying "If you see something and know that it's junk, it's junk to you.  You don't need someone of authority to tell you exactly why it is junk and/or why no one should not pay heed to it."  If you need someone to tell you that, or you feel that your reaction to the junk is vindicated by such words of authority, then how different is that from having a gallery telling you what you *should* be looking at and appreciating?



Thank God somebody understands plain English without trying to find sub-texts that don't exist!

I was really worried there for a minute or forty, wondering if all that coffee actually was doing me harm.

Rob C
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« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2011, 02:18:27 PM »
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Rob,

The middle paragraph in your original response certainly suggested to me (and perhaps to others) that the quote from Brooks 'raise(s) your hackles' and you seem to be accusing him of 'curator-speak' when that is just what he is deploring.

Maybe you can tell us which 'quotations' you were referring to if not Brooks's?Eric



Eric, I quote myself again:


("How so, Eric? I think I've been saying that I agree with the sentiment that it's mostly bullshit out there, and I go on to suggest that it hardly needed somebody of 'name' (Brooks) to utter the words for it to be patently obvious, that folk's natural instincts already allow them to guess which is art and which not, even if they can't exactly articulated how they make the call.

That's why I was amazed to read Chuck think I was attacking Brooks J. I neither attack nor defend him; he plays no rôle in my life either way.")

Isn't it patently obvious that I'm referring to BJ and his quotation by name? I'm saying that he's right, and that I don't understand why it takes him to make the statement before others are able to accept the reality he indicates; that's why I believe that the less bullshit from curators the better; people buy into those peoples' sales pitches as they do into gurus of all colours and persuasions. In other words, people, try thinking for yourselves and believing in what your own emotions tell you. Your opinions are as valid as any others, you just maybe don't make money from them in the art business.

Rob C

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« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2011, 07:26:53 PM »
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Eric, I quote myself again:


("How so, Eric? I think I've been saying that I agree with the sentiment that it's mostly bullshit out there, and I go on to suggest that it hardly needed somebody of 'name' (Brooks) to utter the words for it to be patently obvious, that folk's natural instincts already allow them to guess which is art and which not, even if they can't exactly articulated how they make the call.

That's why I was amazed to read Chuck think I was attacking Brooks J. I neither attack nor defend him; he plays no rôle in my life either way.")

Isn't it patently obvious that I'm referring to BJ and his quotation by name? I'm saying that he's right, and that I don't understand why it takes him to make the statement before others are able to accept the reality he indicates; that's why I believe that the less bullshit from curators the better; people buy into those peoples' sales pitches as they do into gurus of all colours and persuasions. In other words, people, try thinking for yourselves and believing in what your own emotions tell you. Your opinions are as valid as any others, you just maybe don't make money from them in the art business.

Rob C


OK Rob, now it's becoming clear to me.

When Brooks said it, I had no trouble understanding him at all (and not because he is an "authority", but because he made his point clearly. And I agree with him.

When Rawhead translated what you said, I understood what Rawhead said that you said, and I agree with that statement completely.

And your latest post seems to confirm that Rawhead read you as you intended.

But I still can't for the life of me figure out how your original post says that. So I guess I have to conclude that Rawhead and Brooks are neither of them authorities, because they both explained the point in simple, understandable English. But you, Rob, must be an "Authority," because you hid what you were saying in some confusing verbiage. And, since you are now a verifiable Authority, I'd better not listen to you (even if I agree with you).   Grin  Wink

Eric
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« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2011, 04:02:28 AM »
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OK Rob, now it's becoming clear to me.

When Brooks said it, I had no trouble understanding him at all (and not because he is an "authority", but because he made his point clearly. And I agree with him.

When Rawhead translated what you said, I understood what Rawhead said that you said, and I agree with that statement completely.

And your latest post seems to confirm that Rawhead read you as you intended.

But I still can't for the life of me figure out how your original post says that. So I guess I have to conclude that Rawhead and Brooks are neither of them authorities, because they both explained the point in simple, understandable English. But you, Rob, must be an "Authority," because you hid what you were saying in some confusing verbiage. And, since you are now a verifiable Authority, I'd better not listen to you (even if I agree with you).   Grin  Wink

Eric


Eric, at times like that I usually resort to a slightly stronger cup of coffee.

Because I'm medically limited to a single real coffee a day I face the option/alternative of making myself several cups of ersatz, de-caffed coffee from a jar of powders. These multiple cups are created via the simple technique of using a third of a teaspoonfull of powder for each cup instead of a heaped one per cup. With a tiny spot of milk poured into the cup (on top of the powder) and then by swirling the contents around (as one does when tasting wines), quickly followed with boiling water almost to the top, but sightly below (to aid carrying it all spill-free to the terrace), the drinking can be enjoyed thrice rather than once. Not the same cup of coffee, of course, but you know what I mean. You do, don't you?...

Unfortunately, I haven't found a similarly simple way of circumventing the restriction on the wine consumption, but I'm sure that Lula has the expertise amongst its readership to help me here. Sadly, diluted wine doesn't work in quite the same successful manner.

;-(

Rob C
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