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Author Topic: Untitled Photograph  (Read 2426 times)
RedwoodGuy
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« on: February 14, 2013, 02:51:27 PM »
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Attached
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Randy Carone
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2013, 04:18:23 PM »
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Bravo. My favorite post in recent memory.
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Randy Carone
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2013, 04:35:32 PM »
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Nice.
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amolitor
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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2013, 05:55:40 AM »
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I don't get it. The car looks like it might be interesting, but there's not enough of it in the frame for this to be a picture of the car. The guy is mostly obscured, so I don't think it's a picture of him.

If there's a larger gestalt here, if this isn't a picture of some thing at all, I'm not still getting it. There are several points of interest, but nothing of very much interest. My first reaction was "oh, a cabbie" and the upon inspection "no, I don't think so. Maybe a hot-rodder?" and that was pretty much where I stopped.
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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2013, 07:42:42 AM »
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Thanks Randy and Ken - - you brave souls.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2013, 07:45:56 AM »
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I do not get it either. How is it "untitled", when the title says "Attached"?
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Slobodan

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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2013, 08:02:33 AM »
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I do not get it either. How is it "untitled", when the title says "Attached"?
"Attached" means, there is a file attached to the post. In most forum software (I assumed this one too), you can not "post" an empty message box - one that has no typing in it. Thus, to be sure the post goes through, I simply type "Attached" to the message box so that it is no longer empty. I hope that helps answer your question.
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RSL
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« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2013, 08:36:10 AM »
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You guys fell for it. He posted this nothing snapshot just to see if anyone here would take it seriously. Pretty funny, RG. And you actually got some takers.
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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2013, 08:48:25 AM »
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I don't get it. The car looks like it might be interesting, but there's not enough of it in the frame for this to be a picture of the car. The guy is mostly obscured, so I don't think it's a picture of him.

If there's a larger gestalt here, if this isn't a picture of some thing at all, I'm not still getting it. There are several points of interest, but nothing of very much interest. My first reaction was "oh, a cabbie" and the upon inspection "no, I don't think so. Maybe a hot-rodder?" and that was pretty much where I stopped.

I normally wouldn't comment on someone's critique. Everyone is entitled to their opinion - works for me. However, your post presents an opportunity to talk about something important which doesn't come up much here in this particular section of the forum.

I posted that photograph as a bit of an experiment, because most (not all) of the photographs here are traditional landscape with traditional references. And of course, that's just a smattering of what is going on in the general photographic world at large. So, I tossed this into the mix with some purpose.

The point of discussion, which was demonstrated in your critique, was that of the photograph existing as a whole, and not existing as a named thing or set of named things. Notice how you processed this in your critique -- is it a car? Is it a guy? Is it a cabbie? Is it a hot-rodder? And in the end, when you couldn't satisfy the naming convention, you gave up that it must be nothing of interest. What you didn't come to, is that it is a "just a photograph" all contained within the edges, and needs no name, or no named thing. That's why I purposely left it "untitled" so as to NOT suggest any type of named thing at all.

Photographs of named things - canyons, mountains, rivers, rocks, puppies, strollers, snails, beaches suit very well our internal drive to categorize and recognize the world. In a strict sense (not photo genre) they are documentary. But cameras don't care what the name of anything might be. They record what you point them at without prejudice. And that, as it turns out is an incredibly powerful feature of photography that is useful in art. It means the product can be "the photograph" itself, of itself, and by itself with no named reference within. The 'thing' then, doesn't have to be a mountain, car, cabbie, door or dog, but it's "just a photograph." Neither does that mean it is "nothing." It is obviously something.

Stopping our minds from naming, is a different way of seeing the world. Names carry assumptions, bias, prejudice and all the rest. That's the reason we name - to fit the world into our expectations so that each moment of vision is not an alarming scene. When you say "cabby" to anyone in the world, they will have a set of biases about that word. But seeing without naming, is a different view all together, that can bring different kinds of communication between artist and viewer. Painters often used abstraction to attempt this view. That's one way to do it. But photography has the really unique ability to abstract without being intentionally abstract. Abstract can mean "expressing a quality apart from the object." This happens to be a major capability of photographs, which is incredibly hard in painting.

A photograph can be "just a photograph" it is its own named thing. Thanks again for your critique, I found it useful.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 08:51:32 AM by RedwoodGuy » Logged
Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2013, 08:48:43 AM »
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"Attached" means, there is a file attached to the post. In most forum software (I assumed this one too), you can not "post" an empty message box - one that has no typing in it. Thus, to be sure the post goes through, I simply type "Attached" to the message box so that it is no longer empty. I hope that helps answer your question.

You must have had sense of humor surgically removed at birth?
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2013, 09:12:10 AM »
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I, too, didn't get it at first. But with the explanation, I think I do now. It seems to be sort of a Jerry Seinfeld photo: A photo about Nothing.
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amolitor
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2013, 09:13:41 AM »
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You have mis-interpreted my discussion of my reaction to your image.

Certainly I looked at it to see if there was a distinct subject. There often is. In this case, I could not identify one.

At that point I stepped back to see if I could make sense of it holistically, and I was unable to. I didn't simply give up when I couldn't fit it into some predetermined notion of what a photograph is. I don't like you, but I made an honest effort to make sense of this photograph in several different ways and simply wasn't able to, no matter how I approached it.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2013, 09:18:59 AM »
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I normally ...

Blah, blah, blah...
Blah, blah, blah...
Blah, blah, blah...

The lesser the photograph, the more bloated the justification?
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Slobodan

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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2013, 09:24:40 AM »
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I, too, didn't get it at first. But with the explanation, I think I do now. It seems to be sort of a Jerry Seinfeld photo: A photo about Nothing.

Thanks. That close - but it's actually "just a photograph." It's not "about nothing" or "about something." It is "just a photograph." If I appear to be pedantic, that's not my point at all. It makes a difference to say that it is "about nothing" or to just realize it is about itself as a photograph. It has its own intrinsic characteristics that are unique to "photographs."

This would be more obvious if we were passing around actual paper photographs instead of looking at pixels on the screen. No offense meant here, I am just attempting to make myself clear.

EDIT: Sometimes I forget the obvious. So, let me add this. Photographs are amazing, fascinating objects. And here, I particularly mean paper photographs that we handle or hang or in any way observe directly as an artifact. They have unbelievable powers that we too often take for granted. Photographs are nothing at all like paintings. You can pickup an old photograph you find in a junk store bin, and be spellbound by it. It could even be a simple "snapshot" (those things so ludicrously disdained here by the gang.) The power in an old found photograph is very different than an old found painting. And that power is the recognition that one is looking at a truthful moment in time and place. Paintings? Who knows? They have their own special powers.

So, when I say it is "just a photograph" I mean it is one of those amazing artifacts that can exist as a truth all on its own.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 09:57:00 AM by RedwoodGuy » Logged
Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2013, 09:37:11 AM »
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In which case, everything and anything that comes out of a camera is "just a photograph." Can't wait to see further examples.
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Slobodan

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amolitor
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« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2013, 10:14:50 AM »
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Sontag made pretty much that same point in the 1970s. The print is a fascinating artifact, not because of what it depicts, but because it depicts. Her point is exactly what Slobodan suggests, literally everything out of the camera (when committed to print) carries the same fascination if only you wait a little while. A print from yesterday isn't all that interesting. A print of an instant of time from ten years ago, twenty, fifty years ago, an instant frozen in amber, gains mystique and power precisely because it contains that frozen instant of the past. What's actually in the picture hardly matters at all.

This was true then, and remains true now. Arguably less so, for complex reasons.

There are two relevant counterpoints:

- most of us here on LuLa aspire to more than this minimal standard which literally every print meets
- it is not at all clear that a digital rendering of a photograph carries the same power of fascination as a print

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michswiss
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« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2013, 10:27:28 AM »
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It's a crap shot.
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michswiss
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« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2013, 10:33:58 AM »
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Just to expand on my previous comment.  No matter the taxonomy, it's still a crap shot.
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RedwoodGuy
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« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2013, 10:52:15 AM »
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Sontag made pretty much that same point in the 1970s. The print is a fascinating artifact, not because of what it depicts, but because it depicts. Her point is exactly what Slobodan suggests, literally everything out of the camera (when committed to print) carries the same fascination if only you wait a little while. A print from yesterday isn't all that interesting. A print of an instant of time from ten years ago, twenty, fifty years ago, an instant frozen in amber, gains mystique and power precisely because it contains that frozen instant of the past. What's actually in the picture hardly matters at all.

This was true then, and remains true now. Arguably less so, for complex reasons.

There are two relevant counterpoints:

- most of us here on LuLa aspire to more than this minimal standard which literally every print meets
- it is not at all clear that a digital rendering of a photograph carries the same power of fascination as a print


The word 'just' in "just a photograph," as I wrote it earlier, wasn't intended to mean "merely," as it appears you might be suggesting here by the use of the words "minimal standards." It would be better to read that as, "only a photograph". Which means it is not acting as an instrument of documentation, or evidence or narrative, or other purpose. It contains it's own purpose. 

The idea of "only a photograph" contains no quality vector within. It might be a horrible photograph, or a great one, and still be "only a photograph." Quality being a wholly separate, and variable aspect of the thing. 

I grant you that this idea of the intrinsic power of photography doesn't set well with most people who use cameras. It's not a popular idea. And this is largely due, once more, to our preference for naming things. I have nothing against Sontag's writing on this, it was an ok book, but in fact a better way to get a handle on this idea is through Buddhist philosophy.

So, it can be that far from being a minimum standard, it might be the maximum achievement - a way to transcend the normal naming culture. Again, quality is an independent variable not expressed within idea itself.

As to what most people here (or anywhere else) do----I don't take great concern for that in my own work. If I followed what most people do I wouldn't be expressing my self, I'd be making prints of other people's ideas, thoughts, expressions, experiences. It's a kind of plagiaristic approach to art that wouldn't suit me very well.  Grabbing another person's soul. I have my own ideas and no concerns about expressing them. On the other hand, if there is a rule here in this forum, about what kind of photographs can be shown, or what kind of ideas can be expressed, please make me aware of that. I am operating under the assumption that the forum is open for all to freely express their own ideas about photography through photographs and commentary. No?
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amolitor
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« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2013, 11:12:53 AM »
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Expressing yourself is all very well.

Communicating with others is strictly a subset of expressing yourself, it's expressing yourself using shared modes of expression. If you're not much interested in that, then the world of possibilities certainly agllalalaflalla blah frongnap schpeEEE! FLOOOOO! FLOOO!! Jangnaps carsint ba soy begnit, exfalla fo bashop nah. Floo? Shabnazap.
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